[Part 2 of 2 in a Series]
In the last blog post, we talked about how to set up an email marketing channel. Once the technical details are configured properly, you can proceed to strategically use the data in your system to send targeted emails that help push the leads down the conversion funnel.
In this second part of the series, we’ll talk about how to get the deliverables right and achieve KPIs based on your business objectives – all with the assistance of data and analytics.
Deliverables: How to Send Emails That are Opened, Read, and Clicked
Here are a few tips that can help you with getting better opens and clicks on emails:
- Use Real Names in the “From” Field:
Some companies get great results putting their company name in the “From” field of their emails. Others have better luck with the name of a real person. Sometimes they’ll combine the two with their name and title. While this isn’t likely to have as dramatic an effect as an optimized subject line, it’s much easier to test.In our tests, emails with names had a higher recall value and a better personal connection than sending from an email address such as info@yourcompany or support@yourcompany. It is much more human and personal to connect with a name — even if the person doesn’t really exist!
- Number those Lists:
Subject lines including numbered lists (think “5 Ways to Increase Your Open Rates,” or “10 Ways to Reduce Unsubscribes”) always work better than the alternative. Numbers point to something of higher value (“10 ways”) than a generic article that talks about open rates.
- Test for the Best Send Time:
There’s a lot of guidance out there as to the best time to send emails. But none of that advice was built on your subscriber base. The only way to find out the best send time for your list is to test.Try different days of the week, different times of day, time-zone customizations, and anything else you can think of that may help determine the absolute best time to send emails to your users. It took us 7-8 campaigns to figure out the best time, and we continue to optimize it on a regular basis as every new month we have new users added to the list. One thing that truly stands out is sending the email in the time zone of that particular user. For example, say 4 pm in their timezone, so people in the US will receive it at their 4 pm and people in India will receive it at their 4 pm and so on and so forth.
- Keep your Template Clean:
Too many details draw your reader’s attention in too many directions at the same time. Every email should have one primary goal: the action you want the user to take. That single goal should have a prominent CTA, the text of which should be readable across devices.A cluttered email is confusing and never delights users. In fact, it may even compel them to unsubscribe!
- Ask or Set Expectations:
One best practice is to inform the user about emails they’re going to receive beforehand. When they sign up for your list, make it clear how many emails they will get and what value they’ll derive from all that content.Also, send them a survey with questions on what kinds of content they want to see. This helps segment your list and increases both open and click-through rates.
Beginner’s Guide To Data-Driven Email Marketing
Get started with data-driven email marketing and supercharge conversions from the first email sent.
Mapping: How We Measure Email Success
Now that your emails are highly optimized for delivery and clicks, it’s imperative to understand the fourth lifecycle stage: mapping the metrics.
If you’re going to make decisions based on data, you need to have the right data. Here are five metrics that we track for our email marketing.
- Open Rate:
Possibly among the most basic piece of data you can collect from emails, open rate is still one of the best. It gives you clear information and is easy to test for. All email platforms can tell you the open rate of any email campaign you send.Open rates can be directly tied to the deliverability of your emails. Your first challenge, after all, is to get the email to the inbox and then entice people to open your emails.
To solve that challenge, we optimize for the subject line, preheader, design, and send times. End result? While the industry standard open rate hovers around 25%,1 our own experiments and tests have allowed us to increase open rates to 39%.
- Click-Through Rate (CTR):
The ultimate goal of email marketing is to get people interested enough to click a link and get to your website. The CTR measures how well your emails are driving that behaviour.Clicks that send readers somewhere other than your website aren’t going to help you very much. They show engaged readers, but those clicks are unlikely to help boost your revenue.
We optimized our CTA placement, the number of CTAs, and the actual CTA text and were able to improve CTRs from 7% to 12%.
- Conversion Rate:
Tracking conversions through email is a bit more difficult than open and click-through rates because you’ll likely need to integrate two different analytics systems. You’ll need to know if a reader clicked a link in your email and then converted to a customer at some point during that visit (or a different visit, depending on how you’re calculating your conversion rate).But knowing that a particular email recipient not only clicked a link in an email but actually became a customer – that’s extremely valuable. The email that prompted that conversion is one that you’d better keep! For this, you should use a marketing automation tool like CleverTap.
Sometimes it requires multiple touch points for a user to convert. Just because a reader doesn’t convert on one email doesn’t mean that email did not contribute to a conversion later on. You have to map user actions to CTA clicks as well as page views.
This example may help explain:
The email sent to Jennifer Payne on the first day was a trigger and the email sent the next day led to a transaction. The attribution of the conversion doesn’t solely go to the last email. It also needs to be contributed to the first email which was the first touch point.
Sometimes, to identify the performance of a campaign, thus you need to have full visibility of the actions a user takes to create an error less reporting.
A/B testing emails for conversion rate is also one of the most important things you can do when you’re establishing metrics for your email marketing. Your tests should always focus (at least indirectly) on increasing conversion rate.
- Unsubscribe Rate:
It’s pretty obvious that you want your unsubscribe rates to be as low as possible (around 0.5% is average).2 But improving this metric is actually more complex than you might realize.Yes, the quality of your email is the primary driver of unsubscribing rates. If you’re providing value to your recipients, they’re going to want to continue receiving your emails. But lowering your unsubscribe rate goes beyond quality.
For example, effective segmentation can go a long way toward reducing your unsubscribe rate. Why? Because customers in different stages of the funnel want different kinds of content. Readers who know about your product but aren’t sure if they should buy it need very different emails than those who have been customers for years.
And if you’re collecting email addresses like crazy, your unsubscribe rates are going to be very high. Being highly selective about who you add to your list will significantly reduce the number of unsubscribes. This is one reason why buying email lists is never a good idea.
Bounces directly impact your sender score (see how to get started with data-driven email marketing). The moment you see hard bounces or soft bounces, it becomes necessary to remove those contacts from your mailing lists.Keeping an eye on bounces also helps you understand which channel isn’t performing well. For example, if most of your AdWords leads are bouncing, then this is a signal you better change your existing strategy.
Beginner’s Guide To Data-Driven Email Marketing
Get started with data driven email marketing and supercharge conversions from the first email sent.
But Wait, There’s More
While these are the five major metrics that can help you map your email marketing strategy, you can add many more metrics such as time spent on website/app, page views, social shares, social reach, and more – all depending on your business requirements.
It’s now time to see how we can convert those clicks into conversions, i.e. drive real value and intent through emails. And that brings us to the last lifecycle stage: taking action based on data.
Develop Your Strategy to Drive Conversions Through Emails
One of the core metrics we track at CleverTap is the conversion rate of marketing qualified leads (MQLs) to sales qualified leads (SQLs). Our goal is to keep that number at around 33%. We want a third of the people that marketing brings in to become qualified leads for sales. Our SQL-to-customer conversion is around 50%. So somewhere around one-sixth of the people our marketing team brings in are converted into customers.
By closely monitoring analytics, we can make sure that we’re focusing our efforts on the leads that are the most likely to convert.
- Tip 1: Segment Aggressively
One of the most important tactics that we use is aggressively segmenting our email lists. We have segments based on where leads come from, whether they’re already a customer, how they use our app, their preferred time zone, and so on.This helps us keep the relevancy of our emails very high while at the same time giving users the exact value they expect from our brand.
Does this require us to customize a massive number of emails?
Yes. But it’s paid off!
- Tip 2: Understand How Acquisition Source Impacts Conversions
We find that our average sales cycle is between 25-30 days.But leads generated at industry events become customers twice as quickly as leads generated from pay-per-click ads. Organic search, email marketing, direct marketing, and other methods result in different closing times as well.
The behavior of leads depends highly on the channel of acquisition.
What we observe is that leads who ask for information on our platform or who enter the funnel via the organic route require less effort to convert. Plus, they’re much easier to reach on their preferred channels.
Leads coming from events, as mentioned earlier, are obviously quicker to convert because the first contact was in person – so there’s stronger recall.
Leads from PPC ads are pretty much click farm leads and so are those from paid social media marketing. The relevancy, at least from a B2B standpoint, tends to get lost in those channels.
- Tip 3: A/B Test Your Drip Campaigns
By keeping close track of sales cycle times, we know which leads to focus on and when we should be in contact to move the process along.But turning MQLs into SQLs requires more than just good timing and intent. We also need to send the right content. That’s where A/B tests come in.
Drip campaigns are one of our best email marketing tools. We publish whitepapers, require an email address to download them and add the user to a targeted drip campaign segment of our list.
Every one of those campaigns is A/B tested. We look at different subject lines, content, the tone of voice, content upgrades in the emails, value proposition, and anything else we can think to optimize. After a few rounds of testing, we have very effective email campaigns.
- Tip 4: Customize Content to Different Locations
It’s interesting to note that every geography has a different set of content topics and buzzwords that people relate to (with respect to your industry).Since we are a SaaS product, we’re all about offering a complete marketing automation suite. But if we message companies in developed nations, we skew the content and the tone toward topics like Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning applications to enhance user experience.
Meanwhile, if we message companies in developing nations, we try to help them solve problems around multichannel marketing. Content around AI or ML isn’t as relevant to them.
- Tip 5: Collate Data
In addition to collecting email addresses for whitepapers, we also create landing pages for events, which gives us more information when someone signs up. We know which event they attended, and have a very good idea of what information they’re interested in. We also use Hotjar and CleverTap to track user behavior on landing pages and gather additional information on their interests.By tying our emails to landing page behavior, we increased our conversion ratio to 25%.
In addition to customers’ online behavior, we also use data from our app to target emails. For example, analytics tell us that funnels are one of our most popular features and that most customers use cohorts, Triggered Campaigns, segments, Flows, revenue dashboards, and Journeys—in that order. That’s extremely valuable information for our email marketing team. That helps us direct new users towards our most-used features and the use cases that can help them solve their pain points.
Based on this data, we know what our customers are looking for at different stages of their lifecycle. Our email marketing provides the information that customers are looking for, helping them solve their problems and find value in the emails. In this way, we nudge our customers toward the features that provide maximum value.
Email is a Marathon
To conclude this email marketing series, know that email marketing is a marathon and not a sprint. It’s a continuous process of improvement.
The ideas we covered above are by no means the only things you should test. Look at how your recipients respond and use that information to inform your next experiments.
There is no perfect email strategy that works for everyone!
The key is to keep testing, optimizing and then re-testing.
If you have any questions or have any lessons to share regarding experiments that improved your email marketing, hit the comments below!
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