Email marketing is a crapshoot.
You send mass emails hoping that some small percentage of people will open, click and convert. The bigger your list, the less you know and the more you're forced to guess about what to say and when to send.
But what if you flipped the paradigm by sending email as a result of behavior? Instead of begging uninterested users to take action, you're moving already-interested people through a buying cycle.
Promotional email isn't dead, but data-driven behavioral email is proving to be more effective. In this new world of email marketing, personalization, dynamic segmentation and data reign supreme.
That future is here, it's just not evenly distributed. And that is a huge opportunity for you. Here are five ways any business can take advantage of behavioral email.
1. Send the best welcome email in town
In the time it takes to create and send one promotional email, you could craft the perfect welcome email. Welcome emails are an essential part of the onboarding process for every business. A great welcome email will impact on your activation rate, helping you turn subscribers into avid readers, free trial users into raving fans and new customers into lifelong partners.
The goal of a welcome email is to guide users to the next step. Ask yourself, "How can I show the value of my product/service/information as quickly as possible?"
If you're Twitter, that means encouraging users to complete their profile. If you're Amazon, it means driving new customers to your most profitable products. And if you're Basecamp, it means getting people logged in so the product can sell itself.
Figure out which action gets people hooked, and build your welcome email around it.
2. Don't let anyone leave without asking, 'Why?'
Imagine someone walks into a store, picks up an item off the shelf to check it out but leaves without buying anything. A good salesperson would never let this opportunity slip away without at least asking a few questions.
Whether you have an e-commerce store, a SaaS product or a mobile app, people are kicking the tires all the time without converting. Don't let them leave without 1) incentivizing them and 2) asking for feedback. Here are a few ideas:
- Send abandoned shopping cart emails. According to Baymard, 68.07 percent of all carts are abandoned. Collect email addresses early in the checkout process so you can ping people who abandon
- Send "Are you still interested?" emails. Airbnb is great at this. When you a view a listing but don't book, you get an email the next day asking if you're still interested
- Send inactivity emails. If someone has signed up for your product or service, most of the really hard work is done. If a user is inactive, send them a little reminder. RunKeeper and Mint.com have this down pat
- Ask for feedback when people are really done. This information will be incredibly valuable for your business development
Related: 4 Examples of Bad Email Manners
3. Renew, renew, renew
Email is the perfect way to turn expected problems into simple solutions.
For example, if you sell dog food, trigger an email reminding customers to replenish their supply at a regular interval. Try to time the arrival of the email with the customer's realization that it's time to buy more dog food. It's a problem you can easily solve over and over again.
If you have a subscription-based product, renewal emails are the lifeblood of your residual sales. Remind users how much of a pain it will be to switch to another product and provide an easy path to renewal.
Timeliness will drive more revenue than a catchy subject line or a beautifully designed email. Be there when you're needed.
4. Kill it with email receipts
Transactional emails are opened at up to eight times the rate of promotional email according to Experian. Considering that most transactional emails lack any marketing value, this is a massive opportunity.
Receipts are a great place to start. If you're sending someone a receipt, it means the customer has already made a purchase. You've overcome a number of challenges to complete a sale. The receipt is an opportunity to strengthen your relationship with the customer.
You can't sell directly in a receipt, but here are few ways to make them more valuable:
- Include a referral code
- Offer a discount on the next purchase
- Ask customers to follow you on Twitter, Facebook or your blog
Email marketing can drive real revenue for your business, but you've got to think bigger than blasts. Behavioral email is key to unlocking the hidden value in your customers and users.