by Matilda Miglio
I’m tired of people giving email marketing a bad rap. Because despite claims that email is dead, 33% of consumers say they used it more frequently in 2019 than last year.
And by the end of 2019, it’s estimated that marketers in the U.S. will have spent $350 million on email advertising.
With so much continued investment in email, it’s clear that marketers still see the potential. Then what’s the problem? It’s not the channel itself that needs fixing – it’s the way we’re using it.
For a long time, marketers have used email as a tool to push out updates, notifications, promotions, invitations – and the list goes on. The problem is, the emails we’re sending aren’t conversational at all. We’ve made email marketing about us, when it should be all about our customers.
The way we were taught to do email was to push information out and just leave it there for the user to engage with. So content aside, if the person we’re emailing is actually interested and wants to reply or start a conversation, their response is routed to a generic inbox to be answered later (if at all).
It’s become a one-way communication channel. And it’s hurting our relationships with our customers.
“Today’s buyer is in charge. And they don’t want to fill out forms or be treated like an MQL. They want to be treated like people. Conversational marketing helps you focus on having real conversations with the individuals who do the actual buying. It elevates the buying experience and makes it more authentic and more effective.”
– Kate Adams, VP of Marketing, Drift
The old way of doing things just doesn’t cut it anymore.
What Is Conversational Email?
For us, it’s all about removing the main CTAs that ask buyers to click here, read the eBook here, or book a demo here and welcoming readers to actually engage. Don’t get me wrong, I still link valuable assets or stats. But my main CTA isn’t to “download the guide here” in a button. It’s more along the lines of ‘reply to me.’ Or ‘what are your thoughts?’ Another good one is ‘can I provide more information?’
I’ll pause here for a second. Because if you are anything like me when I first learned about conversational emails, your marketing operations brain is probably lighting up and thinking of a million reasons why this method won’t scale.
Just like me, you’re probably worrying about a messy inbox and how on earth to manage a high volume of replies without something slipping through the cracks. But take it from this former skeptic – conversational email does scale. At least it does when you’re using Drift’s Email Bots. But more on that later.
What does conversational email actually look like?
I know it all sounds unconventional. So I want to give a couple of real-life examples that I’ve used recently:
The Conversation Starter Play
In the email below, I start out by asking a very open-ended question. There are tons of different replies that I can get to this email, right?
Subject: what’s on your to-do list [first name]
Body: I’m sure you’ve got a running list of what you need to knock out this week… I know I do 👇
[picture of to-do list]
And while everything on that list is important, there are some tasks that are a bit bigger than others.
At Drift, we focus on tasks that we call “big rocks” which are generally three things we can do each day or week that will move the needle.
I want to help you take care of some of your “big rocks” for the quarter. Reply to this email and let me know how our team can jump in and help support you.
The email works because:
It’s about the prospect and how we can help them I’m giving them the opportunity to tell me exactly how we can help
It makes a huge difference.
The Webinar Email Play
This one is my favorite way to engage in conversational email.
Let’s talk about marketers’ go-to move – the webinar invite. If you send someone an email invite for a webinar and they’re interested in attending, here’s what it normally takes to get them registered:
Click on the link in the email
Pick the webinar they want to attend
Fill out the form on the landing page
At every single stage, you’re giving the prospect the opportunity to not convert. Because who wants to spend all that time registering for a webinar? Not me.
With conversational email, all someone would need to do is just hit reply and say “yes” or “register me.” That’s it. The bot automatically registers them for the webinar. I don’t have to lift a finger.
Show Me The Results
Let’s be real – this is the part that is most important.
So here are statistics that speak to the impact of our conversational email:
1,100 human replies to our emails asking for more information in 3 months
97% increase in webinar registrants from Q2 2019 (using traditional method) to Q3 2019 (using conversational email)
I didn’t believe it at first. But the numbers tell me everything I need to know.
Now Here’s The CTA
Email has always been used to push. There was never a great way to “scale” email to make it more conversational.
However, now that we have the tools to do so, I’m confident that conversational email is the future of email sends.
Ready to try it out for yourself? Here are 12 conversational templates that you can use here. And don’t forget to comment below to let me know what you think.