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How to use Email Marketing to Grow Sales

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Peter Dickinson


Okay, how to use email marketing to grow your sales. So we believe that email is still an effective marketing tool. 

It is harder if you’re emailing consumers, because of the GDPR laws, but we’ll talk you through that in a minute. And we’ll show you how you can use it as an effective tool to help you retain and grow your customers and grow your sales. 

So why is it important? Well, I mean, this messaging rule seven came out from the film industry in the 1920s. But we strongly believe that the power of seven is still very effective. So you have social media, so people see the posts online and so forth. Then hopefully they click on the website. Hopefully they find your website through Google. 

And then we’ve covered a few weeks ago, but Facebook has changed the way or Apple has changed the way that information can be tracked through apps. And this has really hurt Facebook advertising. 

What we can do is if somebody lands on your website and accept your cookies, and next time they go onto Facebook, then an advert for your product or service will appear in their feed, because they’ve shown an interesting website. That’s remarketing. So there are various technical tricks you can do to alert people and to get your brand appearing in the right places. 

You can have dedicated landing pages so that when you, for example, get somebody from an Instagram advert, you wouldn’t take them to your homepage. You take them to a specific page, and it wouldn’t have the navigation so they’re not distracted and not going to go through the site. They’re just going to focus on that page. That’s called a landing page. And they’re designed to convert a visitor to some form of action.

You can then approach people on LinkedIn. And, you know, I’ve had quite a few people approached me via Instagram as well. We’ve talked about social selling previously. And then Facebook groups, less LinkedIn groups (I’ll probably change that to net hub at some point, when that really takes off). Because Facebook at the moment really is the only group that works, I’ve not seeing a LinkedIn group work very well. 

And then, of course, email marketing. You’re in control of that and you can say when you’re going to send messages out. And that’s a way of keeping in touch. 

So what’s the purpose of email marketing? Well, it could just simply raise brand awareness for those companies where they’ve already got great sales funnels, and so forth. So you might send something out for that. If you’re a b2b business, if you’re a distributor or something like that, then newsletters or promotional letters can be really great. 

So we’ve got William here with his wine business, he would be, with opt in and with permission, he would be sending out the latest wine of the month, kind of newsletter. 

You can use it to drive traffic to events, so we manage all our stuff through email to get you guys looking at it, we also use LinkedIn, and the LinkedIn events as well. So hence the live streaming. 

But it can be used for great things, stock clearance, any kind of sending out coupons or discounts. I use a specialist proteins from a company called My Protein, and quite often they’ll send a discount and then that prompts me to buy. 

If you’ve got an E commerce site, always have an abandoned cart email set up. So that

When somebody gets distracted and forgets about a purchase, a few hours later or maximum 24 hours lantern they get an email saying hey, you’ve forgotten your order, do you want to complete? And that will give you an uplift of about 5% to 7%. So you know, for the sake of sending an email out for abandoned cart, it’s there to help. 

And then obviously reminders. So for example, you’ll have had a reminder, hopefully an hour before, and you’ve had a reminder, a day before this event. If you are running events, you do need to send reminders. People are busy, and people have got busy emails, and so forth. 

We’re working with a software house that they’re going to launch a piece of software for recruitment industry. And it’s going to be quite a long sale, it’s gonna be quite a long lead time. So we’ll set up a series of emails so that every month or every week or whatever, whatever the client decides, they’re going to get another article on or maybe a link to a video saying, “Hey, we thought about this”, “we thought about that”, “do you think this?”. 

A lot of the time, especially launching new things, we do a lot of launches of high growth companies, not quite sure how we’ve ended up in a little niche. But it’s all about, you know, when there is an educational sale, you do need to use email, maybe to give them a little course. So you could do a series of you know, once your audience has signed up and opted in, because that might be important when you sell to consumers. 

For example, as a wine seller, you might send them a series of emails on how to smell wine, how to judge its quality, what the different grapes do and so forth. And since you watch some of the food programmes – there’s one on Countryfile at the weekend where there was tasting beers with different types of foods – So you could do a quiz or you could do an educational series and so forth. 

So, quite a few uses, which I don’t think everybody is quite aware of. And so it’s quite spectacular when you watch an email campaign go out, especially a big one, most of the emails are opened in the first hour. If you’re looking at open rates, if you’re getting above 18%, that’s great. Below 18%, you’ve got some work to do. 

When we email out the reminder, for these events, do rates go up to 50% or 60%, which is what you’d hope if you’re reminding people to come to an event. And, you know, 73% of millennials prefer email for business, although there is messaging – we’ve got slack now for quick messages inside our business. I’ve got a phone, a desktop, three screens, and, you know, to identify important messages, and we use WhatsApp for clients and so forth. But sometimes it’s more important to stick it on an email. Because don’t forget, emails are legally binding. So if you say you’re going to do something in an email, the receiving party can treat that as a legal agreement. So they do hold importance legally. 

So a few fundamentals. So email marketing systems, cloud-based systems, allow your store email addresses and send newsletters from them. I have seen this recently. But please, please, please do not use Outlook for your email marketing. It is not designed to work that way. And you’ll get yourself put in a spam box and it’s very difficult to get back out of it.

So examples systems. There are platforms like MailChimp – we use Active Campaign and Sendinblue. We have come across mailer light, it’s not the easiest package, but it does have quite good open rates. But it does also require technical skills to be able to use it. And Constant Contact is an old favourite with quite a few people. And a new up and coming one is Popcorn email. 

There are plenty more we use for Vision2Success, we use Sendinblue, and we’ve got clients using MailChimp, and more sophisticated system is Active Campaign which is probably the best, but it’s also really expensive. And there’s a whole bunch of other more expensive ones on top of that. So these are the budget end and free-range.

Your email marketing activities need to fit into your marketing ecosystem, we use a thing called Creately which is free. For something of this size, we obviously have the paid-for version because we’re doing these all the time. But it is worth working out what is the journey you expect your customers to go on? How is everything linked together? And if you’re doing an online shop, it’s certainly worth doing this. Or if you’ve got more sophisticated sells. 

So for example, the software house that we’re helping to promote a piece of software is a similar complicated diagram. Because you need to think about all the moving parts. We did cover this, at the beginning of these workshops. This had become super important, because you need to know what you’re going to email, when you’re going to email, who you’re going to email it to, how you’re going to keep them up to date, and so forth. And you’ve got to make sure you’ve got content that they’re happy to read. 

So going on to the legal side of things. We’ve got GDPR general data protection regulations. And this has to do with the process, not to do and to do with emailing out. It’s the processing of that email database. So if you are dealing with consumers, you have no choice you must get consent to process that data. 

If you are dealing with businesses, I’ve read the regulations as far as I can see, legitimate interest can be used for processing data for email marketing, because you’re not going to impact anybody’s privacy and you’re not going to impact anything to do with them. And so the risk of of any impact is minimal. All they have to do is, if they don’t like it, unsubscribe, and delete your email. 

Who you can send it to, is given by the Privacy and Electronic Communications, and if it’s a consumer, you must have consent to process it and must have consent to email it to them. If you’re using a work address, you can use a soft opt-out. And that’s where you have an unsubscribe. Ideally, unsubscribe should be at the top of the email and the bottom of the email. 

We go back to our friend, the buyer persona, we’ve talked about this a few times now, it is absolutely supercritical that you really have a good clear picture of your customer. And if you’ve got several buyer personas, that’s fine. If you’re down to three or more, I’d be worried that you’re not particularly focused on your marketing and your marketing or being more shotgun rather than a rifle shot. You need to be clear on who you’re selling to, I’m not going to go through this in detail, because we did this last time. 

The free app now does have all of this in it. So we still have the template which you can download, and after Easter, we’ll be properly promoting it and showing you how to use the Vision2Success app, which will have all of this in it with the prompts and things. And I’m just putting together the training that we’ll be going through. So you must be able to raise a sharp, clear idea of who you’re selling to. 

So going back to our friend the marketing funnel, which we covered early on in the web series. So you can still buy lists for b2b, you’ve got to be a bit careful with the quality of those lists. And if you’re buying a completely cold list, then that’s definitely awareness.

You then need some kind of lead magnet. This is about how are you going to get them to interact with you? So with a newsletter, it could be education, you know, a series of

education emails, we’ve written ebooks which kind of worked, but not great. We prefer the free training route for any services type organisation. These days, everybody’s saying, Yes, we’re meeting face to face, but to be honest, for educational stuff, I’d stick to zoom. 

If we now refer back to all the fuel prices, it doesn’t make sense to jump in the car and drive somewhere. You know, we’re sat here. We’ve not had to sort out a room, sort out food that sort of thing. If you’re trying to get people physically into the place, you have to start ringing them up, all of it’s pretty inefficient. And that’s why I think LinkedIn live events are becoming more popular. And obviously, you don’t use email to get people into that. But for a workshop or zoom, or so forth, it’s best to use email. 

If you’re, if you’re selling something, coupons, and discount codes are great. Just be aware of them because I buy some powders from My Protein, and now I just wait for their coupon to come around. But I still buy from them. So they retain my business, but it’s not as profitable as before. So just be careful how you use it. And notice, initially, the discounts are like 20 30%. And but sometimes if I wait, I’ll get 45% off, and then I’ll buy it in bulk.

So that’s one of the reasons why I did the Vision2Success app. Yes, it will be free, there will be a cost to us running it. But then, you know, there’ll be those queries and so forth about, how do we do this? How do we do that? Oh, right. Okay. Do you need paid for support? Yes, we’re happy to give you support and so forth. There may be things you can do there, but developing a piece of cloud-based software is not trivial, unfortunately, although there are more and more tools to do that. 

We talked about the abandoned cart for your conversion stuff. And then educational newsletters for retention. And then if you’re selling to consumers or in any sort of distribution business, you’ll use offers for that. 

So some marketing basics. When you’re writing an email, you’ve got to attract their attention. You can follow the AIDA layout, get their attention, develop their interest, develop that desire, and then round it off with a call to action. This is very important. There’s no point in sending an email out if there’s no call to action, you’re wasting everybody’s time there. The call to action could be to read an article, for example.

As for the layout, more and more, we’re going away from heavy use of graphics to more words, and I still like to have quite a big button in the middle for the call to action. Like Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the words ‘don’t panic’ is a clear call to action there. So you’re making it clear what you want them to do. But less is more when it comes to graphics, at least in my view on newsletters. 

And write in a way that specifically caters to your target market. This is where the buyer persona comes in, because you must write to that buyer persona. If you’ve got several buyer personas, you must segment your database. They all have different ways of doing it, so I can’t go into detail there. I think Mailchimp uses tags, SendinBlue uses meta lists, but they all have pretty much the same effect. 

So when you’re building your databases, make sure that everybody in the segment or in the list has the same buying characteristics. Make sure that you put in how you got their details, make sure they can see how to unsubscribe. I put all our contact details in so people can get to us in any way shape or form. It just shows you it’s a legitimate email, you know, not going to try and sell Viagra. 

And some people then say, well, what headline do I write? So there’s a really old piece of software called kickass headline generator, which you can find if you type it into Google. It gives you all sorts of different ways to write engaging email headlines. I’m a big fan of how-tos, we’re going to change the titles of all the new workshops to be “how-to”s because that seems to be still very popular. 

In searches on YouTube, they tend to be around how do I do something. We live in the YouTube generation and I’ve use YouTube quite a few times now to solve problems to get an understanding of things. And a couple of clients now have been looking at how to produce low cost how-to videos for clients. 

If you go to ao.com, for example, and look for things and you click on the product, generally there’s a video with it as to what it looks like. So it’s becoming more and more part of the mainstream, doing videos. 

So there’s also Active Campaign, which is one of the things you use that will also help generate subject lines as well. So some of the things that you need to put on the button. What you’re trying to do is create a frictionless process for your audience to read it and go right okay. 

So there are ones like Get Started, subscribe, join. It needs to be really clear on what you want your audience to do. If it just clicks here, why am I clicking here? What is it? What’s in it for me? Everything you do has to answer that question. What’s in it for me? So if they’re reading it and you want them to get started, great, you know, that’s what they’ll do or find or subscribe or whatever. And sometimes it subscribes for the latest new, join free for a month, get my free book, so it needs the benefits written into it. 

This came from HubSpot. They’ve now got their act together on CRMs. We’ve not done CRM in this process, but we will doing CRMs in future webinars, future workshops. We’ve got the latest HubSpot CRM, which is free. And got a meeting with HubSpot later on today to look at the paid-for version. But it’s incredible what they can do.

And so we talked about how quickly it all happens. So here, you can see that within the first few hours, all the actions are being done. So it used to be that you posted out a mailshot and it was two weeks before you got you could say reasonably whether you’re going to get the most out of that, you’ll know within 24 hours with an email shot, and probably within less than that time. First sort of four or five hours and you’ll know how effective it’s been. 

It will tell you what people have clicked on, where they’ve clicked on so forth. So when you’re trying to understand how well your emails did, then you should be able to go into pretty much any email system these days. And it will give you what’s called a heat map of a heat map is just basically saying, Where is it that people click, you can do heat that workshop websites as well that’s, that’s more technical, this should be out of the box. You can look at what’s working, what’s not working. 

And this is out of popcorn, I love what Simon’s done here, the owner. And whereas in all the systems, you can kind of go look at the amount of time they’ve opened things and so forth. And the more sophisticated systems do it. Popcorn is quite cheap. And so you can click on those, and then what you can then do is maybe ring them up or give them a personal email or, you know, you can sort of maybe look at the look at them on LinkedIn. 

We’re currently playing around with a system called Candi, which we’ll again do in a workshop in the future, where we can actually know who’s been on the site, or the system takes a best guess of who’s to be on the site. So then, you know, we can look at them. And then emails, people say, Oh, would you like to one to one or whatever. And you can do the same. 

So the best time to send is one of the questions we get asked. So it’s all about your audience. What is it? And again, back to this buyer persona, do we have a really clear understanding of what your customers and what’s their likely daily routine. So from mailer light, they say do weekdays for higher open rates and click to click rates, weekends if you don’t want their undivided attention. 

Most people with families etc have got plenty of things going on. But we do notice with the business world that for the first few hours on Saturday and Sunday, the business world tends to try and catch up. So Sunday morning, sending an email shot up on Sunday morning at nine o’clock to CEOs and MDs and business owners is actually probably quite productive. The quality of the content is what’s important. And so don’t sweat the timing too much. I wouldn’t suggest Monday mornings are a great time to send a mailshot out. 

And so there’s a lot of stuff you have to do to avoid ending up in junk and the system’s not perfect. So use a recognisable sender name, use a reliable system say like MailChimp or Active Campaign. Always test your emails and send them to somebody else to read – Not yourself – it’s very difficult to proofread your own writing. And keep those emails as clean as possible. What’s known as hard bounces are where it can’t actually deliver it to the email address, however, the systems can now clean themselves up so you shouldn’t get any hard bounces. And respect your unsubscribes – don’t attempt to put them into another system that subscribes them again. 

Take care of subject lines – these are super important That’s sometimes the only thing that they’ll see. I have seen people send out mailshots with capital letters. Please don’t do that. Stay away from trigger words like free in subject lines. We use the word complimentary, which seems to be okay. You may be meeting these people in person. So don’t make promises that you can’t keep to. 

Make sure you look after the words, make sure it flows, make sure you follow the AIDA. Do not embed forms and do not include attachments. You all will know this, but you should never open an attachment from somebody you don’t know or someone you do know, but it’s been sent a bit strange or a bit weirdly, which could mean that the account has been hacked. 

Try and think about what the reader will respond to. Make sure if you have got images, that they’re displayed correctly, make sure you use correct spelling and grammar – Grammarly is a fantastic tool for this, there’s a free version of it, which you can use to check spelling and grammar before getting somebody to proofread it. And make it easy to subscribe. You want people to open and read your stuff. And as long as your unsubscribes are below 1% because you produce the quality output you’ll be fine. If you get more than 1% unsubscribe rates, generally, you’re going to have the email system company emailing you asking you why your open rates are so low. 

So building an email list, you can buy a list for b2b still. Contact details through a form landing page, lead magnet on your website. And customers who have opted into your marketing. A lot harder for consumers, so discount coupons or discounts on your online site in exchange for an email. 

Then you’ve got customers who have opted into your email. So you always ask at the checkout on an E-commerce site whether you can email them. You can’t just have it pre-ticked like used to be able to do, they’ve got to actually physically tick it. But if you’re good enough people will do it. 

Competitions can be a good way to get emails, and I strongly recommend that any use the email system to record because as part of GDPR, you have to record that they’ve given you permission. So it’s better to do it through a system, and then the system can keep on top of it. 

Okay, so you need to email. So you got to think of the playbook – what you’re going to do, research what your audience needs to know about, write an article about it, build a database, choose a system and then write your first email newsletter, then choose a suitable time and date for your audience. And then check the stats and follow up if anybody opens more than two and three. 

Are you selling b2b? You know, those are probably quite hot targets for you. So then that’s where you’d put them into your CRM. And then you’d maybe give them a call or send a personal email and so forth. You could consider resending an email to contacts that have left it unopened. The open rates will fall when you do this because they didn’t open the first time but they may open it a second time.

But you’ve got to be careful you don’t damage your reputation by sending email shots with low open rates. My view these days is to think about having a look at the wording and doing a completely new email, rather than just resending an unopened one. 

So let’s look at some techniques. We talked about videos, learning quizzes, we did play around with a thing called lead quizzes. Discount coupons do work, problem-solving, ebooks, and so forth. 

Okay, so we talked about landing pages. So you can use social media to drive traffic. Ideally, the landing page needs to be on your website, you could add a video on here. You need a GDPR compliant signup form. If you’re offering something like an e-book, they still need to be able to get the e-book even if they’ve not agreed to your marketing. And then you use Google or Facebook ads to drive traffic to the page if it’s a particular campaign. Or you can use email marketing to drive traffic to the page. 

So this is a landing page on our website for the first ebook that we wrote. And it’s got lots of information in it to encourage people to sign up. This will disappear. And once we’ve got the physical book, we’ll probably change this to a landing page for buying the book. Because 15 quid was about 15,000 words, the new book 60,000 words, we’ve really substantially ramped it up.

Eventbrite can be a really useful tool. So I’m going to a curry night up in Blackburn with the guys up there. So first of all, Nippin has talked to everybody, but then he’s then sent an email out. 

Sometimes if you’ve got something that’s high value, you can charge for it. So I think William, when we were talking to William about whether you could do workshops and stuff, well, you could use Eventbrite, and then charge a ticket, and then they will then get the email from that. So that can be another way, especially if it’s high value, highly educational. We do these workshops free because we want to get to a bigger audience as possible. 

We have done these as paid in the past. And this is where we did them as a paid workshop. And we use a thing called Tixzoom, which then collected the tickets and the money. Tixzoom is very good for selling zoom type presentations. But Eventbrite is better, I think, for physical type of events, where you’re meeting in person. So there are a couple of ways you can do that. This has been through many changes, but we do have a free online course. And you can drive it through free online learning – this is on the teachable platform.

Again, if you’re doing emails out and you don’t want people ringing Oh, can we have a meeting etc, and you go play email ping pong, just use Calendly. That’s being used more and more. I think as people get used to it, they’ll go right. Okay. Yeah, let’s do that. That’s good. I don’t enough have time to really go through much detail email automation, but this is in Active Campaign. If somebody does something that sends an email out. 

Are there any alternatives to Calendly? There are. I have seen one or two out there. I think if you type into Google Calendly competitors, all the all that sort of top one, so come out. We like Calendly, it works, but there are one or two others that are regular use. 

I would only advise doing email automation when you know those people are interested in what you want. I managed to break our email system by sending cold emails through the automated system, it’s better to have people who have actually shown an interest in your product because you have to keep your open rates high. So this is a typical summary in Active Campaign. The number of open rates this morning had 25%, 1% click-through, nobody forwarded, and we had less than 1% unsubscribes. So that’s from a newsletter that we send out each month to our regular customers. 

This is a measurement in Sendible, the same sort of thing,  so we’ve got 5000 contacts, 1200 opened. And so the rates are a bit lower here. But you know, those are pretty typical of what we see on customer’s email systems unless it’s a reminder for an event, and then those numbers go through the roof. 

So bringing it together. Think about the customer, you really must think about a customer. Write educational articles, case studies help you solve people’s problems can be great as well, we do a mailshot for one client, where it’s quite techie. So we describe the service on one side, and we have a case study of how it’s fixing these problems. So you can link the two together. 

What free resources can you develop? If you’ve got an E-commerce shop, then discount codes generally are the route to do that. Then looking for MailChimp, or something more sophisticated. Always start simple and learn, and start with pilot batches rather than just going for it. And then just think about how you’re going to get your data, and then what you’re going to measure. 

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