Email marketing can be an extremely useful tool to acquire leads for your association membership and online learning programs. With good content, strategically placed links, and a few other clever tricks and tips, email is an effective and inexpensive way to reach a large audience and collect a large number of quality leads. Here are a few areas that need special attention.
Let’s start with the email subject line. If you want to ensure that the highest percentage of people will open your email instead of sending it to the spam folder, you must use a subject line that will grab someone’s attention immediately. Some people buy a bottle of wine based purely on what the label looks like, and recipients of your e-mail are the same way. Here are several tips to get the best open-rates for your e-mails.
How long should it be? Even though the limit is 80 characters, keeping it under 50 characters seems to work best, and is compatible with mobile devices. It’s best to keep the subject line short, sweet, and interesting. You could try using something shocking, mysterious, or even controversial. Also, never use the word “free” in your e-mail subject line.
Blogs are notorious for having numbers in their headlines, and that’s because numbers work. People respond to numbers. Examples of these e-mail subject lines could be “The 10 Best…” Or “Read What 400 Others Have Said About…”
Another proven method to get your email opened is giving a sneak peek of what is in the email (Your List Is Here). You can also use your name along with the title of your company (Hi. It’s Leslie Donaldson with Effective eLearning Tips). Using the recipient’s first name is effective because people like to see and hear their own name (Steve, here is more information…).
Avoid using all capitalized letters (STOP WHAT YOU’RE DOING), don’t use too many exclamation points (Don’t miss this offer!!!), and it’s helpful to begin your subject with an action verb (Meet the Mayor). Urgency and scarcity are proven tactics to getting your recipients to click ‘open’. Groupon’s recent subject line provides a great example of how urgency can be a very useful tool (Last day for 30% off!). And scarcity is a good incentive for people to open your e-mail (Only 25 Left!).
Using boring words like “update”, “newsletter”, or “do not reply” will actually lower open rates. However, personal phrases like “Join us”, “You are invited”, and “For our best customers only” make people feel good about themselves and more likely to open the email.
Other popular methods of sprucing up an email subject line and getting a reader’s attention are asking a question (Are you ready?) and using clever wording or alliteration (Six Super Savings Strategies!).
Email Lists and Content
Alex Pethick, Online Marketing Manager for Zift Solutions, shared in his blog that one way to increase leads is to segment email marketing campaigns by interest, keywords and/or questions. He cited a report by MarketingSherpa that says this method can increase your number of clicks by 50 percent.
Lauren Phelps, Channel Engagement Manager for Zift Solutions, suggests keeping your email content “interesting, valuable, helpful or newsworthy”. It is good to look at the email objectively and decide if it’s something you would open from your own inbox.
Phelps also warns against having your email appear too overly self-promotional. She says that to create leads, try including links readers can click on that will lead them to a free webinar, white paper, or PDF. There, they would have to fill out a registration form in order to receive the content they are seeking. Voila! New leads! If you’re thinking the registration might turn them away, research has shown that having to register to receive content makes that content seem even more valuable.
A well-designed infographic is a good tool to insert into your email. Also, make your content engaging by keeping it short and informative, telling about you and your brand. Have quality images, and link to several platforms of social media to make sharing easy.
Another effective way to get leads is to have a call-to-action (CTA) in your email. If someone reading your email wants more information or access to an offer, have them click on a CTA. Phelps recommends only one CTA per email, but it is okay to use the same CTA several times within an email by inserting a button in the header, a link in the body content, and a button at the end of the body content. For best results, link your CTA to a landing page, where you can remind them of the value they are receiving.
When the reader receives their “gift”, show them a ‘Thank You’ page. Here, you can keep them engaged with a link to a blog post or a past campaign or other valuable information. The more you keep them engaged, the better the chance they will buy something or take action.
To make sure your email recipients don’t unsubscribe, don’t email them too often. Let them decide how often they want to get your emails; once every week is usually a good strategy.
Marketing software company, Marketo, defines ‘lead nurturing’ as “the process of developing relationships with buyers at every stage of the sales funnel, and through every step of the buyer’s journey. It focuses marketing and communication efforts on listening to the needs of prospects, and providing the information and answers they need.”
Here are a few effective ways to nurture leads. Making the email educational has been shown to be extremely effective. Customer testimonials are a powerful form of social proof that readers of your email will pay attention to. You can always provide a video or tutorial, which readers will find stimulating. These kinds of visuals will showcase your product and can make a lasting memory.
Turning your email into a newsletter is good for content, promotions, and humor, and readers enjoy it. The content can be effectively tailored to a specific audience. You should keep your emails short, clear, and to the point, and if you need to have a lengthy email, add a visual to break it up. And speaking of pictures, it never hurts to have a picture of someone smiling. Photos of humans have a higher conversion rate than photos of objects.
Lastly, just remember to keep your email light, friendly, and most of all, helpful.