If you want to succeed at just about anything—simple or complex—you must complete a series of steps. For example, think about the numerous actions required to accomplish a straightforward task such as backing your car out of the garage.
1. Open the garage door.
2. Get into the car.
3. Put the key in the ignition.
4. Turn the key to start the engine.
5. Put your foot on the brake pedal.
6. Put the car in reverse.
7. Check your mirrors.
8. Ease your foot from the brake to the gas pedal.
9. Carefully back out of the garage.
Skip any of these steps and your results could be lackluster – an immovable vehicle or disastrous – an unplanned hole in the outside wall of your house. We can say the same about email marketing. It too requires a logical series of steps. Complete them all and you’ll maximize your return on investment—winning over more clients and making more sales. Skip even one simple step and you’ll waste your time or worse yet, the results generated by your shortcuts could be disastrous.
It all begins with the open.
People send nearly 250 billion emails every day. The average professional receives over 100—and it’s safe to assume they deposit many of them straight in the digital trash bin. You can have a life-altering product, an astonishingly cool website and awe inspiring marketing content—but it won’t do you a lick of good if no one opens your email. If you want your email marketing to have the slightest chance of success, you have to pique your prospects’ interest, starting with the subject line.
A great subject line should be many simple things: short, to the point, creative, personal and tested. It cannot be deceptive or spammy, at least not if you want your recipients to open it. Once you’ve established credibility with your audience, you may be able to get away with creatively vague subject lines. For example, the Obama reelection campaign sent out one email with a subject line of “I will be outspent” and it wound up earning $2.5 million dollars in donations.
Of course, they tested it first—and you can as well. If you’re not sure what will work best with your audience, break up your list and send the same email—with a different subject lines—to each segment. This is known as a split test or A/B testing, and tracking your results will enable you to fine-tune your approach on your next deployment.
You’ll still land in the trash without great content.
Once your prospect or customer has opened your email, they need to be interested enough in the content to read it rather than delete it. This requires well-written copy that engages your audience and it isn’t always about the hard sell. If you haven’t done so yet, you should read “Stop Advertising-Start Listening”, which goes into greater detail about content. There are various approaches you can take, but saving them money, solving their problem, making them smarter or entertaining them all generally work well. Work a mix of these topics into your email campaign and you’ll avoid boring your readers.
You won’t get any further without a call to action.
Your subject line piqued their interest and got the recipient to open. Your content kept them reading through to the end. Now you want them to go to your website—but they aren’t going anywhere unless you give them a reason, in the form of a strong call to action. As with the subject line, keeping it simple is generally the best way to go. You don’t want to make your prospects think too hard about what you want them to do—a what, why and how is enough.
You’re still stuck in the garage without a great website.
You got them to open with your subject line. The content of your email got them to click and go to your website. Now what? Your website needs to convert the prospect into a buying customer or at least a fresh lead. Will your email turn your visitor into a customer? Not if your website sucks. You can have a great open rate, a phenomenal message in your email creative, which gets them to your site, but if your website looks unprofessional, has broken links, looks like it was written by a 3rd grader, has spelling and grammatical errors or doesn’t work properly, you can kiss the possibility of converting the prospect into a customer goodbye. Your site needs to be attractive, informative, easy to navigate, functional, well written and compatible with all major web browsers.
An intriguing subject line, engaging content, a powerful call to action and a great website: these are the necessary steps you must complete if you want to maximize your email marketing return on investment. Skip one and you’ll lose the people who otherwise may have become buyers of your products or services. Take shortcuts or skip one simple step and you’ll fail as well. If you think it sounds like too much to handle, consider a managed email marketing service.
Opportunities don’t just happen, you create them. Some people dream of great accomplishments, while others just stay awake and do them. Grab a cup of coffee, take a deep breath, relax and take your time to do it once and do it right. Anything else is just a waste of time. Create your own destiny – because if you don’t, someone else will. -Andrew Paul