The Ultimate Email Marketing Guide To Get More Sales
In today’s competitive markets succeeding in business means you need to know how to optimally reach and present information to potential prospects online. More importantly, know the steps to get them to act once they show interest.
Anyone who has worked in a selling capacity knows that if “the close” doesn’t happen the first time, the longer time passes the less likely it is to happen at all.
Any company that wants to thrive needs to understand the importance of both email marketing and having the perfect sales funnel to send interested prospects into, while nurturing that relationship.
While it’s easy for someone in marketing to talk about the perfect email marketing campaign or the need for a sales funnel, creating an automated system for taking care of this entire online sales process is much easier said than done.
While tweaking a campaign to test every little detail might seem time consuming, any company big or small should be sure their system works to make them more sales before automating that process.
Otherwise a business is just leaving extra money on the table.
Build High-Value Funnels
Creating the ideal email marketing campaign and coupling it with an exceptional sales funnel to create a perfect automated process is as much of an art as it is a science.
This is where the “art” of knowing the audience and testing out the details of each campaign come into play.
There are many different ways to polish up an email campaign and get a better bottom line whether that’s streamlining the process to the sales funnel, creating better structured emails to encourage action, or even minding the small simple details that can make all the difference to the larger picture.
No matter what current trends come and go, there’s a reason why successful web marketers still believe in the power of email marketing and the results it can deliver.
The following 21 tips can help companies of any size improve their sales through email marketing and marketing automation for the long term.
21 Tips On How To Increase Online Sales: Email Marketing & Sales Funnels
Tip #1: Give your potential customers or clients an incentive to respond
This tip sounds obvious when it is typed out or read out loud, but this just makes it all the more confounding that so many email auto-responders send out email campaigns that don’t give the client a reason to respond or take action.
The Success Formula Revealed
Any email, whether the response to an initial sign up or a part of the main auto-responder, should have two things:
- A strong and clear call to action
- An obvious benefit they receive by taking action
An email that has both of these things will be far more likely to result in a sign-up, a request for more information, setting an appointment, or even an outright sale.
No matter what it is specifically that company is aiming for as an action, getting that action is always more likely by asking for it (call to action) and giving some type of an obvious benefit to the reader.
- Is the promise a higher income?
- More personal security?
- Is a free report being offered?
- A special discount if the individual decides to buy now (today)?
All of these things can serve as a benefit to the reader that encourages the wanted action.
Never forget a good call to action (CTA) or obvious client benefit in each and every email being sent out by the autoresponder.
That’s how you get readers to become leads in your sales funnel.
Tip #2: Every single email part: test, test & test
No one hits the perfect selling emails on a first draft.
Even a marketer’s best emails can shift from one year to another or from one demographic to another.
It’s absolutely amazing how small details can make a huge difference when it comes to getting the actual sale.
The Anatomy of Emails To Sales
Identifying the specific parts of an email like the headline, subheadings, and CTAs can all make a major difference in the click through rate and the amount of sales that result.
The key here is to test one thing at a time, which is often referred to as an A/B test where half the emails have option A and half the emails have option B, and then the results are tracked accordingly.
This is a clear way to figure out which one of those options is working the best to convert into sales.
While this is a great way to test things, the important issue is making sure to only test one part of the email at a time.
Be Smart About Testing
For example, if there are three things you want to test you want three separate email lists with 1A vs 1B, 2A vs 2B, and 3A vs 3B so you can test each section separately and know all the changes in response rates come from that one change.
Marketers don’t want a situation where they have a 1A-2B-3A versus a 1B-2A-3B. In that type of test there is no way of figuring out what actually made the difference since every part of the email being tested is different from one to another.
Test each section one at a time, and then once the best option is obvious combine all of those parts to get the best possible emails.
Tip #3: Identify, track, & reward the best customers
When it comes to email marketing, nothing is more valuable over the long term than a solid customer who is willing to buy over and over again.
These loyal customers need to be identified in every email campaign, tracked, and repeat customers need to be rewarded to keep them coming back for more.
Who Else Likes “Free”?
Everyone likes free stuff, and even beyond that every customer likes knowing that his or her business is valued.
A business not only is getting more sales by keeping track of and rewarding their best customers, but they are also encouraging and training those customers to be even more likely to open their wallets in the future.
The 80/20 Rule Applies
The Pareto Rule often applies to business where 80% of the profit comes from 20% of the customers – so why not keep track of that elite group and make sure they stay happy? It’s just bad marketing and bad business not to!
Keep rewarding the best customers and they will keep responding to a company’s email auto-responders and sales funnels!
Tip #4: Identify your non-engaged customers and hit them with a “Come back campaign”
Many people will sign up at one point and stay active early, but then get distracted or just get used to being a passive reader of emails.
In the same way that it is important to keep track of the best customers who are likely to buy again and again, one of the best ways of getting more interaction from a collected email list is to also identify the non-engaged customers and put them together for a “come back” (retargeting) auto-responder campaign.
This might seem counter-intuitive because why would these sign-ups buy during a second campaign when they just wouldn’t respond to the initial one?
(Re)Activate Dormant Viewers
Whatever the reasons, a good auto-responder aimed at getting the passive followers engaged again has been shown to have a strong effect for multiple companies and is a great way to target leads that were interested at one point and turn them into actual paying customers.
By identifying both the best customers and the non-engaged ones, a good email campaign can work the list from both sides and see some strong immediate improvement in the sales numbers as a result.
Tip #5: Try priming the pump to see what happens
Ever heard of the old saying about the importance of priming the pump?
Sometimes the best way to get a customer to make a large move is by feeding them a little taste ahead of time.
This can be done several different ways, but most studies have shown that an actual free credit or offer of actual cash back works better than any type of “10% off” deal.
Create Unique Offers
This can easily fit into an email campaign, and works whether a company is emailing their best customer list, their barely engaged customer list, or even as part of an initial introductory email autoresponder campaign.
The best technique is to offer a free credit to an account, or a button that gives them free credit for signing up or going in.
Even if the person wasn’t going to originally buy, seeing a free $10 that is there only if used in a limited time can convince people to spend many times more, just to make sure they don’t lose that benefit.
By offering a small amount of free credit with a limited amount of time to use it or lose it, many customers will be compelled to spend quite a bit more because they feel like they are saving money or taking advantage of a sale.
In the meanwhile, all the extra cash spent by customers will become profit.
This is a prime example of how an email offering a limited but specific credit can help fire up the interest and translate to an immediate boost in sales.
Tip #6: Use software that responds with a personalized, custom message
There are so many different programs and tools out there that do this, there’s really no excuse for anyone to not be using this type of software.
If an email starts out without any type of a greeting, it’s not going to get a good response rate.
If an email starts out with “Dear Sir” or “Dear Madam,” it’s going to get a terrible response rate.
Any company stuck sending these types of emails will see an immediate jump in sales by making the one single change of having an autoresponder program that can make it so each email addresses the person with the name they signed up with.
That way John Doe sees “John, do you…” or Jane Doe sees “Jane, do you…”
When emails are set up with that little personal touch, the sales rate goes through the roof compared to emails that do not.
Tip #7: Collect birthday & anniversary information when possible and have special automatic emails set to go out to each customer on those special days
This is a huge benefit, and while it involves getting a little more information than many companies ask for online, there’s no denying the effectiveness when it can be used.
By having special birthday emails or anniversary emails that go out with a congratulations followed by a unique deal on one of these days a company not only gains an exceptional amount of credit for sending those personalized emails, but the response rate is often phenomenal.
In some cases getting this information might not be possible, but with the right email sign up form that gives the customer the option for filling out this information, a company can collect that and take advantage of this exceptional strategy for increasing email marketing sales.
The key with the sign up form is to make the birthday or anniversary info optional, and entice the customer by making some allusion to a nice surprise or bonus that can come as a result.
Tip #8: Buttons are always greater than links for selling through email
When it comes to increasing the click through and sales rate with any email campaign, one of the technical or programming aspects that are important to tackle is how to present the call to action.
Grab Their Attention (without being cheese-y)
Headlines, sub-headlines, benefits offers, and CTAs are all extremely important parts of an email to get the best sales results possible, but to make an email message even more effective it’s important to have a button instead of a link.
Truncated links raise a lot of suspicion with web savvy individuals, and a bare URL is more trustworthy but even then it doesn’t look good.
There’s nothing about the bare URL that inspires someone to take that extra step to click on a link and get drawn into the sales funnel.
If anything, these are more easily ignored than anything else.
Visible Call To Action Buttons
On the other hand, a big button that jumps out from plain text and URLs is much more likely to get clicked on and with many customers creates an almost compulsive need to click on it and see what the email sender is actually offering.
Tip: Make sure to ask your subscriber to “white-list” your email, so images and content shows up in the right folders and displays properly.
In addition to sticking out because of bright colors, the person sending the email can also label the button with action works that really push for the recipient to take action and to click through to see what deal is actually being offered to them.
A button will increase click through rates, and that means more customers in the sales funnel which bottom line means more sales.
Tip #9: Whet the consumers’ appetites with “behind the scenes” sneak peeks of programs, services, or products still in development (or finished and yet to be marketed and released)
This tip serves several major purposes.
This not only gets people excited for a specific product, program, or event that is coming up, but it creates that feeling with customers that they are insiders.
They’re being taken care of. They’re getting an opportunity that others might not be.
Create Exclusivity Matched To Your Demographic
Everyone likes the idea of being on the inside track of something important. In addition to all this, it’s always important to keep a company’s brand constantly in the minds of customers, and opening one of these campaigns will help a company do just that.
Assuming what is being sold or offered, this can even be in preparation for a special pre-sale that might offer discounts or give individuals the chance to get in early. We call this an “early-bird” access list.
This is a solid technique that constantly keeps people excited not only for what’s being offered, but also builds up the excitement for whatever is coming next.
When properly used, this strategy can go a long way towards encouraging a strong surge in sales from any email marketing list.
Tip #10: A company should re-establish its brand every single time
A brief bite-sized reminder and introduction of who the company is and what they do should be a small part of every email.
That description doesn’t have to be multiple paragraphs.
In fact, this technique works better when a person or company has a short and succinct description that gets to the heart of who they are and what they do.
Repeat Your Brand Position As You Add Value
This helps people who signed up impulsively to remember who a business is, sets that business brand apart from others in the same market who compete but don’t remind the customer/client of who they are, and gives another opportunity to put in a button.
Place a “Learn more about us” button at the end of that short description and even if the customer wasn’t primed to buy from the e-mail that particular time, they still might check out the company.
This not only continues to raise brand recognition and build trust with a customer who keeps seeing the business name, but studies have shown that those constant introductions and reminders also increase sales that come from the sent emails.
While there is no set limit to how succinct this description should be, a great rule of thumb is to try to create something at Tweet size or just a touch longer.
When working with 144 characters, a company or marketing department is forced to write, rewrite, and revise to find the most unique and to the point description possible that still sets that company apart from the competition.
Having the ability to pitch a company or product that tightly is a skill that will be useful in all facets of a company’s marketing plan.
Tip #11: Businesses or individuals offering multiple products or campaigns need to take advantage of email list services like Mailchimp or Aweber to keep these email addresses in separate groups or segments
This is extremely important, and allows for a business to more carefully and specifically craft effective emails to their list.
The more specifically crafted an email message gets, the more likely a client receiving it is to click through to a sales funnel and end up as a sale.
Each email campaign should be unique based on the product, service, or advertisement that managed to get a person to sign up as a potential client.
General messages and templates might sound like a great time saving idea, but the truth is that they are far less effective at getting the desired result. There was a reason a certain advertisement, product, or email worked.
By making sure every campaign has its own specific email follow-ups and sales funnels that are designed to effectively boost sales, the end results are going to better for businesses of all sizes.
Few companies only have one product being offered or one mentoring program. By giving each one individual attention, the overall success rates will begin to skyrocket.
Tip #12: Be willing to revise an email campaign or test a new one based on emails or online marketing from competition that has succeeded in producing a buy instinct
One of the major mistakes many marketers or company owners make is not keeping track of any online advertisements or marketing campaigns that cause them to take an action.
If an ad, an email, or any online marketing effort causes someone to take action then there’s a reason for that. Buying actions just don’t take place by chance.
A company or marketer should study any campaigns that convince them to sign up to be part of an email list, to buy an ebook, or to sign up for any type of a conference.
What was it that caused that buying action? Was it a great headline? A certain style of voice or story-telling? A good series of gripping e-mails?
Study anything that worked to cause an earlier action, and use what’s learned to carve out improved emails, autoresponders, and sales funnels to get an even better response when it comes to creating the type of call to action (CTA) that will lead to more sales from any online email marketing efforts.
Tip #13: Experiment with email message length
The right message length can make the difference between a sale and a frustrated recipient hitting the “Unsubscribe” button.
This is one of the most important parts of an email to test because there is no set rule of thumb. In some cases short and to the point emails will be perfect for a company’s given email audience.
Someone looking at another demographic or in a different industry might find that long form emails with plenty of text and plenty of storytelling are what actually get people to stay subscribed and to take action.
Even two businesses in the same industry may find completely different results when testing short, medium, and long emails against each other to see which ones convert.
Testing is critical here not only to get as many happy email subscribers as possible, but to keep those leads engaged and turn them into happy paying customers. The final sales numbers between similar campaigns where the main difference is length of email can be astounding.
Don’t automate email marketing without figuring out the ideal length of email ahead of time. Without this information it’s impossible to know how much money a company could be leaving on the table just because it refused to run one more thorough test.
Tip #14: Take the time to map out your email auto-responder sequence for each email campaign
The initial auto-responder for when a person signs up to join an email marketing list is one of the most important sequences that a company can plan out and execute.
This is not only going to be the first impression that is going to be made with a new prospective client, but this is also the first and best time to sell – when the iron is still hot and enough trust has been built for them to be in an action mindset instead of a defensive mindset.
There are several questions that need to be tackled such as:
- How long should the autoresponder sequence be?
- How long should the individual emails be within that autoresponder be?
- What is the main goal of each of the first (3, 5, 10) emails in the sequence?
- What order should those emails go in?
Asking for the sale too soon before establishing trust could kill a potential sale, but on the other hand if too much time is spent laying out who a company is and what they do without clear benefits or call to actions, the customer may cool off on buying.
This is an important balancing act, and one that will almost certainly work better if it is planned out and tested versus being randomly thrown together.
A planned out auto-responder that sets a solid framework while still being opened to some tweaking will always deliver more sales than one that is hastily thrown together without any planning or forethought.
Tip #15: Experiment with different sales funnel setups to see what gives you the maximum response rate and sales results
Sales funnels are relatively easy to set up, especially in conjunction with a good email marketing campaign, but that’s no reason to skimp on testing.
Even if one sales funnel has done well on multiple campaigns, it’s still worth tweaking and checking with each new email campaign to see if it is still top dog or if a company can find something that is even better.
Having a solid sales funnel is a great backup plan that a business can always fall back on, but even in the course of experimenting with different funnel setups it is always possible to find some tweaks that make that funnel even more effective for every campaign it is being used with.
Don’t assume one funnel will be the best for every campaign. Testing and tweaking constantly can be the difference between many tens of thousands of dollars or more depending on the campaign.
After all, if all that testing on the emails and email campaigns are going to be done, why funnel traffic to a sales funnel that hasn’t been equally as tested?
Tip #16: Study efficient workflow examples for perfect automation examples
Automating the process is a critical part of getting the most out of each campaign.
Whether this is done through tools or professional management is up to the individual running the email marketing and the specific situation he or she is in (or the department, once again depending on size and situation).
Once the proper testing has been done and the process is automated, many campaigns report a long term bump in sales.
There are several reasons this could be: from freeing up time for more and better testing, to being able to avoid mistakes and mess ups that are always going to occur when everything needs to be handled manually. Whatever the reasons once a campaign is tested and automated the results tend to get better and continue to speak for themselves.
This only happens with an efficient workflow.
There are hundreds of examples of work flows online to create this email marketing automation, so even a novice has the resources they need to get it set up and running the right way.
Tip #17: Always say thanks at the end of the email
Politeness isn’t dead. At least not if you want to make the most of each and every email in the auto-responder to get people into that sales funnel.
While saying thank you, or some form of that, might seem cheesy and outdated, it has a positive effect on the clients who choose to read all of a company’s emails.
A thanks not only ends on a positive note that sticks with a potential customer, but if they’re on the fence those genuine kind words at the end can help be that last little push that’s needed to get them to give into the CTA and buy.
A company should always end their emails to customers with a thanks, with the clear and explicit statement of appreciation. This will help inch those sales numbers up over time.
Tip #18: Blend in a social media presence with emails to get an even better return from both of these areas
A lot of noise is made about having a social media presence.
While this is important, it’s also an opportunity to connect with an email campaign.
Social media posts can encourage people who are interested to sign up for the email marketing program while emails being sent out should include social links at the bottom for those potential customers who like to engage on that level.
This is another chance to connect and can give a second avenue for selling.
This cross referencing increases the brand’s name and creates a more trustworthy image. That leads to more sales – often across both platforms.
TIP: You can (and should) change your outgoing email signatures (company wide too) to reflect a special campaign, product offer or event taking place during that day, week or month.
Tip #19: Coordinate social media advertising with email advertising and a brand’s consistent sales funnel to increase results
While it is possible now to coordinate social media advertising (like with Facebook ads that go to both the company Facebook page and an opt-in page for the auto-responder emails) with email advertising, this is an area that is only going to become more connected in the future and hopping on the advantages it already offers now is the way to go in order to stay ahead in online marketing.
This is especially effective when a company can advertise on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and other social media outlets for people to claim a coupon or a free credit…which they can claim only after signing up for the email list.
This funnels a large number of prospects into the beginning of the sales funnel process, exposing them to the first emails that come with the auto-responder.
Using social media advertising in this way for it to drive traffic directly into the email list, which drives that traffic into sales, helps guarantee a bigger return both from social media advertising and from the email marketing campaign.
Weaving all of these together makes sense for any business looking for the most profit possible through online marketing efforts.
Tip #20: Add cross selling offers & recommendations to your transaction emails
Just because a sale has been made doesn’t mean business ends with the final receipt.
The transaction email is more than just a receipt for record keeping purposes or a polite thank you note to let the customer know they’re appreciated.
Any business that isn’t looking for cross selling or cross recommendation opportunities is really missing out!
There’s no hotter prospect than a customer who has just proven he or she is willing to buy because they have just bought a product or service.
While that good will is there, while that faith and trust is there, and while that person is still looking for a solution, that’s the perfect time at the end of the transaction email to suggest other items or programs that would go hand in hand with what was just bought.
Amazon.com is the single best example of a retailer that uses this strategy. Every time a person buys something online, after the purchase the “Thank You” message on the screen isn’t alone.
At the bottom will be several items under the “People who bought this also bought…” bolded headline.
Future emails from Amazon.com will do the same thing.
They wouldn’t do this if it didn’t work and in fact marketers in all fields have seen how a great email marketing campaign can turn a lot of sales in from those transactional emails. But this only works if the offer is there.
Tip #21: Consider using a professional tool for automation
Make sure to do your research, and involve your executives to make sure you are enabling the organization with ACTUAL features and services you need. This becomes a budget discussion as well.
However, for fast growing businesses or for those companies finding they need help scaling to keep growing, there are multiple professional tools out there that allow sales funnels, squeeze pages, and email marketing campaigns to all be managed from the same place.
The more efficient a system is, the better the results are going to be. Taking some time to look and find out at least what the basic options are for automation tools can go a long way towards seeing if it’s the right move for a business to grow.
Or, maybe even slightly alter the way a company currently runs its campaigns to set itself up for such a shift in the future.
If using those tools to automate and smooth out the process mean more sales and more profits, then that’s definitely something that needs to be seriously considered.
As much as Internet Marketing changes, some marketing truths remain the same.
Email marketing is still one of the most effective methods for getting actual sales from online efforts.
While social media marketing changes constantly and the Pay Per Click (PPC) world offers as many stories of misses as hits, a company that invests in a high quality sales funnel to go with every email campaign will never find itself hurting for good online results.
Email marketing with a good sales funnel still gets great results, and many marketers swear it still gets stronger results when it comes to actual sales than anything else in their arsenal of strategies and tactics.
It’s not hard to get someone to like a page on Facebook or to “follow” someone on Twitter and never pay attention again, but a well-run email campaign can and will create direct action and bottom line results.
More people, more customers, more sales, and finally more profits.
That’s what a truly good email campaign and sales funnel has to offer.