Revamping email marketing for lead nurture: dos and don’ts

To build a healthy email marketing channel, one that both engages subscribers and guides them toward conversion, it’s important to regularly assess past performance and see where you can make new gains. As part of our marketing service at DemandZEN, we’re responsible for many email marketing campaigns from the middle of the funnel on down. Based on that experience, we present you these Dos and Don’ts for optimizing your email campaigns.

Do

A/B test subject lines, from lines and offers

Any email marketing software worth its salt will have features that let you A/B test your emails. This way you can isolate and experiment with different aspects of your email campaign to see what performs best. The most popular aspect to test is the Subject Line and for good reason. Without an effective Subject Line, your email will not be opened, and nothing will come of your campaign. What to write in your subject line depends very much on the circumstances, but generally we recommend using offers and keeping the character count to a minimum.

Don’t stop at subject lines. While often overlooked, the From Line can have a major impact on engagement. Using your brand name shows the email is official. If the recipient is likely to know the name of the CEO or another team member, then using that person’s name can have a huge effect. Then, of course, you can test elements within the email itself, such as headlines, opening paragraphs, images and calls-to-action.

A/B test email lead nurture campaignsImage by Dweller

Don’t

Rely on image-based emails

Typically in marketing you want to prominently feature your most appealing visual assets. It’s tempting to do the same when designing email campaigns. But in the realm of email, this approach can backfire dramatically.

The problem is email clients often have trouble handling images. Outlook is notorious for not rendering images properly. Gmail, as a default, doesn’t display images — you have to opt in to see them. We had a client who used images as the foundation of their email messages, including all of their calls-to-action. When we converted their emails to text-only, the Click Rate increased by more than 300%.

This doesn’t mean you should never use images in email marketing, but you should always be aware of how they will appear in different clients. If you’re relying heavily on images right now, consider testing text-only versions.

Do

Have a long-term approach to drip nurture campaigns

If your business is at all typical, a big proportion of your email subscribers are entering near the “top of the funnel.” They’ve expressed some initial interest in your company and are coming to you as newsletter subscribers, as webinar viewers, from list buys or via Contact Us forms. They are not buyers — not yet — and they’ll need to be “nurtured” toward an eventual purchase. It’s commonly argued that several touches are needed to make an eventual sale. And those touches don’t just have to be email. Consider building a sales cadence that incorporates calling, voicemails, and social media interactions.

If you provide your top-of-the-funnel subscribers with consistently useful content and you present them with targeted offers, you’ll be a lot more likely to convert them to customers than if you immediately start pushing them to make a purchase.

Don’t

Treat your subscribers as a monolithic bloc

If you’re sending the same email to all of your subscribers, you’re doing email wrong. The people in your contact list share an important thing in common (interest in your business), but they also have crucial differences that must be accounted for in your campaigns. Here are just a few:

  • Customer vs. Lead. The pitches for these different groups are fundamentally different. Simply put: with a lead, you want to build trust and persuade them to pull the trigger. With an existing customer, you’re looking to make them a repeat customer, offering add-ons, up-sells and informing them of new releases.
  • Language. Sending emails to subscribers in the wrong language can be disastrous for your spam and unsubscribe rates. Translation can be a pain, but it’s a necessity if you have an international customer base.
  • Geography. This is especially important when you’re deciding how to time your email delivery. Sending your emails at 2am can cause them to get buried and forgotten.