Email marketing is a powerful weapon that every online marketers in the world should master.
To illustrate how powerful email marketing is, in 2012 email fundraising was responsible for nearly $690 million in donations for Obama. To raise this kind of money through email marketing, Obama’s team had to accomplish two goals. First, they had to build an email list with millions of people. Second, they had to motivate those people to donate.
If emails can become the largest digital fundraising source for a President candidate at that time, imagine what a successful and active email marketing technique can do for your business. Do you want to master this technique? Read on.
1. Drive More Traffic
Before you can start converting email subscribers, you need to get your subscribe form in front of as many people as you can. For the first time, this top-of-funnel step will probably be your stagnancy, so you’ll want to focus on building your traffic quickly.
Noah Kagan grew AppSumo’s email list by 147,000 subscribers in just 10 months by leveraging the power of giveaways. It gets even better when you consider that each new subscriber generates $0.83 of gross profit, so those new subscribers translate into over $100,000 in profit.
Choosing an AppSumo product its target audience would like, the company let people enter to win it by taking specific actions such as subscribing via email and sharing on Twitter. Because of the viral nature of social sharing, these giveaways amplify the initial promotion to quickly reach a larger audience, all while increasing the visibility of specific AppSumo products.
But all giveaways are not created equal. Across 25 different giveaways, Noah saw significant difference between the most successful giveaway ($6.90 profit per new subscriber) and the least successful ($0.24 profit per new subscriber).
The difference? The most successful giveaway offered free attendance to an entrepreneur getaway, and the least successful offered a free Macbook Air. Look for products that will attract your target audience and not just a mass of random people.
- Write guest posts on popular blogs
Airbnb grew off Craigslist. Upworthy leveraged Facebook. These companies connected with existing super-platforms to drive extraordinary growth. You can do the same by writing guest posts. Go find a popular blog in your market, write some amazing content, offer an incentive to subscribe, and watch your email list grow.
- Optimise for search traffic
So you’ve published an interesting new piece of content and promoted it well on social media. Great! Enjoy this initial wave of visitors. Two weeks later, you’ll notice not many people click through from Twitter or Facebook.
Social media is great, but it’s generally a short-term opportunity. To get the most out of the content, you need to find a traffic source that continues sending visitors for months or years. What can you do to optimise content you’ve already created for bonus search engine traffic?
2. Converting The Visitors
So you’ve got some traffic. How many of your visitors actually join your email list? Five percent? One percent? Improving your conversion rate from visitor to subscriber has a massive and ongoing effect on your email list growth, so you’ll want to spend some time optimising this step.
What’s the value proposition for someone to join your email list? By default, you’re asking someone to take action today (joining your list) for a reward at some indefinite point in the future (when you send a valuable email). Humans are terrible at investing in the future, so that’s a pretty weak value proposition.
Where can people signup to join your email list? You probably have the classic sidebar subscribe box, perhaps another at the beginning or end of your post, and hopefully a SmartBar at the top of your page. That’s all well and good, but how many of your visitors actually notice those placements? If you want to convince a visitor to join your email list, you first have to actually get their attention.
Once you’ve seen the power of popovers, you’ll never want to go back.
What’s the best color for a signup button? The best copy for a promo headline? The best placement for a signup form? Ask any marketer worth their salt and the reply will be the same: “It depends.” Despite all the case studies in the world, individual results vary widely. The button color that works miracles for one company might do nothing for your audience and product.
Use learnings from case studies to direct your experiments, but test everything for yourself.
3. Engaging subscribers
So now you’ve got a massive email list. Congratulations! Now what?
Getting someone to join your list is only half the battle. They’ve given you a brief moment of their attention. Now you need to keep it.
If you send too many emails, some people will simply ignore them, or even unsubscribe. It’s the stuff of marketer’s nightmares — paralysed and suspended from the ceiling in a darkened warehouse while being forced to watch a giant monitor across the room count down your shrinking email list numbers. Terrifying.
So if increasing send volume hurts subscriber numbers, it must be a very bad thing, right? Actually that’s not true at all. In email marketing (as in all of marketing), it’s not really about reaching the most people. It’s about reaching the right people. Remember how President Obama raised nearly $690 million dollars through email marketing during his 2012 re-election? During the critical last few weeks of the race, Obama increased his email volume significantly. In response, his email open rates plummeted by 14% to a campaign low, yet the donations increase. Obama’s true fans were glad to get more emails, and they showed their enthusiasm with millions of dollars in donations.
So think about your email list for a moment. Who really wants more email from you? The answer is simple: your best customers.
Would you rather keep your least engaged subscriber happy by sending one email a year or make your biggest fan happy by sending killer value three times a week? We all know that using a subscriber’s name makes them happy, right? Actually, a study of 10 million marketing emails found that fake personalisation can have the opposite effect. The #nofilter generation values realism, and is quick to spot fake personalisation.
- A failed personalisation attempt
However, that doesn’t mean the power of personalisation is lost. The same study found that genuine personalisation, such as changing email content based on purchase history or demographic, caused a positive reaction in 98% of people. When you’re first building your list, this level of personalisation probably won’t be realistic, but as your list grows look for opportunities to segment subscribers by the types of emails they open and click.
Did you know 66% of emails in early 2014 were opened on a smartphone or tablet? Knowing that an increasing number of its subscribers were reading from a mobile device, you need a backup plan. If possible, put together three email designs: a traditional static desktop email, a static mobile email, and a responsive email which looked good on both desktop and mobile.
This highlights two important facts about mobile email marketing:
- Designing something that looks good on mobile will translate into revenue.
- Even though 66 percent of people open on mobile, those 34 percent on desktop are still your most valuable customers. Static desktop outperformed static mobile.
So go take another look at your email design and make sure you’re not creating a painful experience for two-thirds of your subscribers.
To build an effective email list that achieves your goals, grow traffic through targeted giveaways and guest posts, convert subscribers with epic, specific incentives, and engage them frequently using mobile optimised emails.