What Consultants Can Learn About Email Marketing from Product Companies

More than 50% of email is considered as spam – and spam doesn’t sell. Just how do the most successful product companies create sales boosting emails without spamming?

How to send bulk email without spamming

When it comes to bang for buck, email marketing is one of the best marketing strategies that consultants can employ. It’s relatively easy to do, and, with the right tools and talent, can be mostly automated.

As we discussed in our article “Why email is the ‘new’ big thing for serious consultants”, email marketing has a great ROI - $38 for every $1 spent on marketing. For consultants with smaller budgets, this is music to the ears. However, to maximise ROI from your email marketing investment you must do it right. This includes knowing how to send bulk email without spamming.

In this article, you’ll discover how the best product companies use email marketing so effectively, and how to send bulk emails without spamming.

What is spam?

Next time you scroll through your inbox, take a moment to consider all those emails that you decide not to open. (By the way, a great time management exercise is not to ignore those emails, but instead click on them, make sure you don’t want the content they provide, and unsubscribe.)

The United States Department of Justice classifies spam email as ‘unsolicited commercial email’. According to Statista, 53.5% of all emails sent are spam.

Spam emails get you nowhere. Even if your entire email marketing system is automated, spam emails won’t gain you customers, but could gain you a whole load of grief. Email marketing services such as Infusionsoft and Mailchimp monitor their customers’ accounts for spam. If you send bulk emails to your email list and your contacts start unsubscribing, you could be:

  • Losing the opportunity to sell to those contacts
  • Penalized by your email service

So, how do you send bulk emails without spamming? Consultants can learn a few secrets by examining some of the most successful email campaigns by product companies.

Focus on the journey, not the outcome

Marketing companies often focus on the sale instead of the content. The email is an opportunity to connect with potential and existing customers. It is a step on the evolving customer journey, in which the most important thing is to engage the customer to want to read more or learn more. There will be many interactions that the customer makes on this journey – including visiting your blog and Facebook pages.

Far better than to try to overtly sell by email is to provide interesting, informative content that has meaning to the customer, and provide a link to a landing page where the customer will learn more about the offer you wish to make. However, clever email campaigns don’t need a call to action to sell.

Case study

Marriott International is one of the world’s major hotel chains. With the stated goal of becoming the world’s favorite travel company, in late 2014 Marriott sent a single email campaign with the aim of further engaging its new travellers. It wanted to get them hooked and build an increasingly loyal customer base.

The email campaign was simple in its nature, and completely non-promotional. No discounts offered. No incentives. No call to action link to click. Just a summary of the Marriott travel options that the email recipient had used and the points he or she had amassed during the previous 12 months. Plus, a review of the totals of all of Marriott’s customers.

The “Year in Review” campaign email thanked the customer for their loyalty, and showed them their personal data including:

  • Total number of nights stayed in a Marriott hotel
  • Total number of cities visited
  • Total number of reward points that were redeemed
  • Total number of properties visited by the member
  • Total points earned

Then it included information about the “Marriott Community”, such as:

  • Total reward points earned by all members
  • Total number of miles earned
  • Total number of points redeemed by all members
  • Total number of points donated to charity

Imagine receiving an email thanking you for your custom, showing you how you fit into the wider community of loyal customers, and one that is not expecting anything in response. Surely it couldn’t boost sales, could it?

Think again. In December 2014, Marriott’s sales rocketed by 86% compared to December 2013.

Personalise the approach

The best emails feel like they have been written personally. People are more likely to open an email if they are confident its content is meaningful to them. To do this, you must collect customer data and continue collecting it. Based on your evolving knowledge of the customer, you can segment and target your email campaigns meaningfully – no more bulk emails that are considered to be spam.

You can collect data in many ways – previous click-throughs, browsing history, purchases made, pages and websites visited, and so on. Of course, you need the technology infrastructure to do this (or partner with a provider that provides this capability), but the rewards can be astronomical.

Case study

Finish Line, a sportswear shoe and apparel retailer, decided to tag their site to better understand who their individual customers were. They tracked behaviors and integrated this into their email service. Other segmentation factors included gender, geography, sports teams (from social media activity), etc. This information allowed them to segment these customers into almost 300 subgroups.

Next, they created emails that were triggered by behaviors such as cart abandonment, repeat purchases, page visits, etc. and tailored to the segmented subgroup. Emails also included shoe and apparel recommendations when a subscriber made a purchase (the email equivalent to in-store upselling).

The results from this personalization were worth the effort and investment made:

  • A 50% increase in revenue directly attributable to email marketing
  • A 2.5% improvement in conversion from their website
  • A 15% increase in upsells and cross-sells

A terrific result, enabled by a personalized approach to customers and a technology-based approach to business.

Be authentic and conversational

Most marketing emails that you receive lack authenticity. When you read them, you know instinctively that they are mass marketing emails. This won’t win you friends nor influence people.

Think about the last time you visited a restaurant. How was your server? Did they speak to you like a human, or was their nature robotic? Did they make a recommendation, and did they sound genuine when they did so? What type of server are you more likely to buy from and tip a little extra – the one who interacts with you with genuine interest, or the one who speaks like they are a menu card?

Authenticity is a difficulty that many companies fail to overcome when they send emails. The secret is to be genuine and write conversationally (and to the person you are sending the email to – a segmenting issue). When you do this well, the outcome can be astounding.

Case study

Birchbox is in the business of being personal – it offers a monthly subscription for makeup, skincare and haircare products. It has perfected the art of sending sales emails that aren’t, well, ‘salesy’. Its emails are personalised to segmented audiences, and speak in conversational tones. For example, they may send an email with the subject line:

‘Mary, we forgot something in your February Box’

Then they will write something like:

‘Oops! As we worked to fill your February Birchbox with awesome samples, we accidently left out the amazing Rent the Runway offer we’re sharing with all our subscribers this month. We’re sending it your way now, and there’s plenty of time to get in on the fun.’

The email includes an offer code, a limited time period, and a click box that takes you to the offer. The elements that improve authenticity are:

  • Using the subscriber’s first name
  • Writing in a conversational tone
  • Writing in the first and second person (we/you)

Notice also, that Birchbox creates uniqueness with a sales code, and urgency with a limited time offer, and draws attention to the offer by sending it in a separate email. Personal, authentic, and targeted.

In summary

Many product companies started their life as bricks-and-mortar businesses. They know how to sell. By taking these elements into the arena of email marketing, consultants can achieve the results promised by email marketing without spamming.

When you are developing your email list and email marketing campaigns, remember to:

  • Focus on the content
  • Personalize the approach
  • Send to segmented lists
  • Write conversationally (and appropriately for your target audience)
  • Be authentic

Is your email list underperforming? Let us know your biggest challenge when it comes to marketing in the comments below.

Do you need help to create a targeted email marketing campaign? Get in touch:

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