Improve your lead generation and email conversion rates.

Businesses use email marketing in a number of ways but the underlying purpose of the emailer is or should be to persuade the reader to take action. That action is normally to click on a link that directs the reader to a page that provides more information on the subject with a Call To Action to get in touch, download, sign up etc. Therefore to get more clicks we need to improve the email conversion rates of each emailer we send out.

Email marketing works very well when implemented properly and by that, I don’t mean blasting out generic messages to all and sundry. By taking a targeted approach through segmentation of your database, personalising your message to your reader and providing content that THEY will value you will have more chance of improving your email conversion rates convincing more of your audience to buy your products or services.

However, when I ask prospective clients “who are your key audience?” I quite often get the answer “anyone with the budget”. Whilst you’re not going to turn such business away it doesn’t make financial sense to focus your messaging to try to please everyone. By taking time to understand your key prospects, what they buy, why they buy, where they buy, how they buy etc. you will increase your chances of success.

Implementing the following 10 key steps will help improve your email marketing performance.

Are you up for it?

Step 1. Make sure your database is clean and up-to-date

For many businesses, the database is at the heart of their lead generation activities and is the most important asset they own but the maintenance of this asset is often neglected.

Contacts are continually added but none are ever removed. Sure, a growing database looks impressive but what’s the point in sending direct mailers or email to people who have moved on or to companies who no longer exist?

Implement a database management process and don’t be afraid to purge your list. Separate it into active, dormant and dead and put a programme together to fill in any gaps you have on those contacts on the active list, wake up those on the dormant list and decide whether it’s worth the effort to target the dead list.

Step 2. Don’t buy in lists of data

The standard answer to the question “should I buy data lists?” is a resounding NO. Best practice dictates that you build your list organically. Yes, it’s slower but you have more knowledge of the contacts you add, you have their permission and there is more likelihood that they have an interest in what you offer.

Buying in lists of unknown data can damage your reputation, affect your email deliverability and may contravene the GDPR.

Think about this from your perspective. Are you happy with the amount of spam or junk you receive in your inbox? When you signed up for that insurance quote did you realise that you would be inundated with emails for products or services you don’t want from companies you’ve never heard of? Where do you think they got your email from?

Don’t do it.

Step 3. Don’t always send out general messages to your complete database

Sending out vanilla flavoured messages to your complete database is definitely not best practice. By targeting all you will satisfy none and your audience will switch off or unsubscribe. You end up minimising the impact of your messaging and your targets may miss out on a fantastic offer because they now ignore whatever you send.

There may be occasions where you should consider emailing your entire list when you have something to say that is appropriate to all but this should be the option rather than the rule.

The best way forward is to chop up your data into several sectors or segments and run separate campaigns to each segment. That way you can customise your messaging and focus your offers at those who will be interested, rather than to everyone.

Step 4. Send your audience to the right page

Whatever marketing campaigns you’re running please don’t send your audience to your website home page. It won’t be tailored to your offer. The best practice is to build specific landing pages focused on the campaign with a clear call to action (CTA) e.g. Book Now or Download the brochure.

If for any reason you can’t do that, send your audience to the page that’s most specific to what’s on offer e.g. if you run a hotel that’s offering a weekend package, send them to the accommodation and tariff page. Don’t expect your visitors to do all of the work – they won’t. Make it as easy as possible for them and you’ll see the benefits.

Step 5. Get the best return from the leads you collect

I’m surprised on a regular basis with people who think the collection of leads is the end game – it’s only the beginning. Not everyone who visits your site may be in buying mode (hint: but they probably will be at a later date).

Generally, contacts get fed into the sales funnel and many businesses operate on the “wing and a prayer” method hoping that those contacts flow through the funnel magically becoming leads, then prospects and then a sale. Don’t leave it all to chance, nurture those leads through the pipeline by engaging with them and provide additional information that may help them decide to become a customer.

Most ESP’s will offer the capability to add email autoresponders. Autoresponders send out a series of pre-written emails that kick in when an action such as downloading an ebook or subscribing to a blog site is taken. Your emails can help move your contact further through the buying journey by supplying additional information that follows on from their original action e.g. if a contact downloads an ebook it might be relevant to follow up with an invite to a related webinar etc.

By scoring those leads as they progress through the funnel you prioritise the opportunities, nurturing them until they become sales-ready.

Step 6. Match your content to the buying cycle

As mentioned above, visitors to your site will be at differing stages in the sales or buying cycle. So they won’t all be interested in downloading your general brochure.

Make sure that you’ve added content that is educational for those at the research stage of their search, content that validates and supports your service offering through case studies and endorsements for those who have engaged with you. And don’t forget content that helps eliminate the post-purchase blues for those who have already done business with you.

One way to make sure you get this right is to create customer “Personas”. These are fictional, generalised representations of your ideal customers and you may find you have several within the targeted decision-making group.

Having an in-depth understanding of their issues, motivations and goals helps you to tailor your messages and your services towards solving their problems, attracting more leads and conversions.

Giving them names such as Freddy the Finance Director or Ollie the Operations Manager helps create a focus of the target audience for all customer-facing staff.

Step 7. Drip marketing can improve your lead conversion rate

Now you’re beginning to reap the benefits of the work you’ve put in. People are beginning to visit your site, subscribe to your blog and download your ebook, etc.

The fact that those visitors have been willing to exchange some contact details e.g. an email address, company name, job title, etc.  in exchange for content that they deem valuable means that there is a good chance that they may be prospective customers.

But as we said earlier, not all of the people visiting your site will be in a position where they’re ready to buy. Your visitors will be at different stages of the buying cycle and your job now is to help them move along on their journey towards a sales conversion. So it’s important that you find a way of engaging with those visitors to ensure they come back to visit your website.

Introducing a drip marketing approach via email marketing will allow you to provide additional information to educate those prospects, answer their questions and invite them to download new content relevant to their needs. The premise here is twofold:

  • Provide enough compelling information over a period of time on how your product or service is right for their needs, that the contact will get in touch with you directly (when they are ready). Or
  • Move your contact through a marketing process until they are at a stage where they can be contacted by the sales team.

This is where segmentation helps to ensure you’re sending the correct message to the correct segment of your database so that you can be more specific in your messaging.

Don’t forget that today, most emails are read on a mobile device and most people check their mobiles multiple times a day. So ensure you’re email renders properly on all key mobile devices.

Step 8. Don’t pounce too early or you’ll lose the opportunity

Research from Marketo found that only 25% of leads in most lead generation campaigns are sales-ready.

These priority leads can be fast-tracked to the sales team for follow up but handing over the rest of those contact details too early to your sales teams will result in:

  • A sales team who ignore the leads you pass to them (because at this stage they are only contacts)
  • A contact being lost through being chased by a sales team when they are not ready to buy
  • A despondent marketing team
  • An MD/CFO who questions the results of your marketing efforts

One way to prevent this scenario is to introduce a priority listing (or lead score) as part of the nurturing process. This can be based on information shared by the prospect at the initial registration and additional information collected through subsequent engagement, reinforced by online behaviour which can indicate which stage of the buying cycle the contact may be at.

Introducing a lead nurturing and lead scoring process will result in an increase in sales-ready leads, leading to an improved sales conversion ratio as your sales team will be engaging with prospects that already have a relationship with you and have expressed a strong interest in what you have to offer.

*Keep your contact form as short as possible, long forms with many fields put people off and they will bounce out of your page. With email, you can collect

Step 9. Remember your existing customers

It’s reckoned to be around 7 times more expensive to capture new customers than it is to service your existing client base. Many of your existing customers will be unaware of the range of products or services you offer, that’s because salespeople generally follow up on a specific lead, close it and move on.

By creating campaigns aimed at cross-selling or up-selling products and services to an audience who already know and like what you offer you can increase sales and reduce sales costs, the ultimate double whammy.

Step 10. Link your email to your other marketing campaigns

If you really want to generate more leads and improve your email conversion rates don’t limit your activities to just one part of the marketing toolkit. Your audience will have different preferences on how they consume content.

For example, you may kick off your campaign with an email, of course, that email should contain a strong Call To Action (CTA) but it could also be linked to an associated blog article or a YouTube video. The video could be promoted via a Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaign. Each of these activities should allow visitors to share that content with their own networks through social share icons.

Consistent messaging across multiple touchpoints is still very important. Customers collect information from various sources before making a purchasing decision. This is what Google calls the Zero Moment of truth (ZMOT).

Before you press the button on your campaign it pays to “test before sending” Your audience will be pushed for time so ensure your content is easy to read.

Most people will scan the message and may be reading on a mobile device. Use short paragraphs, bullet point and headlines and embolden key points. Personalise your message as this can improve click-through rates and conversions. And check your email for grammar and typos prior to sending.

Be aware that what works for one site or campaign may not work for another so test your headlines and your CTA placements. Change the images and the colours until you get it right and continue to experiment. If you have a large audience you could try A/B testing or multi-variate testing of your landing pages.

So there you have it, 10 steps to help improve your email conversion rates.

Now all you have to do is find the time to do all of this

Well, there is a good chance that left to your own devices you won’t be able to find the time to do all of this or to keep up with the continual changes in social media, digital marketing and whatever comes along next… That’s why you need to consider bringing in some outside help and support.

I can help so get in touch.

Call or email to me today on 01803 413481or [email protected] to arrange a chat over a coffee.

Andrew Leon Walker

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