The 3 Simple Steps to Email Marketing Optimization for More Sales

Written by David Valentine

July 13, 2015

Feeling like your email marketing is a lot more work than it’s worth? Like you’re sending to a stale list of only 2% clickers that you get just about ZERO engagement from? We have put together 3 simple steps for email marketing optimization.

Nothing’s worse than spending the time to send out a carefully crafted email to your peeps and all you get are crickets chirping and maybe a 15% open rate.

Is email dead?

Image courtesy of visiblegains

It’s not email. It’s you, you are not using the best email marketing techniques.

Not to be rude… just to be real… If you’re feeling like the emails you send to your list are falling on deaf ears… you’re just not sending the right kind of emails.

One well-written sales email had the power to boost a small business’s sales by 12x in just 2 hours (don’t worry, we’ll get to that story in a bit). Still think it’s ineffective?

44% of email recipients made at least one purchase last year based on a promotional email. And a whopping 64% of US Internet users have printed a coupon from an email.

Plus, effective email marketing strategies is totally cost effective, with a monstrous return on investment of 4,300% – that’s a ratio I think we can all get behind.

The thing is, marketing itself is changing and you can’t just send the standard sales pitch via email over and over.

I’m about to introduce you to the New World of Email optimization  .

Just follow this simple 3 phase strategy for creating quality relationships with your customers and maximizing your potential sales from email.

Email Marketing Optimization: The 3-Step Trick to Maximizing Sales from Your Emails

  1. Don’t just email when you want to sell something

I know the ultimate purpose of your email list is to, well, get more customers to buy your stuff. Duh. But the thing is, no one wants repetitive sales pitches over and over to their inbox. You’re just asking for an unsubscribe or a spam filter.

“As a marketer myself, one of the issues I run into most often is that I forget to talk to my list until I have something to sell,” says Nathan Hangen for Kissmetrics.

No Soliciting Sign

Photo (and no soliciting sign) courtesy of NikkiDanielDesigns)

Hagen stresses the importance of establishing a relationship first, getting your followers used to including you in their inbox so they associate value and interest with your emails.

“The benefit of that is when you do need to announce a new product or sale, you can count on the fact that you’ve already been in touch, having built a relationship over several weeks/months, and are much less likely to annoy your readers.”

So, what else do you write about if it’s not sales focused?

Ok… here’s where you go back to two basics of your business:

  • Who are your customers?
  • Why do they need your products/services?

I’m talking, values, needs, likes, hates, annoyances, guilty pleasures… bring out that big list of everything you know about your real customers and your target customers. (Don’t have a list? Shame on you – check out this post on making buyer personas).

Here are some angles you can approach in your email marketing optimization for providing free value:

  • Information (useful templates, expert interviews, free guides)
  • Entertainment (inspiration, humor, art)
  • Sentiment (are you working with any nonprofits? charities?)
  • Free Stuff! (can you give away something awesome? Samples?)
  • Exclusivity (time frames on an offer, just-for-you surprise deals?)

Just in case you were wondering, in BlueWireMedia’s email click-through experiment, emails offering Free Useful Templates saw the highest click through rates (26-66%).

Your products can be a part of the package, but you’re not particularly selling them. You’re creating a free offer that strengthens the relationship between you and your email recipients.

At MadeFreshly, we know our customers are small business owners and online sellers. We know they’re interested in social media marketing.

Our Email Newsletter? Chock full of free, easy-to-implement tips on maximizing their social media marketing.

  1. Get People to Actually Open Your Emails

Open your emails

The Sender and subject are the MOST crucial persuasive factors!

The first thing your readers see when your email arrives in their inbox:

From: your email

Subject: your subject line

So spend LOTS of time on these!

As far as your email goes, I can’t even express how unfriendly it feels to get a “Thanks for signing up!” email from a “DONOTREPLY” sender. Not very accessible.

If you’re allowed to reach out to them, why aren’t you keeping the conversation both ways? Keep it transparent who’s sending them this email – you!

What Email Subject Lines Persuade the Most Clicks?

33% of email recipients open an email based solely on the subject line.

Joanna of CopyHackers says,

“In most cases, your subject line should pinpoint the greatest value your recipient will receive if they open the email.”

This email marketing strategy is called the “What’s in it for me?” – expect all your recipients to think those words before clicking on your email.

So, take a second and go over all these thoughts before polishing off your subject line:

  • can you include the value of this email in an enticing way?
  • do you reflect a friendly, casual tone?
  • are you getting to the point?
  • are you being honest about what’s in the email (no fake “re:”)
  • are you focused on them, or you?

Check out HubSpot’s list of the 18 Greatest Email Subject Lines for some inspiration. My personal favorites?

“Best of Groupon: The Deals That Make Us Proud (Unlike Our Nephew, Steve)” From: Groupon

“Hey” From: Barack Obama

  1. Approaching the Inevitable Sales Email

Let’s get down to the money-makin’. There’s TONS of advice out there about what actually convinces email readers to make a purchase – from the email layout to the font choice.

You could drive yourself nuts with all this.

But I’m going to give you tips from a real life example provided by the expert (and hilarious) copywriter Neville Medhora.

Back in his early business venture days, Neville saw a 12x increase in online sales overnight, just with a perspective switch in his promotional email.

“I learned simply pushing stuff into someone’s face was NOT a good strategy for selling, in fact it was pretty awful, unreliable, and makes people not want to hear from you.”

In short, Neville switched from picture-heavy, all-about-the-products messages and sent an email with this subject line:

Subject: Hey… I screwed up

The email went on to tell a story of how he’d accidentally over-ordered a huge shipment of his new light up gloves. They were overtaking his home, making him anxious, and he was offering them at a ridiculously great price just to get ‘em outta his kitchen, quick!

Email Mistakes

Read more of his email and findings here.

Why people read his email:

  • It was friendly and casual
  • Also, funny and intriguing (that’s a value for the readers)
  • It told a story!

The emotional points, the humor, and the idea of making the customer the hero (save him from his claustrophobia!) all made this sales email memorable. And if you want a customer to buy from you, they’ve got to remember you.

Now this approach is just one way to grab and keep attention, so you won’t want to copy it exactly. (You gotta use your own stories and flavor). But here are your takeaways for your own email optimization:

  • Grab attention! Be original (but stick to your brand’s style)
  • Don’t be too salesy – people will just tune out
  • Stay human – appeal to emotions, needs, and real life
  • Keep to a single focus
    • Neville’s email focused on the exclusive, time-sensitive sale on a single product

Start Boosting Online Sales with Effective Email Marketing

So there you have it, the simple successful email marketing strategies for maximizing the potential of your email list. Notice this strategy is about quality, not quantity.

“I would rather have a healthy list of 5,000 avid readers – who are likely to read, forward, recommend, and buy – than a dirty list of 25,000 people who never asked me to contact them and don’t want to hear from me,” says Joanna of CopyHackers.

Step 1: Offer Value and Consistency without always asking for sales

Step 2: Offer intrigue and honesty for more click throughs

Step 3: Keep sales pitches focused, value-driven and friendly

Have you had any memorable emails sent to your inbox? I got one a little while back from Neville. Subject line: “why shitty stuff sometimes works better”. Grabbed my attention, for obvious reasons. And the email had fantastic info in it. But if it had had a crappy subject line I would have never read that far.

Leave a comment with a subject line you just couldn’t ignore…



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1 Comment

  1. kksilvery

    Amazing analysis Rachel Daley , i have always failed to get traffic and sales from emails subscribers. After i read this, i will try to implement your method and hoping to get better results.


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