Mastering email marketing

Emails, business email, deliverability

How to earn 30 per cent of your revenue via email.

One of our clients earned 47 per cent of her revenue via email in the past seven days. Overall, though? 30 per cent is quite usual.

If you’re not earning a good proportion of your revenue via email it’s possible you are leaving a chunk of money on the table. Yet email marketing is something many business owners leave until “later” to set up.

First, here are a couple of quick definitions:

  • A field is something used to personalise a message to someone, such as their name or industry.
  • A tag is used to show the actions a contact took and is used for “if/then” sequences, such as “Purchased”, “Loyal Customer” or “Abandoned Cart”.

Now, here’s how to build email marketing into your revenue stream.

Choose an email marketing platform that does what you need it to do

Make sure your email platform allows you to tag and segment your list of contacts, build “if/then” automations, and that the platform’s deliverability rates are respectable. For instance, you’ll want to tag each e-commerce customer with the last purchase date, the campaign through which they signed up (Black Friday, Christmas, etc) and include relevant fields such as birthdays.

“In every audience there are the people who are ready to buy, right now.”

It’s also helpful if your plan includes integration with Facebook (so that you can build custom audiences for paid campaigns).

Build a welcome sequence

Plan to stay in touch with new subscribers. Build an automation with waiting periods so that the emails go out in succession, a day apart from each other.

Here’s a guide to what to say, when:

  • Day 1: Start with a welcome. Make it a quick note to say that you’ll keep them up to date, or treat it as a concierge with links that act as a directory to useful information.
  • Day 2: Share a story of a customer who has found your product or service helpful, including a direct quote. Bonus points for including what’s called “user-generated content” such as a video of a customer opening their delivery and saying how much they love it.
  • Day 3: Share the story of how your business started and why it is that you do what you do.
  • Day 4: Run through frequently-asked questions (including how easy shipping and returns are for your brand). If you offer a guarantee, reiterate that.
  • Day 5: Share a behind-the-scenes story – this could be a “backstage tour” for a tourism or events business, a team member intro, or a video on how your products are manufactured.
  • Day 6: Share another customer endorsement, and ask the reader if they’d like to be kept up to date with news or seasonal deals.

Build an Abandoned Cart (or no-show, for service-based businesses) automation to help people complete their purchase

It won’t shock you to hear that people often need a prompt to follow through. The cat might have jumped on their keyboard, spilling their drink everywhere right before they clicked the final button to buy. Or they might not have been able to find your returns policy. Or a prospect had a call from a family member with unexpected news right at the last minute and completely forgot to show up.

If you run an online store, set up an email automation like this:

  • An hour after the cart is abandoned, send an email with a quick reminder to finish their purchase so that you can get the order happening.
  • If the purchase is not complete after 12 hours, send another email where you check whether they need assistance to finish their purchase – and link to customer support and FAQs.
  • Set a third email to go out 24 hrs after the cart is abandoned if the purchase remains incomplete. Try including a snippet of a customer review in the subject line, and consider including a one-time discount to get them over the line.
  • For lead generation, adapt the above sequence to suit your brand. Include a link in each email where the prospect can click through to rebook their call. Your first email can use text similar to “Hi [FIRST NAME], we know things come up at the last minute. To reschedule your call, … “
  • Test the open, click through and purchase rates. For higher-ticket items a longer sequence of emails may be needed to accommodate the time people take to make up their minds to buy.

Upsell and/or cross-sell automations

These often-underestimated options can really pull in the dollars. Once people have purchased from you and had a great experience, it’s much easier for them to buy again.

Look for products that are either complementary to what they have already purchased (there are a number of plugins that make this an easy process for e-commerce) or think about what the next logical step would be in the customer journey. If you can lead the customer to purchase something at a higher price, your customer lifetime value (a key metric in every business) can be significantly improved.

Send a bonus to loyal customers

When setting up your tags, create an automation that tags a customer if, for instance, they have purchased three times. Then trigger an email to send them a thank-you gift. This might be something that costs you very little (or if it’s a pre-recorded training module, costs you nothing). There’s no need to include a “buy now” or “book now” button in this kind of email. Just thank them for being a star customer. We find that once they feel appreciated, many customers return to your website and buy, regardless of not having a button to click through.

One example of a subject line that worked for us was a simple “Wow! You’re amazing!” Not only did people go and buy products, but they also sent back messages of thanks, saying how much they loved the gift.

Keep it real

You’ll find that email platforms include templates for campaigns and automations. These can be a great way to get started, but don’t stop at the template text. It will rarely match your brand’s tone of voice and will scream “template” when it hits your customer’s inbox.

Take a few minutes to think of a subject line that will catch attention in an inbox. Then use the rest of the space in that email as valuable real estate – speak to them as though they’re right in front of you. When you do, you’ll see better results.

Stay in touch for as long as is needed

In every audience there are the people who are ready to buy, right now.

But don’t underestimate the power of showing up and staying top of mind for people who take longer. All kinds of factors come into play in the way people make decisions. For instance, parents will often spend easily when the purchase is for their kids, but be slower to buy for themselves. I watched the growth of a particular business coach for nine years before I signed up to her excellent program!

If you’re in the “I should really do some email marketing” segment (see what I did there?) make a decision now to at least get these basics in place. Once you see the dollars start to flow, you’ll be inspired to make more.

This article first appeared in issue 34 of the Inside Small Business quarterly magazine