By: Kipp Bodnar and Jeffrey L. Cohen, co-authors of The B2B Social Media Book (Wiley, 2012)
Excerpted with permission of the publisher John Wiley & Sons, Inc., from The B2B Social Media Book: Become a Marketing Superstar by Generating Leads with Blogging, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Email, and More by Kipp Bodnar and Jeffrey L. Cohen (c) 2012 by Kipp Bodnar and Jeffrey L. Cohen.
1. Do I know you? Make emails more personal by choosing a sender’s name that people recognize, instead of your company name. This could be the chief executive officer (CEO), the head of sales or marketing, or another notable person from your company.
2. What’s it all about? Use the subject line to set expectations for recipients. Let them know the contents of the email before they open it. Don’t say things like “Our Company’s Weekly Update or Monthly Email Newsletter.” Be specific with subject lines.
3. Offer them the world The most successful lead generation emails present one compelling offer, a clear CTA, and expectations of what’s on the other side of the click. This is called a dedicated send and can be sent to a segmented list of prospects or customers based on data that they are interested in.
4. The mouse has landed Every click on an email offer needs to take prospects to a clear landing page. These should be optimized so that visitors know exactly what to do when they arrive. If they clicked on an offer to receive an ebook, they should come to a page that tells them what to do to get that ebook -- and nothing else.
5. All links rise with the tide Human behavior does not always match our expectations. Most would think that the click-through rate for any individual link would be higher if there were fewer links. Social media scientist Dan Zarrella conducted an email study and found that the more links that were contained in an email, the higher the click-through rate of all links.
6. Put down what you want to hear Don’t send email simply to keep regular communication going. Create an ongoing plan of relevant content-based offers for social media marketing that will drive leads.
If you have a steady flow of content on the business blog, consider compiling that into an ebook with the addition of an introduction from an outside industry expert. This adds new context to information your prospects may have already seen.
7. You talking to me? Any standard email program allows you to segment your sends to appropriate members of your audience. Although an email opt-in allows you to continue to contact subscribers without them taking additional action, if you provide information that does not relate to them, they will unsubscribe.
8. Nurture leads throughout the buying cycle An initial email opt-in is a top of the funnel action. A prospect is interested in your products or services and wants to learn more. That person also might be exploring how you deal with prospects. Once he or she has received a variety of information and has demonstrated movement along in the buying cycle, that prospect needs to be considered part of a different segment. The prospect is not a lead until he or she fills out an offer form.
9. Test, test, test One of the best things about digital marketing is the ability to test elements of an offer and review which one has better results. This makes your next campaign even better. The most important thing to test with an email is a subject line. This determines whether recipients open the email or not. Test different offers and calls to action. Subtle differences do not yield widely different results.
10. Evaluate plain vanilla text emails versus the chocolate of HTML Most email programs can receive an HTML, or designed, email and do not require plain text email. But many programs have images turned off by default. This means that an email that is one big image may look blank to subscribers. And with the increasing use of mobile devices, there is a revived interest in creating and sending a plain text email along with an HTML email.
11. Everyone is reading email on the go Have you looked at the emails you send on a mobile device? Are your offers clear? Do recipients know what to click on? Smartphones can display HTML emails, but everything is small. Optimize these emails for mobile devices.
12. How often is too often? Just as more links drive more traffic through all links -- not less -- more frequent emails, of relevant, quality offers and content, provide more engagement. In early 2011, MarketingProfs, the marketing content, education and events company, changed their weekly email to a daily email.
According to Ann Handley, chief content officer, based on site traffic and other engagement metrics, “The design of the email is created to be short, quick, easy to ingest. It is very scannable, so recipients know what to expect and find out quickly if there is something for them.”
Kipp Bodnar, co-author of The B2B Social Media Book, is an Inbound Marketing Strategist at HubSpot, the inbound marketing software leader. He is co-founder of SocialMediaB2B.com, the leading online resource for social media's impact on B2B marketing.
Jeffrey L. Cohen, co-author of The B2B Social Media Book, is a Social Strategist at Radian6. He is co-founder of SocialMediaB2B.com.