It’s not enough to have a hefty list of email subscribers. Columnist Daniel Faggella shares five ways to keep your customers and prospects engaged and increase your open rates.
Building an email list is not an easy task in an e-commerce business. You need to create consistent content that resonates with your target audience. Then, you must actively promote that content to convert your readers into subscribers.
But this is just the starting point of email marketing. You need to garner the trust of your prospects if you ever expect them to buy from you.
Far too often, marketers employ antiquated email strategies that seldom provide value. Let’s use the fictitious company, “Golf Pro Magazine,” as an example.
When someone subscribes to Golf Pro’s email list, he or she receives a handful of autoresponder emails that pitch one of its products. Every once in a while, Golf Pro sends out a newsletter that promotes a new set of golf clubs. Eventually, Golf Pro’s email list becomes idle, often for months at a time.
This can often occur in businesses that have massive email lists, which is precisely why the volume of your list isn’t always indicative of your bottom-line revenue. In fact, the quality of your list is usually more important than the quantity of it.
But how many in your email list respond and your sales performance are dependent on how effective you are as a marketer.
Your job is to cultivate trustworthy relationships with your subscribers. Today, I’m going to share five types of emails that will increase the engagement of your email list and ultimately increase the likelihood of your prospects and customers opening your emails.
1. Educate and sell your customers
Nearly everyone’s inbox is cluttered with a plethora of promotional, personal and social media emails. Put yourself in the shoes of your ideal customer. When they scroll through their inbox, what types of content are being delivered by their favorite brands?
The vast majority of small businesses are consistently pitching their products. There’s nothing inherently wrong with promoting your products to your email list, but your readers are not realistically going to purchase products every time, like revolving doors.
If you aren’t supplementing your offers with benefit-driven content, you’re likely to lose the attention of your readers.
If you’re looking to re-engage your list, then consider sending out a short email that educates subscribers on a specific topic that is congruent with their core interests.
For example, let’s assume that you have a list of 10,000 people in the dog training niche. The majority of your subscribers opted into your list for a lead magnet titled “10 Quick Tips To Fix Your Dog’s Behavior.”
If you have been sending nothing but promotional offers, then consider creating a mini “crash course” that expands on this particular subject. Provide nothing but value and refrain from using any sales page links.
Contrary to popular belief, you can still leave the “buyer’s door” open without being overt about your offers. One of the most effective ways to do this is by sending your prospects to a blog post. Try placing a banner that showcases one of your products at the footer of the article, and always ensure that your offer aligns to the subject matter in your article content.
If you’re delivering value that matters to customers, a much larger portion of your readers will want to learn more from you. Whether you’re sending an educational or promotional email, you should always present your readers with an opportunity to buy one of your products.
2. Offer exclusive promotions
People are generally much more receptive when they believe that others are being genuine. As a marketer and business owner, you’re likely not going to be perceived as a “pal,” but that doesn’t necessarily mean that your readers will think of you as “just a corporate brand” that can’t relate to their situation.
Take a look at a company like Starbucks. If you drink this ultra-successful Seattle-based chain’s coffee on a regular basis, then you might be a big enough fan to follow them on social media. Maybe you even stay up to date with their latest promotions and get excited about their new drinks and flavors.
Starbucks is an established brand, but they don’t need to know each of their customers on a personal level to succeed. They’re focused on selling their products… and selling more products. Customers may cultivate daily routines and even friendly relationships with the baristas behind the Starbucks counter, but they’re certainly not misconstruing their relationship with Howard D. Schultz as the CEO of Starbucks.
Small business owners, on the other hand, have the luxury of marketing to their audience on a more intimate level. One of the best ways to engage with your email list is to offer exclusive promotions:
- Host a live webinar that encourages your subscribers to interact with you personally.
- Offer product discounts to both your prospects and customers.
- Market personal coaching to your list.
- Give away free samples or free demos of your product or service.
If you’re segmenting your email list, then you’ll already know your customers’ core desires and frustrations and can create these offers to reflect their interests and needs. Be creative with your exclusive promotions, and always ask for feedback from your subscribers on a continuous basis.
3. Push your best stuff… for free
Marketers have a tendency to sometimes keep their most valuable content very close; it can seem counterintuitive to simply give away your best stuff for free. But giving away your best content is a fruitful strategy that you should implement in all of your marketing campaigns.
Good marketers seldom have a “scarcity” mindset. They understand the correlation between reciprocity and value. It’s absolutely paramount to garner the trust of your email list before you ask them to buy anything from you, and the most efficient way to do this is by “pushing the free line” in your content.
Don’t be apprehensive about giving away your best content for free. Go above and beyond the expectations of your audience.
To maximize sales conversions, you want to put your best content toward the beginning of your sales funnel. Here are a few ways to do this:
- Create a short video series that covers a specific topic that piques your broad audience’s interest.
- Showcase content from some of your premium products.
- Deliver interviews that you’ve done with authorities in your industry.
- Display your best customer testimonials.
- Direct your subscribers to your most popular blog posts.
Leading with your best content will convey both the short- and long-term benefits to your prospects. This will ultimately increase your open rates, along with the likelihood of their opening future emails.
This same approach can be implemented to help re-engage a segment of your email list. If someone hasn’t opened an email from you in a while, you can create an autoresponder that delivers some of your best content; while this content should be shared strategically, it’s never too late to share!
Keep in mind that your best content doesn’t necessarily have to be your newest stuff. Never assume that your subscribers have seen everything you’ve created; most likely, they’ve missed something of value along the way.
4. Ask for replies
One of the best ways to enhance the engagement of your list is by simply asking them to reply to your email; this is a small gesture that can go a long way.
Subscribers to your email list have already demonstrated that they enjoy your content. Why not take it a step further and interact with them personally?
In general, this strategy works best with benefit-driven emails. Ask direct questions in the “P.S.” section of your email, such as:
- What is the number one goal that you’re looking to achieve?
- What are the obstacles that are preventing you from reaching your goal?
- What is the number one frustration you’re dealing with, and how can I help you?
Encourage your subscribers to respond directly or through a submit box. Garnering replies from your list will also increase your authority through the lens of the email provider, which in turn will improve your overall deliverability by keeping you in the inbox of your subscribers’ email.
5. Use cliffhangers in your copy
Cliffhangers elicit curiosity, one of your most powerful ongoing tools as a successful marketer. Using cliffhangers is a powerful strategy that can enhance the engagement of both your autoresponder and broadcast messages.
They can be utilized in the subject lines, body copy and “P.S.” sections of your emails. Following are three best practice strategies that you can start trying in your own emails:
- Subject line: This one strategy led to [INSERT SPECIFIC RESULT] in just a couple of weeks…
- Body copy: Discover how to [INSERT DESIRED BENEFIT] by clicking here…
- “P.S.”: Tomorrow, I’ll be sending you a video about [INSERT TOPIC]. Keep an eye on your inbox, because you won’t want to miss this one!
There are a variety of cliffhanger-type messages out on the web, and different versions will work better for different industries and styles of business. Subscribe to the authority brands in your niche, and see what types of cliffhangers they use in their emails. Be creative and start testing in your own copy as well.
As with every other email strategy, the key with using curiosity as a tool is to be specific about a particular topic that speaks to the needs of your audience.
Having a large list of subscribers isn’t enough to build a sustainable source of revenue for your business. Your emails need to have enough intrigue that they attract prospects and keep them engaged by offering relevant benefits that uniquely reflect your company’s brand and strengths (a relatively tall order, but never out of reach!).
The above five strategies are a great foundation for starting to build trustworthy and engaging relationships with your subscribers, as well as to help re-engage those subscribers who might have fallen off the open and click-through wagon.
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.