How can emails increase sales?
(do people really read them anymore?)
Every time I talk with a client about their email strategy, there's always one complaint that rises to the top: "Emails are spam! I hate them in my inbox, and I delete them all!"
Do you really delete them all? I'm betting not.
Think about your inbox. (You may need to take a meditative breath before you do.) The first thing you probably think of is all the sales-y ones that invade your inbox like ants at a picnic. They're cringe-worthy, and if you're like me, you delete them without even reading them. (Do we ever actually unsubscribe from them?)
I'm not talking about those. They have their place when used strategically and sparingly. I'm talking about the ones you actually read. The ones that capture your attention and provide relevant content. These types of emails are the ones I'm focusing on.
Why should I use email marketing?
Email marketing should be a staple in your overall marketing strategy. As you'll see, email is a heavy lifter when it comes to engaging your tribe and converting to sales. And I think you'll agree with me that email is where you want to spend some of your marketing dollars.
1. Email has the highest ROI of them all.
I really wanted to say, "It's the one ring to rule them all." Because it's true. It's called the king of marketing because it has the highest conversion rate. For every $1 you spend on email, you can see a $44 return. That's 4400% ROI! (That's not a typo, either.) And that number keeps increasing every year.
Everyone else seems to be pouring all their time, effort, and dollars into social media. If you want to win at marketing, shift the bulk of your focus from social media to where you'll actually see money flow into your bank account.
2. It's economical and cost-effective.
Email marketing can be very affordable. Your basic costs are the fees for your email marketing software and whoever puts the email together. When you're just starting, you may choose to write the emails yourself. But I promise that hiring someone to craft the email for you is well worth the expense. It saves you from having to write it (let's face it, not everyone enjoys it), and a copywriter worth their salt understands the psychology behind our buying habits and will know how to keep the reader engaged all the way through it. Some will even set it up for you in your email marketing software and schedule it for you. All you have to do is read and approve the email to make sure it fits your brand and voice.
3. You can set up email automations.
This is one of my favorite things about emails. You can set them up, and they can send themselves out! Let's say you're running a campaign to get subscribers, and you gift people a free ebook if they sign up for your email list. The customer completes the form and hits submit, they get added to the ebook list, and then they receive a series of emails (called a drip campaign) that send them their product and keep interest in your service alive and drives them to subscribe. And all you have to do is set it up.
You can also create automations for milestones: welcome to the club, birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, upcoming appointments—anything you want to create a personal connection for.
4. You can make it personal.
Speaking of personal, email gives you the ability to personalize each email. It can be as simple as adding a name to the subject line or the first line of the email (say goodbye to "Hello, Friend!"), or you can take it up a notch and add other variables like "5th anniversary" to your email. The email marketing software will do the math for you!
Is personalization worth it? You betcha. Research shows that personalized emails increase conversions by 10 percent.
5. It's always with your audience.
Your email travels with you wherever you go (as long as you've got your smartphone with you). About 50 percent of all emails are read on a smartphone. And if you don't think making it easy to read on a mobile device is worth the effort, think again. Seventy percent of people immediately delete emails that are hard to read on their phone. So you want to make sure that your emails are easily read on a mobile device.
6. Emails can drive action.
Every email you send should have a call to action (CTA). It could be to purchase a product, sign up for a course, or "click here to read more." It makes me sad when I see emails that just, well, end. Your customer is always asking, "What do you want me to do with this information?" You can't expect them to infer it. If you expect they will know what you want them to do, you will lose. They never take the logical (to you) next step. You always have to spell it out for them.
7. Emails are measurable.
This makes me rejoice. I remember the days when you had to wait months to get results back from a direct-mail campaign. Email, like social media and websites, gives you super-fast feedback. You have the ability to see how many people opened your email and clicked through it. Depending on which email marketing software you use, some will even let you know which links they clicked on!
Email also gives you the ability to resend an email to the people who didn't open it up the first time. This automated feature allows you to change something simple, like the subject line, and gives you a second chance to get more people reading your email. This is also an excellent way to test your subject lines and see which ones get emails opened. (Yes, it's a thing. And can you tell that I love data?)
How should I use email marketing?
We've talked about the whys, so let's talk a little about the how. If you only use email to notify your customer about new products or upcoming sales, you are missing out on a huge opportunity to build a great relationship with them. Plus, you run the risk of being seen as spam. (Yikes!)
So how do you avoid your customers seeing you as a nuisance to becoming the thing they look forward to seeing in their inbox?
1. Provide value.
Value doesn't always have to be a sale, and the value doesn't always have to be monetary, either. Think about your inbox. What emails do you delete without opening them? Which ones capture your attention, and you actually read?
When we offer our audience value, that shows them we care about them. I know it sounds silly, but it's a reminder that we see their value extends beyond a sales transaction. And that's important.
The valuable content you offer doesn't always have to be a free ebook or course. It can be as simple as a video or infographic of tips and tricks. Often, the very things you take for granted and think, "Well, everyone knows this!" are the very things your audience will love you for. It's why you're the expert.
2. Include story.
We all love an engaging story; whether it's a prince finding his princess or the bad guy getting his just desserts, we enjoy stories that capture our attention.
Now, you don't have to be dramatic or embellish things. Just tell the truth. Tell the stories of customers who've had good experiences (maybe even written a Google My Business or Facebook review or two), how you were able to solve a problem for your client, or tell your story (why did you start your business in the first place?). They don't have to be lengthy, either. Sometimes a really powerful story can be told succinctly in a few sentences.
Another reason why story is so powerful is because we like to hear from people like us who've had good experiences with you. Amazon and its reviews have fundamentally changed how we shop online.
Think about how you search for new products. You find the product you're looking for (for example, a humidifier), then you probably filter to show just the ones with four stars or higher. (Why waste your time, amiright?) As you scroll through the list, you're probably looking at how many reviews each product has. You choose one that meets your search criteria, and, while you may read a little about the product, you head straight for the reviews.
Each of those reviews is a story, good or bad. And those stories influence what you purchase.
3. Be specific in the ask.
You've provided value and told a really good story. Is that all there is?
I read so many business emails that end there. Often, the "ask" is implied. The business assumes its readers will know what to do next. The reader generally knows what you want on a sub-level, but the reader will rarely follow through because it wasn't explicitly stated.
What is the ask? Your call to action (CTA). What do you want your reader to do after they've read through your email? Does the story or tip refer to a product or service you're encouraging them to buy? Do you want them to come by your store this week? Be specific. It doesn't matter if it's a sentence with a link or a big button (although these perform really well). But don't be afraid to ask.
If you don't ask, your readers will think, "That was interesting," and go about their day. If you engage them all the way to the ask, their inclination to purchase goes way up. And you have a greater chance of tapping into email's powerful ROI.