Although decades have passed since the days of “you’ve got mail,” the popularity of email doesn’t seem to be waning at all. In fact, it’s ubiquitous now — most people have at least one email address and a huge proportion of business correspondence and advertising is done by email.
But you probably already know all this, and have been using opt-in offers to entice potential customers to join your email list. Now you need to know what to do with all the subscribers (otherwise known as email marketing leads) you’ve gained so you can take advantage of the fact that for each dollar spent on email marketing in the U.S., the average ROI is $44.
We chatted with a few email marketing experts who helped us create a step-by-step strategy for turning a list full of new email subscribers into a bank account full of cash. Here’s to email marketing ROI!
Start nurturing immediately with a welcome email
Once you’ve populated your email list with interested leads, it’s time to reach out to them. A welcome email is a good place to start.
A welcome email does exactly what its name suggests: it welcomes subscribers to your email list. It should have a warm tone that thanks the recipient for subscribing and tells them what they can expect from you in the future, priming these email marketing leads for future communication.
Your welcome email might include:
- A reminder of what kind of email list it is (sales and promotions, a regular newsletter, etc.)
- The frequency with which you’ll be reaching out
- An enticing call to action like a special new subscriber coupon code to use, a video to watch, or a blog post to read
Graphic designer and business owner Jacob Cass sheds more light on the introductory process:
Getting an email lead is easy, but gaining trust and keeping that trust is not. Don’t come in selling. Remember your sales funnel (you do have one, right?) and guide the user along that journey, injecting your own personality and style into the mix so people get to know the real you/company. Maintain that trust and you’ll get more ROI.
Cass makes a great point: give your welcome email a bit of personality! Use a tone that’s on-brand so your subscribers’ experience with you is consistent, because consistency goes a long way in building trust.
In addition to figuring out the right tone, Ruben, founder of Docsketch, says perfecting your strategy with these first emails can have a lasting effect too:
One of the most impactful things we’ve done is focus on the “onboarding” part of our email drip campaigns. Once we get an email lead we add them into a drip campaign (which is pretty standard stuff).
During the early days of testing what works best, we found that actually focusing on and improving open/click rates on the first couple of emails actually results in increased engagement for all other emails, and improved our conversion rate to a paid trial by 30%.
It’s a concept that’s talked about when working on product retention, but rarely talked about when it comes to marketing and email performance.
Sync up your sales and marketing strategies
Once you’ve welcomed your new subscribers, your work isn’t done. To eventually make money with your list, you have to strategically shepherd subscribers through your sales funnel. According to growth marketing expert Sujan Patel, the smartest way to shape a funnel that works is to make sure your sales and marketing strategies align:
My #1 tip for maximizing ROI on email leads is to leverage email for more than just traditional marketing. More specifically, you should get your sales and marketing teams together and create drip campaigns and workflows that your sales team can use. Email marketing is one of the most versatile customer acquisition tactics, so you can’t silo it and keep it separate from other channels.
Sujan is right — when sales and marketing aren’t well-integrated, it’s hard to do smart business. Without open communication, the marketing team won’t know what kinds of potential customers to target so they can funnel a steady flow of qualified prospects to the sales team.
The thing is, some customers become prospects much faster than others, so your marketing strategy should include multiple ways of nurturing prospects no matter how long they take to be ready to buy. Here are some examples of nurture emails:
- Announcement: Promoting new content — maybe a blog post or video — that’s relevant to the recipient’s interests
- Promotion: Encouraging the recipient to shop a sale, use a limited time coupon code, or grab something quickly before it’s out of stock again
- Reminder: Pointing out that the recipient left something in their shopping cart but didn’t check out, or maybe that the free quote they requested is still valid until a certain date
Don’t always be selling
Not every communication with your subscribers should directly implore them to buy. Sometimes you have build trust by letting your customers know they matter regardless of whether they’re actively spending money with you.
Sending value-add emails with no strings attached can go a long way, and Jill Dvorak, Senior Director of Digital Retail at the National Retail Foundation has a list of elements you should think about including:
- Include personalization. Use their first name, mention something you know the subscriber has purchased or shown interest in before, or provide information or specials specific to their geographic location.
- Appeal to their sense of curiosity by sharing an interesting fact or statistic relevant to their interests.
- Teach them something. Be helpful and solve a problem for them.
- Share something fun. A gif, a video, a listicle — something that will elicit a positive response without sales pressure.
Receiving a few helpful, non-pushy emails like these could be the ticket to building enough trust for a prospect to become a customer.
But for your retail or eCommerce email marketing plan it makes a lot of sense to grab hold and use the moments that someone is in market. Like just after a first purchase or an abandoned shopping cart program. This intent data can be gathered from email interaction, but also click tracking from your site. Be sure to include behavioral data to time your selling right.
Use segmentation to your advantage
The way you organize, or segment, your email list should reflect that not everyone will be in the same stage of the buyer’s journey at the same time.
List segmentation means using what you know about your email marketing leads to divide your list into subsections, allowing you to deliver targeted messages that are the most likely to drive action. You can segment by demographic — by region, age, or gender identity, for example — as well as by behavior, like shopping and spending habits.
For example, say you’re a company that offers a B2B service in annual packages. You should understand when potential customers are most likely to make purchasing decisions. Is it at the end of the calendar year? Or perhaps they set the next year’s budget at the end of Q3? Tracking associated behaviors — think browsing on your website or requesting quotes — will help you understand the timing behind consumers’ decision-making so you can segment accordingly.
Keep in mind that the smaller the segment, the more strategic you can be with your outreach. If you tend to have multiple subscribers from the same company, they’ll fall into some of the same segments, like industry and region. Using an opt-in to collect additional information, like departments and job titles, will help you niche down and understand which contacts are more likely to be decision-makers.
So let’s recap. Here are the four steps to follow to get on your way to the ROI you’ve been dreaming of with your email marketing leads:
- Send a welcome email.
- Make sure your sales and marketing strategies are aligned.
- Don’t try to sell something with every email.
- Segment, segment, segment.