hedgehog and envelope

Make the Most of Your Email Marketing

Email marketing is a powerful way to grow your business and let people know about your products and services.

If you’re just learning about email marketing, we’ve already explained why your business should start email marketing and how to get started.

But once you’ve taken the plunge and started building your list, there’s still more you can do to get the word out to your customers. In this article, we’ll examine some ways you can boost the effectiveness of your email marketing.

Grow Your List

Before you can start with advanced email marketing, you need to have people to email. Hopefully, by now, you’ve done some of the basics like adding a sign-up box to your website and asking your existing customers if they’d like to be added to your mailing list. Now it’s time to put list generation into overdrive.

1. Lead Magnets

One of the advanced techniques people use to grow email lists is called a lead magnet. A lead magnet offers something in return for people providing their email address.

Common lead magnets include e-Books with tips, whitepapers, or other exclusive content.

The best lead magnets solve a real problem or help someone avoid a problem. For example, a mortgage broker might have a lead magnet for an eBook “Top 10 mistakes a first-time home buyer makes” or “5 ways to reduce your mortgage payment”.

Companies with long or complex sales cycles will often advertise their lead magnets rather than their primary product as a way to get people in the door. Once someone is on your email list, it’s easy to explain your product or service in more detail using automation (see the next section).

E-commerce stores will often generate sign-ups by offering a coupon code for first-time purchasers. This helps in two ways: it boosts sales and the prospect becomes a subscriber. Having the prospect’s email address helps with retargeting and abandoned cart emails, which we’ll discuss later.

2. Pop-Ups

Another way to grow your list is to leverage your existing website traffic by adding a pop-up signup form to your site. We’re not talking about the intrusive (and often hard to dismiss) third-party ad pop-ups here. Instead, we’re talking about simple signup boxes to promote your list (or promote a lead magnet or giveaway). These are extremely effective for getting signups and should be something to consider adding to your toolbox.

Screencapture from Sumo.com

Believe it or not, it’s possible to use pop-ups in a tasteful way without annoying visitors. For example, you can set them to only show once per 20 days for any visitor. You can also make the pop-ups go away once someone joins the list. Rather than blasting your visitor with a pop-up the second they visit your site, set a delay timer or even have it appear the visitor seems to be about to leave your site.

Some email marketing platforms have built-in list building tools for generating pop-ups, so that’s a good place to start. Otherwise, consider third-party tools like Sumo and MailMunch.

Once your list growth is on autopilot, it’s time to put your messaging on autopilot too.

Mailing List Automation

The simplest way to think of mailing list automation is to think of triggers. A trigger is an action that causes an email to be sent to a customer automatically. Triggers can be as simple as time spent on a page or certain actions by a subscriber.

Most email marketing systems include some form of automation in their platform. The system will require you to set a trigger and then create an email that will be sent when triggered.

1. Time-based automation

Here’s a basic example of time-based automation that you can create when someone joins your email list using the above case of a mortgage broker.

  • Day 1: Email with a link to the lead magnet item such as an eBook.
  • Day 4: Follow-up email with information about your company and how it can help the subscriber.
  • Day 7: Email asking the customer if they have any questions about your product/service.
  • Day  14: Email offering a discount on your product/service if the customer hasn’t responded yet.

This example includes a second automation rule that only sends the Day 14 email if the subscriber hasn’t already converted into a customer.

2. Abandoned Cart Email

Most people who put products in their online shopping cart never complete the checkout process. In fact, studies show that 60%-80% of online shopping carts are abandoned.

abandoned shopping cart

Some of the reasons carts are abandoned include:

  • Customer distraction
  • Surprising shipping charges
  • Price comparison checking
  • Looking for coupons/discounts before completing the process
  • Just not ready to buy yet

As long as the customer has proceeded to the point of entering an email address (or if they are an existing logged-in customer), you can trigger an email to the customer if they abandon their cart.

Abandoned cart emails are usually sent on a time schedule. One might trigger after one hour reminding the visitor about the products in their cart. This is an effective reminder for someone who became distracted and forgot to check out.

Another message can follow 24 hours later to customers that still haven’t completed their purchase. This email might include an added incentive such as free shipping or a coupon code to get the customer to finish their purchase.

3. Retargeting Emails

What about people who visit your site but don’t add anything to their cart? This is where retargeting emails are valuable.

Retargeting is common in web advertising. If you ever visit a site and notice that you start seeing ads for that site, you have experienced retargeting.

target marketing illustration of laptop with bullseye

Email retargeting works in a similar fashion. You can send targeted emails to customers based on products they’ve viewed on your site. If you’re an Amazon customer, you’ve probably received a retargeting email after viewing a product but are still unsure about buying it.

Retargeting emails can be triggered based on time and activity. They can be sent to someone who is a registered user of your store or a mailing list subscriber who has the site’s cookie on their computer.

For more information, check out Mailchimp’s brief tutorial on connecting Google remarketing ads to your email list.

Segmentation

As your list grows, it makes sense to segment your list into different subgroups, and send targeted emails based on those segments.

sliced up orange

Here are some ways you can segment your list:

  • Time – Send different emails based on when someone joined your list.
  • Customer vs. non-customer – Send different promotions and pitches to people who have bought something from you.
  • Purchase frequency/recency – Customize your pitches based on how frequently or how recently a customer has purchased.
  • Sign-up source – Send your messages based on how that subscriber joined your email list.
  • Email statistics – Customize your messaging and emails depending on how often the subscriber opens your messages or clicks links within them.

Segmentation also helps (but is not required) with split-testing.

Split-testing involves sending different variations of your email to different people to test what works best.

The easiest thing to split test is the subject line. Let’s say you have a list of 20,000 subscribers that you want to inform about a sale. You create two email subject lines:

“Crazy sale starts today: Up to 50% off!”

“Crazy sale starts today: Half-Off many items!”

It might be surprising, but small changes in wording can make a big difference in how many people will click on the email.

With split-testing, you can send each of these headlines to 5,000 people on your list. If there’s a noticeable difference in open rate between the two groups, use the better-performing subject line when mailing to the remaining 10,000 subscribers.

Another aspect to test through segmentation is different promotion levels. You can send half of your list a 10% discount code and the other half a 20% discount.

If the 10% code converts at the same rate as the 20% code, that means that offering the additional discount cuts into your margins but doesn’t increase sales. Next time, consider sending everyone the 10% discount.

This just scratches the surface of how you can split-test. Consider using different colors, pictures, and sales messages in your emails.

Are You Ready to Take the Next Step?

Email marketing is a fantastic way to grow your business with relatively little cost. While basic email marketing is a good start, using advanced techniques like segmentation and automation can take your business to the next level.

Leave a Reply