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Regardless of niche, most businesses can’t survive these days without an email list.
The idea of email marketing might appear antiquated to some of our younger or more skeptical readers who spend their days almost entirely in Snapchat and Instagram. I can certainly go on and on about how to build a sales funnel on Instagram or the importance of great design, but really, no other channel will gives you a better return on investment than email.
In fact, according to Adobe, for every $1 spent on email marketing, you’ll average an ROI of $40. Almost double the ROI of the second-highest channel, SEO.
Just take a look at Unbounce, which credits email marketing as its biggest asset in acquiring new customers, with email marketing efforts consistently generating 80-90% of its landing page traffic for every campaign.
But having a large email list isn’t going to do you much good if all your emails are going unread or sent directly to the spam folder. So today, we’re taking a page out of Infusionsoft’s book and pulling back the curtain a bit on Foundr’s very own email marketing strategy. Here are Foundr’s top tips for sending email that connects with your audience and doesn’t get lost in the inbox.
Don’t Just Spam
The number one rule when it comes to building and maintaining an email list is to never spam your audience. This sounds pretty obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many people forget this very simple rule.
If I were to ask you what email spam looks like, chances are you’d think of something like this:
A rambling email containing a desperate plea for help, or letting you know that you’ve won a competition but they need your social security number first. It’s the kind of spam you can smell a mile away and, if you and your email provider are savvy enough, almost always ends up in the trash folder before you see it.
But just because your email doesn’t mention a Nigerian prince doesn’t make it any less spammy or annoying. A good rule of thumb to follow when it comes to recognizing spam is this—if your email isn’t immediately delivering value to your audience, then it’s spam.
No one likes getting hit with dozens of emails about a product launch they don’t care about. That’s something a surprising number of internet marketers tends to forget about. Just because something is inherently interesting to you, doesn’t mean that it’s interesting to someone else.
You’re not delivering value, you’re just obnoxiously shoving your message into someone’s face, over and over again.
Spam lite is still spam
In order to make sure your emails always stand out in a cluttered inbox, you must always be giving your audience a reason to read your emails. I don’t mean writing a catchy email subject line, although that does help, but instead, constantly delivering something your audience will find valuable.
You have to put yourself in your audience’s shoes. Every time someone opens one of your emails, regardless of whether it’s automated or not, you should be rewarding them.
For example, take a look at how Framebridge pulls this off.
Instead of constantly sending promotional material, they regularly send emails out where they teach their audience helpful skills like how to hang a painting. It sounds simple, but it’s also ridiculously effective.
Framebridge understands that the best way to encourage engagement and brand loyalty is to provide value. That way people can actually get excited, or at the very least mildly interested, when they see your email pop up.
Keep it Personal
One of the main advantages email has over other channels is that it gives you the chance to get as personal as you want to be, unlike social media or traditional advertisements where you craft a message that’s as universal as possible and hope for the best.
“Building an email list is crucial because it’s the best way to build a relationship with potential customers in an intimate way. You’re not just a status update that’s there and gone, you’re right in someone’s inbox. where they receive other important communications from their work, family, and friends.” – Nathalie Lussier, Digital Strategist at Ambition Ally.
With email, you know that you have a dedicated audience that already understands your brand and, regardless of the time or day, you know your message is headed directly to them. That kind of interaction gives you a tremendous opportunity to craft messages that are much more personal and engaging.
The problem with growing a large email list, though, is the fact that it’s impossible to craft a personalized message for each and every single person. This is where email automation software comes in. They help you manage your mailing list through the power of templates, auto-responders, and campaigns, instead of having to track each individual email.
At Foundr, we do use an automation software like Infusionsoft, but there are actually a number of ways you can personalize your automated emails. One very simple way to make your emails more personal is to start addressing your subscribers by their names.
A study by Experian Marketing Services compared the conversion rates of emails that included the recipient’s names in the subject line against those that didn’t. The study found that, on average, emails that included the recipients’ names were 30% more likely to be opened, with some industries reporting an increase as high as 42%.
Courtesy of Marketing Sherpa
Also remember that you can make your emails feel more personal with the way you write your copy.
Just because you’re sending out a marketing message, doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun with your copy. It can be as simple as writing in the second person and using words like “you,” “we,” or “us,” in order to make your audience feel like they’re a part of the conversation and not just listening in to what you have to say.
Essentially you want to write your email copy, not as if you’re writing to a customer, but as if you’re writing to a friend. In my opinion, no one does this better than John Lee Dumas from Entrepreneur on Fire.
Show That You’re Human
Have you ever been on a terrible customer service call with a robot? I don’t mean someone that sounds like a robot, but a literal robot. Those incredibly annoying automated menus that are worse at pronouncing your name than Starbucks baristas.
“FOR THE LAST TIME MY NAME IS JON! NOT FARTRELL CLUGGINS OR LADENNIFER JADANISTON!”
30 minutes in to your call with, let’s say an completely imaginary and totally made-up company called Komkast, you find yourself mockingly singing the waiting music every time it loops around. All the while you’re just wishing that you could talk to a human, someone with at least some capacity of understanding you.
If you’ve ever felt that type of frustration, why would you ever want to subject your audience to the email equivalent?
Fine. You win. I’m legally changing my name to Fartrell Cluggins.
Whether you realize it or not, your brain is actually pretty good at sensing when someone is being disingenuous. As soon as our subconscious brain picks up on the fact that we’re not talking to a real person, we start developing a natural distrust toward it.
Now think about your branding for a second. With the emails you send out, are you coming off as a robot, or as an actual person people would want to respond to?
In order to really stand out in a crowded inbox, you need to be able to show that there’s actually a human behind the screen.
A very easy way to start doing that is to stop using the standard company email whenever you’re sending out an message. If the first thing people see is an email coming from “firstname.lastname@example.org” or “email@example.com” they immediately know that this is an automated email.
Instead, try sending an email from someone’s name instead. Recently Hubspot did an A/B test on their email campaigns and found that there was a small, but significant, increase on their open rates when the email’s sender came from “Maggie Georgieva, Hubspot” as opposed to the generic “Hubspot” name.
Courtesy of Hubspot
Something else you should definitely do to make your emails more likely to be read is mix it up every once in a while and send an email with some funny videos, personal photos, or even holiday greetings. Let people know what’s going on behind-the-scenes and let them see that you’re not some soulless company.
BarkPost does this really well with their emails. Their newsletters are often filled with funny pictures and gifs, all the while gently nudging you to share their email with a friend.
Segmentation is key
One very powerful to start giving your email more of an authentic and personal feel is to start segmenting your list wherever possible.
Like I mentioned earlier, if the content you’re sending out isn’t providing value to your audience then it’s spam. But the thing is, not everyone’s the same, and what one person finds valuable, another might consider a waste of time.
The reason you need to start segmenting your list is, instead of sending out a blanket email to everyone, you can now send targeted emails written specifically for certain people.
Not realizing this earlier caused us to make a huge mistake at Foundr during our Instagram Domination launch. While we are known for our Instagram strategies, we forgot that not everyone on our email list would be interested in our Instagram Domination course.
You know you’re not doing your email marketing right when you start getting emails like these
We were burning our list by constantly sending them promotional materials that they just weren’t that interested in. In short, we had just spammed a good portion of our audience.
While our product launch was ultimately successful, we had broken trust with part of our audience that had taken us months to build, and in turn learned a very valuable lesson.
So during the lead up to the launch of our crowdfunding campaign for Foundr Version 1.0, we made sure to start segmenting our list first. We did this by adding a simple eye-catching call-to-action at the end of our regular mail outs.
Whoever clicked on it and signed up on the landing page would immediately be given a special tag letting us know they were interested in more news about Foundr Version 1.0. By doing so, we knew that these people would be interested in more news about our book, and actually appreciate the emails we sent them.
It was a great success, because it meant that we never flooded the inbox and lost the trust of people who weren’t interested. And we drastically increased our conversion rate by specifically targeting those who had given us their permission.
Examine.com segments their list immediately with every person who signs up. In fact, the first email they send you asks for more information on your interest in health and Examine.com.
By collecting that information, Examine.com can now make sure that they only email you with updates that are relevant to you and your interests. This makes it far easier for them to build up a strong level of engagement and loyalty with their audience.
Set Up Trigger Emails
One of the simplest and most effective methods of ensuring customer loyalty is to simply check in on them every once in a while. It adds that little bit of a personal touch and shows that you care.
Whether it’s an email simply saying “thank you” when someone downloads an e-book, or a gentle reminder that their subscription is expiring, emails like these go a long way to making sure that you and your brand are never too far from your customer’s mind.
The best thing about this approach is that the entire process can be automated incredibly easily. Thanks to the power of email automation software, you can send emails that are triggered by the actions your customers take.
For example, many SaaS companies like Dropbox will send an email if their customer hasn’t used their service in a while. It’s a simple reminder to the recipient that they still exist and why they’re helpful.
According to Smart Insights, triggered emails have a 152% higher open rate in comparison to traditional emails. As long as the email itself is always timely, relevant, and valuable, it could be all you need to nudge someone from being a casual viewer to a lifelong customer.
Rent the Runway does a fantastic job with trigger emails in their email marketing strategy. On the anniversary of a customer’s first purchase, Rent the Runway will send an email celebrating the event.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve only used their service once or multiple times, you’ll still receive that email. It even adds an incentive and offers a $20 discount off the subscriber’s next purchase. Not only does this simple email encourage recipients to continue to use Rent the Runway’s service, but it adds a nice personal touch that makes the customer feel special.
Those are just some very simple examples of trigger emails, but they can get increasingly complex, depending on how thorough you want to get. Just take a look at the email sequence we have set up for our Instagram Domination masterclass that we’ve set up on Infusionsoft.
As you can see, we have created custom emails for every major decision a person can make when they attend our Instagram Domination masterclass. We have special emails depending on whether or not they’ve attended before, or if they’ve registered and didn’t show up, or even what webinar replay they were sent.
Doing all this allows us to make sure that all the emails we send out to someone are always as relevant as possible. The best part is that since it’s all automated, we don’t have to waste any time doing it ourselves!
The crazy thing is that this isn’t even considered that complex compared to other email campaigns by others in our niche. But it goes to show you just how granular you can get with email automation software.
One of the fastest ways to alienate a potential customer is to sound like you’re a robot and that you don’t actually care about your customer. Simple tactics like we’ve outlined in this article can be the difference you need to make someone feel like they’re actually connecting with your brand.
In today’s world where we’re inundated with marketing messages from every corner, the thing that’s going to make sure you stand out in a crowded inbox is by being personal and authentic when it counts. Don’t do your brand disservice by being generic and getting sent straight to the trash folder.
Do you have any other tips for making your email marketing more personal? How do you feel about businesses using email marketing automation? Join the conversation in the comments below!