You’ve got the basics of email marketing down, sending well-targeted content according to a thoughtful calendar. Now it’s time to step up your game and make your campaigns as effective as possible.
What action do you want leads to take when they read your emails? We’ve already touched on the importance of calls-to-action, but how can you make them more successful?
First, design a variety of calls-to-action targeting leads at different stages of the sales cycle. Early-stage leads, for example, may be interested in an offer for your new pieces of premium content. Leads further along in the sales process may find progressively closer engagements useful: think webinars and complimentary consultations. This lead nurturing strategy is the beating heart of a content marketing campaign, and calls-to-action through email are one of the primary vehicles for this nurture. Developing a comprehensive offer strategy – deciding which audiences to target with different types of offers, and when – will help you maximize the impact of your offers.
When creating calls-to-action in individual emails, it’s important to make your messages as clear as possible in content, language, and aesthetics, taking special care to communicate the value that readers will gain from following the call-to-action.
In terms of design, make certain that the call-to-action is highly visible, standing out from the rest of the email. Instead of a simple link, for example, create a visually striking button. Place it above the fold (so that most users will see it immediately, without having to scroll down) and make it obvious that the button is a link. Use HTML instead of image files to create these design elements to ensure maximum consistency across inboxes and devices: some users won’t see images at all.
As you work to optimize clarity and visual impact in your calls-to-action, you should also consider the following best practices:
- Include only one call-to-action in each email.
- Include the value that readers will get from following the call-to-action.
- Repeat the call-to-action within your email – two or three times, say, depending on the length of the email.
- When appropriate, create a sense of urgency by presenting a deadline.
Finally, it’s important to think about what happens once the user actually clicks the call-to-action. They should find themselves on a page that clearly delivers what they expected to find. If that’s a blog post, they should see the blog post. If it is a piece of premium content or a webinar sign-up form, they should find themselves on an appropriate “landing page” with any further instructions that may be necessary. Make sure your landing page copy aligns with the call-to-action.
Important analytics to monitor and how to adjust accordingly
Now, how do you evaluate whether your campaign is accomplishing its goals? We’ve discussed the importance of analytics, but that’s a big topic. Which metrics should you be watching?
The answer differs from firm to firm, and it depends on your goals. Key metrics to consider include:
- Size and growth rate of your email list.
How large is your list, and how large do you want it to be? How quickly do you want it to grow? The importance of this metric will vary according to the priority you place on building your list.
- Email open rates.
You can break this number down to look at the total number of opens for an email, the rate at which recipients are opening, the total number of unique opens, and the unique open rate. The “unique” metric eliminates duplicate opens from the same user from the equation. These measurements can help you gauge the effectiveness of your subject lines.
- Click through rates (or CTR).
How often are recipients clicking through your calls-to-action? You might measure total clicks, the overall click through rate, unique clicks, and the unique click through rate to see whether your emails are accomplishing their goals.
There are also “warning” metrics that may indicate your email strategy is not working as it should. Your bounce rate measures the rate at which your emails are returned by recipients’ servers – in short, they never got the email at all, perhaps because the email address is wrong. A high unsubscribe rate may indicate that your audiences aren’t finding your content useful, or they’re feeling harassed. You’ll also want to consider the number of complaints from subscribers marking your emails as spam.
For more positive, business-oriented indicators, you may want to look at your total number of conversions and your conversion rate, as well as the activity of late-stage leads. You may also want to measure the total revenue you’ve generated from email marketing. It’s important to remember that email campaigns take time to work, but ultimately, you’ll want to ensure that you’re seeing a return on them. If not, it’s time to reevaluate your approach.
Marketing automation is software that simplifies many marketing and sales efforts by automating repetitive tasks. This software can qualify and nurture leads, as well as provide relevant and educational content based on your prospects’ behaviors, delivering a more robust and targeted campaign with less ongoing effort.
Generally, this software integrates with your CRM and expands on its capabilities. In fact, several of the more sophisticated CRMs that we mentioned in the last chapter include marketing automation functionality. In addition to helping you manage your contacts and segment your list, or integrating your email marketing with your blog and social media presences, these programs can help you conduct “smarter” email marketing:
- Drip marketing
In a drip marketing campaign, messages go out to prospects or leads at specified times – relative, for example, to when they subscribe. In this type of campaign, the pace and order of content is preset, but the individual receives it on a more personalized basis.
- Trigger marketing
This type of campaign delivers communications based on prospects’ or contacts’ behavior, such as clicking on a link or downloading a specific piece of content. This allows you to target your audiences in a highly personalized way.
There are a number of marketing automation software solutions available. The best fit will depend on your firm’s specific needs, but some of the most popular choices include:
In order to get the most out of marketing automation software, it is important to ensure that its capabilities align with your needs: if you won’t require trigger marketing functionality, for example, it won’t be advantageous to pay for it. But for firms embarking on ambitious campaigns, this software can deliver enormous value. If this seems overwhelming, assistance with marketing automation can also be provided by firms offering digital marketing services.
Email is an integral part in experiencing the advantages of your online marketing efforts. Download our Email Marketing Guide for Professional Services Firms for more tips and techniques to move past the basics and amplify your email marketing campaigns.