You’ve probably seen those articles boasting insane stats about the power of email marketing. Like email is 40 times more likely to acquire new customers than Facebook or Twitter (McKensey). And that emails are 6x more likely to get click-throughs than a tweet (Campaign Monitor).
Email is a lead generation powertool, no doubt about it, and that’s equally important for you as it is your clients. So it makes sense to master the art of email marketing to generate your own new leads – but also give you the opportunity to run campaigns for your clients.
If you’re new to email marketing, the process goes a little something like this.
Be specific with your goals (and everything else)
As with anything in this game, the first thing you need is a clear goal in mind. This will be easier for yourself but perhaps more challenging when it comes to clients. As a web designer, developer or whatever your email marketing goals will normally revolve around lead generation. Normally, but not always. You could have some stock icons to promote, a monthly subscription plan for people to sign up to or a plugin you’ve developed. It could be all of the previous and more.
Smart Insights wants visitors to sign up to their basic free membership, using resources as bait
If you have clients who rely on advertising to monetize their site then traffic will be the main goal. Meanwhile, clients in the eCommerce business will obviously focus more on direct sales – products, promotions and getting previous customers to buy again, for example.
Charities have causes to promote, volunteers to sign up and donations to collect. Events companies, on the other hand, have partners to find, funding to source and, of course, events to promote. It’s important you can distinguish these different types of goal because you’ll need to be specific every step of the way with email marketing.
Getting those email addresses
The hardest thing in email marketing is often getting your hands on the email addresses to get things moving. This is especially true for new businesses that don’t have much of a following and worse still for the older businesses with no audience.
You’ll find plenty of places where you can buy lists of emails to work with but that’s seriously not the way to go. Unsolicited emailing can get limited results but it can also cause way more harm than good. Even if it doesn’t, it isn’t worth it in the long run. What you need is traffic coming to your site and a damn good reason for them to hand over their email address willingly.
Finding the right hook
The hook is something you need to offer users so they can’t resist typing in their email address and opting into your marketing campaigns. Never underestimate how unwilling people might be to hand over their personal details – especially when it’s painfully obvious you’re going to be mailing them afterwards.
Campaign Monitor leaves little room for saying no to this one.
You need to make them want those emails and that means there’s got to be something in it for them. Common hooks will be newsletters, eBooks, free downloads, premium content, podcasts, in-depth guides, coupon codes and various other incentives.
If you’re stuck for ideas follow the basic consumer formula:
- Save people money
- Save people time
- Make them smarter
- Improve their career prospects
- Help them buy the right products
- Make them feel sexier, prettier, more handsome, confident or successful
- Offer something for free
Choosing the right signup method
Once you know what hook you’re going to tempt people with, you next have to think about how you present it to them. Popups have made a real comeback over the last five years but they’ve also become less intrusive and inspired some alternative options.
You can go for popups that only appear when a user’s mouse moves towards the top-left of the browser window (towards the back and ‘X’ buttons). You also have header bars which are barely intrusive at all but much less visible. You can also go for fixed position popups that don’t obstruct content (at least on desktop) but sit in plain sight. There are pros and cons of each, as always, and that’s a call you have to make. You don’t have to take the popup route at all, though.
Elegant Themes fixes a popup to the bottom-right of the display.
Placing signup forms in your footer is another option and you can reinforce that with calls to action at the end of every blog post. You can work those incentives into your pages – an eBook on design trends on your services page, for example. The balance between unobtrusive calls to action and getting the maximum number of emails is tricky to find – so be prepared to test and measure variations.
Choosing your delivery method
They all come with free trials so go ahead and test a few out to see what features meet your needs best against the prices. There isn’t much between them in all truth. Some have better email builders than others or better analytics features and you can say the same for UX and pricing. It mostly comes down to personal preference and how you like to work.
You can always get your email templates from other sources if the builder in your software falls short. In fact, this often works out as the faster option – especially if you have a lot of campaigns to run.
Email templates from Creative Market.
Likewise, you can use your preferred analytics tools if the metrics your software offers up aren’t what you’re looking for. The most important thing is to end up with a streamlined email marketing process that’s productive, not time-consuming. That’s the whole point of email marketing software.
Target segmented users
We mentioned the need to be specific every step of the way before and it’s time to really hammer home that point. Send out one email to everyone on your list and you’re not going to have much fun with email marketing. In fact, you’ll kick yourself for wasting time and money.
You need to take that email list of yours and segment it into a number different user profiles. Let’s say you specialise in five or six industries as a web designer. You would probably publish eBooks for each of those industries and countless blog posts dedicated to them. So track which pieces of content those signups come from and send industry-specific emails to them based on their interests, previous interactions and everything else you know about them
Another example would be a clothing firm, which could segment its email targets by gender, age, location, purchase history and countless other variables. After all, it doesn’t make sense to promote men’s sweaters to teenage girls (except at Christmas maybe) and someone with a history of buying running shoes probably wants more of the same or related products.
Whatever email marketing software you choose it will come with some kind of analytics tool to help you track results. Many also integrate with Google Analytics as well. Stats like open rate, click-through rate, unsubscribe rate and other key metrics tell you how well your campaigns are performing.
A graphic representation of MailChimp reports from its website.
Just as you would with a website you can use these metrics to improve your email marketing methods and A/B test for better results. So keep an eye out for testing features when you weigh up different email marketing services.
Email marketing a vital skill
The numbers in favour of using email marketing to generate new leads, keep old ones and convert those still sitting on the fence are impressive to say the least. More importantly, though, email marketing is a skill in high demand and with the right know-how you’re not only bringing in more business for yourself, you’ve got more to offer each client on an ongoing basis.