I often take for granted that certain styles and methods work with autoresponders and other styles and methods often have the opposite effect.
Firstly, it should go without saying, using autoresponders can give you an advantage over your competition right away. Most companies and professionals don't use them.
So the simple fact of using autoresponders will set you apart from the pack.
But if you are going to use them here are 5 examples of autoresponder sequences you should try.
Remember, you can use more than one autoresponder in your marketing. You could have a series for new newsletter subscribers and a different one for new customers. You can create an automatic series for any event that happens in your business.
Two quick tips.
1. Don't refer to anything that is time, date, or seasonal in nature. Your message 1 could go out next Tuesday (spring as I write this) or in 6 months (which would be in the dead of winter) so if you refer to something that's time related your message may sound odd.
2. Send the message from a person and make a personal connection. The more personal the connection, the more impact the email will have.
Now here's a few examples of exactly how to layout your autoresponder campaign.
1. Use your top 5 customer service questions. This one is pretty straightforward. Simply take the top 5 questions you get from your customer service calls and create a standard answer for each. Then craft your autoresponder series and frame it with, "Here's a few of the questions we get from our best customers." I'd still use a call to action in each one to see which ones perform the best. Space them out by 5 to 7 days apart.
2. Outline your best features. Frequency works in your favor in marketing and the same is true here. In each message set the tone with a "Thought you'd like to know..." and then describe one of your best features (complete with benefits). Again space these 5 to 7 days apart and keep going as long as you like. These work best when you take the approach that you have to give before you get. Don't sell too hard in these emails.
3. Educate them on how to get the most from your product or service. Consider these messages part of your new customer orientation or training program. You'll be able to show your readers that you care how they are doing and build a stronger relationship with them. Funny thing is, they will be more loyal to you when it's time for promotions to come their way.
4. Lead up to a survey. This option can be included in any of the first three or on its own. Doing a survey sends a message that you care. So not only do you send a powerful marketing message but you will also be collecting data from your subscribers that you can use. This has been a powerful tool for me in the past.
5. Lead up to a coupon. You may have used an incentive (like a coupon) in order to entice people to join your list and you can send more than one message and more than one coupon to encourage repeat orders. You may have certain specials you can use and for this series you are saying, "We enticed you with a coupon offer and here are a few others you might want to take advantage of."
If there is one thing you take away from this article, it's that autoresponders are not often used and the emphasis should be on what can you GIVE your readers that will encourage them to be loyal to you.
It makes a big difference in your business.
This past weekend I attended a marketing conference with a whole heap of powerful online and direct marketers. It was fantastic to see and share marketing strategies with other pros.
One thing jumped out at me was how casual they were about email marketing...
... yet at the same time email marketing was the cornerstone of THEIR marketing campaigns.
Many of them even shared some of their list-building strategies.
But one piece of advice came up over and over again. Test your strategies to ensure you get the best results.
Focus on email marketing tests - the rewards are huge!
Here's an example of what I mean. Midway through my email marketing career, I was responsible for a product launch to our list using email. We had about 500,000 subscribers on our list and about 100,000 customers that we made promotional offers to each month.
Over the year this channel directly and indirectly generated about 45% of our revenue.
We had released a new membership site and were now ready to introduce it to our list to pump up the member list.
We went through the motions and went through our launch sequence (like we always do) and sent our test message (like we always do).
And we were shocked by what we saw.
After our first test we had sales of about a dozen memberships.
We were plain out right terrified! There was no way we could release this to our entire list because it would mean this would have been our single worst launch... EVER!
Just not acceptable.
So we rounded up the troops. Our top copywriter, our senior editor, our email specialist, our team leader and we sat down with our stats.
***Important note here: make sure you trust your stats. Just like a pilot learns to trust their instruments. We loved this product. Our beta members raved about it. But the stats said it wouldn't sell if we launched it.***
Then we did two things that changed everything.
1. We moved the official launch date back by 10 days. (Our CEO hit the roof over this one)
2. We started a disciplined testing process to find out where our sales process was broken.
Here's what we tested:
1. We tested subject lines to get the highest open rates.
2. We wrote new copy for the email and tested new email copy.
3. We tested our call to action text and our use of buttons and links.
4. We tested our landing page.
At every stage we made improvements in the conversion rates.
By the end of our testing period as we approach the launch, we then send a test version of the announcement against our control (the previous version that failed so badly)
What did we find?
We got a 12 times improvement in sales!
That's correct. Instead of a launch that would have sold around 120 members, we sold over 1,400 new members.
One of our greatest potential launches turned into one of our single BEST launches.
Because we tested.
Take these two pieces of advice.
1. Make sure you know how to run a split test (ideally your software does it for you automatically)
2. Make sure you actually run split tests. Do one per month. After a year you may know 12 more things about your list abilities than you knew before.
Here's a short reflective exercise for you to do. Go through these 10 points and see if you are creating any of your own roadblocks to email marketing success.
You might be surprised at the results.
1. Your email schedule slips. You put off sending your newsletter because things come up. You don't send your promo because it got busy.
2. You keep searching for the perfect email. You wait and wait for more information or the perfect article or the latest data. In the meantime your email doesn't get sent.
3. You're too unorganized. You have too many things crossing your desk. Too many tasks pulling on your time and you start and email campaign, but don't finish it. Or you do get one out the door but don't go back and check results. Did it work? Did it bomb?
4. You have a million ideas for emails. But you never get around to picking one and following through. New ideas come to you often and your list of cool things to try keeps building.
5. Your goals are a moving target. Do you want to use email to increase customer loyalty? Improve sales? Generate leads? Support your brand? You can't make one email do all those things. Set some goals and stick to them.
6. You have half finished emails sitting in your queue. Sometimes something comes up. An image isn't ready, your landing page is broken, you need your shopping cart to take a promo code. And you wait on someone, meanwhile the email doesn't go out.
7. You tell your team about your great email campaigns you're working on. But again, you're in love with the idea of emails but hitting the send button eludes you. Take a deep breath and take a stand.
8. You are a perfectionist. You send a test message. You wait. You proof it. You send another test. You're terrified a typo gets out or a broken link is missed. Even an email with something wrong with it trumps an email never sent. I have seen some big errors that turned into something positive as a result. (my favorite is a creative director whos rant went to REPLY ALL list and instead of getting fired it turned into a Superbowl spot)
9. You don't have any checklists. You keep making the same mistakes over and over. This one is more common than you think.
10. You think everyone is making a killing with their emails and you aren't. In reality, email marketing is hard work. Full of trial and error, testing, false starts and outright blunders. Press on and you'll learn how to make email work for you.
We did. After 2,500 campaigns over 5 years, we know what works and what likely won't work. Read our blog post on when to call in an email marketing consultant.
Email marketers know that to up your ROI, you have to build an engaged list. If your numbers are static, don’t give up. We’ve compiled a top ten list to creatively build an email list full of potential profit. Our top ten list is ranked by supporting data from a field survey conducted by MarketingSherpa on email marketing list building effectiveness.
10. Email a friend: F2AF (forward to a friend) is an easy way to get your email in front of new eyes. By asking, and easily enabling your subscribers to forward your email, you have a chance to win new subscribers. Make sure to optimize your message so you capture these new prospects.
9. Social media share buttons: Every new person that sees your email content is a potential subscriber to your list. By including social share buttons in your email, you allow your readers to spread your message to their connections. A recommendation from a friend via Facebook is compelling to most consumers, and generates new interest.
8. Facebook registration page: Your business profile on Facebook should have its own email opt in page. Whether prospective clients come upon your page by chance, or intentionally, if they want to learn more about your business, they are likely to subscribe. Do it on Facebook with an app rather than sending them to your website. The less steps to sign up, the likelier they will.
7. Blog registration page: Same goes for your blog. If you are offering interesting (and searchable) content, it is likely your blog will route new-to-your-business traffic to your site. Right at their landing point on the blog, include a chance to sign up and get to know your business better and receive more beneficial content.
6. Co-registration programs: Co-registration trumps list buying. Working with a popular, high-traffic site with a synergistic audience, you can quickly grow your numbers. Two things to keep in mind: keep an eye on your cost per acquisition and follow up with new registrations as soon as possible.
5. Offline events (like in-store): If you have a brick and mortar business, you absolutely should have an email capture employed near the point-of-purchase. If you are more B2B, think about leveraging live events such as conferences, for digital captures. If somebody is expressing interest in what you do, sign them up ASAP.
4. Paid Search: PPC with a tracked opt-in page will accomplish several things at once. You’ll drive new traffic to your site and test your conversions, and later in the sales cycle you can segment by the source and see how well PPC traffic performs compared to more organic methods. PPC can get costly, so keeping an eye on those leads and their statistics can help with budgeting.
3. Website Registration Page: You have an email registration very visible on your website, right? Don’t overlook that simple, but vital source for list building.
2. Online Events (like webinars): An excitement-generating, quality-content packed webinar that requires email capture to register is bound to grow your numbers.
Finally - the top-performing technique!
1. Registration with purchase: At the point of purchase, you already have their interest. If they like what you offer enough to purchase from you once, they will again, particularly when they have a “written invitation” in their inbox. Don’t fail to sign people up as they buy. They’re already submitting their information to purchase, so an opt in is an afterthought for them.
Effective email marketing starts with the size and strength of your list. Make sure you are using all of the above techniques and see your numbers grow.
Short post... BIG impact!
I've been seeing more and more weak email copy these days and it's been bugging me. Bugging me because much of it has been coming from big companies or professional marketers who should know better.
Finally, I isolated the issue.
It's their writing. Their email copy breaks a fundamental rule of marketing. Once I point it out to you, you'll start seeing it EVERYWHERE. Hopefully, you'll adjust your own copy to not make this mistake.
Specific email copy is believable... general email copy is not.
I think the general feeling is that if something is bigger it is better. But that feeling is wrong. If something is 'believable' it is better.
You'll see lots of marketing claims like "Largest selection in town!" You feel like if you are the largest, your prospects will immediately want to do business with you... you are the largest after all.
That's the mistake. You need to be specific to be believed.
For example. "78% more selection than our nearest competitor" makes the point and is more credible.
You've heard the old joke, "82% of statistics are made up" It's a better punch line than "most stats are made up."
Sample general headlines (these are made up)
- Improves your productivity
- Get more sleep
- Save time
- Win more clients
- Finish more projects
- Largest selection in the area
- Most options
- Fastest car in town
Their matching specific headlines
- Get a 22% improvement in productivity
- Sleep 1 more hour every night
- Cut your time in half
- Win 52% more clients with our software
- Finish EVERY project 10% faster
- 1,452 items in stock every day - the most in the area
- 9 color options
- Your car will be 2X faster than yesterday
Notice the difference in how these headlines feel.
They are more compelling and more credible and they work better.
All you have to do is switch your thinking from general to specific and your writing will improve.
If your email copywriting improves, you'll get better results.
That's the difference between doing it yourself and using a professional.
Short post today... but a very powerful post.
Subject lines are the thin edge of the wedge. If your email subject line is working you have a much better chance of getting someone to read your email message.
One big piece of advice first: DON'T TRICK PEOPLE!
They don't like it and won't respond well once they find out. Sure you'll get a high open rate but clicks and sales will not be there. So I guess it depends what's important to you.
Four Killer Subject Line Tips to Get The Right Reader to Open Your Email
1. Use a shorter subject line
There have been enough studies of subject line length that this one should be an easy best practice. Although you'd be surprised at the number of times I see long subject lines from big companies or top marketers.
Anything less than 45 characters or so is good.
Anything longer than 55 characters is not so good.
If you can nail it in less than 12 characters you might just catch a wave.
The famous "Hey!" subject line from the Obama campaign comes to mind. During the last campaign the email team (20 or so people) tested every variation and combination of subject lines and messages they could imagine and the "Hey!" version generated the highest open rate AND the highest donation rate.
Generally though. Just strip it down to the shortest message you can. People are busy.
2. Match the subject line and the first sentence
This one is a bit trickier to do but well worth it! Take your concept from your subject line and extend it or clarify it or make it more compelling in your first sentence.
This has two purposes.
First, if your reader is using a preview pane to screen emails with, they will have more information to motivate them to read the balance of the message.
***This is a good reason to NOT use the popular "If you can't read this message" text many ESPs insert for you. THAT doesn't make me want to read it at all AND it tips me off to expect a marketing message.***
Second, if your subject line and the first sentence don't match up in theme or concept, you're running the risk of breaking the tenuous thought that's in their head as they make that fleeting decison to read the rest of the message.
Stay on topic.
3. Match the subject line with your FROM address
Who is the email FROM? Do they know you? Are you a stranger? Is your FROM address a company name or the popular info@?
If you can make the FROM address personal then you can also use a personal subject line. If your email address is corporate you may have to be a bit more formal in the subject line.
FROM addresses are a big reason why people open an email... don't forget about it.
4. Write your subject line like a marketing headline
This topic alone is worth writing a small book or report about. Simply put. If you want to get someone's attention you have to think like a world-class copywriter.
And that means headlines.
So learn how to write good headlines. Can't go into it here because it's just too big a topic. But let me say this.
If you're getting tired of the heat and someone sends you an email that says "Escape the sweltering heat" you're going to look at it.
You're about to buy a new truck and you get an email that says "Save $4,000 off your next truck purchase" you're going to look at it.
Can't sleep? "Learn 3 sleep secrets of world travelers"
If your headline is tuned in to your audience you're going to get killer open rates. If you can connect your subject line to your readers interests and problems you're going to get great results.
You won't do as well with clever, tricky, ambiguous, or funny subject lines.
Try it. You'll see.
Amy Porterfield is a Facebook marketing pro... but she is using email VERY effectively in the promotion of her own products and services.
Let's take a look.
This blog post might be a bit on the longish side but you'll see how important email marketing is even to the top social media pros.
What does that tell you?
So let's go to www.amyporterfield.com
See if you can spot the email marketing usage quickly.
Hopefully you saw what I saw. The single most important feature on the top of the page, in the best real estate, is her email capture form. It's not on the side. It's not below the fold. It's front and center. This is a best practice.
On top of that, you'll see (in a few seconds) that she also uses a pop up. I know you hate them but I wouldn't be surprised at all to see a lift of 30% in registrations from this feature. This is a best practice. Here's the pop up.
(Don't forget to take note of the benefits listed in both places to encourage you to sign up... this is a best practice)
I often talk about the Thank You Page and this one is really good. The Thank You Page is where you are directed to AFTER you fill in the form. Most people don't do this well. They send you back to the home page or they leave you hanging or they send you to a very lame Thank You Page.
This one is great.
Three things that make this page effective (you should use these too!)
1. The opening sentence tells you to check your email for "some cool Facebook freebies".
2. A video explains what you should do next.
3. There are more benefits listed to tell you WHY you should attend this webinar.
Over one year how much difference do you think it makes to have a webinar registration page as a Thank You Page vs a typical Thank You.
I went to check my inbox. What do you think happened next?
Well, you can't win them all. You really don't have control over what will grab your message and toss it in the spam folder!
I can't remember but on the Thank You Page it might make sense to add a small reminder to tell people to check their spam folder in case the email with "some cool Facebook freebies" ended up there.
You'll notice the from email address is email@example.com. Generallly I prefer to use a more personal email address. It only takes a moment to create a special email address that is more personal. Then make sure you monitor it for replies. People WILL respond to your emails. (Don't be so surprised. That's why you send them after all)
Business is often a matter of getting the best Return on Your Investment. I think generally you have two things to get a return on; your time or your money.
Let's look at getting a return using email marketing. These points apply if you are or are not using email now.
1. Skill. Do you have it? How many email campaigns have you sent? How did you learn the best practices? How many hours have you invested in your copywriter skills? How do you know what to send and what not to send?
Outsourcing email marketing means someone who has invested a whole lot more time and who has a whole lot more experience than you is doing the work--properly.
2. Time. Where are you spending your time in your business? Are you a good delegater? Are you known as a do-it-yourselfer? Are you busy looking after customers?
More importantly, is there something more important for your business that you could be doing than staying up late at night and proofing email copy and formatting for AOL, MSN, Hotmail, Macs, Yahoo, MS and Gmail? (You do send a test to all these email addresses?)
3. Highest ROI. Investing in marketing is good for any business. And it's an investment. You advertise because you hope to win new customers or generate new leads.
Every year email marketing is listed as the Number 1 marketing channel--returning the highest ROI of any channel.
Many of our customers have simply looked at their marketing channels and replaced their investment in an under performing channel with email marketing.
That simple shift of resources gets better results with the same or lower cost--improving your marketing ROI.
People are a bit down on Apple right now. The iPhone is 5 years old. The stock didn't double in price again this year. New products are ho-hum. And now Samsung releases the Galaxy S4. Looks like the end is near!
I laugh because this great company has stockpiled enough cash to buy Visa (the entire company) for cash! And they aren't announcing their upcoming product plans any time soon.
But they did do something interesting with their email messaging yesterday.
They took an opportunity to respond to their customers and remind them why the iPhone is a great product... which it never hurts to do from time to time.
Here's what they sent out.
They took a softer approach in the email opening but they wanted to make a point. The point is follow the crowd. iPhones are popular and their strategy is to remind you why.
But then they do a good thing. The body of the email goes on the make their case why.
That's the important marketing point. Whenever you have an opportunity to 'tell why' you should take it. Your readers just don't know what's what until you explain it.
I can hear your argument now. People don't want to read. You are partially right. The real issue is people don't want to read non-relevant stuff. But if you have something relevant to your reader, they will read.
Don't be shy to tell your story, state your case. Apple did.
At ZinMarketing, we believe using the best possible tools drives dramatically improved email marketing success. We recently wrote about an email service provider, StreamSend, and how this powerful service combined with consulting from an expert marketer could seriously improve your ROI. StreamSend is particularly adept at fully integrated social features. This matters because connecting email segmentation and social sharing has a profound effect on results.Social media ROIs are notoriously hard to calculate, but we are excited to report the findings of a StreamSend commissioned study, conducted by Relevancy Group. This report showed that marketers that use email campaigns linked with social sharing features generate six times the revenue as those who do not. These findings are deeply relevant to marketers and businesses owners looking to engage their customers and see high returns for every marketing dollar spent.Another statistic to note: the use of email marketing continues to grow. Retailers sent 19% more emails in 2012. Streamsend had its best-ever year in 2012, with a 25% increase in volume over 2011. What’s driving StreamSend’s tremendous growth? The functionality of its social share features and how it impacts ROI for its users.What are some Streamsend identified best practices that your business can use to improve your email marketing success?
- Video. Integrating video into email successfully can boost conversions by 50%. StreamSend allows videos to play directly from the email, rather than following a link. This allows better tracking of engagement and viewing behavior. Streamsend has an Email + Video widget to tracker viewing and sharing behaviors to make video more profitable. It even allows you to put a call to action button directly on an existing video and email it, a technique that can explode conversion rates.
- Sharing. Embedded tools for social fan acquisitions and simple social shares. This is an essential step in relationship building with your customer base, and helps your reach.
Of course, the features of your email service provider are only as good as your message. That’s why great copywriting and meaningful content are of paramount importance. Using these sophisticated tools and generating relevant, high-converting messages can be a challenge, especially for small business owners that are already short on time. Hiring professionals to explain your options and set up campaigns that truly deliver absolutely improves your results. With email marketing success opportunities at an all-time high, using an expert to streamline the process makes sense. Take advantage of the potential for success, and as always, if you need guidance or excellent content, contact us. We’re happy to help. Further reading: Email Marketing Drives Record Growth in 2012
- Trackability. StreamSend Share allows you to publish your email message across social platforms, and has Google Analytics built in, so the interactions with this shared content are more fully trackable. Key into what’s working, tweak what doesn’t.