How to Increase Your Sales & Grow Your List Using Email Marketing

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Stuart McKeown’s Picture

Stuart McKeown

We explore the best ways to drive revenue and sales from your email list.

The following four-step process gives you a direct framework you can apply today to get up and running with a campaign that will help you convert leads into customers.

  • Using an automated email campaign to drive conversions means you can make money while you sleep.
  • Educational editorial content works to increase your conversions by building trust. It is a great way to get customers from leads that would otherwise be passive readers.
  • Converting leads sourced from competitions, opt-in forms, your blog, social media or other landing pages into paying customers is a challenge all online businesses face.
  • Getting this funnel right can significantly lift your revenue and help you develop a series of channels to which you can drive new traffic and ultimately get conversions.

But where do you begin?

Learning what to send, when to send it and how to drive customer activity can take a lot of trial and error. Instead, follow this four-step process to get up and running with a successful automated campaign from the start.

At the end of this post you will have enough material to finalise an automated campaign that consists of 5-7 emails over 30 days that will help convert readers of your content or participants in your contents into paying customers. This campaign is the bridge!

Our Four-Step Guide

    How to Position Your Business

    The basic idea here is to: share your secrets and earn your customers’ trust.

    Sharing is the best form of online marketing there is.

    That doesn’t mean you won’t have a specific goal in mind and it certainly doesn’t mean there won’t be a call to action but you want to be sending emails that are all about the customer and helping them through their ‘pain’.

    A great, simple to understand example, comes from Clickfunnels.

    Their main landing page acts as a funnel that asks a few basic questions from users before offering up content specific to the user (and designed to get them to convert).

    Clickfunnels Landing Page

    Once you get past the first step, they ask for your email by incentivizing you to get your hands on a personalised case study:

    Once the user fills out their email they then get redirected to the case study:

    Clickfunnels Case Study

    Clickfunnels also sends this case study to your email, so you can take immediate action or followup later once you've digested the content.

    Not only that, they now have permission to continue marketing to you about the product that you've signed up to 🤩

    What Problem Does Your Business Solve?

    Before you continue this is an important question to answer about your business.

    What problem does your business solve? Can you break it down into simple terms for the user?

    Is it making it easy to setup landing pages? Is it making it easy to create online competitions? Is it teaching people to use Microsoft Word? Is it helping customers photograph their weddings?

    Slack Signup Form

    Slack doesn't position itself as a chat app. Instead they appeal to real businesses needs. When your team needs to:

    • Kick off a new project
    • Hire a new employee
    • Deploy some code
    • Review a sales contract
    • Finalize next year's budget
    • Measure an A/B test
    • Plan your next office opening

    You can do the same if you run an E-Commerce business, instead of selling the features of your products you can often position the benefits that they provide.

    Frankbody Products

    Frank Body for example positions their product as a body scrub but they also outline some of the benefits:

    • Natural
    • Vegan
    • Tackles scars, breakouts and marks
    • Keeps skin soft

    You, better than anyone, should understand the problems your business solves. Laying out the problem(s) loud and clear for your readers makes it easy for them to appreciate the pain they are currently experiencing.

    Check out our guide on how to drive growth by putting your product first

    Tell Them Your Secrets

    This sounds crazy – but tell your customers how to do your job. Give them everything they need to do it themselves.

    Tell them how to use a Canon 5D and a tripod to take crisp photos, tell them how to host their own landing page and code the raw HTML, tell them how to use your product in the most powerful way.

    This strategy works well for us here at Gleam, we heavily promote a guide on 50+ ways to grow your business. The idea is that we open up the user to the potential possibilities of using our app for their business. It's like showing a swiss army knife to someone closed then opening it up and showing it to them again.

    50 Ways to Use Gleam

    By doing this you’ll make the customer see the value in your business. After all – your business makes their life easier, right? By understanding the problem they see value in the solution: and that’s when they pay you! This may sound counter intuitive but by showing a customer how they can solve the problems themselves you will usually show them how difficult it really is and why your business will make their life easier.

    This is true for all industries. It works well for online software and also for E-Commerce.

    Beardbrand masterly uses editorial YouTube content to educate their audience on how to use their product and keep their beard in trim. Some of these videos have over 2M+ views, which is an incredible marketing engine for their products.

    They funnel this traffic through to a few email collection points on their store which sends you a 10 day grooming bootcamp:

    • Day 1: Tips to start growing and keep growing in style
    • Day 2: All about beard oil
    • Day 3: I hope y'all are ready for a good brush & blow
    • Day 4: Do you know how to find your nextline?
    • Day 5: Thick & thin
    • Day 6: Texture is where it's at
    • Day 7: What you can do about thinning hair
    • Day 8: Tips for healthy skin
    • Day 9: Taking care of your tattoos
    • Day 10: You made it!

    Day 10 includes a special reward coupon code for you to use in their store:

    See how Beardbrand leverages our Competitions app to grow their email list

    Email Frequency: How Often Should You Send?

    The basic rule here is: two-to-three emails per week, for four weeks.

    From my experience, E-Commerce websites can get away with sending more emails than other types of businesses.

    • Sale emails
    • Coupons and discount codes
    • New stock/product arrivals
    • Birthday emails
    • Events or times of the year (i.e. Black Friday sales)

    Focusing specifically on an automated educational campaign, you should use a structure like the following:

    1. Welcome to the course, provide a basic overview of what is to come and promise some amazing content in the next email (to get them waiting).
    2. Hit them with some honest, powerful help for their problem.
    3. Send more tips that build on point two.
    4. Take a new angle on their problem. (Also offer a higher priced deal in this email).
    5. Go more in-depth on the core of their issues.
    6. Give away your BEST secrets. Tell them course is concluding.
    7. Conclude your content (and offer lower priced deal). Also provide a CTA to re-opt-in to another campaign or get in touch directly.

    You might be thinking: isn’t seven emails in 30 days just way too much?

    Wrong! If done correctly, a series like this can really lift your conversion rates. Take these statistics from @kareem.

    He kindly documented the success of his own educational email campaign. As you can see the click rates lift from a (good starting point) of 5.8% and ultimately reach 25%.

    To mirror this kind of success you should ensure that you build momentum. One trick to do this is to use the words ‘Part X’ in the subject line. Here’s an example from GetResponse that does just that:

    Further to this, don’t hesitate to mention the previous or next email in a series in the copy of an email. Write copy that gets your readers waiting for the next instalment.

    How to Grow Your List

    At this point you may be wondering: how can I get leads to specifically sign up for this particular automated email campaign.

    Most businesses collect leads for specific purposes: for a competition, as part of a blog subscription, via a partnership. Usually there is a specific purpose to these funnels and sending your customers emails out of the blue is the wrong thing to do.

    Here are a few ways you can cross-pollinate subscribers to your new educational email list:

    Build a Landing Page

    One of the best ways to collect emails is to build a very simply landing page that displays the features an benefits of using your product or service.

    You can expand on this by building dedicated landing pages for all your specific types of target markets. Here's an example we've built for growing your email list on Mailchimp.

    Intercom have very simple but effective landing pages for each app & also the solutions that customers are searching for:

    Intercom Landing Page

    Remember that customers aren't only searching for features, they are searching for solutions to specific problems too

    Basic Email Popup Forms

    Even easier to setup than a landing page, opt-in forms allow you a quick way to overlay signup forms over your existing landing pages or content.

    Adding an incentive like a coupon code or a download can increase your opt-in rates significantly too.

    modclothoptin

    There's thousands of ways to implement this technique, we've broken down the most popular in our E-Commerce Opt-in Form Guide.

    A more advanced method here is to create an Exit Intent signup form that triggers when a user is about to leave your page

    Social Proof on Signup Forms

    When a user does progress past your landing page it's important to show a human side to your company - you still have time and space to tell them great things about what you do & show off the companies you work with.

    starredlandingpage

    Content Upgrades

    Content Upgrades are a simple opt-in form embedded into existing content that allows you to upgrade the user beyond the current content into an advanced course or some bonus information.

    These can be incredibly effective if the bonus relates to the content.

    Incentivize Your Customers

    Adore Me is a lingerie brand that offers a quiz to their customers that helps them find out the best size for them.

    This quiz also doubles-up as a way to capture their email address and also upsell the user with offers along the way.

    Adore Me Quiz

    This tactic can be applied in popup form, as part of a competition, on your homepage or anywhere else you are collecting leads.

    Adore Me Popup

    See how Adore Me uses competitions to grow their email list and funnel leads into their sales funnel.

    Retarget With Display Ads

    Display retargeting is still relatively cheap. Using tools like AdRoll it is easy to retarget customers that visit a particular page, or series of pages on your website or that click one of your ads.

    I highlight recommend this approach and the ads don’t have to be fancy. Here’s an example:

    Using display remarketing gives you the chance to use standard conversion optimisation strategies for your display ads and also creates an entire new way to recycle leads and drive otherwise bounced traffic into a funnel that converts!

    Use Your Email Signature

    If you are collecting leads already then there is no doubt you are emailing them at least a few times. Using your signature effectively can be a great way to target customers and cross-pollinate a list.

    For example we link to our main growth guide in every Gleam email signature:

    If you're emailing 100 people everyday then that's an extra 100 people potentially seeing your course (customers or not).

    This technique was crucial for us to get the first 100 customers for our SaaS business

    How To Ask For Conversions

    The final piece of the puzzle is getting conversions. So far we’ve written some great educational copy, setup an automated series of emails that will work while you sleep and are successfully driving our leads to this email campaign.

    Redirect to Signup Page

    One of the best times to ask for a conversion can be during the signup phase of the process, Shopify does a great job of sending users to a special post signup landing page after they opt-in to any sort of content or course on their blog.

    Shopify Landing Page

    Having a Strong CTA in Emails

    With the right call to action you can drive conversion rates from campaigns as high as 10-15%. This might be for a free trial, it might be for direct purchases or it might be for some other goal.

    Following the formula outlined in part two, the usual place to directly offer your products is mid-way through the campaign and again at the end.

    GetReponse uses a strong but simple CTA to get you to join a webinar:

    Two things to note here:

    1. Although this is all about education, having a clear CTA in at least two emails will dramatically lift the success of this sort of campaign.
    2. You will also have to think about the order of your emails to drive the best results. Does sending a webinar invite right away perform better than some educational emails first?

    Some brainstorming:

    • If you were an E-Commerce store and offered a course on 8 steps to dressing better you should offer a reasonably expensive product in email number four. You could then follow up with a cheaper product (say 30% cheaper) in the final email. You could of course experiment with more offers throughout!
    • A software company offering a course on How to use Twitter like a pro should mention their mid-tier pricing option in email number four and sell it’s benefits. They should then follow up and offer their cheapest tier on the final email.
    • A marketplace offering a course on How to outsource design to save time and money should offer their mid-priced design option in email four and the cheapest in email number three.

    Here’s another example, this time from Jane. It’s much more direct and designed to get the user to shop during a specific season.

    Use Coupon Codes & Offers

    Koala & Treatwell send a series of coupons throughout the year to help get customers to come back and buy.

    They also send reminders when the code is about to expire to give customers a sense of urgency.

    This idea of selling in amongst great educational content is a winner and works across all industries. Use your own coupon code in amongst educational newsletters and watch the results!

    Bonus: Use Emojis in Subject Lines

    A common technique to get your mails noticed by more users is to use 🍌🏖💋 in your subject lines.

    Give this a try to see how it impacts your open rates 👨‍⚕️

    Conclusion

    So, THAT is how you setup an automated campaign that converts!

    After reading this guide you should have a good idea of how to structure an automated campaign, what to write in the campaign and how to insert calls to action that will actually drive conversions. By funneling traffic and leads into this campaign you will most certainly lift the conversion rates for your business.

    What do you think? What other ideas have you see that work or would like to test? Let us know in the comments below!

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