You’re gearing up to press ‘go’ on your latest email marketing campaign. After hours of tweaking the wording, choosing the best images and making sure the design has the right impact, it’s finally time to hit your contact list.
The next important step will be to measure how effective your campaign has been and that means analysing and reviewing the numbers. But what exactly are ‘good’ stats to achieve? And what can you do to make them even better next time around?
Type of email
Firstly, you need to bear in mind that the stats you get back will be vastly different and mean different things, depending on the type of email you are sending. For example, an email blast going out to a large database of unsuspecting recipients (such as a bought-in list), will drive much lower open and click rates than a highly targeted and tailored nurturing email.
Working in a B2B content marketing environment it is important to have nurturing email campaigns set up that work really well. There’s no point creating a wonderful buzz at the top of the sales funnel and attracting lots of leads if you don’t then work on them to sieve out the best ones and start segmenting them. That’s where your nurturing emails come into play and it is those emails that will ultimately turn lead into sales. If they’re not hitting the mark and your figures are low then you’ll have a problem, but achieve a good success rate and you’ll soon be laughing.
Stats for nurturing emails
So what would a good result be? The general rule of thumb for general newsletter type emails is that open rates above 20% are very good and click rates above 5-6 % are excellent.
Since nurturing emails are much more targeted and have a specific objective (such as to find out more about a lead, to open the door to a sales call, or to secure a demo or trial) you should be aiming for figures even higher than these.
What ‘good’ figures are for you and your individual campaigns will ultimately depend on the particular type of campaigns you are running and also how good your contact database is. They are both important factors. And never forget about the basics – the design needs to be clear, easy to read, in an appropriate font. Looking great but being difficult to read will never work.
There are no hard and fast rules about exactly what you should do in your nurturing campaigns, but there are some key steps you can take to evaluate what you’re doing and its effectiveness. Following these pointers will help reveal insights that you can work with to improve your figures moving forward:
1. Start with an assumption – from what you know about your target customers, which email content will be of the most interest/most helpful to them? And at what time intervals would they enjoy receiving the information?
2. Next devise your nurturing campaign based on the above
3. Now look at the numbers – including open rates, click rates, bounce backs, unsubscribes
4. Then compare your campaign emails with another campaign. Look at the individual stats and try to pinpoint why one email may have got more clicks than another one
5. Use these insights to help you make new assumptions that are based on your key learnings
6. Adjust your campaign based on this new idea
7. Analyse the numbers again
8. Keep repeating the exercise – assessing, adjusting, analysing
9. Over time you will reveal what works best for what audience members and what content they respond to most positively. This will help you fine tune your campaigns and increase their effectiveness.
Tips for creating a knock-out email marketing campaign
Even simple email campaigns take a lot of work to get right. When designing your campaigns, try to keep the following factors in mind:
- Set a clear goal
Without a clear goal your emails may just fall flat and are unlikely to contain any valuable information. If you’re sending an email, send it for a purpose! For example, if your campaign is to kick in after a prospect has downloaded something from your website for the first time, then you should be aiming to find out more about the lead. So your goal may be to get them to convert again on your website by filling in a form that asks more questions.
You’re looking to learn more about them so you can segment your leads, based on things like their demographics, as well as their behaviour. Once you can do that you’ll be able to create even more targeted nurturing campaigns.
If a lead falls into the ‘of interest’ pile then your next aim should be to engage with them further in order to find out where in the funnel they might be. That way you can then time a potential sales call perfectly. So the goal here may be to get them to visit your pricing page and if they do then to use this as a trigger for a call to be made.
Another example of a common goal for B2Bs is for a nurturing campaign to encourage leads to take up the offer of a free product trial.
Don’t forget – even if a lead turns out not to be suitable and will never be a potential client that doesn’t mean you should forget about them. They could still refer you to others and help spread the word about you. Have a workflow for those leads too, with a goal to get them onto your newsletter subscription list.
Once you have set your goals, then don’t forget to measure your success rate. Find out how many leads went through the workflow and achieved the goal you set, then compare the results.
- Think about email quantity and frequency
Never underestimate how important these factors can be for your success. They can be the difference between being forgotten, being front of mind at the right moment, or completely overwhelming a prospect and being labelled a spammer!
Both of these two elements can be tested and adjusted. The aim being to find out what is the optimal amount of emails to send and what gap you should leave between them. Test, test and test again. Have one campaign with shorter intervals and another with longer ones.
If you’re sending out a general newsletter about industry news then have clients subscribe to it themselves to avoid them receiving too many emails from you. If you don’t send newsletters out then have some kind of special ‘keep in touch’ type emails that you regularly send, or company specific news and try to segment them as much as you can.
Anything you do will always be dependent on the resources you have available, but the more you can drill down and segment the process the more successful you will be. Always remember to keep in mind how many emails in total a contact may receive from you.
- Ensure you’re offering quality content
By far the greatest impact on your numbers will come from the content of your nurturing emails. That starts with the headline, which is the key to getting your email opened. Prospects will make a judgement based on a headline within just a split second.
Short and succinct emails usually work best, particularly if they are well targeted and personalised. You will need to adjust your tone and the content based on who you are talking to – so an email to a CEO may be very different to one addressing other team members. However, both emails may have the same goal. Again this is a matter of resources and the capabilities of any software you are using. The more refined and detailed you can get the better it will be.
As a general rule, when deciding what content to include in your emails you should keep this question in mind: Why would a lead bother to open the mail, read it and then click on the link? What’s in it for them?
If you have a strong answer to this question for every email you plan to send then your rates will go up.
- Develop your conversion assets
Use your ‘conversion assets’ – the downloadable pieces of content that are available on your website – to help you achieve your nurturing email goals. Include a link in your emails that goes through to the download that you want people to click on.
The type of content leads look at will give you insights into where in the customer journey they may be. For example, if they download a five page case study then chances are they are a way down the funnel already and might be ready to engage with the sales department. However, if they continuously ignore your middle/bottom funnel offers then you can assume they are not in buying mode.
Assess your collection of downloads and make sure you have content prepared and available for all stages of the buyer journey, from awareness to consideration and decision making, as well as for each buyer persona. You don’t need to have this all in place from day one, but one of your main goals should be to map these out. Continuously create and publish them.
- Constantly assess and review
The real key to success is not just to set up your campaign and forget about it, but instead to be constantly working at it. Every month pull together your numbers and compare them. Make new assumptions and test them out. It is through analysing and adjusting that your rates will start to go up and so will your conversions.
So now you know the secret to success when it comes to nurturing emails. To create a highly targeted and extremely effective campaign will take time and a deep understanding of your target audience. From how your emails look, to what they contain, who they go out to and how often they’re sent. But it will be worth all your efforts in the end, as when you get it right you’ll be rewarded with a stream of hot leads and a healthy set of sales figures.
Email workflows that nurture your leads until they are sales ready can be difficult to visualise. Use our guide to plan out your own automated communications.