There are over 294,000,000,000 emails sent each day. 294 BILLION. The average person receives 72 emails per day and spends up to 30% of their working day in their inbox. That’s a lot of competition. To give yourself the best chance of cutting through with your email marketing you need to send emails your customers love.
By thinking about each customer’s current relationship with your business you can send emails each individual customer will find relevent. Here are six ways you can send emails your customers will love.
The most obvious place to start in order to send emails your customers want to see is segmentation. Don’t send everyone the same thing! This sounds obvious but very few businesses take the time to do any segmentation at all.
There are many, many ways to slice your customer base ranging from something as basic as RFM:
…to much more complex statistical models that try and factor in a whole range of historical data and future estimates.
Even some simple segmentation will put you ahead of the pack. Next time you send out a promotional newsletter I’d recommend having at least two segments:
Use simple segments to change your offer in each the email you are sending and, ultimately, improve your profit from this campaign.
For example, why not offer new customers, who have subscribed but never bought, a discount. Give past, loyal customers access to a ‘hidden’ series of products for the new season as a reward for their loyalty they get early access.
This can be as simple as pulling the order history out of your database and adding a true or false value to your email marketing list. Measure the net result and see how it compares to your normal promotions. I’d be surprised if the results haven’t improved.
A clever, more advanced trick, is to use trigger-based emails to send very specific emails to your customers based on what they do on your site.
Amazon is always a great example of this in action as they hone in on your browsing history and actively follow-up on-site activity with a series of emails.
Setting up emails like this can be done with good lifecycle email marketing software that allows you to track your customers’ actions and trigger a series of emails to users who look at product category ‘cameras’ but do not checkout.
The web is a powerful place and you are now able to access and use more information about your customers than ever before.
Use your customers’ information to segment when sending marketing emails and you’ll be ahead of the majority of online businesses that simply send similar offers week-in-week-out!
Automated emails give you the power to personalize in a way you simply cannot recreate manually. Below are a few examples of quality automated emails that show their power:
At scale this sort of email is impossible to keep on top of if you’re emailing manually. With a little engineering and (ensuring you keep things simple) you can quickly implement an email like this that goes out to customers automatically.
As long as you actually follow up on any responses, you’ll find that this campaign really resonates with new customers.
This example from HelloFax is a great one.
Every business has a funnel of some sort. You should be tracking where your customers are in your funnel and using email to move customers from one step to the next.
The best way to do this is to provide useful information each step of the way. Sending tens, hundreds or thousands of customers an individual email based on where they are in your funnel could not be done manually but automated emails give you the power to send something individually relevant.
This doesn’t mean you have use formal language or lots of pictures, take a look at this example from Flightfox who used a simple, plain-text question and answer format to double the conversions on a lifecycle email.
Sending emails based on a customer’s specific browsing habits is something you could never do with a team of people (it wouldn’t be very efficient!) but using automated emails allows you to trigger an email with content related to your customers’ experiences so far on your website.
Don’t underestimate the power of automated emails!
I could spend a lot of time going through how to setup automated lifecycle emails but I thought I’d share this slideshow which does the job faster and smoother than I can!
I did a search of my inbox the other day for the term ‘noreply’ and got over 1000 results since the start of March. Admittedly, I get a lot more emails than the average user, but that’s a lot of email@example.com addresses.
These emails were from startups, big brands and everything in between. In many cases they were simple promotional emails or updates.
There is no REAL reason to use a noreply email address for a marketing email. Even if you’re sending the email to hundreds of thousands of people you can use an address like ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ or ‘email@example.com’. Active communication with your customers is the way of the future.
As HubSpot points out in their slideshow, What The F*ck Is Social Media? Brands are winning engagement with their customers at every opportunity across every medium.
There are all sorts of tools out there to help with managing customer responses, my favourite being HelpScout. You should use a personal email and give your customers the chance to respond if they want.
What if your customers have a question about your sale?
What if your customers want to respond and ask how to setup a new feature?
For every 10% of customers that bother to head back to your site and find your support email or create a ticket you can guarantee that 90% will simply bail when they can’t hit reply.
Do you want to miss out on 90% of what your customer base are saying? Talking to customers is everything when it comes to running an online business. You can’t chat to them over the counter but you can chat to them via email!
Use a REAL email address, not firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks to awesome tools like Visual Website Optimizer and Unbounce (shameless shelf plug) savvy online businesses use A/B testing to regularly improve their landing pages and funnels.
…but hardly anyone I talk to A/B tests email campaigns like they should. Running an A/B test might sound complex but it can be as simple as you want.
As an example close to home, I have recently been testing the format of my blog post update emails:
All of these hypothesis stem from wanting to write emails that your customers will love more. Getting customers to open, click and convert from your emails is important and seeing the results of tests like those above is simple, thanks to the email marketing software on the market today.
So…next time you’re writing a campaign have it in your head to create a second variation.
…and so on. Here’s the results of a recent A/B test on a subject line I ran. To test a hypothesis I simply removed ‘[Vero]’ from the subject line and changed my approach to try and be ‘mysterious’ or ‘enticing’ – interestingly, the open rate dropped dramatically with this variation. Lesson learned!
The value of a simple A/B test can be very powerful stuff. With a few extra hours work (or even less) you can find some permanent ways to send emails your customers love.
Last week Ryan Hoover wrote a great post sharing his theory on Email first startups. He mentions a number of reasons email is a great medium on which to build a business. Email forces you to be simple. There’s no room for bloat and, unless your emails are focused and to the point, they won’t get your readers attention. Although Ryan was talking about email in the context of starting a business the same concept applies to any email you send
Simplify your copy, spend more time writing content that relates to where the customer is in their relationship to your business and provide a single call to action. Joanna Wiebe also has some great tips in her article ‘Tone of Voice 101‘.
Here are four steps that you should check through mentally when writing a new email campaign (or any content you’re going to publish):
Review your emails properly before you send them! Focus your emails with consistent, well-written content (take your time) and repeat your single call to action (CTA).
A tried and true tactic – customers will love you if you share your ‘secrets’ with them.
Too many business owners worry about giving away information, as though a successful business is built on ideas alone.
The world’s most successful online business such as 37Signals, HubSpot and Net-a-Porter all use sharing as a core part of their marketing.
Take the 37Signals blog, Signal vs. Noise. Since 1999 they’ve shared their ups, downs and ideas about starting businesses, design and management online. This has led to successful books and has certainly been a dramatic aspect of the success of their products such as Basecamp or Highrise.
Net-a-Porter has always shared great content on how to dress, look good and given style-guidance. This ‘magazine-first’ approach is a great way for Net-a-Porter to consistently market to their customers without seeming over-bearing or simply offering coupons every week. Customers don’t buy clothes for the sake of buying clothes: they buy clothes to look and feel good.
By sharing the secrets of how to do this Net-a-Porter constantly build momentum and drive over 30% of their sales via email.
Give away as much information as you can to your customers. HELP them by teaching and they’ll love you for it. Email is a great medium for sharing content. It’s direct, it’s personal and it’s focused. Embrace this.
Focus on making your customers love your emails and you’ll increase your conversions as well. Use the huge amount of data you can now capture about your customers to send smarter emails, not more emails. Make each email count and you’ll be a long way ahead of the competition.
How do you send emails your customers love? Share success stories in the comments!