Email marketing has the highest response rate out of any marketing method.
Does that mean spamming works? Well, someone has to buy something from spammers, otherwise they’d become extinct.
But there’s spamming, and then there’s quality direct email marketing.
The latter is one of the best strategies to market B-2-B products and services, but B-2-C businesses can learn a lot from it too.
It might not be right for you. Maybe content email marketing works better for your business, but understanding the principles behind the other two email strategies will make a huge difference to your success.
So, here are the three strategies to email marketing, how to figure out which is best for your business, and how to succeed with each.
1. Direct Email Marketing
Here’s how direct email marketing works:
- Get a list of email addresses (build your own list or buy one).
- Write an email advertising your product or service.
- Send it to the list and wait for the orders to come in.
Sounds a lot like spamming, doesn’t it?
Wikipedia defines spam as “unsolicited bulk messages [sent] indiscriminately”, which basically means sending emails without knowing if they’re useful to the receivers (tampon ads for men).
How to Use Direct Email Marketing without Becoming a Spammer?
There’s a significant difference between spamming and sending quality direct response emails.
- Your list: The best way to avoid spam complaints is to build your own opt in emailing list.
- Your copy: Write as you’d write for a friend. Don’t use colored background for text.
- Your response: If you don’t get orders, don’t send the same email again or anything else for a while.
You’ll always be fine if you follow those guidelines.
How to Get Results with Direct Response Emails
The fact that no one has ever marked my email as spam, doesn’t make me any money.
Great email marketing results come from great copywriting. If you can’t write copy that converts, then hire someone to do it for you; it’s well worth the investment.
In the last few days I’ve received a few advertisements via email and probably you’ve got some too.
They’ve been well targeted: search engine optimization service, business cards, accounting software, and – ironically – a list of all Finnish businesses’ contact info (emphasis on email addresses).
The problem with all of those was poor copywriting; I expect them to get a minimal conversion (probably way below 1%) with such horrible copy.
But that doesn’t mean you couldn’t use the same strategy with great results.
As an example I’ll use the business contact information (list of emails) product. It costs 1450€ + tax. And about 2500 new companies pop up every year in Finland.
The copy sucks (and their landing page doesn’t help), so lets say they’ll get a 0.5% conversion rate: 2.500 emails x 0.5% x 1450€ = 18.125€
Lets see what would happen if they had good copy and they’d get a 3% conversion: 2.500 emails x 3% x 1.450€ = 108.750€
If they paid 5.000€ + 2% commission for a good copywriter, they could make 90.000€ extra every year from now on.
So, if you decide to use the direct email marketing strategy, write great copy or hire someone to do it for you.
2. Is The Golden Mean Golden?
You could think the golden mean is best strategy for email marketing too. And you’re right, but do you know what the golden mean is? Most businesses don’t…
If one extreme is direct response marketing and the other is building a relationship with your audience (the third strategy), then you could think sending short emails about offers to your subscribers would be the golden mean.
You’d be wrong.
People don’t generally want “offers” via email. They want exclusive offers, competitions, possibilities to influence, and so on. Offers are for TV advertising ;)
If you can’t provide unique value with your emails, then stick to direct response marketing (first strategy).
A large Finnish company just started building their emailing list. And it’s obvious they just started; they made the mistakes that most businesses make.
- Their advertisement says, “Do you want information about offers?”
- They offer an incentive (lottery for 50€ gift coupons), but they don’t require a sign up.
So, what should’ve they done? And how can you succeed with the second strategy?
1. Advertise what people want
This (again) goes back to having a solid marketing framework. People don’t want offers, but they might tolerate them. The ad should’ve been about the lottery, which people actually want to take part in.
2. Require a sign up
Opt in email marketing is based on getting people to opt in! They’re promoting an email newsletter that doesn’t offer any real value to their customers. Why don’t they require people to sign up to take part in the lottery? They lose a lot of emails just because of this simple mistake.
And oh, they don’t let you sign up on their website (unless you find a tiny link after clicking another tiny link, and they ask for your age, gender, address, interests…talk about poor opt in landing pages). Instead they rely on gathering emails only in their stores. And here’s the kicker: the lottery is over now, but you can still sign up, with the promise of being included in the lottery…
The golden mean can work well
I’m not saying offer-based email marketing strategy couldn’t work; if you do it well, it can be as effective as the other two strategies. There are three things to remember:
- Give exclusivity. Your subscribers gave you their emails, so give them something exclusive in return. You can give special discounts, offer exclusive products/services, or do something else to show how you appreciate them.
- Don’t be obnoxious. In other words, don’t send 15 emails a day promoting all your different products. I can’t tell you exactly how many emails is too many, but around three per month should be okay.
- Copywriting… Basically you’re sending ads. If they don’t convert, you’re wasting your time and money. So, just as with the first strategy, write great copy or hire someone to do it for you.
3. Build a Relationship
The last strategy is content email marketing.
Here’s how it works:
- You build your own targeted opt in emailing list (usually with an incentive to join).
- You build a relationship with your subscribers with free valuable content you give them.
- You wait for people to come looking for what you can offer.
1. Build your email list
How to build an emailing list is a topic worth its own post (or an eBook or more). But basically you offer something that’s valuable to your target audience, and require them to join your list to get that content. Sure, they can leave your list immediately after getting the content, but most won’t do that if the content is truly valuable.
2. Build your relationship
The goal is to increase trust with valuable free content (eBooks, reports, video, audio, etc.).
There’s a couple of main ways to do this with great success.
- Send an email only when you have something really special to offer. The idea is to make sure every email gets noticed and is valuable to the subscriber: they won’t leave your list or disregard your emails as useless.
- Send frequent informative emails. The idea is to showcase your expertise often, and stay on top of mind. The problem is that you’ll get more unsubscribes and you may teach your subscribers not to pay attention to your emails. You can send even one email every day, but only if they’re really helpful.
Which content-based way should you use?
There isn’t one “right” answer, but usually it’s best to do what feels natural to you. Both ways have their advantages, and they both work ridiculously well if you know what you’re doing.
Don’t forget to make offers.
Sure this road is about building relationships, but if you never make an offer, you’re losing a lot of sales.
The offers you make to your “friend” subscribers should be special, something non-subscribers won’t get.
So, give them exclusive discounts and offers. And do it well; you shouldn’t sound like a copywriter when you make offers to your “friends”, but you need to be a copywriter to get a high conversion.
I’m going to say it once more (those advertising emails I got were just so terrible that I can’t get them out of my head): write great copy or hire someone to do it for you.
Regardless of which road you choose, you’ll need a reliable email marketing software to start. There are a few on the market, but if you want a recommendation, then use AWeber. It’s very easy to use, reasonably priced, and you can quickly build opt in forms you can use in your website.
The next step is to figure out which strategy to use. This is trickier, but if you like one of the strategies more than others, then pick that. As a general rule, the first strategy is best for “aggressive” B-2-B marketing, and the third is best for everything else (yes, I recommend avoiding the “easy” second strategy).
If you want help with that, leave a comment where you tell about your business (or non-profit, or blog, or whatever) and about your preferences, and I’ll try to help.
Once you know which strategy you’ll use, comes the hardest part: writing the emails.
You’ll need to write extremely good subject lines (or your emails go unnoticed) and copy that suits your audience, topic, headline, and goals, and that gets the reader to read to the end. Check out my free eBook about those things to get a huge head start. Or just hire someone (maybe me ) to write for you.
Which strategy are you using? The comments below are there to be used…