Email remains one of the most effective channels available to marketers in just about any type of business. With an ROI of 3800% according to DMA, significantly higher than social media and other newer channels, email can be a powerful resource, when used correctly.
For managed service providers facing a suddenly much more competitive landscape that relies on the relationships you build with your customers to differentiate your services, email is even more critical – while nothing beats face-to-face, email marketing allows you to develop and nurture relationships one-to-one at a significant scale.
Let’s take a closer look at seven of the features your email campaign should have to take advantage of these potential benefits effectively.
1. Know Your Audience
Email has one major drawback over other methods of communication. In written text, it’s easy to misconstrue tone. Attempts at humor or clever language can backfire if it doesn’t come across to all readers, especially when people read in a hurry.
Think about your audience and what tone is most appropriate to them. If you’re targeting younger office managers and admins, who have most of their conversations by text message, a slightly informal tone makes sense. But if you’re targeting older business owners who engage with dozens of potential vendors all week, or if these are existing contacts in your database, the tone might be slightly more formal.
Avoid sarcasm and assume everything will be taken literally because of the written form. You know your audience better than anyone, so inhabit the reader’s perspective and think of how they’d read what you’re sending.
Make It Relevant
Even with the hours spent in emails every day, most business professionals delete hundreds more that they never read or barely skim over. If content doesn’t appear relevant to their needs, they don’t read it.
Every email you send should be relevant to the people who receive it – not just in the targeting, but in the language used and the information provided. If you can’t quickly answer what they will get out of it, then it may not be worth an email by itself.
How do you make sure you’re hitting the topics most relevant to your readers? Know your buyer personas using this self-guided tool.
Once you’ve identified your personas, use them to segment your email list accordingly…
2. Segment Your List
You can increase the relevance of your message by targeting people based on information you already know about them. Separate prospects by vertical and title, for example. If you know most of the people receiving an email are officer managers for local law firms, you can be very specific about the language and offer you use. If you were contacting all business owners in your database, however, you’d need to be more generic in your style, which would, in turn, make the content less relevant and more likely to be skipped.
This parsing of data can take time and will likely require additional support from an outside vendor or an internal staff member who owns the email process, but the increased open and click rates will be well worth it, especially if you have an extensive database of contacts.
Remember not to focus just on data, but on developing a one-to-one relationship. Let’s dig in on how you can personalize your emails…
3. Personalize Your Message
People like the sound of their name and with most email platforms, you can use “merge fields” to personalize the message using the contact’s first name in the salutation and possibly the subject line. You can also include their company name in the body of text. You might even change the text of the message to match the specific issues you’ve identified based on the segment you are targeting.
The goal here is to use personalization to add relevance which encourages your contacts to open and engage with the email, and also to show that you took the time to customize that email. It’s not necessarily a stock template that you blasted to a thousand people. You cared and put thought into it.
If you do personalize your emails, test extensively before sending anything. Broken merge tags or tags that call empty fields in your database can have the opposite effect and only reinforce that you are automating your outbound messaging.
Personalizing your message will make your email more human, but the tone and language you use are just as important to show you truly know them…
4. Tell a Story with Impact
Email is a powerful device. It can reach your prospects anywhere in the world, as long as they have an Internet connection, and yet far too often we use it to spew facts and then ham-handedly ask for something. “We’re offering these new services, get a discount…”
But a good story, told well, can be incredibly engaging and help to capture attention in a way that the average marketing email cannot. Consider ways to add humor to your emails, identify pain points they are facing and then speak to the problems they must overcome. Show the people in your company and tell real stories about the hard work they provide to your customers.
Above and beyond all else, be a real human on the other end of that email. Dry corporate speak is easy to ignore – they get a million of those every week. Stand out with a voice that is unique to your business, and it will capture more attention.
A Scannable Format
The average American spends 13 hours a week in their inbox – on a phone or desktop. Don’t make that time longer. Because of the sheer number of emails people receive, it’s essential to balance the information you want to share with a manageable, concise length that your readers can quickly scan.
Small business owners, office managers, and administrators will skim right past your messages if they are long and meandering. Be as direct as possible, imagining that your readers will see only the title, the summary, and the headlines within the email. A five-second scan should make it immediately clear why they received the email and what the value proposition is.
Now that you’ve grabbed your audience’s attention, don’t forget to end your story with a clear and direct call to action…
5. Make it Actionable
Even as you find ways to weave exciting stories or quips into your emails, pare them down to the bare basics, and segment to ensure you’re talking to a specific audience, don’t forget to provide an explicit action you want your readers to take.
Email, no matter how you spin it, is almost always transactional. People expect an email to have a point – an ask of them. They may not want to take that action right away (it’s your job to convince them), but they expect it to be there. If you’ve written a compelling, exciting email, take advantage of that expectation and end on a clear call to action.
It should be relevant to the message of the email. Don’t tell a story about your recent charity work in the community and then ask them to call for a consultation. It should also be singular – don’t load your email with buttons and images to click, watering down the different options they have. Provide a single, direct call to action that will push them forward in their buying journey.
The Value of a Good Email
Email, done well, can amplify the message and the 1-1 relationship building you see in your day-to-day outreach. The value can come directly in the form of sales from your prospect list but also increased product adoption, retention, or referrals from existing customers. And to do email well, it’s important to remember that you’re not just competing against other MSPs for attention, but you’re competing against everyone else in your recipient’s email inbox so the expectation of your work should be that much higher.
If that sounds like a heavy lift, and you’re interested in having someone else handle your email marketing, Pronto offers an email automation service specifically for MSPs. Click here to schedule a call with our marketing experts today and learn more about how it all works and how you can make better use of your email lists.