February 21, 2017

Are You Losing Sales Without an Email Marketing Plan?

Content marketing is the savvy marketer’s best friend, and email marketing automation is a powerful tool that helps you nurture leads and onboard new clients.

Anyone who has used the internet (and I’m assuming that means you, because you’re reading this article) has a huge amount of information at their fingertips.

The challenge to the prospective customer these days is to find useful, interesting, trustworthy service providers. Repeat after me: trust is huge.

That’s why content marketing is the strategy of choice for CEOs and Marketing Directors, and email marketing automation should be a key component of your content marketing strategy.

 

Create an Email Marketing Plan

OK, you might be asking yourself: why is email marketing automation important? Don’t worry. I’ll show you how to get started, and why email marketing matters.

 

Define Your Target Audience

Like all of your content marketing efforts, before you create a newsletter or autoresponder email series, you need to know who your audience is.

This is where your buyer personas come in. Look them over and make a list of the different types of people who use your product, and would subscribe to your mailing list. (Don’t skip this part; you’ll need your list for the next step!) This is your target audience list.

Pay particular attention to buyer role and sales funnel stage of the different groups on your target audience list.

No idea what buyer personas are? Check out this article from Hubspot about how to create detailed buyer personas.

If you have an existing email list, use the analytics from your email provider to categorize the folks who are already subscribing to your emails. They should definitely be on your target audience list, too.

 

Segment Your List

Personalization is key: according to research from IDG Connect, B2B buyers complain the relevance of marketing content has declined by 31% over the past five years.

IDG Connect research also shows that personalized content improves email open rates by almost 42%.

So, don’t have one big mailing list. Have multiple, smaller lists that target specific buyer personas and email subscribers.

Remember that target audience list you made? Use it to create different lists within your email account, and start reaping the benefits of personalization.

 

Be Smart About Getting People To Sign Up

Before we get into email marketing strategies to use, let’s talk about pitfalls to avoid when you’re trying to get people to sign up for your email lists.

Don’t require too much information up front. On a light box or embedded form, ask for a first name and email address at the most. You can gather more information later in the email funnel. A free tool like SumoMe will let you easily collect email addresses.

Use content upgrades. Do you have a killer blog post or video that’s getting a ton of engagement? One of the best ways to capitalize on that content is to design a valuable content upgrade (i.e. a checklist or white paper) around that high-performing piece of content, and offer it to people in exchange for their email address.

 

Use Email Automation to Nurture Leads

OK, you know who your audiences are. You’ve segmented your main email list into targeted, smaller lists, and you’re being smart about getting more people to opt in.

How can you nurture prospects and leads once they are on your list? This is where autoresponders are key!

 

The Welcome Email

Start by setting up a welcome email as the first email that subscribers immediately receive after they join your list.

Your goals with this email are:

  • To be personable and to make your new subscriber feel welcome
  • To introduce yourself and explain why your subscriber should care about what you have to say
  • To provide the subscriber with a ton of a value through highly useful content created specifically for them.

Looking for examples of welcome emails? Check out these 7 great welcome emails from the experts at Hubspot.

What if you’re not sure what type of content is best for subscribers in different stages of the sales funnel? Here are some general guidelines:

Awareness Stage: Folks just finding out about you like how-to or informational blog posts, checklists or listicles, FAQs, inspirational stories, or slideshows.

Interest Stage: People in this stage benefit from white papers on popular industry topics, round-up blog posts, swipe files, webinars or exclusive interviews with experts (especially on video!).

Action Stage: Subscribers in this stage are ready to buy! Give them success stories and case studies from other customers, comparison sheets, mini-classes or webinars to turn that lead into a customer!

When you welcome your subscribers and provide them with thought-leading, highly useful content, you build trust and goodwill. No one is going to buy anything from you if they don’t trust you first.

 

The Sneaky Follow-Up Email

All the pros use this email, because it works like a charm. The purpose of the email is to learn more about your subscriber and the type of content that they find valuable.

After your first email, which was full of useful resources, follow up with a very simple, personal email that goes something like this:

Hey NAME,

{Insert your name} here! I just wanted to check in to make sure you got the {name of awesome content piece you included in your last email} in my last email.

It’s a super useful resource that I think will really help you solve {X problem}.

In case you didn’t get it, here’s a link again: {insert link}.

Could you do me a favor? I’m working on some new blog posts on {insert relevant topic} and I’d love to know what you’re really struggling with around {relevant topic area}. You can just respond directly to this email to let me know.

Thanks!

Sincerely,
{Your Name}

This information is gold to any marketer or sales rep. You’re inviting your subscriber to tell you what their biggest problem or challenge is right now (related to your product or subject matter), and therefore you know exactly what type of content will be super useful!

Plus, this email feels personal, and your sales rep. can reference it in a follow-up phone call.

 

Make Subscribers Look Forward to your Emails

What do you do next? There are several different approaches to how many emails you should send before going for the sale. Pat Flynn, the well-known content marketing guru behind Smart Passive Income, shared a blog post with some of his favorite autoresponder email series options.

Your goal is to build trust and learn more about your subscriber before you go for the sale. Use your buyer personas to segment your email list, then use email automation to give those subscribers tons of value.

That builds trust and lets you establish yourself as a reputable thought-leader in your industry. When the time is right, your sales reps. will be in a great position to schedule a follow-up call, and go for the sale.

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