21st Century Email Marketing Tactics

Email marketing is dead.  Long live email marketing.  The pervasiveness of spamming has forever damaged the reputation of email marketing and yet the practice refuses to quietly fade away.  I’ll say that’s because email marketing remains a useful B2B communication platform.  It’s just that marketers need to be smart about how to utilize this valuable resource.  Email marketing in the 21st century means content marketing that addresses topics that interests your clients and delivers value to them and to you.  When planning an email marketing campaign, content is king.

Content does not mean sending out a stream of tweets that describe banal banter such as what’s going on in your office today, accompanied by an image of your morning coffee and pastry sitting next to your laptop.  Your clients are not interested in “fake news” that results in a slew of annoying emails that feature revelations about your perspectives only and are filled with links to Instagram photos of what you found to be amusing as you walked to the post office.

Content marketing means sharing relevant information that will make your clients  become better informed and help them do their jobs better.  You accomplish that by producing original material that addresses topics that your clients feel are useful and distributing it on a consistent basis through your weekly blog or monthly newsletter,

The logistics of that distribution are up to you, whether you develop an opt-in email list and distribute content through a marketing service like Constant Contact or Mail Chimp, or if you post your blog or newsletter on a site like WordPress, that is visited by numerous readers, some of whom may be your clients.  In the latter scenario, there is usually an opportunity to subscribe to your content through alerts, individual emails or an RSS feed.

Regardless of your distribution platform, readers and clients appreciate an email /content marketing strategy that is customized and therefore more personal.  Developing an editorial calendar adds seasonal relevance to the topics that you present, for example, as does occasionally letting your content be influenced by the news or changes in government or tax policy.  It’s time-consuming, but the content that your organization provides weekly or monthly demonstrates your authority as evidenced by your expertise and judgment, as well as your opinions (don’t hesitate to have them!).  Freelance consulting specialists must always enhance the perception of our bona rides and content marketing plays a significant role.

As you write, learn to occasionally weave one or two of your products or services into the narrative because after all, the real purpose of producing and distributing content in B2B emails is to create billable hours (sales).  This could take the form of a client success story or news that you’ll appear on a panel, with a link to register embedded in your post.

If your email/ content marketing is sent through a marketing service as an individual email addressed to each subscriber, you are advised to pay particular attention to the subject line.  According to Silverpop’s 2016 Email Marketing Metrics Benchmark Study, the mean open rate of emails sent is merely 20 %, meaning that four out of five email marketing communications are deleted.  A 2015 analysis of over 40 million emails  conducted by Mail Chimp revealed that some of the most effective subject lines are (60 – 87% open rate) :

1. (Insert business name) Sales and Marketing Newsletter

2. Eye on the (insert business name) Update (insert the week or month time frame)

3. (Insert business name and date) News Bulletin

4. (Insert business name) Newsletter, with date

5. (Insert business name) Invites You!

6. Happy Holidays From (insert business name)

In 2014, Digital Marketer analyzed 125 million emails that the company sent that year and found that your business name, along with the words urgent, upgrade, alert, new, available, free delivery and newsletter are among the most persuasive. Oh, and what’s the secret to writing a good email subject line, along with using the key words that charm readers? Make the subject line describe the email topic!

So the moral of the story is, don’t dismiss email marketing as being hopelessly retro and inferior to social media posts.  Instead, think about how to update and adapt its use to fit your needs and the interests of your clients.  If your clients are among your Facebook friends on your Fan Page or they follow your tweets, then by all means continue.  You might consider how some of that content and images might be repurposed to become part of long-form content in a blog or newsletter.  Several recent studies have found that clients respond well to long-form content.  You’ll figure it out and reap the benefits,

Thanks for reading,

kim

10 Ways To Reboot Your Email Marketing List

E-newsletters,  webinars,  Slide Share info-graphics and other email marketing content can go as flat as an open bottle of champagne after a while.  Business in the 21st century is sort of like show business,  folks.  Gypsy Rose Lee said it best,  “You’ve gotta have a gimmick”.  You need to know how to hold your audience.  For that matter,   you’d better know your audience well enough to recognize when they stop paying attention.

Assuming that the content you provide is relevant to potential readers and not just a 3 page sales pitch about you,  wonderful you,  there may eventually be a drop-off in the email open rate.  Attention spans are short and email in-boxes are filled to the brim with all manner of messages.  But you can’t afford to lose control of your “room”,  your list members.  Presumably,  that list is populated with clients,  prospects and referral sources.  They are the life blood of your business.  How do you win them back? Try these tactics:

1.   Examine your stats and identify who is not opening your emails.  Studies show that 60% of email marketing communications are never opened.

2.   Prune the list.  Facing up to audience members who have fallen out of love with you takes courage but like any love affair that’s over,  it is best to move on.  Resolve to remove the non-readers.  Carol Tice, who founded the Freelance Writer’s Den and maintains a formidable email list,  sends her non-readers an email and asks if they would like to remain on the list.  The overwhelming majority do not respond and their names are removed.  A handful ask to continue.  You will feel better when you do the purge.  You’ll have an open rate that makes you smile.  You will know that the creative energy and hard work invested in your content marketing will be appreciated.

3.   Ask list members to update their email information.  Your open rate could improve just by allowing readers to have communications sent to an alternate email address.  Those who don’t respond after a second or third reminder to update their info are clearly not interested and can be removed from the list.

4.   To maintain the interest of readers who remain,  especially if your open rate is dropping,  take a look at your subject line.  A well-written subject line is a siren song to potential readers.  See  headline hooks that reel in readers

5.   Include a tempting call to action and name it in the subject line.   A Survey,  free webinar (hosted by you or someone whose expertise you trust),  or a white paper on a subject of interest to your readers re-establishes your relevance and will persuade a certain percentage of non-readers and infrequent readers to click and engage.

6.   Think mobile.  In July 2014,  Forrester Research reported that 42% of emails from B2C retailers are opened on smartphones and 17% are opened on tablets.  Customize your email communications for responsive design,  so that reading will be easy on mobile devices.  Make it convenient for all potential readers to open your communications.

7.   Send on a regular schedule.  Frequent readers of this blog know that Tuesday is publish day,  even if Christmas or the 4th of July fall on that day of the week.  You may prefer to publish on a given date.   Whatever you do,  establish and adhere to a predictable publishing schedule.  Readers appreciate it more than you may realize.  Make readers anticipate receiving and reading your communications.

8.   Build your list.  Organically and with permission,  build your email marketing list.  You should have met each person on your list at least once.   At the email campaign launch,  send to all business contacts along with an introductory message that announces the debut,  explains the benefits to readers,  reveals the frequency (weekly or monthly)  and provides an easy and effective opt-out.  Resist the temptation to add to your list the names of everyone who hands you a business card.  When speaking with people,  do mention your email marketing campaign,  give examples of the subjects covered and how often you send.  Ask if they would like to receive at least one and let them know that if they choose to opt out,  that can be easily and quickly done.

9.   Personalize.  Whatever service sends out your emails should include a greeting to the individual recipient.

10.  Sign me up!  On your website and social media,  allow interested parties to sign up to receive selected email marketing communications,  register for webinars or receive a copy of any white papers.

Content marketing is the new advertising and emailing your content is the best way to reach clients and prospects who no longer answer the phone.  Create a viable list by continually adding and purging members to enable your campaigns to deliver optimal ROI.  Draw in readers with relevant content and intriguing subject lines.  Format in responsive design to include those who prefer to read on mobile device.  Fulfill expectations by publishing on a regular schedule.

Thanks for reading,

Kim

Headline Hooks That Reel In Readers

Whether you’ve written an email,  blog post,  newsletter,  white paper or press release,  your primary job is to persuade your intended readers to read what you’ve written.  Anyone worth writing for is buried in potential reading material.  Prioritizing and skimming are the norm.  Use yourself as an example.  When sorting through business or personal reading material,  what persuades you to stop and read?  The headline!

The headline is the hook that reels in readers.  Dull headlines do not grab attention.  They do not resonate with or intrigue your intended readers.  They do not communicate the value of the content that you’ve spent time to research and write.  Package and sell your content with a headline that makes your intended readers know that your content,  email or press release contains valuable information.

Headlines alert intended readers to subjects of interest.  Attention-grabbing headlines cause us to read even articles that we may conclude are a waste of time and which we may abandon,  but the subject line was like a siren song to our eyes.  Consider what would be most appealing,  or alarming,  to your intended readers and also descriptive of the content.  The perspective from which you must create your subject line / title is from the intended reader’s ultimate vetting question,  “What’s in it for me”?

The right headline gets you more attention,  more readers,  more buzz and more results.  Keep these headline categories in mind as you create the headline for your next important communication:

I.     How-to headline

Content that instructs and informs will benefit from a headline that motivates intended readers to take action

  • Cold Calling Dos and Don’ts
  • Five Tactics Guaranteed To Make You A Better Networker
  • Headline Hooks That Reel In Readers

II.    Challenge headline

Headlines that pose a question that intended readers are presumed to want answered,  because they likely grapple with the predicament that the content addresses

  • Is Your Business Model Still Relevant?
  • Will Producing Content Take Over Your Life?
  • Would You Like To Scoop Your Biggest Competitor’s Biggest Client?

III.  Targeted headline

Needless to say,  targeting is the basis of marketing and customer outreach and the more specific the headline is to the interests of the intended readers,  the greater the probability that the content will be read

  • Financial Management Tips for the Finance Phobic
  • PR Strategies for Cash-Strapped Start-Ups
  • Teaching Brings Cash and Credibility to Freelance Consultants

IV.   Warning headline 

“Shock and awe”  headlines put intended readers in a head lock and drag them in,  often times even if they would rather not.  Many newspapers and magazines specialize in such headlines

  • What Your Clients Won’t Tell You About Your Sales Pitch
  • Why Your Advertising Budget is Only Money Down the Drain
  • You Can’t Retire On Less Than $2 Million

V.      Story headline

Entice intended readers with a headline hook that communicates the theme of your compelling narrative

  • A Back Bay Grande Dame Celebrates Her 125th Birthday
  • The Client Wore Black
  • From Living in a Car to Living at the Taj: An Uncensored Story of the Entrepreneurial Life

Thanks for reading,

Kim

A Winning Email Marketing Campaign

I’ve not done many email marketing campaigns,  mostly because I dislike being on the receiving end of such campaigns,  so I made the decision to basically avoid that method of outreach.  I was remiss,  because there are times when an email marketing campaign fits the bill.  Content marketing,  or the new advertising,  is an excellent way to stay in contact with clients and cultivate prospective clients and that strategy forms the basis of email marketing campaigns.

What I needed to do was learn how to craft an effective email message,  create a catchy subject line,  avoid looking like spam and send the email to the right group of people.  In other words,  I had to learn how to do a proper email marketing campaign.  To that end,   I invite you to copy my homework.

1.   Start with a good list

Everyone on your email list should want to receive your emails.  Include a safe unsubscribe feature to allow those who would rather not receive your emails to opt out.  When collecting names,  ask if the person would like to receive email updates from you.  To track emails sent,  you may want to invest in Did They Read It  http://didtheyreadit.com, which will anonymously report to you the read rate of your emails.  Constant Contact  http://constantcontact.com ,  the email marketing platform,  will send out and track your email marketing messages and your newsletter,  too.  According to the Email Marketing Metrics Benchmark study done by the marketing firm Silverpop in 2012,  the open rate is 20%.  The click-through rate,  or the measurement of how many people clicked on a link that was embedded in your email and most of all the conversion rate,  or how many people signed up for a special offer or did business with you,  reveal the value of your email list.  Still,  the open rate is a very telling measure because nothing happens until the email is opened.

2.   Information, not sales

A few paragraphs that give newsworthy updates about the industry sectors of your principle client groups,  or info that can be used to help list members solve a common problem,  will greatly improve your email open rate.  An email marketing campaign is not the forum in which to swing for the fences and score a big sale or assignment.  Rather,  an email marketing campaign is the place to let your expertise shine and offer no-cost value to current and prospective clients.

3.   Subject line that pops

Be edgy and provocative, be witty,   be amusing,  but don’t be boring.  When your recipient opens emails and is faced with a huge stack,  make him/her want to open yours and see what you have to say.

4.   Interesting photo or video

A picture is worth 10,000 words,  so add a good photo or two to your email,  one that communicates some aspect of your message.  A short video of you speaking to a topic,  or a testimonial by one of your clients,  is also compelling.

5.   Easy call to action

Once you’ve made the case,  remember to ask the recipient to do something with the information that you’ve provided: take a survey,  sign up for a free 30 minute consultation,  sign up for your newsletter.   Resist the temptation to go for the jugular and force a sale in your email marketing campaign.  The more successful strategy is to entice the recipient to make some small contact with you that appears to have more benefit for them than it does for you.  Build trust and familiarity first and you will become the obvious choice when your services are needed.

6.   Optimize for smart phones

It has been reported that nearly half of all emails are now opened up via smart phone.  Figure out how to size and space your email and links to make it easy to read on a smart phone.

Despite numerous pronouncements to the contrary,  email marketing is alive and well,  according to a January 2013 survey conducted by the marketing services provider Experian.  Their survey indicated that correctly conceived email marketing campaigns remain the best way to draw traffic to your website and increase sales revenue.  So copy my homework and get busy creating one for your business.

Thanks for reading,

Kim

Work Your Email List

 I descend from a long line of New Englanders and we are known for our thrift.  When the collars of his dress shirts frayed with age,  my father (who was actually a New Yorker,  but knew how to squeeze a penny until Abe Lincoln yelped) would have the dry cleaner turn them.  Presto,  add a few more good years to a useful item.

Mom served any leftovers from the big Sunday dinner for Monday night’s supper.  If we didn’t finish them off at that sitting,  she was not ashamed to throw them at us again on Wednesday or Thursday.   Mom and Dad were born during the Depression and they did not believe in wasting valuable resources.  Use it up,  wear it out,  make it do.  As we slog through our recession,  I suggest that a revival of that credo is in order.  It is time to make the most of what you’ve got.

One valuable resource that we all have is our list of email addresses.  Consider putting them to work in an email marketing campaign that will enhance your other promotional activities.  The practice of email marketing continues to grow.   When executed properly,  it can be an effective way to communicate with your target audience.

The conversion rate will probably not exceed 2% ,  but that matches the results of  a typical direct mail campaign.  Moreover,  email marketing is both less expensive and much more environmentally friendly than direct mail.

An email marketing campaign provides yet another way to keep your name in front of  the right people,  serving as a reminder that you remain a viable player with valuable services to offer.  Email marketing keeps your brand visible and that is utmost for every Freelancer.

How to ensure a mailing list with money-making potential?  Use an opt-in approach,  to avoid annoying people.  You only want to contact those who want to hear from you.  Hire a web developer to add a sign-up function to your website home page.  When exchanging cards with new colleagues,  request permission to add them to your mailing list.

Add your LinkedIn connections,  clients and colleagues,  plus selected friends and family members.  Always include an unsubscribe feature in your communications,  so that those who choose to opt-out can easily do so.  Purchased email lists are not recommended,  since those people do not know you.  Organic growth of your list is best,  so take the time to cultivate it.

 As you build your list  (and before  you add a sign-up to your website),  think about what you should communicate and the best delivery system for your message.  Put yourself in the place of the recipient.  What timely and useful information will best serve their needs?  What  “call to action”  might pique their interest?

Engagement is king in email marketing.  Take the time to carefully consider what you would like to achieve and how to communicate your message most favorably.  Is  a monthly or quarterly newsletter something you have the time and talent to produce?  Perhaps handy factoids plus links to relevant articles,  doled out every six weeks,  will be a better fit for both you and your target audience?  Give it some thought.  Whatever you do,  just remember to always include a link to your website…

…because that is one way to measure the response to your campaign.   Google Analytics,  e.g.,  will report the stats on the campaign’s impact on visits to your website,  pages that get the most viewing,  etc.  Receiving an inquiry about your services from a prospect is another sure-enough good sign that you’re doing the right thing and signing a client is,  needless to say,  the ultimate validation of your genius!

You are perhaps now intrigued by the email marketing concept,  but wonder if you can handle it by yourself.  It is possible to outsource the project,  for a more or less reasonable fee.  I recently heard about a company called EyeMail http://eyemailinc.com  that’s gaining a good reputation for creating smart email marketing campaigns. 

If you’d like to create a real splash,  EyeMail will even add audio and video clips to what you send out.  Most of all,  I’ve heard that they’ll work with you to create the content and delivery system that will best support the rest of your promotional activities.   Other options are Constant Contact and HubSpot,  both of  whom have great track records for devising savvy email marketing campaigns.

I’ve only used email marketing sporadically,  primarily to broadcast public courses that I’m scheduled to teach or speaking engagements.  I’m kicking around the idea of establishing a  consistent presence,  whether I do it myself or hire a specialist.  To those of you on my list,  stay tuned.

Thanks for reading,

Kim