Email marketing has the highest lead conversion rate of any inbound marketing tactic. Inbound marketing software company Optify's 2012 B2B Benchmarking Report found that email marketing converted recipients to leads at a 2.9% rate. By comparison, organic search traffic had a 1.45% conversion ratio and social media had a 1.22% conversion rate.
Many technology companies spend a lot of time and money on email marketing, yet they don't get the business results they hoped for. They buy lists of target contacts and routinely email information on their products and services and get precious few responses. The most successful tech companies use email as a pillar of their marketing strategy.
So where do they go wrong? I suspect that answer can be found in of the 4 email marketing tips I will share below.
1. Don't send marketing emails to people who haven't asked for them!
As a small business owner, I occasionally send emails to people that I don't know. These emails are usually sales-oriented and are specifically tailored to the recipient. I briefly let them know how we've helped similar companies and ask if they would be interested in learning more. If they give me permission, I share more information to help them determine if we might be able to help them. More often than not, I used LinkedIn Inmails because they typically have a higher open rate.
What I will never do is add someone to my email marketing campaigns without their permission. There are several reasons for not doing so:
Busy professionals find their email inboxes cluttered with unwanted spam on a daily basis. By joining the spammer club, I'm more likely to turn the recipient off than attract them to my solutions.
When recipients or Internet Service Providers classify your email as spam, your delivery rates decrease - even to people who have opted-in to your email.
You're far better off conducting a strategic email marketing campaign to a smaller group of people who have opted in to your campaign than throwing a bunch of dreck against the wall to see what sticks.
So how can you develop and maintain an opt-in email list? Like most good things in life, it isn't easy. By conducting a consistent and persistent inbound marketing effort, you will generate opt-in leads using tactics like:
Publishing relevant blog articles targeted to your ideal customer profiles that include related lead conversion paths. For an example of a lead conversion path, click on the call-to-action immediately below this paragraph. Regular blogging will increase your domain authority and increase your organic search traffic, which in turn, will help grow your opt-in lead list.
Embed social media into your content marketing and email marketing. Share your blog articles through your social media channels. Include social share buttons on all of your content so that people can share it with their contacts.
If you meet someone while networking, ask their permission to share content with them via email. There's nothing worse than meeting someone briefly and finding you're receiving daily emails from them afterwards.
2. Maintain your opt-in lists to increase engagement with your email marketing.
Just because someone downloaded an eBook from your website doesn't mean that they want to receive your emails until the end of time. Analyze email statistics like opens and click-throughs to determine who is getting value from your email marketing.
I use my inbound marketing software to create suppression lists for people to whom I've sent 5 or more emails without any of them being opened. Face it, if you've sent them 5 emails and they haven't opened any, they're probably not going to buy from you! Worse, you're becoming a viable candidate for the Mayor of Stalkerville.
Some other approaches to these non-engaged opt-in leads are:
Send them an email letting them know that you're taking them off your mailing list unless they opt-in again by responding that they want you to continue emailing them.
Put them on an email marketing campaign that reduces the frequency of your emailing. For example, reduce them from montly emailing to quarterly or semi-annually.
Create categories of emails that let people choose what they want to receive at what frequency. My company sends out a monthly blog digest, announcements of new content offers and lead-nurturing emails. I encourage recipients to choose what is useful to them or to unsubscribe if they're not getting value from my emais.
3. Make your emails interesting and to the point.
The first thing that an email recipient will use to decide whether to open/read your email is the subject line. MailChimp has great advice for composing subject lines:
"When it comes to subject lines, boring works best. When you write your subject line, don’t sell what’s inside—tell what's inside...If you want people to open your emails, you have to get past their spam filters first. Avoid using spammy keywords and phrases, and avoid using ALL CAPS or too many exclamation points!!! ."
Another best practice for subject lines is to personalize them with the recipients first name or the name of their company. Doing so should lead to higher open rates.
In Shakespeare's Hamlet, the Bard made a great observation: "Brevity is the soul of wit." Use that as the guiding principle of your email marketing. If the body of your email is longer than 200 words, you should probably re-write it as a blog article and share it as a link within the email.
Another point to keep in mind is that 40.8% of US email users read email on their mobile devices, according to MailChimp. If the entire body of your email doesn't fit on the screen of their device, it's probably destined for their trash folder. Your formula should be to send brief emails that provide opportunities for readers to click on a link to get more information.
4. Analyze email marketing statistics to figure out what works best
There are several statistics you should monitor to optimize your email marketing. In our eBook, An Introduction To Email Marketing, we identify 9. In this blog article, we'll talk about 2 of them: open rates and click-through rates. Put simply, these stats measure what percentage of recipients open your emails and what percentage clicks through on the links or calls-to-action included in your email. You should monitor the results for every email you send. This will help you figure out the approaches that work best with your target audience. Here are some benchmarks for comparison purposes, courtesy of MailChimp:
If you're falling short of these benchmarks, the first thing you should do is look at your opt-in list and remove non-engaged contacts.
Here's one more bonus tip - segment your email lists in order to create tailored emails by audience. We think email marketing list segmentation is so important, we wrote an entire blog article about it. By using these 5 email marketing tips, you'll get the results you want and need. Want to learn more about email marketing? Download our eBook, An Introduction To Email Marketing.