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Your Email Marketing Is Terrible… Do Something About It

(Warning: David has made the decision not to proof read his blog posts.  Expect spelling and grammatical errors. we don’t condone this, but it’s better than not blogging at all!)

Companies still don’t understand how email marketing works, and how to best use it. Lets this blog post serve as a quick guide to identifying the most common misconceptions and pitfalls that business need to overcome for a successful email marketing strategy that drives new business and brings old business coming back.

The two types of email marketing – broadcasts and autoresponders

Broadcasts are when you send a message to an entire list or segment. This is the most common way business use email lists. It is typically used to send coupons, monthly newsletters, or “deals of the month”.  Using broadcasts is still better than nothing at all because it keeps your brand top of mind for potential clients and customers, but it is not as powerful as autoresponders.

Autoresponders send a series of predetermined emails at predetermined times to everyone who opt’s in to your email list individually. It is extremely powerful because it can be used to setup a predictable series of engagements after someone takes an initial action used to build value with a client. Value means the ability to sell at a higher price. Most people don’t use autoresponders even close to their true potential because they don’t have the copywriting expertise to get people to open their emails or get them to read the emails and take action.

I know internet marketers that setup autoresponders with over 50 unique emails over the course of months to sell different products and services. The big benefit of a strategy like this is you tend to get predictable results because your prospects are taking the same document sales funnel every single time as opposed to having to worry about whether your sales team can close the deal or not.  Because of this, your autoresponder can be improved over time to increase open rates, click rates, and track their impact on generating sales. Once you have a system that works, it’s all about getting qualified prospects to do something that nobody finds threatening…..

All they have to do is give you their email!

How to build your list

When you don’t have anyone on an email list it is difficult to spend your time crafting high value content for emails when they are only going to be read by 1 or 5 people. Using email marketing to drive your business means you have to get people to opt-in to getting your information. This requires more than just having a small slot on your website that says “Join our newsletter”.  This type of call to action has one of the lowest conversion on the web.  You have make getting people to opt-in to your list a primary conversion.  This is difficult for most people outside of the infoproduct world, because they don’t want less leads, and they think that asking people for only their email instead of a sale or a complete lead form means they miss their chance.

The solution to this problem is to segment your market into different buying stages in your campaigns. For the stages towards the end of the cycle, make you lead forms or checkout button the main call to action that you are trying to get them to take. For people in extremely early stages of the buying cycle, consider using an email opt-in with an incentive as the main call to action. Here are several examples where email opt-in would work well as the main call to action:

Business – Ecommerce Website About Shaving

potential customer  searches – How to shave with less irritation

Buyer mindset – This search has no commercial intent associated with it, but at some point in time the person who made the search may become interested in premium shave products. By developing a high quality barber shop shavers guide and making it the main call to action on the landing page, and connection with a potential customer can be made.

Turning searcher into a customer – just because they opt-in for a free guide doesn’t mean that they are going to buy something. The sales effort must be deliberate.  One way of doing this may be speaking about a specific type of razor in the guide with a link to where they can purchase it. Most likely they will also need to purchase a badger hair shave brush as well as shave soap. These can all be done in a consultative manner as long as value is provided along the way.

Tip: A great way to get the ball rolling and turn searchers like this into paying customers is to drop in an entry level purchase that is extremely cheap and available only to those that have opted in. The goal is not to devalue your brand by discounting, but by lowering the barrier of entry for a person to conduct business with you for the first time. Once they do, they will be more likely to do it again.

Here is another example of how this strategy works in the B2B arena.

Business – a company selling software for inventory tracking

potential customer searches – reorgnization of product sku’s  (I am making this up as I go so stay with me)

This would typically not be the type of search that has the intent of obtaining a consultation from a sales person from an inventory tracking software vendor. People know that when they fill a form out with all their contact info they are going to be hounded and they may not be ready for type of interaction. By providing a suite of free tools or white papers that are helpful to them at their stage in the buying cycle, you can obtain their email and nurture the lead until it becomes ready to engage in a consultation.

How effective is this strategy?

It works incredible well, but it takes time and a lot of effort to put together. When you use copywriting to do your selling for you, your sales funnel will only be as good as the copy used in it. Attempting to use an opt-in strategy to drive your business when your sales copy and content is mediocre is the same as expecting a bad sales person to drive the growth of your company. A good content funnel requires significant time and effort to put together, but it is an investment that pays off.

What are the steps that need to take place to start working towards an effective funnel?

Think of the content funnel for your email marketing strategy as a bridge that your customers must cross. If one spot in the bridge is missing some planks, nobody gets across. You have to systematically remove the barriers that are stopping people from cross your bridge.  You can do that by focusing on specific steps of the funnel.

Step 1: Develop a landing page for a specific audience and content topic.

Your goal will be to get the opt-in rate as high as you possibly can by split testing different content and layouts on the page.  Remember, the more people you get to opt in to you funnel, the more of a chance your content will have to succeed.  Most people would find it hard to spend $1000 on writing up a single email content piece to send to 10 people, but if you are sending it to 20,000 it may not be a big deal.  Having a larger list creates a virtuous cycle of value.

Step 2: Track you email open and click rates and split test them to get them to improve.

Email is about delivery, open rates, and click rates. Go one step at a time and keep working your numbers up.  Most people make the mistake of using fancy email templates. Most people open their emails on their phone these days and all the major email programs remove images by default. Save them the trouble and use plain text split up in twitter like bite size pieces that make it easy to read the whole thing. This is where a great copywriting like our team member Jason Caluori comes into play.

Step 3: Moving them forward towards the sale

If you don’t know the path that customers will take to get to a sale then don’t expect them to. Every step of your process should have clear next step.  They may not always take, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep offering it.  Many companies who can get people to listen to them and open their emails because of great content still fail to turn that interest into sales. Don’t be afraid to ask for the sale. You just have make sure you have provided enough value for the person before you ask to make them think ….I have to be crazy not to go to the next step.

Step 4: Closing the deal

This part tends to be the easiest. Anyone that gets this far into your funnel wants to buy from you. You just have to make sure not to screw it up.  Reiterates the benefits that got them here in the first place and you should be good to go. Just make sure not to distract with another goal or action until they have completed the one that you asked them to take by coming here. It is amazing how much impact a navigation bar can have on conversion rates. Make them take the action you want them to or nothing at all.

<a href="http://guarded-clock.flywheelsites.com/author/david-wolf">David Wolf</a> is the founder of InBusiness, Inc. He is also an avid entrepreneur. David is an avid reader, and an expert at SEO, PPC, and inbound marketing strategies.