Monday, 13 April 2015

4 Areas Of Email Marketing Improvement

Both email marketing and marketing automation software should ultimately save time and enhance revenues — and taking a myopic view of these technologies’ applications in a client company is a major oversight. 
When marketers are able to look at how these technologies are functioning through a customer lifecycle, they can identify bottlenecks, opportunities, and relationships between the two that open up massive potential to boost the bottom line — and that’s the business we’re in.
As email marketers, we’re not merely in the strategic advisory business, or the software integration business, or the copywriting / optimization business — though we’re involved in all those components and more. The work of a real email marketer (the work I’m involved in every day) is the business of driving results that you can see on the bottom line.
The unique process that we use with our client companies goes through four distinct phases: CollectingConnectingConverting, and Circulating. Though I’ve covered some of the best practices of these email marketing phases on Duct Tape Marketing blog, today I’ll dive into more depth to explore how we might improve each phase.
By testing and analyzing the entire email and automation process, we’re able to find the small opportunities that create big yields, and identify which projects should be the client’s highest priority.
Below, we’ll cover each phase distinctly, and look into how opportunities can be mined (and problems solved) in each of the four distinct quadrants.

Email Marketing Phase 1: Collecting

In analyzing this phase, we look at all the ways in which a company is presently acquiring leads, contacts, and sometimes front-end sales. 
The aim here is to acquire as many of the right leads as possible, and begin immediate communication with them in the right method and at the right pace. Optimizing this quadrant means improving lead flow from our given sources.
Companies also commonly aim to drive more leads into their various web or new prospect funnels, and this phase commonly involves the implementation of new PR, SEO, or outbound contact strategies to find consistent traffic sources.
Improve Metric Movers:
  • New, profitable leads sources to tap consistently (implementing new traffic-driving regimens)
  • Higher conversion on contact forms / information collection forms / white papers / webinars / etc.
  • More leads in the customer’s pipeline 
Tools and Strategies:
  • Landing page optimization / split-testing
  • Opt-in form variations and drop-down segmentation
  • Outbound lead generation campaign design
Common Errors:
  • Neglecting to test major landing pages and contact pages to optimize submissions
  • Neglecting to create thank-you pages with specific calls to action (i.e.: web forms that answer a submission with “Thank you for submitting”)
  • Unsegmented front-end contact forms that communicate identically to leads and prospects of all types.

Email Marketing Phase 2: Connecting

In this phase of the optimization process, we aim to build the best initial relationship with the prospect as possible — through automated follow-up sequences and communications calibrated by their prospect type and their behavior.
Before converting a prospect to a customer or moving an initial buyer to an up-sell or retention strategy, we must understand and appeal to their motives. In this phase, we identify these unique characteristics so the next contact can employ the appropriate mailing sequences and calibrations they’ve pre-determined for that type of customer.
Improve Metric Movers:
  • Email open rates from prospects / new customers
  • Response rates to offers, appointments, or other calls-to-action within a company’s email sequences
  • Decreased “SPAM” complaints
Tools & Strategies:
  • Customer avatars and customer profiles (purchase motives, etc…)
  • Analytics for email open and click-through rates
  • Split-testing of email sequences and subject lines
Common Errors:
  • Bland, generic follow-up sequences that aren’t calibrated by the business’s demands or by the behavior of the client
  • Neglecting to setting up designated follow-up sequences for new buyers, or for win-back of past customers
  • Short, untested email sequences that are set once and never tested to improve their efficacy in delivering meaningful results like sales, appointments, or any kind of engagement

Email Marketing Phase 3: Converting

In the converting phase, we leverage email and automation strategies to bring customers to make their first significant step forward with the client business. For an e-commerce business, this might involve a first purchase or an up-sell purchase. For a service business, this might involve a qualified sales appointment. For an app company, this might involve passing a critical “stickiness” threshold, or a new referral.
Here our relevant messaging and understanding of customer motives are fully employed in driving revenues. Proper testing of the links, sequences, and pages directly leading to a sale is often one of the fastest way to extract more revenue from an existing marketing funnel.
Improve Metric Movers:
  • Appointment form split-testing
  • Landing or sales page split-testing
  • Profit-per-prospect generated through major lead channels
Tools & Strategies:
  • Appointment form split-testing
  • Landing or sales page split-testing
  • Offer and campaign construction
Common Errors:
  • Untested sales pages or appointment forms that stagnate with low response rates but still go unnoticed
  • Lack of follow-up offers or “second swing” attempts of sales and appointments on qualified leads
  • Short, ineffective campaigns which only convert a minor portion of the total qualified prospects in a given channel

Email Marketing Phase 4: Circulating

This phase is towards the end of the customer lifecycle but should be viewed as a continued portion of the customer or prospect relationship with the company.
It’s safe to say that this is where 90% of businesses “drop the ball” in terms of maintaining relationships with valuable prospect and customer groups. Optimizing this phase means the construction of a profit-rich database that a company can draw upon again and again for sales and referrals.
Generating ideas for this phase of your email marketing strategy can often be aided by analyzing the strategies of large companies who use newsletters well. Recently, we conducted a breakdown of some of the email newsletter strategies of HubSpot, Wayfair, Boston Consulting Group and other top companies, which I hope you find useful.
Improve Metric Movers:
  • Customer lifetime values
  • Long-term open rates and engagement
  • “Found” revenues via specific offers to particular list segments
Tools & Strategies:
  • Determination of broadcast regimens
  • Long-term customer lifetime value mapping and optimization (“deep” campaigns as an alternative to neglecting past prospects and customers)
  • “Newsletter” segmentation and testing methods engineered to refine communication for long-term engagement
Common Errors:
  • A disorganized and inconsistent regimen for reaching out to existing customers, maintaining engagement, retention, and future purchases
  • “Blast” emails that blanket an entire prospect or customer list and degrade long-term relationships and customer lifetime value
  • Neglecting to calibrate more or different communication to particularly active and valuable list segments who are eager to invest more with the company
Viewing email marketing as simple phase (e.g., the newsletter or the autoresponder) will limit email from reaching the broad scope it can potentially influence as a marketing medium.
I hope that seeing email through these phases will help you understand all of the “improvement points” along the customer’s buying journey and allow you to make meaningful and systematic improvements in your business.
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