Despite all the technological advancements in marketing strategy, some older telecommunication systems are still keeping up with the times, and even evolving alongside new innovations. You can now fax over IP, make phone calls through Wi-FI, and send carrier pigeons over Instagram (that last one is a joke – please leave the pigeons alone).

Some forms of communication, however, seem to be so deeply ingrained that they’ve managed to stick around, relatively unchanged. We’re talking, of course, about email. More specifically: email marketing. The humble email is still one of the best ways to draw in crucial customers.

There are a lot of benefits to email marketing as almost everyone uses email: 4.03 billion people worldwide as of 2021, to be precise. Being relatively cheap to run, email marketing strategies have a huge ROI.

The main goal of email marketing is generating leads. It’s not enough to just spam potential clients and hope for the best. There’s so much noise out there, so you’re going to need your email marketing campaign to stand out and reach potential customers with relevant, convincing strategies that will convert into valuable leads.

First, Some Terminology

In this article, we’re going to be talking a lot about subscribers and leads. A subscriber is anybody who has agreed to receive emails from your company. These individuals are the pool of potential customers that you’re focusing on. The main goal is to convert these subscribers into leads. In other words, getting them to buy your products.

There is no guarantee that subscribers will turn into leads. Just take a look at your own email inbox to see how many company emails you are currently sending straight to the trash can.

There are a number of reasons for this.

Maybe you don’t care about what they’re offering. Perhaps they’ve failed to offer you anything of value at all. Either way, there is a vast graveyard of unanswered emails out there that have generated zero leads.

The aim of an effective email marketing strategy is to generate leads from subscribers. So, here are seven helpful tips to do exactly that.

1. GET TO THE POINT

More so today than ever, people have short attention spans, and nowadays there are a lot of different companies fighting over this limited human resource. You’ll need to cut through with content that is concise, and deliberate. It goes without saying that it should have perfect grammar, too.

This tip applies to two main aspects of your email marketing strategy: subject headings and content.

Subject Headings

First of all, have one – always!

What kind of maniacs are running around, sending emails without subject headings? Nobody knows. But, if you’re one of those maniacs, stop it right now. Everyone receives emails like this from time to time, and the immediate impression is one of mistrust.

Who knows why this is? A lack of forthrightness, perhaps.

What are you hiding, email? What secrets do you hold?

An email without a subject heading can come across as suspicious and you’d better not chance it. Furthermore, without a subject heading, you’ve given your subscribers no reason to open your email. Make sure your subject heading is concise and relevant. You want your subscribers to know exactly what they’ll get, if and when they open the email.

Content

Once you’ve enticed your subscribers with a snappy subject line, you’re going to want to follow that up with similarly concise and relevant content. Once again, you’re on the clock here. So, get to the point as soon as possible.It’s often not even worth repeating what you’ve written in the subject heading.

If the subject heading says something like “Summer deals!”, don’t bother repeating yourself in the email body. They already know; that’s why they opened it. Just get on with it and show them some deals.

These are the basics of content strategy and getting them right will see you on your way to generating more leads.

2. SHOW, DON’T TELL

It’s a well-worn staple of any creative industry. And it applies to advertising too. People respond much better to sensory stimuli, like images, compared to thick blocks of information. It’s all about the active and passive brain. When you see something, or hear something, it happens passively. You can’t not see it, it’s just there. It’s how we experience the world around us.

Reading, on the other hand, requires active engagement of the brain. It’s more effort to decipher and understand. This is relevant to marketing because you want your customers to get as much information as possible, about your product, in the shortest amount of time.

Let’s not be as reductive as to say, “use pretty pictures” but eye-catching imagery is a must, if you want the best possible chance of generating leads. People respond to what they can see, before they have a chance to think about it.

There’s a good reason you don’t find thick blocks of text advertising products such as a voip router, without any images. Sure the text is going to tell you all the necessary specs, but you always want to look at the product you’re going to buy. Give it visual appeal.

As previously mentioned, people generally have short attention spans which is even more reason that most people don’t want to read through massive chunks of text in an email they didn’t even ask for. So, avoid lengthy paragraphs in favour of eye-catching images.

3. MAKE CONTENT RELEVANT AND PERSONAL

Not all customers are the same. They all have different preferences and will respond to different strategies. You should employ an email marketing strategy that works towards personalizing your email sendouts.

There are simple ways to achieve this.

Tone

Use their name and greet them cordially. “Dear Sir/Madam” sounds outdated, whereas “Hi James” sounds like something a real human might say.

Remember what they purchased, or viewed previously, and make recommendations based on this information. Try to sound helpful, rather than salesy. It’s as simple as the difference between offering “similar products”, and saying “you might like this, too”.

If you know their birthday, send them some kind of offer, when it comes around.

People know, deep in their hearts, that many advertisers don’t genuinely care about them; they’re just after cold hard cash. But these strategies employing a touch of empathy can help them view you with familiarity and trust.

The flipside to this can be equally detrimental. If you send enough irrelevant content, your subscribers are likely just to unsubscribe from your mailing list, altogether. They’ll see your emails as an annoyance, rather than a helpful source of information.

Segmentation

Segmenting is a great way to keep your emails relevant to specific subscribers. Segmentation is the practice of categorizing your subscribers based on their recorded actions.

When Did They Sign Up?

New customers will expect different offers to returning customers. Send introductory offers for newcomers, and loyalty offers for older customers.

What Did They Click on Last Time? 

If you know the kind of product or service they’re interested in, you can double down on these and give potential sales a shot in the arm.

Did They Follow the Link, But Stop at the Landing Page?

In this case, your email marketing strategy has worked, but didn’t send them where they wanted to go. You might need to change your landing page to generate more leads.

Did They Do Nothing at All?

In this scenario, it’s worth sending another couple emails, just in case. After a while these will be labelled inactive accounts and should be scrubbed from your database.

Summing up, keep the tone personal and the content relevant, and you’ll get the best possible results from your email marketing campaign.

4. CALL TO ACTION

You’ve convinced people to subscribe to your mailing list, you’ve enticed them with your snappy subject heading and compelling content, and then… they do nothing. More often than not, it’s because they don’t really want, or know how, to continue. That’s why you need to make the next step forward as clear and simple as possible with a call to action (CTA).

It may sound obvious, but people sometimes need a little help.

Consider what you want your subscribers to do, then make that as easy and painless as possible.

Do you want them to visit your site? Then have a clear link to your landing page.

Are you promoting special deals? Leave a link to those deals.

This is the final hurdle for your marketing strategy, so don’t stumble over it! Tell people exactly what to do. This is, in a lot of ways, the counterpart to tip number one: get to the point. Let them know what you’re offering, as quickly as possible. Then show them how to get it, as easily as possible. A clear call to action is a vital part of generating leads, because it encourages subscribers to engage.

Finally, don’t be afraid to get creative with your call to action. If you’re an activity-based organization (like a gym or a charity), ask customers to share their stories that will appear on your home page and add a CTA below their testimonials.

If you’re marketing business software (like MDM apps, or visual voicemail), give them a link to a free trial, so they can try before they buy.

5. TESTING

The key to any successful marketing strategy is leveraging data.If you know what your customers want, you can give it to them. This is just as much about figuring out what does work, as much as what doesn’t.

You can gather useful information about your email marketing campaign with a process called A/B testing. A/B testing refers to experimentation with your campaigns to help refine the content you send. Essentially, you send two sets of emails to two separate groups: group A, and group B.

The difference in the two can be as narrow or broad as you like, depending on the scope of your testing. They can have completely different images, formats, and strategies. Or, they could differ in more subtle ways such as different color fonts, or wording.

After sending both A and B emails, you can see how many people engaged with your business from both segments, giving you insight into which was more effective – A or B.

A/B testing is not an exact science. Everybody is different. There’s no way of knowing for sure if Joe Blow really engaged with you because the font was the perfect shade of burnt orange or if your ‘A’ segment preferred an Arial font over Times New Roman. However, with a large enough sample size, you’ll be able to see which campaign was more successful and adjust your strategy moving forward.

6. INCENTIVIZE SUBSCRIBERS TO SHARE YOUR EMAILS

People like free stuff, but you already knew that.

Use the leads you already have to grow your subscriber base by offering incentives when they refer, or recommend, your business to a friend. Word of mouth is one of the most valuable kinds of marketing you can utilize.

The reason for this is that people tend to trust their friends and family more than advertisers. So get them working for you.

There are plenty of things you can offer, like discount codes, or straight up freebies. (The beauty of the discount code is that the person receiving it will probably use it to buy even more stuff – win-win!)

Once you’ve offered your existing customers incentives to share your products, the next step is to make that process as simple as possible. People who aren’t that tech savvy could need a hand, but everyone will appreciate a smoother interface.

Include sharing buttons that will automatically post your content to customers’ social media pages. You can embed pre-written messages that will appear on their page, when they do choose to share.

Ask customers to forward your email to a certain number of contacts. You can even add a button that automatically produces the content of the email. You might want to include a signup link on the forwarded email, so the recipients can register easily.

If you get this right, you can use your existing customer base to grow your potential leads. It’s almost free advertising, but with the added bonus of originating from people, rather than your company.

7. AUTOMATION AND TRIGGERED EMAILS

Automation is essential for email marketing, especially for large scale campaigns. If you’re trying to reach subscribers in their thousands, then manual email marketing is going to take a huge amount of time and effort.

Instead, you can programme triggered actions to send emails to subscribers after they perform certain steps.

They’re often called “autoresponders” or “drip campaigns”, but they all amount to the same thing, and you’ve no doubt seen them before. When you order something online, shortly after you’ll receive an email confirmation. You can programme similar triggers to send follow-up emails upon different subscriber actions. For example, making a purchase, or signing up to a newsletter.

After the first couple of triggers, you can record customer actions. By recording these actions, you can segment customers into different categories and send a series of followup emails that will be relevant to that particular customer.

This not only reduces the manual labor requirement, but works to nurture an ongoing relationship with subscribers. Having responses to their actions will help them feel valued, and hopefully turn them into loyal leads.

BONUS STRATEGY – EMAIL SCRUBBING

Keeping everything else that’s been discussed in mind, it’s a great idea to make sure all your email contacts are updated regularly.

There are a staggering number of dead email addresses out there. They can be dead for a number of reasons. Some are bots. Many are just old email addresses that people have forgotten about or abandoned.

In this situation, you’re going to want to avoid sending promotional material to these dead addresses. It’s pointless and can also be harmful. It will, on a large scale, affect your data usage and overall spending.

It will also skew your analytics. If you’re testing marketing strategies, by response, a bunch of dead accounts that, obviously, won’t respond will give you an inaccurate picture of how many people are actually responding to your marketing strategy.

There are plenty of useful “email scrubbing” services out there to help you avoid irrelevant marketing.

They essentially allow you to notice inactive or declining engagement from different marketing strategies, so you can remove unengaged subscribers from your email list, ensuring that everyone you contact is an active potential lead, rather than a dead email address.

It’s a bit like checking your call history on a call recording system. You can see exactly who’s been engaging with you, and how often.

Of course, it takes a while to figure out which accounts are inactive,and you can regain activity from cold contacts, so give it some time. A good rule of thumb is to email scrub at least twice a year.

When checking the stats on your email marketing campaign, there are a few tell-tale signs that you need to do perform an email scrub:

  • Lower open rates – recipients leaving your emails unopened.
  • Low engagement – recipients opening your email, but not following the suggested links.
  • High unsubscribes – subscribers choosing do remove themselves from your mailing list.
  • High spam complaints – probably the worst of the bunch. Subscribers marking your emails as spam. (They won’t even be notified when you send an email.)

All of the above will inevitably happen, to varying degrees. If it’s happening too often, with no actual successful leads being generated, it may be time to revisit your overall email marketing strategy. However, if that’s not the case, and you see these trends, it’s probably time for you to clean house, scrub those contacts from your database, and start looking for fresh subscribers so you can continue generating leads.

LEAD GENERATING STRATEGIES – THE ULTIMATE RECIPE FOR SUCCESS

Email marketers looking to bring their A-game to their lead generation master plan could think of their strategy as similar to baking a cake (or pie, if you prefer). While we’ve listed the essential ingredients for generating strategies, you might need to add an extra sprinkling of A/B testing or allow your CTAs a little longer in the oven. Experiment with different quantities of each element and you’re sure to have a strategy as rich as it is inviting.

Author’s Bio:

Grace Lau is the Director of Growth Content at Dialpad, an AI-powered cloud communication platform for better and easier daily stand-up meetings. She has over 10 years of experience in content writing and strategy. Currently, she is responsible for leading branded and editorial content strategies, partnering with SEO and Ops teams to build and nurture content. Here is her LinkedIn.

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