Email marketing remains one of the most important marketing tools for businesses. Yes, there are other effective marketing channels such as paid search, display, social, and even blogs. But of all these channels, email offers one of the highest returns. In fact, the DMA estimates that email achieves $38 for every dollar spent. Why is that exactly?

There are many factors at play, such as advancements in marketing automation, targeting, and spam filters that make it easy to get your emails read by the right people. There’s also consumer communication preferences that heavily sway towards email, which I find to be the most compelling. According to MarketingSherpa, 72% of consumers significantly prefer email over any other marketing channel for businesses to communicate with them. If you’re sending email marketing communications then you’re most likely freely communicating with a subscriber list that you own. This audience opted to hear from you, which means they’re engaged, valuable customers and prospects, that you need to keep interested throughout the buyer’s cycle.

Here’s the challenge: making sure this audience doesn’t unsubscribe. It costs 7x more to acquire brand new customers than it does to retain customers or nudge a very interested prospect into becoming a buyer. And while email may not be the main reason for customer churn (it’s usually poor customer service or an inadequate product), it’s still a tool that can increase engagement and create interest in future purchases (if used effectively).

How can you set your email campaigns up for success? You probably know some basics of email marketing, like using email in the customer journey, so I’m going to offer three ideas to help you think outside of the box. It involves tactics aimed at capturing attention and creating connections that engage your customers and prospects.

Idea #1: Capture Attention

Telling you to capture attention might seem like a no brainer, but a lot of marketers don’t know how to do it. How many emails flood your inbox that you struggle to read, ignore, or – worse yet – automatically get deleted? Marketers are competing against each other, and, at the end of the day, your emails will be more successful in achieving your goals if they entertain and inspire your audience.

Don’t bore your audience. Instead, add a little personality to tell a valuable story that captures their attention. You may not know each email recipient on your distribution list, but they are real people and real people respond to authenticity. The key is to be subtle in your ask by telling an anecdote and, in some cases, you may not even ask for anything at all.

For instance, Travel Oregon tells a story using an anecdote, pictures, and links to helpful tips along with the subtle CTA at the very bottom. The content creates engagement because it’s valuable to their audience, who have expressed an interest in Oregon tourism.

Email marketing Oregon

TOMS on the other hand tells an emotional story about how they’re helping to solve a problem. It shows why their brand is more than a shoe. You’ll notice that the CTA in this email doesn’t ask for the sale, but it still asks their audience to engage with the brand.

email marketing toms

Marriott did just the opposite with their “2014 Year in Review” email campaign to rewards members, which had no CTA. Instead, it used customer data to highlight details from the recipient’s past trips within an infographic and even included a video. The result: revenue increased 86% year-over-year (YoY), which Marriott attributes to the campaign based on the following YoY email metrics:

  • Click to open rate increased 20%
  • Conversion rate increased 9.7%
  • The campaign tripled their December average of revenue per message delivered

Email Marketing Marriott

Additionally, Marriott’s bold attempts to go against the status quo and capture attention by telling an entertaining story using customer data (without asking for the sale) unintentionally created member engagement. Not only were members watching their video beyond January (much longer than anticipated), but they were almost competing on a social level by proudly sharing their travel results. The campaign created this organic conversion that most likely helped to develop brand awareness and influence their revenue growth from current customers.

Idea #2: Create Connections

Email communications can be highly impersonal. Yes, you can insert the recipient name or products and services they’ve shown interest in, but these techniques only go so far. You need to stand out amongst email competition in the inbox, and there is a scientific solution to help you do just that. It has everything to do with creating human connections, and it starts with emotion.

According to a Harvard Study, 95% of our decision-making is based on pure emotion. Neuromarketing recommends tapping into storytelling that hits on a specific emotion, like humor, pleasure, delight or compassion. It will create a connection that can fuel the consumer’s retention and memory of a product.

What’s more, MarketingPros found that emotions trump logic in four of the five stages of the buying cycle: awareness, interest, purchase, and loyalty. With email being a valuable tool for pushing out communications, it becomes the perfect platform for telling valuable stories that pull at the emotions. Especially during the loyalty stage as this is the audience you need to keep interested in repeating purchases.

Email Marketing Buyer Cycle

The insurance industry is one example that can benefit from using emotion. It’s often a very dry and complex product, but it is a valuable product. Allstate has done a good job at tapping into humor to tell their story through their recent “Hall of Fames” campaign.

They’ve implemented an omni-channel campaign that tells a story using humor. They’re memorable because the stories are real and unique, but told in a funny manner. Carry this over to an email campaign targeting prospects that signed up for information or even current customers that have not renewed their annual contracts, and you’ve managed to make a lasting impression for your brand.

Idea #3: Conversion Optimization

Consumers are opting to reach for their mobile devices to access email. Litmus found that email opens via mobile average 56%, while desktop opens sit at 19%. What’s even more interesting, 91% of consumers are checking email via their smartphones at least once a day. So how does this play into acquiring and retaining your customers?

Email Marketing Growth

For starters, you need to ensure your email campaigns are designed for tablets and smartphones, which is not limited to responsive design. In this mobile-first world, if you want to spruce up your email acquisition and retention tactics then you need to understand how people want to engage with your business. When they read your email and when they end up on your mobile landing page, their engagement will span beyond digital. It will include a phone call.

Consumers are calling from their smartphones, the same devices they use to view your emails. It’s a missed revenue opportunity if your business plays down the importance of a phone call that is likely to result from your email subscriber list. Think about these stats:

  • Calls convert to revenue 10x-15x more than web leads
  • Mobile landing pages are expected to drive 40 billion calls to businesses by 2019
  • 9 out of 10 people think it’s important to be able to call a business directly from search results
  • 60% of consumers would have a negative opinion of a business if they lacked a click-to-call

With tablet and smartphone devices dominating email opens, it’s imperative that you ensure your emails and landing pages can speak to the customer that wants to call your business. Especially if you’re in an industry offering a service or product that’s a considered purchase, such as travel, insurance, or automotive. And after all, if you do the hard work to create attention-grabbing, emotional stories, don’t drop the ball by failing to account for how your emails tie into the customer journey–both online and offline.

Now that you have a few unique tips to help strengthen your email marketing strategy, try learning how you can optimize your emails for phone call conversions. This piece of the marketing mix is often unintentionally overlooked because marketers aren’t sure how to do it.

Interested in learning the specifics? Check out our Definitive Guide to Call Tracking for Email Marketing.

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