As previously discussed, one of the most challenging, if not the most challenging, portions of the customer life cycle is the process of acquiring new customers. Customers who have not yet developed a relationship with your brand, product, or business need to be convinced not only that they need to purchase or register for your offering but also that they can trust you with their money, personal information and expectations. How can you use email marketing to help with converting leads and potential customers into active and paying customers? Here are the most common (and successful) techniques for doing so.

Provide Leads and Potential Customers with Valuable Content Free of Charge via an Email Newsletter or Auto Responder Series

Many times, potential customers or leads may not be ready to make a purchase, but they will have an interest in information that you can provide that is relevant to their lives and related to your field of expertise. For example, if you sell farm equipment, potential customers may not have an immediate need or comfort level purchasing a tractor from you. However, those potential customers or leads may have a significant interest in valuable content that is related to farming, such as weather predictions, crop prices, and updates on legislation about agriculture.

A common technique for using email marketing to convert prospects or leads into active or paying customers is to offer a free newsletter or auto responder series that provides valuable information along with promotion of your product in the body of the newsletter or auto responders To get potential customers or leads to sign up for this email product, you can offer a sign-up directly on your website pay for advertising on AdWords or other online media sites in order to directly solicit potential customers or leads to sign-up for your email list, or purchase or rent an email list. Again, if you choose to purchase or rent an email list, please be diligent about ensuring the source of your list is legitimate.

If you develop your lead or prospective customer list by including a sign-up on your website (or by collecting emails at a physical place of business), then there is no cost associated with the emails you collected and any customers that you convert to active customers will be pure profit. However, if you build your email list by buying advertising or by renting or buying email names, then you'll need to figure out how much you can afford to spend per email sign-up to break even on your conversions. We'll cover how to build an email list in greater detail later in this book. For now, just be aware that offering free information to users via an email product in order to build a relationship that will hopefully translate into sales can come with costs involved.

The key to successfully using an information-based newsletter or auto responder series to convert customers involves two elements:

  • The information you provide must be useful, engaging and valuable to your subscribers
  • You must integrate product promotions into your emails in a way that will convert without being obtrusive to the subscribers

The first point is, in fact, the more important point. The only way to convert leads or potential customers to active customer via an information-based email program is to ensure that subscribers continue to open your email and then begin to feel a relationship between themselves and your company or brand. If you do not provide valuable and engaging content, your subscribers will stop opening and reading your email long before they convert to paying or active customers.

Provide Leads and Potential Customers with a "Can't Resist" Offer Via Email Promotion

Just as common as converting customers through extended information email programs is the idea of converting leads or potential customers into active customers through emailing them a "can't resist" offer. You may email this offer to subscribers who have signed up for your informational email but haven't converted to customers yet, or you may email it to a rented or purchased list. When emailing a "can't resist" offer, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Don't Send Too Many Offers Too Often

While great offers are often one of the most effective ways to convert leads or potential customers to active or paying clients, you can over do it. Once you become the email sender who has an offer in subscribers' inboxes every day or every other day, you will see a spike in subscribers marking you as spam or unsubscribing from your email list. This can not only be damaging to the future of your email program, it can also be damaging to your overall business reputation. Limit the number of times that you send offers via email and pay close attention to your email metrics when you do!

Do the Math of Your Offer

In today's cluttered online marketing world, you often need an explosive offer or incentive to really stand out. In many cases, this offer will need to be a loss leader, or an offer on which you actually lose money if customers act on it but make money in the long term based on customer repeat business. No matter what your offer is or how aggressive you need to be with it, make sure that you have done the math on what makes the offer successful before you send your email campaign. You need to know how many conversions you need to get and what the value of those conversions needs to be over an extended period of time before you put your offer out there in the world. Don't just send an offer to leads or prospective customers to convert them to active customers until you are sure that you can make money off of it in the longer term!

Be Careful With Your Email Wording

Emails with special offers can be particularly susceptible to ending up in the spam or junk folder because they are often filled with spam words that email service providers have flagged as "spam" such as "free", "discount" "special offer" and "on sale." Be careful when constructing your special offer email so that you use trigger and action words without creating an email that email service providers will think is spam. Your email can only be effective if it actually gets into your targets' inboxes.

Make Terms and Conditions Available

Most importantly, surely any offer you present will have terms and conditions applied to it. After all, you don't want potential customers to be able to buy ten products all at an eighty percent discount off! Make sure that the terms and conditions of the offer are easy for your leads and potential customers to find so that you don't experience a bad customer service backlash later.

Presenting leads and potential customers with great offers via email can often result in fantastic conversions to active or purchasing customers. However, the process isn't as simple as just sending an email with a strong offer in it. Be sure to put thought and research into developing your offer, the metrics you'll use to judge its success, and the creative for your email. A great offer can go badly if you miss a step in the process!

Customer Conversion Email Best Practices

Because converting leads or potential customers to active or registered customers is one of the hardest parts of the marketing cycle, it's important that you optimize any of your customer conversion emails as much as possible. Here are five important best practices to keep in mind when creating customer conversion emails, whether they are information-based or offer-based.

Personalize Your Emails

Everybody responds better when you call them by their name! If possible, capture a subscriber's first name or user name when they sign up for your email list and use an auto fill feature, such as the one available with the Comm1000 email products, to present the user's name or user name in the subject line, the welcome line of the email body, or both.

Consider Sending from a Personalized Source

Because with a customer conversion email you are trying to instill trust and confidence and build a relationship that will lead to purchases, consider sending the email from a "personal" source. A special offer sent from the president of your company carries more weight than just a generic offer in an email, especially given how many offers many of us receive in our email each day.

Single Call to Action in Offer-Based Emails

If you are sending a special offer email rather than a series of information-based emails, use a single call-to-action to streamline user into purchasing rather than distracting them with other options.

Provide Company Contact Information

Leads or potential customers aren't tied to your product or brand yet, so you want to make it easy for them to contact you with questions as well as to know that you are a legitimate business. Make sure that your company contact information is easy to find and clear in your email. And, of course, because you want to be CAN-SPAM compliant, make sure that your physical mailing address or business location is included.

Segment Your List When Possible

In many cases, you won't have much information to work with when dealing with a lead or potential customer email list. After all, because you want to make it easy for people to give you an email address, you don't want to ask for too much information when you request the email address. However, if you are able to get any type of information from your leads or potential users when they sign up for your email, such as gender or geographic location, try to segment your lists before you send the email to put the most targeted information possible in front of people. If you k now, for example, what the gender of your subscribers is, then you can use language and graphics that will appeal specifically to each gender.

Converting and acquiring customers is challenging, but email marketing provides a low-cost, high volume marketing channel to convert leads and potential customers into active customers. Over time, you will learn which types of information and which types of offers convert the best. The flexibility of an email marketing platform will allow you to easily change your campaigns to support those discoveries.

You may find that customer conversion email operates with one of the lower conversion rates of any of the types of emails that you use at various points in your customer's life cycle. However, you will certainly find that, compared to other forms of customer acquisition, email marketing performs with a high return-on-investment and significantly higher conversion rate than many other forms due to its ability to speak directly to customers in a personalized and segmented way as well as its ability to react to specific market conditions.

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