Email marketing is the stalwart of modern communication. Reliable, scalable, and a direct channel to communicate with your audience, it is the workhorse that isn’t going anywhere. Modern naysayers and technologists will always have the latest communication gizmo that is going to kill email….but like the Terminator, it’s not going anywhere. However, there is one challenge that does remain constant: creating better email campaigns.
In this post, I want to outline 5 strategies for maintaining and improving your email engagement so that you can stand out from your competitors and continue building your business.
There are many marketers that do not respect their customer’s inbox, and as a result they bombard an audience with non-stop emails. Act now! Limited offer! Buy buy buy! It’s a good thing you don’t send a deluge of emails like that. However, you bear the negative consequences of such poor marketing, which is email fatigue.
Open rates are declining now as a readers are less likely to open marketing-related emails. Moreover, if they do open your email, it is imperative to add value and relevant content before they mentally add you to the “do not open” list.
Here are the results of a 2016 study by Smart Insights that shows key email metrics by industry:
Your email efficacy will depend on your niche, geography, and variables like Subject Line and content, but it is helpful to see global benchmarks for other email marketing campaigns.
Emails and The Amazon Seller
The email game is slightly different if you are an Amazon seller. You can reach out to your customers via Amazon’s email service, so your recipient has not necessarily opted in to your email. Therefore you have to be especially captivating and engaging from the outset in order to start off on the right foot!
Why Is Engagement Important for Amazon Sellers?
Email marketers like to think of their customer relationship as a long continuum: from awareness, to interest, to purchase decision to post-sale. Depending on the sales cycle, this continuum could be a few days to a year or longer. As an Amazon seller, the time frame is short and sweet: you have already sold your product, and now you have one goal with your email followup: a product review.
Therefore, you need to have a sniper-like mentality with each email you send. Be precise, have a specific goal, and don’t overshoot (ie don’t send too many emails)!
So here are five ways that I have found to be effective in adding value with your follow up email campaigns.
1. Test Subject Lines
Subject lines are the most important factor to affect your open rates. As a general rule, you want something short, punchy, and relevant to your readers.
As an Amazon seller, because you only have a few chances to follow up to get a review, each email that is sent to your customers is critical. Therefore you want to test different subject lines to ensure that you have identified an optimal subject line that gives you the best open rates possible. I
Subject lines that are direct, relevant to their needs, engaging, are going to increase the likelihood of an open. This is where it is vital to have a deeper understanding of your customer personas, so you can tap in to their needs and desires.
Let’s take my private label product as an example: my bamboo marshmallow sticks, called Jungle Stix. A bit of background on the product: it is a very seasonal product (summer and fall are peak seasons), it is sturdier and longer than competitive alternatives, and it is a great product for family and social events around the campfire.
Therefore I would want to play up these qualities, while considering what the mentality of the reader is who just purchased these sticks.
If you send an email and it goes unopened, that is basically a missed shot-on-goal, to use a soccer analogy. If they don’t open your email, they are likely not going to act on your request to leave a product review.
2. Test send times
There are some general best practices about send times and what times yield the best open rates. This data is based on a bunch of emails to people who are not your customer or niche, so you will need to find out what works for your own customer base.
With Jump Send, you have the ability to time your email delivery based on when the customer purchased your product. Moreover, you can specify based on when the order has been confirmed, shipped, or delivered. This is especially helpful for converting an Amazon sale into an Amazon product review, as you can customize your email delivery time based on the content and intent of the email.
For example, you may want to let your customer know immediately when your product was shipped, in which case you would choose “asap” and “After Order Has Been Shipped”.
However, if you want to ask for a product review, you will want to send it several days after the product has been delivered. To be even more specific, if you sell a supplement for example, you would want to send it a week or two after delivery (after your customer has had a chance to really experience the effects of the product), but if you are selling a cell phone case that can be used and experienced immediately, you may want to trim down the time between product delivery and your email being sent.
The only way to do this is to test different time intervals and event triggers to find out what works best. Try to send out emails at different time sequences, and determine which combination generates the best results.
3. Segment Your Audience
The key to successful email marketing relies on thoughtful segmentation. This is because you only want to send relevant and engaging emails to your audience. And not every customer fits the same customer profile. So be thoughtful about the messages you send, and the reader on the receiving end of the email.
If you were running an ecommerce store hosted on your own website, you could get much more specific with segmentation, based on past behavior on your site, purchase history, or any number of characteristics.
Segmenting on Amazon is much more limited. You can send different email campaigns depending on which SKU or child ASIN your customer purchased. For example, if you have a private label brand with several products, you want to tailor your messaging based on the product they purchased, and not just flat out asking for a product review regardless of what was purchased.
Taking it one step further, you may want to highlight different features and benefits depending on the purchase. For example, if you sell a high end product with a product with a warranty or guarantee, then elaborate on that aspect to reinforce the product quality. Or if you have a lower-priced product that competes on being cheaper than the competition, you can assume that your customer is cost-conscious and therefore you can mention the value of the product. Your main goal is to align your customers’ needs with your messaging to maximize relevance and value.
4. Number of Calls to Action
There is one classic line from Glengarry Glenross that is oft-repeated in sales seminars: “ABC: Always Be Closing.” The best sellers are laser-focused on one thing, and that is the sale.
Well, if you are sending a follow up email for the sale, then you have presumably already made the sale! However, you have one new “sale” that you need to make, and that is getting a product review. So the takeaway is this: only focus on that one thing.
You do not want to send an email asking for several things. Imagine yourself on the other end….you just purchased an item, then you receive something along the lines of, “Can I get a product review? And I’m a good seller, can I get seller feedback? And please tell your friends to buy my product. Oh, and go to my website and subscribe so that I can bombard you with even more tone-deaf requests!”
Oh heck no! The likelihood of a successful action taken by your reader is far greater if you focus on only one thing in the email. Reduce your “Call to Action” to only one action-item per email, and you will see your email engagement take a nice uptick. Your product reviews should increase as a result as well!
5. Test frequency of emails
As I mentioned before, email marketing is a double-edged sword: a very effective marketing tool to empower you as a seller, but a tool that can torpedo your efforts if misused. One of the most common causes of unsuccessful campaigns is burning through your email list. By this, I mean that you have sent too many emails—emails which aren’t relevant and don’t add value—and therefore your customer list has tuned you out.
In addition to adjusting the subject lines, the content, and send times, you can also test the frequency of how many emails you send.
Before you enable your email campaigns, think through your “funnel”, and how you will actually “convert” your reader to complete a desired action. Your funnel should allow you to build a relationship with the reader, establish trust, reinforce the value of the product, and ask for your product review.
Can you implicitly do this in one email, or two or three? I personally believe that doing it in the shortest time span possible is in your best interest, as email fatigue kicks in very quickly these days. As I mentioned in point #1 with open rates, each additional email you send has the added challenge of even getting the reader to open your email!
I hope that these five suggestions help you increase engagement through your email campaigns. There are so many moving parts when you are communicating via email, and each challenge is a potential road block to you achieving your goal.
I can not prescribe a one-size-fits-all solution to what will work for you and your customers. The only way that you will figure this out is to have your customers tell you what works for them. This happens when you run split tests and monitor the results of each strategy you try. If you are using Jump Send to send your automated email campaigns, the Reviewer Analytics dashboard is a simple way to identify which email strategy yields the best results. Best of luck to you!
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