If you can't send people discount codes, what should you send to them on email?"
This was a question I received last week on LinkedIn.
So I've answered it for you.
Here are 6 strategies you can deploy on email campaigns that:
- Increase engagement
- Improve deliverability
- Delight the customer
- Preserve margin
- Enhance Customer Lifetime Value
“If you can’t use email for discount codes, what should you do on the channel?”
This was a funny comment I received on my LinkedIn the other day.
Email has been pigeonholed solely as a sales channel for so long that people forget about its unique ability to engage in an intimate conversation with your brand.
Think about it: opening an email is a signal of intent that is often deeply personal by the recipient.
You don’t ‘choose’ to see an ad but you willingly open an email.
This is one of the reasons email opens disappearing as a metric (or becoming far less reliable) is problematic for marketers, but that’s a separate topic for another day.
Here are 6 ways you can begin to leverage email marketing to engage your customers that go beyond bombarding them with discount codes and providing a crappy experience.
Competitions are a fantastic way to engage subscribers and boost engagement.
It doesn’t have to be generic giveaways either; you should be encouraging customers to actively participate within the email by replying to questions or submitting responses (monitoring the email address or survey collection tool).
Most brands run frequent competitions across social media but seldom leverage them on email. This is a mistake.
Competitions will rapidly increase open rates, replies to, and clicks in email which are all strong intent signals to ISPs such as Gmail and Outlook that you’re a good sender.
Take a look at this example below for a great competition email.
Competitions also have the added benefit of making subscribers return to the inbox over time to see the winner announcements and condition them to look out for future competitions on the channel.
2: Content Distribution
Email is an extremely effective way to get more mileage out of the content you create in-house or want to share to externally.
Whether it’s a blog post or tutorial video, there is no reason why you can’t and shouldn’t be linking to these items frequently during your sends.
Remember the classic Newsletter people would look out for over email? It’s still out there, even if it has become somewhat of a lost art.
Plenty of media companies are still using email for content distribution, and if you’ve got value to share either on your website or within the email itself, disseminate it to the appropriate segment and watch the subscriber experience improve.
A question I’ve received frequently on this is: “Should I deliver the value in the email itself or on-site?”
And the short answer is: it depends.
If you can deliver the value within the email itself, deliver it there to eliminate friction.
However, because of character limits and emails inability to host videos, if you’re sharing a dense blog post (like this one) or a video, you should direct the traffic back to your website so your audience can consume the content on a more appropriate medium.
3: Surveys/Qualitative Research
Surveys have the dual benefit of allowing your subscribers to share a wealth of information about both themselves and their experience with your brand/product as well as generate high engagement (opens, clicks) because it puts the customer at the heart of the experience.
Use surveys to progressively profile customers, discover insights about their experience and participate in user-generated content.
4: Product Education
What’s the difference between product education and offers? Simply put, product education doesn’t need an offer.
If you have unique ingredients in your product, a manufacturing quirk or some type of greater cause (i.e. it’s environmentally friendly), then these are all things you can shout about over email and nurture your audience with.
This is a great way to move beyond price as the primary consideration for customers and start to position your product as a premium offering as well.
We’ll often find after running these for clients that they perform equally as effectively (from a revenue perspective) as direct offers, yet don’t erode margin and diminish the brand’s value.
5: User-Generated Content (UGC)
If you have a wealth of reviews and supporting experiences from customers to share, then these should be distributed via email in both flows and campaigns.
Better yet, tie number 3 from this list (surveys and qualitative research) to put your UGC on steroids; you can even create a flow like this one to rapidly enhance the amount you collect which can be repurposed in future campaigns.
6: Two-Way Conversations
Email is a conversational channel and you should absolutely take advantage of this by attempting to engage and interact with your customers as frequently as possible.
Most brand’s I’ve worked with that were against this idea believed having conversations with their customers were a bottleneck to growth and an unnecessary overhead.
This couldn’t be farther from the truth in 2021. Consumers expect and demand that a brand is attentive to their needs and willing to engage with them frequently.
Whether that’s with Live Chat on the website, responding to social media comments and yes, engaging with them via email.
Do not underestimate the power of this approach. It can be a simple text-based email and extremely effective for generating insights while simultaneously improving deliverability (ISPs like responses to emails).
Here are some use-cases where you can implement two-way conversations:
- A check-in on the customer post-purchase to ask about their experience
- When somebody is about to churn, ask them why they’ve stopped buying from you
- Ask somebody to participate in a competition with responding “True or False” to an email (see #1 on this list)
The beauty of these approaches is that they also create feedback loops that can improve every facet of the business, from the product description page to the overall marketing strategy.
Don’t just send emails that contain discounts and pushes people to buy products. Focus on ways to engage and delight customers and sales will come naturally as a bi-product of the customer experience, without devaluing your brand.
Leverage each of these techniques frequently and differentiate yourself from the competition.