How to use Email Marketing to generate leads and sales for your company
Despite increases in the amount of spam that businesses are receiving, email continues to play an important part in the daily business activities of any company. Email is used by customers to ask questions, place orders, and businesses to negotiate with suppliers, and send invoices. Email is also widely used to transfer files, such as photographs, documents, mp3 recordings, and short videos, and links to external websites. Despite what you may read about the decline of email, opportunities exist for those who use email marketing wisely, by good development of an email marketing plan, precise targeting of recipients, and a good follow up system. In this article I’m going to look at how to formulate an effective marketing plan for your business, how to target potential recipients for your message, and then ways of following up, growing your list, and generating leads and sales for your business.
Creating an effective email marketing strategy for your business
Define your Target Customer
Your target customer, sometimes called your “Sales Avatar”, is a picture of the customer you are aiming for, with as many details as possible. For example, do you know if your customers are male or female, are they teenagers, or older? What is their physical appearance? What are their interests? The more details you build up the better. Research how your target customer talks, and find out their problems, their needs, and figure out exactly how your product or service can help them to alleviate their problems, and improve their situation. Don’t skip this step, because when it comes to writing your marketing message it will help if you can write your email as though it is written to this one target customer. Your email will come across as more personal, stand out from any junk mail, and strike a chord with the prospect because you can identify with their needs, and offer them the solution they are looking for.
Define Your Goals
Before you write your marketing message, clearly identify that goals that you want your message to accomplish. This way you will be able to monitor the performance of your campaign, to identify what’s working, and find ways of making improvements. Your goal may be for the recipient to reply to your email to request more details, or it may be to request a brochure, a demonstration, or RSVP to an event you are organising. Ensure that your marketing message is written around the goal you want it to accomplish.
Start with the subject of your email
The subject of your email should make the recipient curious enough to open the email and read the rest of the message. I recommend brainstorming 100 possible subject lines for your email that would create curiosity. Be creative, and write them all down. Then once you have written 100, pick the best three to five, and test those subject lines to find out which is the most effective. To test a subject line, let’s look at an example where you send a thousand emails. You could send 200 with subject line A, 200 with subject line B, 200 with subject line C, 200 with subject line D, and 200 with subject line E. Out of all the replies that come back, the subject lines with the most replies win! Let’s say you send out 200 of each subject lines and get the following responses: Subject line A – 25 responses Subject line B – 17 responses Subject line C – 0 responses Subject line E – 5 responses Subject line F – 31 responses Clearly in this example, the email sent with subject lines A & F brought in the most responeses, closely followed by subject line B. Another test could be run with just these subject lines to determine the overall winner, then that subject line could be tested against other subject lines to find one even better. Why does any of this matter? If you get 1 reply for every 100 emails, and you can increase that to 2 out of 100, you’ve doubled your response rate, doubled your leads, and doubled your sales. That’s money you can re-invest in your business to grow it even further, all for making slight improvements to your email subject lines.
Writing the body of your email marketing letter
You’ve defined an avatar of your target customer. The easiest way to write your marketing email is as if you were just writing an email to this one person. Do include personalisation fields that will make the recipient believe that you are writing the email just to them, for example include their business type in the email. Let’s look at an example:
Good morning, I noticed that you are a local hairdressers in the Wembley area, and I wondered if you might be interested in meeting other health and wellness business owners at an event I’m organising.
In this example, there are three personalisation fields used that make this email sound as though it has been written to just the one person:
Good morning, I noticed that you are a local accountant in the Wembley area, and I wondered if you might be interested in meeting other health and wellness business owners at an event I’m organising.
These little touches especially in the opening lines of your email, will encourage the recipient to keep reading and clear the “Is it spam?” question that is going through their head. If you can convince the reader in the first paragraph that your email is important enough for them to read, you will get them to mov e their finger away from the “Delete” button, and start scrolling down to read the rest of your message.
Getting the recipient to take action
A small action on behalf of the recipient at this stage will allow you to demonstrate that you are a real person, and you deliver on your promises. This helps to build up the relationship with your prospect, until a level of trust is established where they will be ready to purchase your product or service. Let’s look at an example of this. Say for example, you wish to invite a local business to an event you are organising:
We have referrals to give a local printer, so if you are free next Friday morning, please reply to this email and I will be happy to send you further details of the meeting location. I look forward to your reply. Yours sincerely,
Notice in this email, the reply is asked for explicitly, and it is mentioned again before the closing. Just as easily as an RSVP, your call to action could be asking the recipient to reply to the email with their address to receive a free brochure, or simply reply to express their interest and receive further information – which could be in the form of a link to a website, or an attachment to the email.
Using email marketing to build your database
When recipients of your marketing message reply, it is a great idea to capture their details into your marketing database. This could be something as simple as an Excel spreadsheet, or something more complex such as an email mailing list that enables you to send a newsletter to your subscribers on a regular basis. In certain industries where the sales cycle is longer, more “touches” with the prospect are required. From the initial email, it may require several more emails, phone calls, and meetings with the prospect before a sale is made. Email marketing can be used as an effective way of topping up your marketing funnel. The more prospects you can add to your funnel, the more sales will come out the other end.
Optimising your email marketing campaign
As well as testing subject lines, test different target markets, different areas, and various messages to find one that will enable you to generate a stream of leads that you can then nurture into sales opportunities. The indirect approach in email marketing often works well, so consider using these to generate leads. This could involve offering something free initially to establish interest, build trust, and foster a relationship with the prospect before a sale is made. Indirect approaches that tend to work well are events and freebies. Could you create an event around your business? This could be a real world live event at a physical location, or it could be a webinar. What freebies can you offer? Could you do a free survey of the potential client’s current requirements, or could you offer a free price comparison, or a free report?