Email Isn’t Dead; You’re Just Doing It Wrong
Updated: Jan 27, 2020
by Matt Kamp
Email is dead—or at least that’s what the headlines claim. Sure, getting to “inbox zero” might be everyone’s focus today, but brands shouldn’t count out the power of a well-executed email campaign just yet.
Why Email Still Works
Marketers have argued about the viability of email campaigns ever since email became widely adopted as a marketing channel. And it’s true that email no longer has the insanely high open rates it used to. But consumers still open their email 20 times a day on average. That’s why effective modern marketers can continue to connect the dots from their email campaigns to quantitative ROI.
In fact, the proliferation of smartphones has made email more effective than ever. According to a recent study, about three of every five consumers check their email on the go. 75% of study participants said they use their smartphones most often to check email.
No matter what you sell, most of your qualified leads spend their days glued to their smartphones, where their email apps are just a tap away on their home screen. Sending high-quality content directly to prospects’ inboxes is one of the easiest ways to reach them—you just need to deliver a valuable enough message that they’re excited to open it.
Therein lies the problem, however. Attention. With so many emails flying around, people only open and act on emails from brands they trust. If prospects don’t trust your brand and don’t care about your message, they will—best case scenario—simply delete your email without a second thought. Worst case, you leave a negative brand impression. They’re annoyed by your persistent, irrelevant messages. They trash your brand to friends and maybe even on social media. Not good.
Email can be a high-stakes game if you play it in an obnoxious way. Email is a marketing medium that has plenty to offer but only to those who effectively put themselves in the shoes of their prospects.
Sending Emails People Actually Care About
Just like any great marketing strategy, smart email campaigns start with the buyer in mind. Your prospect in the awareness stage needs a different message from your buyer in the consideration phase. Optimizing your message for the right stage of your buyer’s journey drastically improves the performance of key metrics (like open and click-through rates) while ensuring your sales team is given leads who are actually ready to talk. The more specifically your emails are tailored to where a prospect is in your sales cycle—awareness, consideration, or decision—the better your email drip campaigns will perform.
To execute an automated email drip campaign that scales well and sets up your sales team for success, consider the following best practices:
1. Sales enablement takes priority
The point of investing in an email campaign is to generate revenue. It is a sales enablement tool. Keep this in mind from the beginning.
When you’re ready to write, start by choosing which part of the buyer journey to target. Are you talking to prospects aware of their problem yet? Are they starting to consider potential solutions to that problem? Are they ready to make a decision?
With that question answered, set goal KPIs and benchmark numbers to plot the course. And think about what tone will most quickly build trust with your buyers. Should your brand give off a casual and friendly vibe, or do you need to be seen as an all-knowing expert for your leads to trust you?
2. Hyper-specific audiences respond better
You could blast an email to everyone and their family pet. You could also throw money out the window and have a similar close rate.
Email drip campaigns depend on smart segmentation to succeed. Fewer, more tailored emails are better than the opposite. Take the time to get to know your target audience members ahead of time. What are their concerns? What are their pain points? What roles do they play in their organizations, and what solutions do they seek?
Separate into different pools the leads who may buy quickly from the leads who will take time to nurture to a decision. If you push for a purchase too early, you could permanently become spam in the eyes of your fledgling audience.
3. Automation should handle the heavy lifting
Rather than hire an intern to keep track of which emails get sent when, use your marketing automation solution to deliver fresh content at regular (but not intrusive) intervals. Automation is how you scale.
People in the awareness phase don’t need a ton of emails, so limit their communications to trigger-based outreach. When someone clicks a link or opens an email, take that as an invitation to keep the communication moving. As prospect activity picks up, accelerate the pace of communications.
Let the robots do their job. Spend your time developing engaging content that the members of your audience actually want to consume. If you’re doing it right, they should look forward to your emails. This requires a lot of relevant, high-quality content if you don’t want to hamstring your conversion rates.
Do you struggle to generate sales-ready leads? What do you think you could do better? Putting more effort into crafting valuable emails full of content your prospects care about could be the marketing strategy you are missing.