What's in this article?
You’ve probably heard the popular digital marketing quip, “the money’s in the list.” But, what the heck does that mean?
How do you grow revenue and generate sales with an email list? The truth is you don’t, at least not directly.
This is the mistake many new email marketers make. They try too hard to close the deal in the email, which is nearly impossible.
Instead, emails (often entire email campaigns) are just an essential part of a guided journey to a sale.
In this article, I’m going to breakdown my system for creating these kinds of email initiated buying journeys.
Three Critical Stages of a Successful Email Send
Our first step is to create the email that will initiate and trigger the buying journey.
As we create each email in your drip email campaign, it’s essential to understand that a conversion comes down to three key performance indicators.
- Email Open Rate – the percentage of people opening your email
- Click-through Rate – the percentage of people that click on links in the email and thereby navigate to your landing page
- Landing Page Conversion Rate – the percentage of people that click through and take the “offer” on your landing page
Understanding the importance of increasing the frequency these user actions, let’s discuss how we can optimize each step of these journeys.
Getting Higher Open Rates
Your subject line is the gatekeeper to your customer.
However, when I begin working with a new client I often find that they put very little effort into creating subject lines. They’ll put countless hours and dollars into creating a gorgeous email designs, yet their subject lines are often an afterthought and unsurprisingly uninspiring.
Ironically, as a result of this lack of effort towards subject lines those beautiful emails are never seen by most of the people on their list.
The lesson here is neglect your subject lines at your own peril.
My 10-point checklist I use to craft subject lines
1. What is the objective of my email?
Different emails and even different stages of your drip email campaign often have specific roles in my email sequences.
Early emails, often part of a welcome series, are focused on getting good open rates and building a trusting relationship, whereas later in a drip campaign or periodically in a lead nurturing campaign, I’m looking to move people to a sale.
This impacts how I write my subject line.
Am I trying to trigger curiosity to maximize open rate or am I more direct in my approach, hoping to pre-qualify my opens and condition them for a sale?
2. Write subject lines like a normal person
The first subject line I write when I begin my creative process is one that I would use to send the email to a friend. I try to suppress the clever and creative marketer in me and just type out the first subject line that pops into my head, like a quick note to friend.
It’s usually simple, descriptive, and brief – perfect for most email sends.
3. Keep them short
Once you realize how important the subject line is to designing a profitable email campaign, you might be tempted to cram your whole sales pitch into the subject line.
Instead, simply open the conversation with a short, clear, and compelling statement. For example, if I was writing a subject line for an email about this page I might use something like, “How I write subject lines that get opened, every time.”
4. Create interest in the content of your email with the pre-header
The pre-header is another under-utilized portion of an email. This little preview snippet, shown in most email client inbox previews, can significantly increase open rates. Use this to tease your content.
5. Don’t use camel case
I’m a big believer in staying as informal as possible with my email campaigns. This starts with the subject line. So, don’t use formal Title or Camel Case in writing your subject lines.
These kinds of subject lines scream “Marketer. Beware!”
6. Minimize punctuation
Much like the use of title case, excessive punctuation in your subject lines can feel spammy. No !’s and even feel free to drop the period at the end.
Emojis are an interesting cultural trend that is transforming how we communicate online. There are statistically significant studies that show that using emojis gain higher engagement levels in social media and higher click-throughs in subject lines.
7. Don’t mislead or be too clever
This little rule applies to all marketing, but is especially true for email. Never make a promise in the subject line you can’t honor in your email. A clever turn of a phrase in the subject line might satisfy you or even bump your click-through rate, but if you’re not careful it can frustrate your subscriber making their only click the unsubscribe link.
8. Write five or six versions
This is probably the most powerful tip on this list. Do the work. Never stop with one subject line – write and refine.
9. Do an A/B test
If possible, always do an A/B test of subject lines. Analyze both the open rates and click-through rates. It might be intuitive that a better subject line gets you more opens, but one of the more subtle trends that I’ve seen over the years is that an excellent subject line gets great opens and positions the reader to be in a conversion mindset – getting that click to your website.
10. Click-through Rate
As I mentioned in running A/B tests above, keep your eye on the click-through rate to improve your subject lines. If you’re getting great open rates and lousy click-through rates after, then you’re probably over promising or getting too cutesy with your subject line.
Getting Higher Click-Through Rates Inside Your Email
Once you have an email open, it’s time to sell the click.
The whole purpose of your email body is to make an offer and get a visit to your landing page. This is your opportunity for a conversion – make a transactional sale or gather an inquiry (sales lead).
Much like the subject line, the structure and design of your email is going to be largely driven by the purpose of your campaign.
I recommend fairly simple, often short, text-based emails for drip campaigns and reserve my beautifully designed and content rich designed emails for my lead nurturing campaigns.
In all cases, my number one priority is to gain a click-through to my landing page.
My 10-point checklist for getting higher click-through rates
1.Determine my primary Call To Action (CTA)
Every email should have a clear purpose and that one clear purpose should be captured in your primary CTA. It really should be as simple as a one to two word command clearing telling the reader what you want them to do.
2. How do I make it personal?
It’s really easy to become detached from our audience and our marketing. Robotically following formulas and best practices. But, nothing gets a click-through like a personal story or appeal. Also, make sure that you send from a person, not a general firstname.lastname@example.org.
3. Make the CTA clear and bold
It might seem like I’m repeating myself, but this simple concept is often missed. We wander around and around our point and then completely forget to tell the reader what we’re after. Just say what you mean. Make it simple and straightforward.
4. Place the CTA button (yes, it needs to be a button) as high as possible in the email
If the internet has given us anything, it’s a short attention span. So, if you have a request you need to make it as soon as possible in your email or landing page.
5. Give them immediate value
Deliver them the goods quickly. Don’t bury the lead or hide the value in your message. But, get them curious for “the rest of the story.”
6. Offer the CTA again
Even in a short email there is a good chance they might miss your CTA in their quick scan and scroll. Try to stop that scroll and create a bit of FOMO
7. Still keep it short
You’re trying to accomplish a lot in an email that is intended to promote a transaction, but it’s still critical to keep it short. Long emails don’t get read. Work really hard to keep your emails to around 250-300 words.
8. Offer a secondary, less committal, CTA
Try a secondary offer. Sometimes you can offer something interesting that is a lower price or level of commitment to sample your value proposition before going all in.
9. Close it in a personal way
I like to close out all of my emails with a personal flair. This humanizes my emails and gives the reader a sense that there is a human on the other end. One bonus tip: Make sure you quickly respond to any replies you get from readers. This will go a very long way in building trust.
10. Track your landing page conversion rate
Did my email condition the sale on the landing page? Did I do a good job of setting exceptions and inspiring a purchase or other conversion?
Getting Higher Landing Page Conversions
We’re at the landing page. It’s time to pay the bills and make a little money!
Even if this is just a regular old blog post that you’re using in long-term lead nurturing campaign, you need to have a revenue feature on every page. This can be something as simple as offering an “Ask a Question” web form.
Which, by the way, can be a highly effective way to generate a pretty well-qualified lead on a blog post.
Let’s wrap up this lead generating journey with my 10-point checklist for creating a high converting landing pages.
1.Offer navigation, but limit it to the essentials
I don’t believe in squeeze pages, but I also know that too many choices often lowers conversion. So, strike a balance.
2. Get a phone number in your primary navigation bar
As mobile phones continue to dominate our website traffic, phone calls rise. Don’t miss exceptionally high quality leads – put your phone number in the header.
3. Use CallRail to track and analyze call conversions
Use technology, like CallRail to track your call conversions. Without call-tracking you are significantly under reporting your lead conversions.
4. Fully utilize your landing page above the fold – Don’t waste this prime real estate with an enormous, nonsensical image.
I’m shocked at how many websites waste the area above the fold with a big, irrelevant image with no sales copy or way to convert. Fixing this simple oversight regularly allows us to double or triple monthly leads new client websites.
5. Make sure there’s a web form above the fold (in the header)
How do you fix the problem above? The simplest way is a web form.
6. Make sure that all of your web forms have a clear benefit to submit
Don’t just ask for contact information and label your button submit. Instead tell them why they want to send that message – what they can expect and what’s in it for the customer making the inquiry.
7. Consider adding a phone number to your web forms
I’m a big believer in phone numbers on websites and as CTAs in an age of mobile-browsing dominance. One of the little tricks that increases my conversions it adding a phone number (call) option next to the submit button on forms.
8. Follow your initial header CTA with some clear benefits to using your product or service
Telling your audience what to do on your landing pages is critical, but don’t forget to tell them why taking that action is beneficial to them.
9. Use a lead magnet or email “course” to encourage your visitors to learn more by subscribing to your email list
One of the best secondary offers or CTAs is a simple educational path or journey for your prospective customer. Take the opportunity to inform, and ultimately make a better customer.
10. Provide them additional resources and related content to encourage them to stay and browse
If you don’t get the conversion, don’t be stingy with your value. Provide paths to additional valuable content that might encourage and nurture them towards a future purchase.
As you can see writing high converting emails, doesn’t end with the email.
It’s a complete experience from enticing subject line to compelling offer on a highly optimized landing page.