When you run tests on over a billion emails, you learn a thing or two about what works best. Just ask Brian Carroll, Chief Evangelist at MECLABS and MarketingSherpa, and the author of "Lead Generation for the Complex Sale." MarketingSherpa not only produces a well-known online marketing publication along with annual events and marketing guides, but it also conducts and reports on test results run on billions of outgoing emails.
Recently, in part four of my month-long video series, “Thought Leader Life” (#TLL), Mitchell Levy and I spent time with Brian, who drew upon his considerable experience to relay to us his 6 top marketing lessons learned from those tests – and from his work through the years:
- Email is still the #1 marketing channel: MarketingSherpa’s marketing summit event is now 10 years old and continues to grow in popularity. But one consistent takeaway, whether talking with big brand marketers or small business executives, is the effectiveness of email. Email remains the most profitable marketing channel, and it’s a discipline that marketers are constantly striving to improve. In addition, it serves as the yardstick by which they judge the success of their other marketing channels.
- Manage your marketing mix like a mutual fund: Instead of attempting to focus on a single marketing tactic, Brian recommends marketers manage their activities like a mutual fund manager might manage a diverse portfolio of stocks. Looking at marketing in this way, it’s clear that not every investment may be performing well at the same time. Focus on the top three or four mediums that are working well, such as email or direct mail, and discover where you might invest and develop for the future (i.e. video).
- Email should support the customer journey: While email serves to create lead generation through calls-to-action, where the goal is to generate a click, email also keeps the conversation going throughout the customer journey through lead nurturing. For example, an email campaign might direct prospects to a webinar to learn more information about a particular topic. Or it can help customers after their purchases, with user tips, best practices or add-on products. The bottom line is that marketers should tailor content to support and cultivate each buyer’s journey.
- Flip the sales funnel: Brian contends that when marketers think of their sales funnel, they think of prospects going through it with the aid of gravity moving them along. But the opposite is true – gravity is working against marketers, causing prospects to fall out of the marketing funnel. As a result, it’s up to marketers to work to make them remain in the funnel, with email being a key tool for making that happen.
- Aim to answer all questions: Your prospects think of your brand more as a person and not a company. That means marketers’ roles should be to establish relationships, and their goal should really be to help answer all the prospects’ questions along their buyer journey, as opposed to getting them to buy. These days, it’s more about providing clarity than using persuasion.
- Always be connecting: Brian has seen too many instances of marketers sending out emails with the assumption (or hope) that sales will follow-up. Instead, he recommends that marketers collaborate with sales to create messaging that they can support and deliver. For example, if a prospect stopped by a trade show booth, the message might inquire as to why they stopped by, and whether they got their questions answered. So instead of “always closing,” sales and marketing should together embrace the mantra of “always be connecting” – or helping prospects in some way.
The top priority for marketers today should be to strive for relevancy in their email communications. After all, many of your prospects are looking for a reason to not read your email, and delete it from their crowded in-boxes. Brian says that when relevancy is matched with motivation -- and the proper phase of the buying cycle – an email is viewed by the prospect as welcomed assistance to help them on their buying journey.
You can watch our complete interview with Brian by clicking here. Also, be sure to come back to the blog next week, because in part five of our video series, we’ll talk about what you can do now to make your email marketing stand out as we chat with Kneko Burney, Founder & CEO at Change3 Enterprises.
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