What's your purpose for running an email marketing campaign?
Ultimately, you're in email marketing to help your business thrive and grow. That means you're getting into email marketing to sell more stuff.
Not sure that's you? Then look at it this way:
- Businesses want to sell more products.
- Freelancers and contractors want to sell their services.
- Nonprofits want to "sell" supporters on their good cause.
- Bloggers and writers aim to "sell" their content or their books.
- Political groups want to "sell" their message.
And so on...
We're all peddling something.
So far in our Tuts+ series on email marketing, we've looked at how emails are primarily about building a relationship with your subscribers. Through this relationship, your subscribers come to know and trust your company. When they're ready to buy the products or services you sell, you'll be their first choice.
As a general rule, while you're building a relationship with your subscribers, you shouldn't be selling to them, at least not overtly. But once you've built a relationship and you want to make the sale, can you do so through email?
You certainly can. Of course, you may decide that other channels—such as a telephone call or face to face meeting—are more appropriate. But emails can be great for making a sales approach.
So, how do you write sales emails that get results?
Step 1: Build a Relationship
The foundation of any effective sales email is a strong relationship with your subscribers. That's for two reasons:
- People will only buy from you if they know, like and trust you. They will only be in this position if they've spent time getting to know you.
- The better you know your subscribers and what they need, the easier you'll find it to engage them with your sales emails. By having a two-way relationship with your subscribers, you'll get to know them better.
How do you build a relationship with your subscribers? Kickstart it with an autoresponder sequence that you send out as soon as someone signs up to your email list. As long as you deliver value through every email in your sequence, your subscribers will come to look forward to receiving and opening your emails.
The only way you'll be able to write great sales emails is by getting to know your subscribers. How can you get to know them? By talking with them in your emails. Engage them in conversation. Ask questions. Send out surveys. This two-way dialogue will give you insight into what your readers want and need.
Step 2: Work on Your Open Rate
No one is going to buy anything due to a sales email if they don't open the email in the first place. On the flip side, the more people who open your emails, the more sales you will make.
To maximize your open rate, you need to:
- Write effective subject lines (These aren't what you think).
- Use a real name in the "From" field.
- Split test your subject lines.
- Avoid spam filters.
- Provide value in every email you send.
For more detailed tips on how to boost your open rate, check out our article on Strategies to Boost Your Email Open Rates.
Step 3: Teach Your Readers that Clicks Mean Rewards
Emails are an ideal point of first engagement when you're making a sale. But it's unlikely that your subscribers will go through the whole sales process while staying in the confines of their email inbox. Instead, they'll click a link that leads to a product or sales page. Or they'll take an action such as writing you an email, or arranging a sales call with you.
As we noted in a previous tutorial, whenever you send out a marketing email, on the average only one in 100 of your subscribers will click a link within the email. Of course, that's only the average, and there's nothing to stop you doing way better than average.
A simple way of boosting your clickthrough rate is through teaching your readers that every time they click a link in your email, they'll be rewarded for doing so. In other words, make sure that all your links lead to something that's valuable to your readers. Value means being useful, entertaining or relevant to your readers.
Step 4: Remember the 4P's of Marketing
People who are new to the world of marketing often assume that sales and marketing is about one thing: promotion.
Promotion is just one aspect of marketing. In the marketing world, promotion is only one of the four P's. These four P's are:
For a customer to make a purchase, all of these need to be right.
You've got promotion sorted (that's your email marketing). And the place you're making the sale is probably your website. That leaves product and price.
Choosing a suitable product is key to marketing because the right product will sell itself. The moment your subscribers discover the product you're selling, they should think "Wow, I need that!"
That means you've got to choose a product that will make your customers' lives better. You can only do this if you know your customers and their needs (see Step 1).
Perhaps you've got a wide range of products and/or services. If this is the case, then different products will suit different customers. It's worth segmenting your list so you can target specific products at a specific group of customers. This segmentation stops you annoying customers with offers they're not interested in, and boosts your overall conversion rate.
When it comes to price, it's worth noting that cheaper isn't always better. And it's a good idea to leave the price of your product out of the email. Leaving out the price arouses curiosity, so readers will be more likely to click through to find out more.
Step 5: Use Their Name
Always start a sales email with the name of the recipient. A business transaction is a relationship between two people. Using a person's name shows you respect that relationship.
Their name will also get their attention. As Dale Carnegie wrote in How to Win Friends and Influence People:
Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
Step 6: Craft the Story
Now you've done the background work, you're ready to write the email.
What's the biggest mistake people make when they're writing sales copy? They assume writing is about correct spelling and grammar. If they compose their sentences well, then everything will be okay. Not so.
Of course, correct spelling and grammar are essential, otherwise you'll undermine the trust that your readers have in your business. If you're sloppy with your typos, they'll wonder where else in your business you cut corners.
But spelling and grammar are not the keys to good writing. What is? Structure. Good structure is what engages readers. It also makes the writing process a whole lot easier, as you don't have to come up with an idea from scratch. Instead, you start with a skeleton structure, and build it out.
The best way to structure your email is to craft a story that your readers identify with. In this story, set up a problem that your readers face. Then, pull them into the story so you're fighting the problem together. Position yourself as an essential ally.
Let's take a look, in specific terms, at how you can craft this story.
Start with the Problem. What problem does your product solve for people who use it? Spell out this problem in the language of your readers. You can find out how your readers see the problem by listening to them, or by checking out forums in your niche. People go to forums with problems and questions, so they're perfect for picking up the language of your audience.
By putting the problem in the language of the readers, you're showing that you understand. You're setting yourself up as someone who can credibly solve the problem.
After you've outlined the problem, you're ready to...
Provide a solution. This is where you introduce your product as a potential solution to the problem. At this stage, you're not pushing your product, you're mentioning that it can help.
Follow up your solution by...
Putting your credentials on display. What makes you the right person or business to offer this solution? Perhaps it's that you've got decades of experience in the industry. Maybe you've helped hundreds of other people with the same problem.
Your credentials can also be endorsements from other people. This is especially powerful if you've got high profile or celebrity customers who are willing to endorse your product.
Next you should...
Show what your product can do. So far, you've painted a picture of what the life of your subscribers is like without your product. Now it's time to help them see what your product can do for them. To highlight the benefits of using your products, ask yourself:
- How does this product make people's lives easier?
- What will be different about their lives after they use this product? Will it give them more time? Or will it change other people's opinion of them?
- What's better about your product compared to similar products on sale? What makes you stand out from the crowd?
Your email isn't the place to describe your product in detail. You'll risk losing your readers if you write too much. You can share more on your sales page, or during a sales call. For now, your aim is to pique curiosity. You want your subscribers to be thinking "I need to know more about this... what's the next step?"
By crafting your email in this way, you engage your readers. You show you understand a problem that they're facing, and you position your product as an ideal solution. In other words, you've crafted a compelling story about your product that pulls in your subscribers and makes them want to find out more.
Many of your readers will be ready to click through right away, but there are a couple more steps you can take to encourage even more people to take action.
Step 7: Create an Irresistible Offer
You've got a product your readers will love, and you've sold it to them in their language.
You're all set to make a sale.
What can you do to make sure your readers click?
Make your offer even more irresistible than it is already. That is, to offer a deal to your email subscribers that they can't get anywhere else. Make it just for them.
This could be:
- Limited availability This is ideal if you're selling a service. For example, let your subscribers know that you've only got space in your schedule for five new clients.
- A time-limited discount. This could be 25% off, but for the next 48 hours only.
- An extra bonus product that you throw in free for the fist ten buyers.
Step 8: Make the Ask
Finish off your email with a call to action. This doesn't have to be complicated. It just means explaining, in no-nonsense terms, exactly what you want your readers to do. For example:
- Click here to find out more.
- Buy now.
- Reply to this email if you're interested.
- Get it now!
Calls to action are a fundamental of good marketing. Marketers know that when you ask, you're more likely to get.
That's your email set to go. Great job!