Email marketing is the top tool used by small business for both customer acquisition and retention. A recent study noted that over 80% of businesses answered email, when asked the question “Which online activities primarily drive customer acquisition & retention for your organization?”. (see attached chart)
Planning on using email for your business?
Before you start the creative, determine what is the goal of the campaign? Are you looking for your recipient to make a purchase? Or perhaps learn more about your offering. In the B2B space, sales cycles are often long. Maybe you just want to remind the email recipient about what you offer and how you can help? For a campaign that is further down the sales cycle, case studies and customer testimonials can help supply a differentiation.
When starting your creative effort, it is important to determine how much of your audience is desktop, mobile, or tablet. Most email tools are pushing you to create a simple “mobile” email. While most email opens are mobile devices, most conversions are on a desktop. Furthermore, in many B2B situations, mobile traffic runs significantly less than normal. Why is this important? Content that is optimized for mobility, often shows up differently on a desktop.
Here are 4 approaches to consider.
Make it a picture. You often see this kind of content in an email campaign. It can be considered very mobile friendly. The sender has a pdf or graphic created, makes it a link and attaches it to the email. You will see this kind of content created often for invitations. The advantage is that it is simple and allows you to easily reuse content. Assuming the graphics are engaging and you have a good connection, it will look good on a mobile and tablet assuming you have agreed to instantly download the picture. The drawback, in a desktop environment, you may not see anything. Here is an email that I received with the title “Check out our next event”
Now if I click on the picture or browser, I’ll likely understand what it is all about. But, what are the odds that I will actually do it? If this is the creative effort you want to implement, minimally give me a great title that will encourage me to want to learn more.
Make it a picture with some words. The second approach is similar to the first. You will most often see this kind of content when the purpose of the email is to get you to purchase a specific product. It supplies a few words, then the picture. Here is an example a recent Best Buy email.
Now if the recipient of the email knows who you are and has agreed to get the emails, this will work OK. This kind of content also works because Best Buy sends out a campaign almost every day. Since I haven’t unsubscribed, implicitly, I have agreed to the content and presentation. If I open 1 in 20 emails, it doesn’t really matter to them.
Both of the approaches assumes that you know who the sender is and that it is likely that you have done business with them before. The next two approaches are for instances when you are earlier in the sales cycle or have a more complex selling process.
Provide them a listing. Your recipient knows who you are, but needs to be reminded of what you do and what kind of customers you serve. In many email marketing tools, this is the default template. I saw an example of this type of email from a venture capital firm. The email campaign looked like this.
Company A as an exciting new company focused in a new market. We helped Company A with the second round of financing. Company A is ready to introduce their second product. Additionally, they are poised to expand to 20 new markets in Europe. To learn more about Company A, click here.
Company B is a great opportunity for us. In conjunction with Biggo Corp and the Sovereign Trust of the Kingdom of TransMidco, we headed up the third round of fund raising to the tune of $20 million. Company B is a leader in the field of what they do. They are creating a new category that will change the world. To access the press release, click here.
These kind of email works if I know who you are and what you do. An email like this answers the question, do they work with companies like me? However, it provides relatively little insight into what makes you different. Additionally, to really get some good information, it forces me to click multiple times. If I am not interested in clicking to learn more, I probably won’t get much from the campaign.
Provide the reader some real content. This email emulates the traditional newsletter format, with a bit of a twist. We want to give the reader enough information to understand the proposition without a click. However, enable them to learn more or take an action as a next step. Here is a piece I did with the Oakton Community College nanotechnology program.
You can stack two or three of these kind of content piece on top of one another. Giving users a good experience, without having to click to actually know what you are talking about. The format is readable on a smartphone or tablet, but also looks good on a desktop. The picture is a video link that can showcase the proposition in action.
One of the great things about email campaigns is the fast feedback you are getting. In the first two examples of content creation, if not very many people are clicking, then you know you have to change. For the other content types you may have to rely more on click throughs and user comments.
Whatever content format you select, the best success comes from the commitment to regularly communicate with your customers and prospects. Try different approaches and see what works best for you.
How have you used email marketing in your business? What has worked best for you?