3 Things You Can Do Right Now to Improve Your Email Marketing

By Mark Kilens

Digital over everything.

This isn’t new. The industrial age has been on its way out since the ‘80s.

What is new is the overnight transformation to all digital all the time, thanks to COVID-19.

We also know that 70% of buying decisions are made before anyone engages with your company. So how can you build a relationship (not to mention, trust) with someone who you’ve never spoken with?

Drumroll, please…

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The answer is email.  

Since March, (the beginning of these “unprecedented times”) HubSpot saw a 29% increase in average email volume by the 16th – and a 21% increase in open rates overall for the month.

It’s no surprise that email marketing is still king, even in the era of COVID-19.

Email is the linchpin that connects your digital presence with the humans that run your business.

Honestly, it’s unfair to even try to compare email to your other digital channels when you talk about ROI. Email marketing gives you, on average, $42 back for every dollar spent.

Yup.

That’s because the people on your email list have already raised their hands. They want to hear from you.

You have their attention. What are you going to do with it?

I sat down with Cynthia Price, VP of Marketing at Litmus, to talk about how to make the most of that attention. Here’s how you can evaluate your email marketing efforts – and three tangible ways to improve your emails, right now.

The Inbox Is a Competitive Place

The inbox is a personal space.

That means your competitors aren’t just the usual suspects. You’re competing against everything that matters to that person – their spouse, family, friends, coworkers, and boss are all in there too. You have the same amount of real estate – the ‘from’ name and subject line – as they do.

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? That is a lot to deal with.

How do you stand out?

First, ask yourself what makes your business unique and different. Lean into your purpose.

Email marketing is all about building a relationship. You’ve been allowed into the inbox to answer one question: How can you help me?

It’s up to you to answer it.

Start With the Who & What: Revisit Your Personas

Don’t scroll past this.

Yeah, I know you think you know your audience. You can start listing off demographic statistics, alliterative names, and so on.

But do you really know?

It’s important to revisit your personas on a regular basis to understand if you’re still engaging with the right people in the right industries for your products.

When was the last time you asked your audience a question?

You should always know:

  • Their pain points and solutions relevant to them
  • Their priorities – and if they’ve shifted
  • Where you offer value to them and how you can help
  • The most relevant content they need to address those priorities

This requires listening.

I use all the channels at my disposal. Some days, that’s a casual check on LinkedIn, reading through responses to our marketing emails, or listening to a customer call recording instead of a podcast. I get on the phone with real customers every week.

No need for a scientific study or a survey. Just real conversations with real people.

Collecting information is just the first step. It’s what you do with it that matters. Use what you know about your customers and how they interact with you to personalize your email strategy.

Personalization isn’t new…but it really works, and you’d be shocked how few marketers are doing it. Using dynamic content to personalize your emails can lead to a 22% increase in ROI.

There are more options out there than you think to get started ?

75% of the revenue email drives every year is from targeted, segmented, automated, and personalized campaigns. You need to be personalizing your emails if you want to tap into email marketing’s potential as a channel.

So start with what you’ve got. First name, industry, geolocation, customer status…whatever you have, use it.

Create an Email Marketing Flow: Revisit Email Nurture

One thing we don’t do enough as marketers is revisiting our email nurture.

We set it…and you guessed it, sometimes we just plain forget it.

Now is the perfect time to take a look at your automated campaigns and think through them. Is your nurture flow optimized and up-to-date? Are you targeting the right buyers? Does it strike the right tone?

Go through everything. Subject lines, preheader text, CTAs. You want to determine:

  • Does the message still make sense based on the user journey?
  • Will it resonate with your personas, based on their priorities?

Because you don’t want to end up with something like this:

That no longer makes sense (especially when there are variations of shelter-in-place warnings around the globe).

Every Email Should Be Engaging: Revisit Your Copy

I love the 80/20 rule when it comes to copy: 80% educational, 20% sales.

Add value, don’t ask for value.

To build trust with your audience and keep them engaged, it’s important that you lead with value, always. That’s how you build a relationship.

And to ask for nothing in return. The engagement and interest in your content is the value you’ll receive from your audience.

Your copy should reflect this. Cut the sales and marketing speak.

This stretches across B2B and B2C. It doesn’t mean you can’t make an offer – it’s about how you frame it.

One great way to immediately add a human element to your emails is video:

It’s super engaging, even if the video itself doesn’t play in the email. There’s something psychologically impactful about the play button – people can’t resist it. Think click-through rates of 10-30%. Huge.

You don’t have to overthink it. Just set yourself up with your smartphone and get going. (Plus, Drift can help with that!)

But most importantly, make your copy feel like a conversation. It doesn’t have to be long, or exciting, or sales-y. Just be yourself.

We say it all the time at Drift: write like you talk.

The revenue will come. Make sure you’re watching after the relationship first.

Email Marketing Is a Conversation

Building a compelling, relevant, and personalized email experience means your email marketing becomes a conversation.

We use this framework above to build a more conversational experience across websites ?

But it’s the same with email.

  1. Engage them with an authentic, real conversation. Your email subscribers have given permission for you to speak with them – don’t waste their time.
  2. Understand what your audience needs and how you can help.
  3. Recommend the right next step.

It goes both ways. Look for your feedback in responses, click-throughs, open rates, and engagement in your emails to understand what’s working and what’s not.

So to recap, three actions you can take right now to improve your email marketing:

  1. Revisit Personas: Take a look at your target personas: Are they a good fit? Are you offering them value?
  2. Revisit Email Nurture: Is your nurture flow optimized and up-to-date? Are you targeting the right buyers?
  3. Revisit Copy: Is your messaging on-point or tone-deaf?

One final note. It’s time to break the “set it and forget it” cycle. You should be doing three improvements on a regular basis. So before you click anything else on this page, go send yourself a calendar invite right now to revisit these in six months. You’ll thank me later!

Ready to bring more value to your customers and buyers? We’ve got you covered. Download the templates right from this blog post here or by clicking the image below 👇