In any business, lead generation is key to driving sales and sustaining a profitable business. Despite this, 61% of marketers say generating leads is their top challenge. For small business owners especially, it can be a challenge to figure out which marketing efforts are worth the time and money and how to go about attracting new customers.
One digital marketing approach that’s stood the test of time for good reason is email marketing or eDMs. In fact, a 2018 study found that the average return on investment for eDMs is $32. In practice, that means for every dollar you put towards your email marketing budget, you can expect to receive an average of $32 in sales in return. In light of this, it’s easy to see why eDMs are a widely popular marketing tactic for large and small businesses alike.
So, where should you start with email marketing? This guide covers the essentials of generating leads with eDMs to help you get the most out of your marketing budget.
What is eDM marketing?
The acronym ‘eDM’ stands for ‘electronic direct mail’ and it’s a type of direct marketing that uses email to communicate commercial messages to an audience. In other words, it means getting in touch with customers (or potential customers) via email to share updates and information.
Typically, an eDM mailing list is made up of people who have visited your site and opted to sign up for your newsletter or entered their email address when making a purchase or filling out a form on your site.
eDM marketing can be used to help achieve goals such as:
- Spreading the word about your products or services (building awareness)
- Advertising promotions and sales
- Up-selling or cross-selling
- Collecting customer reviews
- Attracting new customers
- Encouraging past customers to buy from you again.
As you can see, the possibilities are vast when it comes to eDM marketing, so it’s important to have clear goals in mind before you get started. In this article, we’ll be talking about creating eDMs for the purpose of lead generation.
What is lead generation?
Lead generation is the process of collecting and gathering leads – aka potential customers – through marketing efforts. For example, if you ask a user on your website to fill out a form that includes their email address, that’s a type of email lead generation.
Similarly, if you send that user a follow-up email with more information about your business, you’re doing what’s called ‘lead nurturing’. In other words, you’ve generated the lead and now you’re taking the next step to encourage them to become a customer.
In the context of eDMs, lead generation usually involves:
- Creating informative, relevant website content that can be used to both drive traffic to your website and that you can directly share with users via email
- Creating a mechanism by which site visitors can sign up to your email mailing list, such as a form on your website
- Interacting with your leads on a regular basis through relevant emails
- Incentivising your leads to become paying customers with sales, promotions or other marketing content.
It’s important to note that lead generation isn’t as simple as putting a form on your website and hoping for the best.
Genuinely attracting and encouraging potential customers to give up their details comes down to having a strong SEO and content marketing strategy. Our free guide to creating standout online content for your business covers this in more detail.
How to generate email leads.
You know you want to start using eDMs to grow your customer base but there’s one problem: you don’t have any email subscribers. Expecting to drive sales through email is like putting the cart before the horse if you haven’t built a subscriber list.
The following tactics are just some of the ways you can encourage people to share their email with you – but feel free to get creative in your approach!
Have a contact form on your website.
This is one of the easiest ways to capture leads as it encourages users to share their details any time they want to contact your business via your website.
Remember that you must include an ‘Opt In’ box that the user can tick to give their consent if you want to use the email address captured for marketing purposes. You can find out more about this in the ACMA’s guide to avoiding sending spam.
Use display pop-ups.
A display pop-up is a form that shows up onscreen any time a user takes a specified action on your website.
For this lead generation tool to work, it’s important to have the pop-up display at the right time, such as when the user has reached the end of a page containing valuable information. Most website builders either have their own pop-up builder or a plugin you can install to add display pop-ups to your website.
Run a competition.
Running a competition is a great way to drive enthusiasm for your brand, increase subscriptions and generate leads. And, depending on the prize, you can run a competition on social media, through your website or elsewhere without having to outlay much of your budget.
Photo contests, caption contests and voting competitions are especially ideal for getting people involved and excited. You can use a competition builder like Shortstack to create a form that captures entrants’ email addresses, which you can add to your website and social media pages.
Offer gated content.
Gated content is any content that requires email sign-up to access. Long-form articles, step-by-step tutorials, how-to guides and instructional videos offer a great opportunity to capture email addresses. This is because insightful, in-depth content provides a valuable reason for people to sign up. The key to making this work is ensuring the content is highly relevant to your audience and based on your specific expertise.
Email lead nurturing best practices.
So you’ve built a solid list of email leads. Now the question is: what do you do with them? The process after lead generation – also known as lead nurturing – is just as important, if not more important, than getting the leads in the first place.
At this stage, it’s critical to make contact with your subscribers regularly to remind them about your business and give them reasons to engage with you further.
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to email lead nurturing, and your strategy should be based on what your specific customers are looking for, as well as your business model. However, you can get started with these email lead nurturing best practices that can be applied to any business:
Use an engaging, snappy and personal subject line.
The old adage ‘first impressions count’ is perhaps nowhere more applicable than a crowded inbox. Your email’s subject line can make or break its success, so it’s critical to be engaging and eye-catching without coming off as spammy.
In fact, certain trigger words like ‘deal’, ‘bargain’ and ‘free’ can actually increase the chances of your email landing in your recipient’s spam folder, so avoid the salesy tone. Here are some examples of catchy and effective subject lines:
Hi [Name], what did you think? Leave a review
Have you seen our new (product/service?)
Uh oh! Your discount code is about to expire
According to research by Adestra, the subject lines with the highest open rates were under 60 characters or over 70 characters. In other words, go long(ish) or go short, but don’t go in-between.
Send relevant emails that serve a specific purpose.
Whether it’s an upcoming promotion, a great new piece of content, a limited-time discount or anything else, make sure every email you send has a goal.
Send your emails at the right time.
Choosing the perfect moment to send emails to your subscribers depends on their behaviours.
Some customers could be more likely to open an email on a weekday morning, whereas others could be most receptive over the weekend. Testing different send times and reviewing your open rates for each will help you pinpoint the sweet spot for your business.
Enable email marketing personalisation.
Research by Campaign Monitor found that emails with personalised subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened than those without. Likewise, Experian found that personalised emails deliver six times higher transaction rates than generic emails.
Personalisation is key to getting noticed, maximising open rates, and ultimately, making more sales. Choose an email marketing platform that has the capability to address subscribers by name at the very least, and if you’re game to get even more sophisticated, set up triggered emails based on users’ behaviours on your website.
Make sure your emails are optimised for desktop, mobile and tablet devices.
Emails should be easy to access and skim on all devices.
Keep testing and fine-tuning your strategy.
Like anything, practice makes perfect – so pay attention to your email marketing platform’s analytics and reporting, and you can begin to make data-driven decisions about your email marketing strategy rather than leaving it to guesswork.
Less-than-ideal open rates or click-through rates aren’t a sign to give up on email marketing, but rather an opportunity to learn and improve next time.
Ask for feedback.
We know that ratings and reviews play a big role in influencing customers’ purchasing decisions, and asking for them via email is a good way to not only gather positive feedback but also encourage subscribers to open your emails.
Most email marketing platforms enable automated personalised emails to be triggered after a customer has made a purchase from you, which means you don’t even have to lift a finger to ask for reviews and show that you value your customers’ feedback.
Re-engage lapsed subscribers.
It’s estimated that around 60% of the average email subscriber list is inactive, which means your emails are potentially reaching less than half of your subscribers.
Consider offering an incentive like a discount code or special offer for those subscribers who haven’t opened any of your emails in a long time (but remember not to use trigger words that might make the email spammy). Encouraging ‘dead’ subscribers to come back to life is a good way to get noticed and turn inactivity into potential sales.
What does a great lead nurturing email look like?
- Engaging and succinct
- Targeted to your specific audience
- Designed to drive action with an incentive
- Personalised to the recipient
- Easy to skim on all devices.
Which email marketing software should you use?
Most modern eDM platforms and apps run the gamut from simple text-based email send-outs to full automated marketing campaigns. Choosing the right one for you depends on your business, your level of technical know-how and what you want to achieve.
If you simply want to use eDMs to share monthly newsletters or let people know about promotions every now and then, you might be satisfied with the free version of a popular platform like MailChimp or sendinblue.
Or, if you want to set up more complex marketing campaigns, a paid email marketing service like Campaign Monitor could be the right fit for your needs.
In any case, when comparing your options, take note of the following features:
- Quick and easy setup
- User-friendly interface
- Customisable template library
- Drag-and-drop email editor
- In-built analytics and reporting
- Guides and tutorials
- Subscriber segmentation
- Marketing automation capabilities e.g. automated emails sent based on subscribers’ browsing history
- Send time optimisation – automatic send times based on your open rates
- Remarketing ad capabilities
- Business app integrations
Using eDMs to generate leads for your business has never been easier thanks to the range of sophisticated and user-friendly email marketing and business management platforms out there.
Make sending eDMs that much easier with marketing automation software.
Thryv is one of the best marketing automation platforms available right now, with everything from CRM tools to automated emails, to social media, review and scheduling tools, bringing everything together under one simple and straight-forward umbrella.
Get your demo to give Thryv a whirl and make sending your eDMs that much easier.