You could say that Don Corleone, played by actor Marlon Brando in “The Godfather,” was the ultimate email marketer. After all, his famous line is: “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse.”
Don’t we hope all our emails will achieve the same result?
So what kinds of offers will prompt your subscribers to open an email, click through, and actually make a purchase?
1) Use the real magic word
It’s no surprise that the most powerful word in advertising is “free.” What is surprising is the fact that many email marketers resist using it in subject lines, afraid their email will be marked as spam.
Fear not, my fellow marketers. As long as your email lists are clean (scrubbed of undeliverables, invalids, inactives and the like), you’re good to go. If it’s free, say so – loud and clear.
The email below, from Land of Nod, not only includes “free” but a few other concepts key to a good offer (more on those later):
2) Create a sense of urgency
In the example above, a sense of urgency is created by inserting “for a limited time only” into the copy. Below, Kohl’s gets right to the point in the subject line: 5 Hours Only … And the subhead drills it home with “Hurry!”
Ready for a little R&R? Repetition and reinforcement, that is. Hayneedle starts off with “LAST CHANCE:” in the subject line, followed by “ENDS TONIGHT!” at the top left corner, and “Order by 11:59 p.m. Feb. 11.”
3) A (good) picture is worth a thousand words
Much to the chagrin of all the copywriters out there, all the great copy in the world can’t make up for a lousy product image. Case in point, this email from Serious Skincare. I must admit I find it rather ironic that the email touts a “BIG SALE” and is targeted to an over-40 audience, yet features tiny, hard-to-read copy and a minuscule product image:
On the other hand, this email from Chico’s may not offer a discount, but it offers a preview of spring fashion – and a compelling image that ties it all together.
4) Offer (real) value
If your budget doesn’t allow for free anything, the next best thing is a discount. Offer a percentage off, dollars off, a special subscriber rate, etc. How you word it is just as important as the offer itself. “Buy one, get one free” has proven to be more effective than “50% off.” (Tip: Be sure your back-end systems can handle whatever you’re promoting.) Test what works best with your customers, then run with it.
5) Claim exclusivity
As in the Land of Nod email above, “exclusive” is another draw. You can have an exclusive product, an exclusive offer (to email subscribers or online only), or an offer exclusive to a segment of your list (top customers). This is what email was made for!
6) Throw in a guarantee
To this day, there still are some people leery to shop online because they’re afraid they won’t be able to return their purchases or they simply don’t want the hassle of returning an item. Remove that purchase barrier by guaranteeing your products. At the very least, make it easy for customers to return items. Include a prepaid packing label and instructions on how to return the item.
7) Lighten up on the legalese
I’ve actually seen a disclaimer that was longer than the email itself. It reminds me of those TV and radio ads where the announcer talks a mile a minute in order to get all the legal mumbo-jumbo into the spot.
Bottom line, the more legal language you have, the less likely your prospect will act on the offer. I call it the “fear factor.” Ask your legal team to move that monster to the website at least the bulk of it.
The Register actually bestowed awards such as the longest email disclaimer and most incomprehensible disclaimer. After reading them, I would have thought they’d have been in the “best spoof disclaimer” category.
The key takeaway to crafting a good email offer?
Not all people shop exactly the same way. An email offer that might be appealing to one person might turn off someone else. That’s why it’s important to feature a few of the elements I’ve suggested in your offer, in the hope that it will attract the greatest number of responses.
Blasting emails is a blast from the past, so to speak. Email marketers who regularly deploy the same content to their entire list will likely find their list (and revenue) dwindling in the long run.
It’s all about segmentation. Even the least sophisticated email platforms have the capability to segment lists. So take advantage of it.
List segmentation doesn’t have to be rocket science. Here are a few ideas, all easy to implement, to get you started.
Segment by geography
If warranted your database should include your recipients’ zip codes; this data can be use to segment geographically. The TravelZoo email below is target to residents of the Greater Philadelphia area. The targeting starts with the subject line, with a reference to “Valley Forge.” Philly-area residents will immediately know that this is a local offer. In the body of the email, the heading clearly states “Getaway for Philadelphia.” This is reinforced in the copy, which begins, “Less than 30 minutes from Philadelphia, ….”
Email marketers with brick-and-mortar stores can use zip codes to prepopulate the email with the address of the nearest retail locations. It’s a classic example of cross-channel marketing as well as dynamic email marketing.
Geographical segmentation can also be used to time when emails are received. Recipients on the West Coast can receive emails in their time zone, not that of the East Coast.
You also can use geographical data on a broader level. Let’s say you’re sending a “Snowed-in Special” to recipients in the Northeast. You can tweak the creative for your southern recipients, so that the offer still makes sense to them. Something as simple as changing the headline to “Not snowed in? Still enjoy the savings!” lets your customers know that the offer applies to them – and that you’re not lumping them in with their neighbors in the frozen north.
Segment by gender
When it comes to lists, it’s simple to segment by gender, via your own collection processes, purchase behavior or using gender recognition software. Valentine’s Day promotions, for example, lend themselves to this type of segmentation. The first email below from Ice.com is targeted toward women. Although it doesn’t explicitly say “for women,” the subject line and copy read “just for you” and the pink and purple hearts give the email a very feminine feel. The copy does a good job of encouraging gift giving as well as self-purchase by adding “(and your love).”
The next email from Ice.com is more generic – even masculine – and obviously geared toward gift giving as opposed to self-purchase. Here, the jewelry is silhouetted against a white background with no-nonsense black links below the images.
Segment by purchase behavior
Keep track of your customers’ purchase habits, then use that information to segment your lists. For customers with higher average order values, don’t be afraid to upsell or cross-sell in your emails. Keep track of customers’ product preferences. If customer Willy Wonka consistently orders dark chocolate, don’t send him emails featuring milk chocolate. Chances are, he’ll be more receptive to your offers. Sweet.
Segment by activity
Many email marketers group their lists by prospects, actives and inactives. They further segment the active group into top customers. Inactives are often defined as those who have not clicked on or opened an email in the past 6-9, 9-12 or 12-24 months. Promotions usually are focused on the active lists. It’s important not to ignore the inactives – they either should be re-engaged or removed from your lists entirely. ISPs routinely penalize email marketers whose lists have a high percentage of inactives.
This type of segmentation (or any segmentation, for that matter) can backfire, however, if not used properly. For trigger and transactional emails in particular, you must set up business rules for the segmentation. Like me, I’m sure you’ve received “Welcome back!” emails from companies whose lists you never opted out of, or “Thank you” emails from sites where you’ve never made a single purchase. That’s just bad business. Period.
Key takeaway on email list segmentation
No matter how you slice it, segmentation is key to effective email marketing. It allows you to tailor your message and your offer to those most likely to respond. Segmentation may require a little more work up front, but the ROI is worth the effort.
The inbox is a tough place.
People get a lot of emails each day. It’s a cutthroat competition amongst businesses to get attention.
One way businesses are getting attention is to be fun or a little quirky.
But for some businesses being fun doesn’t come easy.
Maybe the brand isn’t fun and exciting or maybe you are just conservative by nature.
In order to compete and win over customers you need to stand out.
Let’s look at a few ways companies are having fun with email even if they aren’t fun themselves.
Fun Tip #1 – Use Humor
People like to laugh.
When we laugh we feel good. It’s a physiological reaction to be in a good mood when something makes us smile.
Since buying is an emotional experience it’s good for you if your subscribers feel good as a result of humor.
A funny play on words can make people stop and give extra thought to your email. They’ll smile and those positive vibes will translate to brand recognition and more sales.
Fun Tip #2 – Try Unique Layouts
You probably have a template for your email program.
When was the last time you tried something different?
I’m not talking about changing a few elements or adding in some splashes of color. I’m talking about really changing up the layout with something that will surprise your subscribers.
Sometimes it’s good to mix things up and get a little crazy.
Horizontal emails are becoming more popular. When I received this Fossil email it stood out. I immediately started scrolling to the right to see what was being featured. It was like there was something hidden.
Horizontal scrolling is also much easier on a smartphone or on a tablet. People are used to it so you can use something like this design to change things up and stay fun and hip.
Get crazy with your layouts. Go with something horizontal or even thin and long. Surprise your subscribers and have a little fun.
Fun Tip #3 – Use Fun Words
Images aren’t the only way you can have fun with your email.
The language you use can be fun. Not only can it be fun, you can make it more enjoyable by being snappy and concise.
People respond to short, quick sentences and phrases.
We’re busy and we don’t have time to read novels. Be snappy and fun and you’ll get attention.
Fun Tip #4 – Make Emails Look Awesome with Images “Off”
Have you ever gotten an email where the images were turned off?
You probably have…many times.
When you’re creating designs for your subscribers you probably don’t think that people spend much time looking at the email without the images.
Think of the images off mode in the email as an opportunity to have some fun.
The example above from Pizza Express is a great one. They’re having fun with the images off. People will do a double take when they see it.
Final Thoughts on Making Emails More Fun
Surprisingly it’s not always easy to have fun.
Not all brands are naturally fun, but there are unique things you can do with design and content to have fun and stand out in the inbox.
Try these fun tips and see if you get more response. You should stand out in the inbox and get a little edge on the competition.
And remember to have some fun!
As marketers and humans we always look at others for inspiration.
To innovate we take what others have done and build on those ideas to improve and make more interesting.
That’s the goal anyway.
When it comes to email marketing, though, there is one tricky part of the equation.
There are B2C emails and there are B2B emails.
In this post we’ll look at the differences between B2C email marketing and B2B email marketing. You’ll want to pay attention because while some of the methodologies are the same the differences are important because a strategy for one might not work for the other.
Overview of B2C Email Marketing
B2C emails are pretty common for most Internet users. You probably received about 5 to 10 B2C emails just today if you’re an average email user.
B2C companies tend to be more aggressive with the frequency in which they send messages so the footprint is higher than in the B2B world.
Another aspect of B2C email marketing is the fact that nearly all emails are sales-focused. This means that each email is about getting to a sale quickly. Purchase price tends to be on the small side for B2C products so the sales process is more impulsive and quick.
You might see an email that introduces a new product. The expectation is that you immediately become interested in the item and make the purchase.
Another common scenario is to see an email that puts the pressure on your to purchase. Urgency is a common tool in B2C email marketing. You’ll see a sale that is ending soon and you have to act now otherwise you’ll miss the promotion.
Urgency is actually one of the areas where B2C and B2B are similar. B2B salespeople do try to get urgency attached to a quote or an offer trying to get a person to commit to a deal.
Finally, B2C emails tend to not follow a welcome series. There are instances when it does happen, but the welcome series is usually not longer than one or two emails. This is in contrast to some advanced B2B email marketing campaigns.
Overview of B2B Email Marketing
B2B sales tend to be large purchases. There are exceptions on both sides of the equation. There are small purchases in B2B and large purchases in B2C, but in general the large purchases lean toward the B2B world.
Because the purchases are larger there is more marketing in B2B email marketing than sales.
What does this mean?
B2B companies know that email marketing mirrors the sales process. The first introduction happens when a new prospect signs up for the marketing newsletter or marketing program. From there the emails work like a salesperson.
Messages are directed at educating the subscriber. The first email might include some recent news happening in the industry along with a point of view from the company perspective.
Subsequent emails often provide additional insight into the industry and eventually the products and services offered by the company.
The entire process is about presenting the state of the industry and the problems that exist and take the subscriber down the path of solving that issue with the solution provided by the company.
By now you probably recognize that B2B email marketing lends itself well to welcome series. It’s true that many B2B companies setup email series to move new subscribers through the sales process until they become a customer.
These differences in B2C and B2B email marketing are important. If you understand the differences you can really focus in on what will work best for your company.
On some occasions you can use inspiration from one for the other. It might be a way to get a little edge on the competition.
Now it’s your turn.
What do you think the differences are in B2C and B2B email marketing?
Email was a big deal when it first came to prominence.
Electronic message delivery had been around for decades in various forms, but email messaging across the Internet gained widespread acceptance around the mid 1990s.
Since this time people have been able to send and receive messages with personal inboxes with just a connection to the Internet.
Today, email remains as popular as ever with around 90% of all Internet users active with email.
It’s a powerful channel and because of email’s wide acceptance email has been a key component of marketing since its inception.
In this post we’ll cover how email changed marketing forever and how you can use email marketing to achieve your business goals.
A History of Marketing
Before the Internet there were a few basic mediums for communicating marketing messages with consumers.
Television was a big medium and remains one of the biggest today. People watch television programs and see advertising in the form of commercials and product placement.
There was the in-person salesperson. You could walk into a store and deal directly with someone that was tasked with selling you a product. Some salespeople would even go door-to-door to sell their wares.
Direct mail is another large medium. Up until the early 2000s the catalog industry was a booming industry. Companies could send various pieces of marketing information in the mail enticing consumers to make purchases. Direct mail remains a big area of focus today for many companies even with growing concern surrounding the USPS.
When email took off in the ‘90s it was a game changer.
The Original Marketing Email
Email changed marketing in a few ways.
Sending a marketing message to consumers became nearly instant. Lead-time to design and print and send a catalog was trimmed down to designing the message and hitting send from the email provider.
Consumers used to see an ad on TV and become interested in a product. They would have to visit the store. With email the consumer could click on an item and immediately make a purchase on an ecommerce site.
Even with the change in timing, email marketing most closely emulated direct marketing. Email would take on the look of a page in the catalog page. The copy would tell a story and sell the recipient on the product being featured.
Even today email is used in this way, but the methods are continuing to evolve and get more interest in terms of marketing.
The Ongoing Evolution of Email
Email continues to evolve today. Perhaps the most significant change recently is the increase in email use on mobile devices.
You can’t walk down the street today without seeing people looking at their phones checking their emails.
Everyone is constantly connected to the Internet and to the inbox.
The mobile trend has already had a few major impacts on email marketing.
First, the screen is smaller (obviously) so there is less room for a design to capture the interest of the consumer. Marketers and designers have to get creative with a marketing email design. Scale matters. Only the most important call-to-action may be included in an email design.
Second, there are more outside distractions for mobile users. Marketers used to know that when a consumer checked their email they were sitting at a desk in a home or office. There aren’t too many distractions in that setting.
When consumers are on the move with their phone there are more distractions. People are around and life is taking place everywhere. There is a higher premium on having an email that grabs attention.
But these are opportunities for the best marketers. Mobile presents a great opportunity for email to become an even larger part of the marketing mix. You can reach consumers no matter where they are and you have more access to their time than ever before.
By building an email list you get permission to market to your target consumers. Those that build their email lists today will benefit in the long run.
The Future of Email Marketing
Email changed the changed marketing forever. Messaging from business to consumer (or business to business) became more of an instant gratification. There was no longer a wait for a catalog to arrive in the mail.
Email continues to evolve itself today with the increase in mobile use amungst consumers. There is more demand to be interesting and to stand out.
Presently, email is as important as ever but what will the email marketing of the future look like?
We talk a lot about consumer emails here but today we’re looking at three very different B2B email marketing strategies, which range from basic to advanced.
Needless to say, email programs in the business-to-business realm have certain attributes that make them different from the average consumer email program—like longer sales cycles, higher price points and fewer products to sell.
Today, we’ll review a few B2B strategies that may help you to, not only, stay in front of business prospects/clients but help you ring the cash register harder, and more often. Let’s begin.
Push Social Connections (as a Standalone Campaign)
In the example above from Wildfire, the company reached out to its subscribers and clients asking for followers on five social networks.
Aside from the additional reach that social media can afford B2Bs, Wildfire is likely looking to build its social following for two reasons.
First, having a large social following is corresponding more with search results. Google+, in particular, is having a bigger impact on search result. Therefore for companies looking to get more traffic from search it’s important to grow a social following.
Second, a social following does have an impression on people that have just discovered a brand. When someone hears about the brand and is potentially interested in the service they’ll do some research and today one of the basic research steps is finding out how many followers the brand has on social media. It’s a quick and general way to see if others trust the brand; social proof. That said, I’m surprised that Wildfire did not include a link to their LinkedIn company profile of company-sponsored LinkedIn group.
Use Dynamic Content (Like a Retailer)
Email newsletters are common among B2Bs. They’re a great way to provide useful resources in addition to the services you already provide. You can gather articles that will be interesting and useful to your clients. But everyone does that.
What’s unique about this example from LinkedIn is how they promote the custom aspect of the newsletter. They are using dynamic content, via merge tags, to accomplish this which insanely common in the consumer and publishing worlds but surprisingly not so common in B2B.
If an email is “dynamic” it means that each subscriber could, theoretically, receive a unique email based on their profile or behavioral data.
This dynamic data, which populates the content of an email, could be as straightforward as a photo and contact information of the user’s account manager or, like in the email above, it is based on a user’s LinkedIn profile.
Dynamic content has proven to increase relevancy which can often accelerate the sales cycle and increase upsells. It’s no brainer.
Use Google Remarketing (in Your Emails)
For those who are late to the party, Google remarketing provides marketers with an opportunity to stay in front of prospects who were on their site and then offer those prospects relevant display ads as they browse the web.
Though it is well-documented how retailers benefit from ad remarketing, it is not always apparent how the technology can work for B2B; it’s especially unclear how it can work with your email program.
I would argue that any B2B company that uses a free trial, has a freemium product, engages in active lead generation, or runs lead nurturing campaigns (which I suppose is almost every B2B) can use remarketing in their email campaigns to increase conversions and drive revenue; but they have to be smart about it.
For the most part, users who have accepted your free trial, for example, don’t want to see ads for a product they’re already tested. One of the biggest mistakes in retargeting is ads asking users to take an action they’ve already taken.
However, that doesn’t mean you can’t advertise to existing clients, you simply must do so in a way that adds value. One prime example is freemium products. Preaching the virtues of your paid product to your free users (via email and Google remarketing) can help increase upsells.
Likewise, if you’re devoting dollars to bring traffic to a lead gen form, remarketing to those who open but (do not click) on those emails (or bounce from those landing pages) will help you stay in touch with your warm prospects, with a message that is more relevant to where they are in sales cycle. Here’s how it works.
Just like you would do on your website, all you need to do is add a sales-stage-specific remarketing code into the HTML of your emails, and everyone who opens an email, in that list segment, will begin to see those (more targeted) ads all over the web. The benefit here is that you can better focus your Google remarketing efforts based on how far your users are in the funnel. That way, you can ensure you’re getting the biggest bang for your remarketing buck.
What are your favorite B2B email marketing strategies?
Please share your thoughts and comment below.