Conversation Optimized Email Marketing Strategy

Email is still the most coveted of all marketing channels. And there’s no other place as great for telling your brand’s story and converting prospects and customers. Are your email list and tactics working as hard for your brand as possible?

Conversation Optimized Email Marketing Strategy
Conversation Optimized Email Marketing Strategy

Content Summary

Why email marketing
How to cultivate a highly converting email list
Implementing conversion
Optimized email workflows
How to maximize inbox delivery rates
Smart contact segments
3 quick email marketing hacks you should know
Conclusion

Three questions:

  • Are your email campaigns offering real value to your customers and prospects?
  • Are they personalized?
  • And, most importantly, are they contextual?

Email is still the most coveted of all marketing channels, so it’s time to make sure your list and campaigns are working hard for your brand.

Check out the Email Marketing Kickstart Guide for campaign templates and best practices—and to learn about:

  • Cultivating a highly converting email list
  • Implementing conversion-optimized email workflows
  • Maximizing inbox delivery rates
  • Creating smart contact segments
  • Plus, three quick email marketing hacks you should know.

We know this sounds obvious, but your email marketing ROI is only going to be as good as the quality of your email list, your deliverability success, and the conversions that improve your bottom line.

So, it’s time to brush up on the strategies, best practices, and core concepts that can turn your email marketing efforts from good to great. In other words, get ready to build a conversion-optimized powerhouse.

Check out this guide to learn about:

  • Why email marketing?
  • How to cultivate a highly converting email list
  • Implementing conversion-optimized email workflows
  • How to maximize inbox delivery rates
  • Smart contact segments
  • Three email marketing hacks you should know

What this article is about

The purpose of this guide is to introduce to its reader strategies, best practices, and core concepts that differentiate a good email marketing campaign from a conversion-optimized powerhouse.

We share real-world marketing strategies, campaign templates, list-building tactics, and deliverability best practices that deliver results on bottom-line conversions.

Who this article is for

The guide is written for the intermediate email marketer. You have dabbled in email marketing for a while and have tasted early success.

You believe in the power of contextual, personalized messages and believe in building powerful connections with your customers and prospects.

This guide will share advanced concepts that will take your email marketing to the next level. Some of the concepts and tactics may require advanced toolsets that Campaigner provides but we have tried to remain platform agnostic.

Why email marketing (vs other channels)

With the passing of each era in the internet universe (which happens to get shorter with each passing year), many foretell the death of email.

Only thing is, that not only has email not died, but it has also only been getting stronger. Email still is the most coveted of all marketing channels. There are few things as powerful, sacred, and personal as your primary email inbox. And there is no other place as great for telling your brand’s story.

Last year was almost a proof-in-the-pudding year for email; existing channels introduced great new features (like Instagram and Snapchat), while big players took bigger hits (Facebook with its privacy controversy for instance). Email on the other hand kept consistently growing.

From looking at over 1 million emails that we send through our system, we know that quality email marketing campaigns on average get:

  • 57% click-through rates
  • 47% conversions
  • 35% ROI

Email has seen an average of 49% subscription list growth across industries year-over-year. Here’s a look at leading roles email marketing play in the consumer purchase process within the United States

Email has seen an average of 49% subscription list growth across industries year-over-year. Here’s a look at leading roles email marketing play in the consumer purchase process within the United States
An email has seen an average of 49% subscription list growth across industries year-over-year. Here’s a look at the leading roles email marketing play in the consumer purchase process within the United States

How to cultivate a highly converting email list

Just like finding the right keywords to bid for is the cornerstone around which a PPC campaign works, the success of your email marketing campaigns depends on the quality of your email subscription list. On average, businesses churn out 25% of their list year-on-year.

What that means is that you are only going to retain 75% of your email list every year. If you do not replenish your list with new, qualified, and interested prospects your email marketing campaigns are going to see an inevitable loss in conversions over time.

You email marketing ROI is only going to be as good as the quality of your email list.

If you factor in standard open rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates, and change the common denominator of your list size, it isn’t too hard to visualize a drop in yearly or quarterly bottom-line conversions.

Bear in mind, that the success of your email marketing campaigns also depends heavily on various other factors which we will cover in this guide. Just some of these are:

Quality of your email content

  • Subject line optimization
  • Delivery rates
  • How smart your drip campaign’s workflow is
  • The quality of your landing pages

If we got everything else right, we know that the average conversion rate for an optimized email marketing campaign is 47%.

Take a look at how your conversions decline over years considering a 25% loss in list size.

Take a look at how your conversions decline over years considering a 25% loss in list size.
Take a look at how your conversions decline over years considering a 25% loss in list size.

The only way to arrest conversion decline in email marketing is to consistently optimize your campaigns and incrementally grow your email list.

How to NOT grow your email list

Knowing that the size of your list and its constant growth is one of the primary pillars of your email marketing success leads us to the next important pillar – the quality of your email list.

There are several ways to grow your list. Here are some ways to NOT and what can happen if you do:

Never buy an email list: The key to email marketing success is intent and delivering value. If the people you are sending emails to haven’t expressly signed up to receive them, they aren’t going to be too happy about it.

You risk being reported for spam, it’s going to hurt your reputation as a sender in front of ISP’s (leading to your emails landing in spam folders) and it’s overall a no-win situation.

Never be obscure about your intent: If you are offering an ebook or free guide that deals with oranges in return for emails, don’t send emails about apples. What we mean is that stay true to your intent and content topics.

Never skip validation: Validation is of two kinds: Validating intent and validating emails. You should never skip on either. Do not gather emails by offering a cheap giveaway or something too flimsy. That way you are compromising on intent. Also, ensure you are validating the emails so that you don’t land up with bogus addresses.

The fundamentals of healthy list growth

Here are some of the fundamental concepts of cultivating an engaging email list:

Understand your audience: The first step to growing your email subscription base is to understand your customer base. What are their problems and how can your business or service solve those problems?

Offer something of value: Once you have answered the above questions, create content that addresses these issues. Use your industry and product/ service expertise to offer something of value in return for their emails.

Include contextual giveaways: Find partners in your fields (usually other businesses and influencers) and offer giveaways. These can be product discounts, subscriptions, etc., which, again, are of value to your customers.

Create shareable values: Take a look at some viral content related to your industry and see if you can create similar content. Typical examples are annual or quarterly reports that you, being a product or service, might have unique insights for. This type of content gets shared, thereby increasing your reach and list growth.

Implementing conversion

Now you have a growing email list that is full of high intent prospects. They have accessed something of value that you provided for free.

You have now created a great image of yourself – someone who understands their problems and is a thought leader in your industry. Now’s the time to deliver on that image.

Components of an email marketing automation workflow

Set the right context: Now that you have a prospect’s email, how do you start sending emails? The first step is to set the right context – introduce yourself (as a person rather than a business entity).

Design a nurturing campaign: Your prospects won’t be ready to buy on day one. Slowly warm your prospect up with more content and value before you pitch.

Pay attention to engagement: Take note of how your subscribers are reacting to your emails and act accordingly. More on this in the next few chapters

Optimized email workflows: Email automation workflow blueprint

Step 1: Sell the problem

The first set of emails in your drip campaign should always focus on\selling the problem that the subscriber initially responded to. Here’s your chance to dig deeper into the problem statement and really shine across as someone who gets the pain of the prospect.

Typically have 3 to 5 emails in this set. Talk about the different parts of the problem and provide unique insights into it.

The goal of this set is to create a connection between you and the subscriber by establishing common grounds.

TIP: Create more content offers such as industry reports, trends, survey results, etc. For this stage. This will also allow you to incrementally ask for more information about your prospects in return for the content piece.

Step 2: Offer solution overview

Now that you have sold the problem, the next step is to give overviews of different ways to solve that problem.

Don’t shy away from mentioning solutions that you do not necessarily provide. Instead, talk about them and highlight the cons of these solutions. This will paint you as an overall benefactor and not just someone pushing his or her own solution.

Typically have 2 to 3 emails in this set. Talk first about the different solutions possible and then follow it up with your expertise.

DO NOT talk about your product’s features or service capabilities yet. Try to add data to back your claims of a solution.

EXAMPLE: If you sell a chat solution, share data on how live chat can help close deals. We are assuming “qualifying leads” as being the broad problem statement here.

Step 3: Share solutions insights with product or services examples

The goal of this set is to create a connection between you and the subscriber by establishing common grounds.

Assuming your email recipients are still engaging with your emails, now is the time to start talking specifically about your product or service. Dig deeper into the preferred solution that you covered in the previous set and start giving examples from your line of work.

Case studies, model solution implementations, templates; are good content pieces to use at this stage to really cement your position as the go solution.

Typically have 3 to 5 emails in this step.

IMPORTANT:

Remember that an email drip campaign isn’t a blast campaign.

You will only send each progressive email if the previous email has been opened, read, and depending on your workflow, the desired CTA has been performed.

Highlight customer testimonials, case\studies, actual results whenever possible.

Step 4: The sales pitch

If you have gotten this far, it’s now time for your sales team to jump in Now’s the time to throw in your sales pitch. Keep it short, not too sales-y, and to the point.

Some basic things to do:

  • Keep the sales pitch short.
  • Keep being contextual – you know how your prospect has reacted to your emails. Play it to your strength and say things such as: “Hey, John. I saw you downloaded our latest report on how live chat increases the lead qualification rate. I’d love to show you how we do it at scale for some amazing brands like yourself. When would be a good time to chat?”
  • Send relevant reminders – Chances are that your prospects won’t respond to the first pitch. Instead of just resending the same campaign again, create contextual reminders.

Typically, send no more than 2 reminders. If they do not respond, it only means that they need more nurturing.

How to maximize inbox delivery rates

20% of all emails never see the inside of a subscriber’s inbox. There are various reasons as to why your email might not be making it to inboxes. Spam traps being one, bad list-building habits being another, but there are many more.

Here’s a look at some of the biggest reasons why you might be hitting the spam folders or un-subscription requests:

Keep your list clean

80% of the time an email address does not get delivered to an inbox, your reputation as an email sender in the eyes of an ISP (like Gmail or Yahoo!) suffers and your Sender Score takes a hit.

What exactly is a sender score?

Sender Score is an algorithm that rates the reputation of mail server IP addresses on a scale from 0-100.

The algorithm awards point based on how frequently people unsubscribe or report spam from email senders. Sender Scores depend on your email sending habits and the responses your recipients provide.

Having a dirty email list, which essentially means having non-opted emails or bought emails, is one of the biggest causes of spam reports or unsubscribes.

Have an optimized unsubscribe flow

Two of the biggest reasons why users unsubscribe from emails are too many emails or content that is not relevant to the subscriber. Instead of having a global un-subscription link, consider allowing your users to modify their subscription settings.

You can let your subscribers choose the frequency and the type of content they want to receive while still having a less pronounced option to unsubscribe entirely.

Get smart with email list segments

Four out of every ten subscribers who report spam do it because the email content is not relevant to them. Just because your subscribers are in the hospitality industry means that they care about every aspect of hospitality. Clever segmentation is key to user engagement and conversions. We’ll talk more about it in the next section.

Smart contact segments

Your recipients’ attention is the most important variable in email marketing. In an increasingly noisy world, staying relevant is paramount.

Personalization is the key to your success. Take a look at some of the biggest annoyances people have with email and the importance of contact segments become self-evident.

Personalization is the key to your success. Take a look at some of the biggest annoyances people have with email and the importance of contact segments become self-evident.
Personalization is the key to your success. Take a look at some of the biggest annoyances people have with email and the importance of contact segments become self-evident.

Here are some of the most important segments you should be creating:

Demographic segmentation

Segment your email campaigns based on different attributes such as Age, Gender, Company Size, Industry, Purchase History, Job Title, Geography, etc.

This is critical to categorize your email content and especially becomes important if your product or service is industry agnostic and serves a global customer base.

Subscription source-based segmentation

Segment your list based on the content landing page your users subscribed from. If they have already seen your product or service, segment based on the pages they have visited and have shown interest in.

Behavior-based segmentation

Segment users based on their engagements with your emails and the actions they take within the emails or on your website/app.

As subscribers in your list engage with your emails, they are either going or not going to take the desired action. Segment them based on their intent and activity and serve up dynamic email campaigns that are contextual to their actions.

Purchase behavior segmentation

Often, if you have done your product research and user persona development exercises well, you’ll be able to forecast the purchase intent of your users.

Purchase behavior can usually be defined as some key actions that people take before actually making a purchase. Typical proxies are visiting your pricing pages, your features or service pages on your website, clicking on specific product exploration hooks within your email or web content, etc. Act on these cues quickly and be contextual in your messaging.

3 quick email marketing hacks you should know

Gather emails everywhere

Think beyond subscription boxes on your website. Use social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn to distribute your lead capture content and capture emails within these platforms using solutions like Zapier.

Distribute third-party content

Not always do you have to create and produce your own content to gather emails. You can also become a curator of high-quality content in your niche and ask for subscriptions in return for notifications on your next curation.

Use numbers to entice subscriptions

Once you have a sizeable subscription base, boast of it on your subscription forms to increase conversion rates. “Join 30,000 other marketers and learn about email marketing” is a great example. Perhaps you are running a paid promotion of your content and that’s causing a quick rate of subscription. Say, “10 marketers like yourself are joining this list every 30 minutes”.

Conclusion

If we were to summarize everything in this quite in three words, these would be: Value, Personal, Contextual

Offer real value to your customers and prospects. Make it personal and human. But above all, remain contextual.

This what Campaigner is built to deliver. Our automation tools and industry-leading customization capabilities help build powerful, personal connections using email.

Content from Campaigner

Published by Jeannette Scott

, a wellness coach specializing in stress management and quality of life. She’s covered topics from nutrition to psychology, from sexuality to autoimmune diseases and cancer.