“I get more spam than anyone I know.” – Bill Gates
We constantly hear this: “I get loads of spam every day, I just delete it without reading it.”
When you consider all the ‘spam’ that appears in your inbox every day, it’s easy to think there’s no chance that any email your company sends out will get opened, let alone read. Email marketing works though. There is absolutely no denying it. So what makes the emails that work different to the emails that don’t? Two things: targeting and timing.
Imagine that you’re looking for a new cleaning company for your office, and just at that moment an email lands in your inbox from a local commercial cleaning company telling you about a special offer. You are going to open it, right? You might even click the link in the email to read more. This is because as soon as an email is relevant to something you are interested in it is not spam.
Let’s start with ‘targeting’ in email marketing
The more that you know someone has a genuine interest in your product or service, the more likely they are to open and interact with a message that you send them – it’s just common sense. A 2008 study of spammers offering pharmaceutical products online showed they were working to a 0.00001% conversion rate. They had to send 350 million messages to generate every 25 sales. Putting aside the ethics of such an industry, this kind of spam email needs such huge figures to generate a result because they are sending to any email address they can harvest, without permission and in most cases illegally.
Good email campaigns typically see a 10-30% open-rate and a 0.5 – 2% click-through rate (where someone clicks on a link in your email to read more information). The more targeted the list, the better these figures are. For example, an email campaign sent to people who have purchased from you or made an enquiry in the past will perform better than a bought-in list of businesses.
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This doesn’t mean that buying in email addresses doesn’t work but the quality of the data is paramount. You need to be able to specify data by geographical location, company turnover, business sector and job title. There’s no point in mailing a list full of info@ and sales@ email addresses as you are unlikely to get in to the inbox of a decision maker.
The second factor that we mentioned earlier was timing. Let’s consider the example of a commercial cleaning company who ‘just happened’ to send you an email just when you were looking for a new cleaner. The reality is that they may have been emailing you on and off for the last six months, but only when it became relevant did you take any notice of it. Or you may have thought that one day in the future you might need this company’s services, so even though you never actually read the emails, you never clicked the unsubscribe link either.
Email marketing is most powerful when it’s used as a long-term email marketing or ‘nurturing’ campaign, combined with other sales activity. Using a smart email marketing system such as MailChimp allows you to identify the people who are most likely to buy by how they interact with the emails you send them, meaning you can target them with personalised follow-ups instead of waiting for them to get in touch with you.
Building a relationship
Successful email marketing is all about relationship building; over a period of time you should educate a contact on what you offer whilst proving you are an authority on it. Then when the time is right for them to buy, you are already at the front of their minds and leading their buying decision before they start calling your competitors.
The single best approach is to give your knowledge away for free. Before you start arguing that your knowledge is where your value is, the day of people paying for what you know is over – everything that anyone could ever want to know is already there waiting on Google so don’t be delusional! Instead, people now pay for the delivery, the results or the implementation.
However, don’t give them a full article in the email, only give them an introduction with an invite to click through to your website to read more. This is key, because by clicking the link they are ‘declaring’ their interest in that subject and your marketing system can start identifying contacts for your sales team to pay attention to.
If you are a photographer, show people how they can take better LinkedIn profile shots themselves just using a smartphone and basic lighting; if you produce energy audits then educate your contacts on what technologies they can use to cut their bills themselves – I guarantee none of them will, but monitoring who clicks through to read the article will give you a valuable list of who’s looking to reduce their energy bills.
Email marketing – Summary
So the next time you think email marketing is just spam, consider all the emails you DO open. Think about the emails you get from suppliers to keep them at the front of your mind; think about the local events or ‘webinars’ you have booked on to as a result of getting an email about them.
If it’s targeted and timely, it’s good email marketing. If it’s just going out to anyone without a thought-out schedule and strategy, then it’s spam. Find yourself an expert to help you get the balance right.
Email Marketing thinking from Yorkshire Powerhouse
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