"Just add value".
How many times have you heard somebody say this?
It's all good listening to everybody saying there's a better way to do email marketing, but what's the alternative if our audience doesn't want to be blasted with sales?
The solution is value creation - and in today's article, I want to show you EXACTLY how we create value for our clients.
Ultimately, value creation is not about guessing, it's about a deep commitment to service.
You either have the mindset to create it or you don't.
But once you adopt it, the results and possibilities to create brand advocates are limitless.
“Create value”. It’s become something of a token response when suggested how to approach not just email, but marketing as a whole these days.
It sounds simple, but I know a lot of brands we work with really struggle to define what’s valuable to their audience and then serve them with more of it...
Is a 20% off coupon value? It depends.
A tutorial video on how to use the product? Mostly.
A blog article? Sometimes.
All of these tactics can be valuable in the customer journey, if you’re able to utilise them at the correct stage.
But here is something that is less discussed: value is less about guessing, and more about basing your decisions off of data and customer research.
If you have proactively structured your customer journey to collect key insights, you can predict what is valuable to your audience at the correct time and serve them with it.
The result then becomes inevitable: increased affinity to your brand, higher margins, and enhanced engagement through word of mouth advocacy.
All sound gravy? Let me show you how to structure your email set-up to achieve this.
Value is about giving your audience what they’re asking for
This is less complicated than it sounds.
Your audience finds value in what they’re asking you to create for them and the information they’re already sharing with you.
For my own business, this has been our go-to market strategy for nearly 3 years. We answer the questions our audience are asking, and then provide solutions catered to resolving those pain points.
More specifically, we position our offering as the main solution to those problems.
And if we don’t provide a direct solution to a subset of that problem, we partner up with a like-minded partner who bleeds over an audience with ours and share the spoils together.
How you approach your content and overall marketing strategy doesn’t have to be any different, irrespective of whether you’re in B2B or D2C.
Ultimately, “value” is about service. And service starts with a deep desire to understand what your customers actually want. The more you can eradicate mind-reading and guess work, the more precise you will be, and the greater your ROI from your efforts.
Step 1: Start at the top-of-the-funnel
This is the trick that most people miss, including myself for a long time.
The typical cookie-cutter way of doing things was to collect an email based on an incentivised pop-up and then to collect data by progressively profiling the customer post-conversion in the Welcome Flow.
To put that simply, you collect a customer's email address, and then try to find out more about them later on in the funnel through subsequent emails that may, or may not, be opened and responded to.
Two issues with this:
- You’re prioritising the conversion above knowing the customer and guiding them towards the right decision
- The response rate is usually sub-10%; this means only 1/10 customers at most will share further data about themselves post sign-up
There is never a better time to collect data than during the very first interaction with the customer.
Instead of just asking for an email, change your pop-ups to also ask for data about the customer as well.
Here’s an example of using a single data point to create more relevant segments from the first interaction, and subsequently tailoring the Welcome Flow specifically based on their needs, exactly as they tell you themselves, eradicating guess work and increasing your future specificity in messaging:
The customer can then enter the appropriate Welcome Flow/messaging variation based on their predominant pain point.
Take it one step further and you can even retarget these customers via ads platforms in a more granular & personalised way that’s relevant to their journey.
In this example, these customers can then be segmented inside the account based on jobs they hate the most, helping to provide more relevant content when sending campaigns.
This methodology can apply to practically every industry.
Sell supplements? Find out people’s health concerns at sign-up.
Pet food? See what their dog’s allergies are.
Oral care? Discover their main dental concern.
The opportunities to personalise and add value are limitless.
You need to ask yourself: what is the opportunity cost of not collecting this data up front? The reality is that you’re guessing on how to serve these customers best based on a generic email address otherwise.
Step 2: Segment based off those insights
A single data point alone may be all that is needed to start a more granular level of segmentation for most brands.
It will improve retargeting, email and ads efficiency, and can even help determine quality of traffic.
For our clients, we dynamically populate these segments inside Klaviyo and then branch them into engaged tiers.
Taking the example of somebody who opted in to the above pop-up, you could have:
- People who said they hate cleaning the bathroom and engaged with an email in the last 90 days
- People who said they hate cleaning the windows and engaged with an email in the last 90 days
- People who said they hate cleaning dust and engaged with an email in the last 90 days
This is a very high-level example of how you can add value by sending relevant content to people based on zero-party data they’ve proactively shared with you.
You could send people tutorial videos on how to clean dust most effectively, what products to use and tips on keeping the home dust-free.
Of course, this is a fairly generic example, and you also need to be careful that you’re not excluding customers over time from receiving campaigns based on your initial research.
But the premise has been set from the first interaction: you’ve collected insights, and you’ve acted upon them accordingly to serve the customer with content you believe will resonate with them the most. That’s called adding value.
Step 3: Survey existing subscribers
Never get complacent along the customer journey. The reality is that we must constantly research and strive to provide a great experience to our customers throughout the customer lifecycle.
One of the easiest ways to add value to your existing subscribers is to check in with them from time-to-time and see what their interests are, so you can send them more relevant content.
Here’s an example of a Preference Centre Page that goes well beyond the generic email capture and shows a desire to understand their audience:
These properties should sync back to your ESP (Klaviyo) and allow you to make more data-driven decisions.
Most people leave their preference centre as a generic ‘email’ and ‘unsubscribe’ button. This shows a lack of intent to understand the subscribers from the brand, and is a huge missed opportunity to deliver value.
Another secret weapon I like to include in our arsenal are Typeform campaigns.
It really can be as simple as asking your audience what they want you to serve them with in order to create amazing content that delights them.
I tend to opt for open-ended responses when leveraging this as well. It doesn’t provide the same options to segment, but your customers are a treasure trove of ideas that they’ll willingly share if you give them the platform to voice their opinions.
You can then further create content around their answers and feedback to the whole team, from the front-end dev of the store, to the social and content marketing team.
Yes, email is a research tool as well, and probably the most effective one at your disposal to gather insights from your audience!
Step 4: Find out the Post-Purchase Obstacles
The above advice primarily focuses on understanding your customers from the beginning of the journey (which is always the best place to start).
However, what happens post-purchase, determines whether that customer will return.
Most people neglect the post-purchase experience and instead focus heavily on incentivising the customer with additional discounts to make a repeat purchase.
Here’s what I like to do:
- Identify the best-selling products
- Scour the reviews and look for the pain points and expectations and find out if they’re being met
- Craft post-purchase content that overcomes these objections and teaches the customer how to get the most out of their purchase
- Sincerely follow-up to find out if the product met expectations
It’s such a basic template, but it works because most people don’t do it.
Every post-purchase flow should work heavily to eliminate buyers remorse and focus on the customer experience once they receive the product, to then ensure they’re satisfied with the purchase.
If you’re looking to move the needle long-term on retention and turning single-time buyers into repeat purchasers, there’s no more logical place to start.
Step 5: Summarise the evidence
You now should have the following data at your fingertips:
- What the customer’s goals are when they’re shopping on your website
- What the post-purchase obstacles tend to be
Your next step should be to make a list of all the data points that encompass the above and strategically interject in the customer journey where relevant to serve them with value that you know will enhance their experience.
For example, pre-purchase: somebody tells you they’re looking to lose body fat when shopping at your supplement store. Put them into a Welcome Flow that not only recommends the most appropriate products but also delivers fat loss advice in the forms of guides and practical tips.
When it comes to segmenting on a campaign level when they’re in your account, it would be safe to exclude them from receiving mass-gaining tips that aren’t relevant to their customer journey.
Remember: research should never end, and our customers' preferences change over time. That’s why it’s important to continuously research and survey them in order to provide the most value when it comes to content creation.
Step 6: Create Value
At this stage, your audience has proactively shared what they find valuable.
There is no excuse for the brand at this point not to leverage these insights and resort to type.
And herein lies the main consideration of data collection: if you’re going to request data from your audience, you simultaneously create an expectation to act upon it.
This is a catch-22 for the marketers who can’t be bothered to put in the effort.
But for those that will, the rewards are endless.
Some people feel overwhelmed once they receive these insights and revert to type out of confusion. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
A simple way to get started generating value is something I like to call the “20 questions rule”.
Summarise the top 20 questions your audience asks you based on what the data tells you, and answer these questions in a range of media formats: text posts, video, Instagram Lives, ebooks - it doesn’t matter, just create what you now know will resonate with your audience.
Now email can be used as a content distribution channel to disseminate this value, in addition to the generalised product promotions which most brands use the channel for.
Here’s an example of how I would create just 7 questions from an email marketing standpoint that my customers ask from a B2B perspective:
- What are the best settings for my pop-up?
- How many abandoned cart emails should I send?
- How many campaigns per week should I send to my audience?
- How do I create a post-purchase flow?
- How can I use email to bring lapsed customers back to my store?
- Which metrics should I measure to ensure a healthy email performance?
- What are the key factors that determine healthy deliverability?
I then answer all of these questions in the form of text, video and audio.
And I distribute it via email to the audience that asks these questions at the most appropriate time.
I know it will be an instant hit as I receive these questions every single day.
For eCommerce brands, the strategy doesn’t have to be much different. Constantly look to collate questions from your audience, summarise your findings and strategically place them in the customer journey, whether it’s part of a flow or as a generalised campaign.
Don’t forget to speak to customer support as well - there’s a ton of value waiting from that team that can create an internal feedback loop to your content marketing strategy.