Email Marketing and (CRO) Conversion Rate Optimization
Email marketing is truly a trial and error process that can be easily abused or made worthless if you don’t take adequate steps to ensure you are delivering content to subscribers that is compelling, interesting and engaging. Sending a marketing email to a list of subscribers is simple but getting someone to read it is difficult. Response rates can fluctuate widely from hour to hour and offer to offer.
Conversion Rate Optimization
Conversion rate optimization is all about minimizing your “abandonment rate” and maximizing your “conversion rate”. It’s just a fancy term for increasing your overall sales by bringing more people back to your site, landing page or landing page and turning prospective clients into actual clients, upsetting and getting repeat customers.
Let’s dive into some tips to help convert your subscribers into active, attentive, engaged visitors and customers.
It’s very important that your database of subscribers contains as much relevant, important information about your subscribers as possible. Each time subscribers comes back to your site is another chance to learn more about them. That information in turn will help to fine tune your continuing marketing efforts. The trick is to engage your subscribers and drive them to participate by directing them back to your site for new information, tips, deals, surveys and more. Compiling a list of subscribers is no easy task and takes a lot of time and patience.
I typically capture certain information stored in session variables, cookies, etc that help me categorize and define subscribers. Demographic information and knowing what your subscribers are looking for can really help you to target email marketing content to your subscribers. Typically you will want to capture time of day, day of week, landing page, referral url, pages visited, location, etc. Basically, every bit of information you can store about your visitors and subscribers you should be storing.
If you have a website and don’t have the ability to capture user specific data there are still some ways you can get more information from subscribers:
- Don’t have a blanket or global registration form. Make a unique email capture form for each important area of your site. Include hidden form fields to designate information specific to the page/content and if possible, the user, using URL variables.
- Don’t just have ask for the email address. Make it clear that the email address is all that is necessary in order to become a subscriber but ask for more info like name, phone number and if possible, information specific to the content on the page. Just make sure it is clear to the subscriber that only the email address needs to be filled out.
- Where ever you have a subscription form also have, some place close, a survey/poll form and if applicable, a user login/registration form. This will allow you to accumulate even more information you can store for subscribers.
A lot of email marketing strategists will recommend against sending marketing related emails right away to a new subscriber. However, whether you do or don’t is at best a case by case situation. Some subscribers who have signed up to newsletter of your products or services expect to be sold something (i.e. Amazon.com). I feel it’s generally a good idea to include at least some form of advertisement or promotion in every marketing email.
I like to send content to subscribers that is as targeted as possible, based on criteria captured at the time their email addresses were obtained and use that information to deliver relevant content blurbs that will “entice” the subscriber to click on links to learn more about the topic. You always want to lead your subscribers back to your website. Think of email marketing as a portal, a doorway back to your website.
Truly, one of the keys to successful email marketing and a higher conversion rate is understanding the power of client variables. You can capture a lot of valuable information that will assist you in delivering extremely targeted, customized emails.
Every email should contain tailored, targeted information blurbs with links to learn more/finish the article. But there is more that each email should contain. Try to have the following in every email that goes out to subscribers:
- Event information targeted to the email subscriber
- A Poll or Suvery
- A Coupon or information on a Contest
- A personal message. It’s important to personalize the email as much as possible. Include subscriber name and anything else that would help make the message more personal and inviting.
- Links to other content not directly relevant but indirectly relevant
- A link so the subscriber can view the email as an HTML page on your site
- Links to key website pages like Contact Us, FAQ, Social Networking Sites, etc.
- an unsubscribe link
- A link to register if the subscriber hasn’t already
- Typically, one small ad for your product or service
- Include relevant photos
- A tracking pixel to record whether the email was open and if so, when and how many times
- As always make sure your emails, advertisements, newsletters, etc are well written, properly formatted and have valid HTML and have a very low spam score.
It’s important that you make sure to follow the rules set forth by the Can-Spam ACT
Beware of over emailing. Play around with email schedules and how far apart you send your marketing related emails to a subscriber.
Just like PPC there are important factors that need to be constantly tested with your email campaign. A few are:
- Day of Delivery
- Time of Delivery
- Subject Line of Email
- Copy and Message
You should also sign up for newsletter and offers from your competition if you haven’t already done so. See what they are doing and watch how they handle their email strategies.
Information is as valuable as your products/services
Offering advice, tips, directions, reviews news, etc can be invaluable for not just retaining your current customers but helping you to get new customers. Offering lists, white papers, newsletters and more can help your company to engage prospective customers.
Tap into the power of social media. If you aren’t sending out emails occasionally with specific marketing materials aimed at directing subscribers to popular social media networks then you are behind the curve. Ideally, you will want to have a presence on networks such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. Social networks are another way to reach potential clients. Acquiring followers is not unlike having visitors become subscribers. In many ways you can market to social networks the same way you do to subscribers. There are differences, however. Social network marketing can be easily abused. Look for a future article on this site to define and detail marketing for social networks.
This recently released chart shows further evidence that more and more people are turning away from email based communication and moving towards social networks. Businesses of all sizes should be moving with the same speed towards having a social network marketing plan. While marketing to subscribers via social networks will never completely replace email marketing it will undoubtedly take its place as the best way to market to existing customers and potential customers. If you haven’t thought about a strategy that will allow you to find and communicate with subscribers on social media network, now is that time!
Be part of the community
Part of my success in conversion rate optimization has been by finding networks, blogs, forums, etc where others go to seek advice, news, articles, tips and more. Work to establish a relationship with a network, site or blog and support each other. For one client we identified a leading forum on the internet that had tens of thousands of users discussing topics related to my client’s services. We contacted the forum and arranged to not only advertise on their forum but to include white papers, newsletter signups, and other items to be hosted on the forum. We were also able to have an expert from the forum write articles that we posted on our client’s site and we were able to send even more valuable and relevant information to our subscribers because of our relationship with the forum.
Email campaigns are a marathon, not a race.
I hope you enjoyed this article. Fell free to comment or email Steffan if you’d like to discuss this in more detail.