If you’re even remotely associated with online marketing, you’re bound to have executed an email marketing campaign. The success of email campaigns will depend on various factors such as the email’s subject line, the from name/address, the content in the email and the offer you present to prospects.
The following are three optimization techniques that we’ve found can dramatically increase email marketing effectiveness.
1. Target Audience + From Name/Address = Improved Deliverability
The biggest challenge most outbound emailers face is carefully targeting their audience and successfully delivering the email to the reader’s Inbox. With more than 97% of the daily email generated considered spam, your first task is just to get the message through spam filters.
Email deliverability can be improved several ways:
a. First and foremost, make sure you are communicating with the right audience. This can be achieved in several ways through promotions and other opt-in efforts prior to your email campaign. If you are building a home-grown database, make sure you routinely perform list hygiene, as people’s preferences change from time-to-time and they move around, etc.
By doing this, you’ll be communicating to the right person at the right time based on their opt-in preference.
b. If the person doesn’t recognize your "from name" or "email address," he/she is far more likely to delete it upon receipt or for the email to get deleted by spam filters en-route. Carefully select your From Name and Email Address and avoid using words like: offers, free, profit, success, etc.
c. If you’re using an email vendor to send emails (which most marketers are), make sure the vendor’s email servers are authorized to send email on behalf of your company domain. This involves authorizing your vendor's mail server by adding an MX recordfor the "sending" domain to your DNS entries. Not doing this essentially amounts to forging host-headers and spam servers to gobble down your emails. If you are not sure on how to set this up, consult your IT staff.
d. Setup an SPF [Sender Policy Framework] record for the sending domain [firstname.lastname@example.org]. Here's an excellent guide to implementing SPF or you may contact your ESP, your IT department, or contact us.
e. And finally, take some proactive measures. If a customer signs up for your newsletter or the occasional promotional email, tell them in advance where the email will originate from [email@example.com] and request that they whitelist the email address. A lot of companies are now using email filtering services from 3rd party companies like Postini, so this practice will certainly help improve deliverability.
2. Elevator Pitch + Format = Better Open Rate
Once your email is delivered, you have to first entice your customer to open it and then give them a reason to read it. With the average person receiving 75-100 emails per day, it is important to keep your email short and your content relevant. This helps get your email noticed and cut through the Inbox clutter.
a. Elevator Pitch: Most people have email preview turned ON. This acts as the pre-cursor to reviewing the entire message; so in a way, the preview acts as the elevator pitch to your message. If you don’t include relevant content and a compelling offer within that prime real estate, the person may choose not read any further.
You should use your company’s elevator pitch to drive the value proposition clearly and concisely. If your email campaign results are generating low Open Rates, this is one area to focus on for improvements.
b. Email Format: You could play around with HTML/Text formats, but I’ll save you the trouble. HTML outperforms Text. There will be exceptions to this rule, but more often than not, you’ll be kicking yourself for not sending an HTML message.
Our tests have shown a 35% higher response rate for HTML than Text. There’s a reason for this: Most email clients are now capable of rendering rich HTML content, unlike a few years ago when HTML support within email clients was questionable. Email clients have evolved (well, all but Outlook 2007. More on this later, or you can send us an email).
One thing we like to do is test the emails and how they will finally render using a tool called Litmus. It provides a preview of your email as rendered in the most popular email clients.
3. Offer + Content = Increased Click-through Rates
Your next job is to get the reader to click on the different call-to-actions within your email. Make sure your content reads well, there are no typos, and your offer(s) are both compelling [e.g. a current case study or an industry whitepaper have proven to perform well] and targeted, in-order to maximize the click-through rates.
Testing different offers to determine preference can be helpful.
Let’s say that your prospect universe is 100k and you aren’t sure which offer will elicit a strong response. We recommend an A/B test to a small but statistically valid segment. In this case, A/B test 2,500 emails with Offer A [a case study or 10% off maybe] and 2,500 with Offer B [a whitepaper or $25 Off]. See which offer performs better and then send the remaining 95K prospects the version that fared better.
Although there’s no guarantee that your results will match your initial test, at least you’ll be making decisions based on actual data of which offer preformed better.
None of the factors individually amount to a magic bullet to help you achieve your click-through rates or conversion targets. But, put these tips together as a package and your company’s message will have a much better chance of being delivered, read and acted upon.
Too often companies silo marketing from sales when it relates to goals, strategies and tactics. In reality, they belong under the same roof and need to be collaborative, especially throughout the lead nurture effort.
Prospects today, especially those involved in higher ticket purchases, have longer decision-making cycles because there are more individuals involved in the purchasing decision and they need to build an airtight business case before purchases are approved. As a result you need to allow the purchasing cycle to evolve as opposed to an aggressive “push” effort driven by the sales team.
Marketing Sherpa’s latest CMO Benchmarking Report states that 95% of the prospects who visit a landing page through an incentive-based demand generation campaign are there to research not to buy. That said, about 70% of those who do visit will eventually buy but not necessarily from the site they first visited. Therefore you need to make sure that these non-sales ready prospects are nurtured through content, not aggressive sales tactics because today’s buyers don’t want to engage with sales until the end of the purchasing process.
In today’s post-recession landscape where buyers are in control of the sales process there are three areas where marketing and sales collaboration become critically important:
- The definition of a sales-ready lead derived from co-defined lead scoring values
- The appropriate type of customer communication, associated cues and optimal timing
- The lead profile and history that is most interesting and valuable to sales, especially for recycled leads
The key to achieving success during this lead nurture process is to provide content that delivers value and keeps the prospect engaged. This means offering personalized information that is timely and relevant to the prospect’s situation. Most of this is delivered by the Marketing team using Marketing Automation tools; however some can be delivered directly by the sales team. The key is coordination between both sales and marketing to keep the prospect engaged not enraged.
At the end of the day, a successful B-to-B marketing services company needs to embrace a high-tech, high-touch approach that melds sales and marketing into a cohesive unit that respect’s buyers in terms of their agenda, not just a year end number that has to be met.