Email marketing is one of the most powerful marketing channels and arguably one of the last true “owned” marketing channels. When you send an email to your mailing list, you get to reach every person on the list at no additional cost (ideally, you’re not on a pay-per-email plan). Compare this to other “owned” properties like Facebook and Twitter and the traffic generating power of email is 10x. If you’re reading this, you probably don’t need to be sold on email marketing, so let’s get to the good stuff.
Choosing an email provider can be difficult and unless you have very specific needs, it probably comes down to preference. Some people swear by Aweber, some can’t live without GetResponse, and others are loyal to MailChimp. For the most part, these types of services are incredibly similar. They all allow you to build lists, segments users, create autoresponders, etc. I’ve used almost every popular email marketing platform, and I always come back to MailChimp. I enjoy the simplicity of it, and my familiarity with the platform allows me to work efficiently.
I apply all of the following strategies to my MailChimp campaigns, however, you can use most of them with any email provider.
I’m assuming you have a basic understanding of setting up lists, sending emails, and creating autoresponders. I should also note that all of these strategies are focused on what happens AFTER a subscriber is added to your list, as optin tips is a whole nother topic.
Here we go.
Use The First Email in Your Autoresponder as a Double Opt-In Message
I almost always use single opt-ins when building lists. This has to be done through the MailChimp API or a third-party tool, but the results are well worth it. The reasoning being that the cost of having a “low quality” subscriber on my list is MUCH lower than taking the risk of a double opt-in email going to a SPAM folder or having a subscriber change their mind about receiving content.
I know there are arguments to be made about the benefits of double opt-ins vs. single opt-ins, but I’m sold on the latter.
That said, the following strategy could be applied to both single opt-ins and double opt-ins.
Use the first email in your autoresponder as the double opt-in email. Why make your new subscribers go through the unnecessary step of having to confirm that they want your content twice? By using the first email in your autoresponder as your double opt-in email, you achieve the EXACT same thing but with better results. The customer’s click ensures that they are interested in your content AND you get to skip the pesky “confirm your email” message.
Which would you rather click: “Confirm your Email” or “Get your actionable tips now!”
To do this, you need to select “advanced mode” from the sign-up forms page in MailChimp.
Choose the “Opt-in confirmation email” and start building your email.
You can either code your email from scratch or use MailChimp’s template editor and export your template as HTML.
Instead of linking to your landing page, you will use the confirmation link, which will look something like:
So, if you have a button in your email that says “Get 10% Off Now” it will link to the subscriber confirmation link.
The next step is very important. You need to edit your “Confirmation Thank You Page” so that it redirects to your landing page. The code looks something like:
<meta http-equiv=”refresh” content=”0;URL=YOUR LANDING PAGE”/>
<title>YOUR LANDING PAGE TITLE</title>
This creates a meta-redirect that will take subscribers to your landing page.
Resend Emails to Users Who Didn’t Open Them
If you are on an unlimited sending plan, as all active marketers should be, you are paying based on the amount of subscribers you have, not the amount of emails you send. This means you want to make the most of every subscriber.
If a subscriber doesn’t open an email, you are wasting money. There’s a little trick you can use to increase opens. I initially read about this tactic on Noah Kagan’s website and eventually saw MailChimp promoting the tactic as well.
It’s so simple, yet so effective.
You simply resend your email campaigns to subscribers who never opened the initial campaign.
You can do this by replicating the campaign in MailChimp and sending it to a segment of users who did not open the last campaign.
If you want to be lazy, you can just send the exact campaign. If you’re feeling ambitious, take the extra minute to change your subject line.
Make sure you wait at least three days before doing this. You want to give subscribers enough time to open the email and not everyone checks their email daily.
Trigger Emails Based on Site Activity
If you want to make the most of MailChimp, you should have the “Goal” integration set up on your website. This is a script that reports site data to MailChimp and allows you to tailor campaigns accordingly.
The script can be accessed under Account > Integrations > Goal
There are a few ways you can use this script. One of my favorite ways is to trigger emails based on site activity.
You can set up an automation campaign that sends emails when a user visits a specific page on your site. This is an incredibly powerful tool.
Of course, you don’t want to get creepy with it, so make sure you set an appropriate delay on the email.
Here are a few ways you can use this:
(Note: the first two either require the E-Commerce integration or a list segmenting strategy that separates shoppers, cart abandoners, and buyers)
Target people who made it to the cart but never completed the order and remind them about your awesome product.
Target people who browsed products but never made it to the cart and present them with an offer they can’t refuse.
Target people with more content similar to the content they just browsed. For example, this is a marketing blog but it has topics ranging from social media to paid advertising. If someone visits a social media article, I could send them more content related to social media.
Turn Readers Into Buyers
Target active users who visited a few popular pages (such as blog posts) on the site but never made it to a “selling” page and inform them about your product.
Segment Emails Based on Social Profiles
MailChimp has an option (paid feature) to add social profiles to your subscribers, meaning it shows you the Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn accounts of a particular subscriber. You pay extra for this, but it can be valuable for some companies.
First of all, this provides some helpful demographic data about your list. Social profiles will segment subscribers by age, social network, gender, and influence rating.
You can then use that data to create hyper-targeted emails. Here are some segmentation examples:
Create emails specifically for males or specifically for females. For example, if you have a “Ladies Night” event at your venue, you can contact only the females on your list.
You can also change the wording of the same campaign to appeal to both genders. For example, using the same “Ladies Night” campaign example, you could send an email to women that is focused on a free cover and an email to men telling them to dress sharp for ladies night.
Create emails specifically for subscribers who have profiles on certain social media accounts. For example, if you are trying to popularize a hashtag, you could email all of your subscribers who have Twitter accounts without bothering those who don’t.
Extend Your Autoresponder Past “The Squeeze”
Most autoresponders are setup in a “funnel-like” manner, where the subscriber goes from awareness to consideration to decision. Accordingly, most autoresponders only consist of a few emails (~5 emails). So, what happens next? What happens if the subscriber isn’t sold?
You can rely on your email blasts, but a) this requires manual work and b) it treats all subscribers the same, regardless of when they subscribed.
Alternatively, you can put your email campaigns on autopilot. This will save you a TON of time and help you make the most of every subscriber.
Basically, you create your initial autoresponder. Let’s assume it’s 5 emails over two weeks.
If a subscriber buys (or completes your “squeeze”), you remove them from the list. If the subscriber does not buy, you trigger the autopilot email campaign.
The autopilot email campaign consists of content that isn’t directly related to your squeeze but keeps subscribers active and returning to your site.
For example, let’s say you run a nutritional advice blog and your funnel-like autoresponder is ultimately designed to sell a $49 meal-plan. Create your autoresponder as you normally would. Then, instead of ending the automation, start promoting your other content, such as articles on the site, other freebies, etc.
This helps you a) keep the subscriber engaged with your brand b) keep your niche relevant (such as a healthy lifestyle) and c) makes the most of your brand content.
I will often set up these campaigns for 60-90 days.
Now, I’m sure there are some skeptics, as I was skeptical of this approach when I first started, but the data doesn’t lie. On a 72-day autoresponder campaign, these were my results:
- Average Open Rate During First Week (Days 1-7) 30%
- Average Open Rate During Last Week (Days 65-72) 24%
Yes, there was a slight drop in open rate BUT the process is completely automated and requires no work on my end.
Run Split Tests With Lifelong Returns
Split-testing, or “A/B testing” has become somewhat of a buzzword in the marketing community.
“You’ve gotta split-test everything, bro.”
“The results of my split-test were fascinating.”
The problem is that not everyone split tests properly, therefore the insights are really not all that “insightful.” For example, you could split-test a landing page or email against the EXACT same copy and there would be some variance in the results.
Your goal should be to create split-tests that are both statistically significant AND provide lifelong actionable takeaways.
Think about the following fictional split-test:
Subject Line A (25% Open Rate): 10% Off This Weekend Only
Subject Line B (20% Open Rate): Save 10% During Our Weekend Sale
Does this really provide you with any takeaways that can be applied to your future campaigns? You should focus on running split tests that allow you to improve both your current campaign AND your future campaigns.
This means you need to test broader concepts and this process needs to be intentional.
Here are some examples that can be applied to subject lines:
|Emojis vs. No emojis|
|Your Free Gift 🙂||Your Free Gift|
|Short vs. Long|
|Labor Day Sale||Check Out Our Labor Day Sale This Weekend!|
|Subscriber Name vs. No Name|
|John, I have something for you||I have something for you|
|Ambiguous vs. Detailed|
|It’s time||Our new product has finally launched!|
|Lowercase (casual) vs. Uppercase (proper)|
|i need your help||I Need Your Help|
|Capitalized Text vs. No Capitalized Text|
|FREE SHIPPING This Weekend Only||Free Shipping This Weekend Only|
|Value Focused vs. Feature Focused vs. Benefit Focused|
|Save $50 on All Diet Plans This Weekend||Detailed Meal Plans Designed by Professional Nutritionists||Shave 4 Inches of Your Waste and Start Feeling Confident Again|
The list goes on and on, but the main point is that you get actionable takeaways. For example, if a subject line with emojis gets more opens, you can use more emojis in future emails. If ambiguous subject lines get more opens, you can write more ambiguous subject lines.
In short, make sure every test has an actionable takeaway. Test it a few times to make sure (especially if you have a smaller list).
Use Conversations to Manage Replies
When you set up a campaign in MailChimp you have the option to “Use Conversations to Manage Replies.” When you do this, MailChimp stores these conversations with the subscriber data. This is particularly helpful for companies who want to use MailChimp as a CRM of sorts (If you already have a more intricate CRM, you probably won’t need this feature).
It could be argued that this may make customer conversations less “personal” but I believe that the benefits outweigh the costs, especially for companies with bigger lists.
Here are a few practical applications:
If you have a team of people managing your customer service, conversations can keep everyone in sync. Everyone will get an alert for a reply, assuring there is no confusion amongst team members. If one team member wants to take over the conversation, they can turn off notifications for other members.
Having all customer conversations stored in MailChimp can help you get more data about your customers. This can help you make better customer service decisions. For example, you may have rude subscribers, subscribers who ask tons of questions but never buy, or customers who had an issue in the past that was eventually resolved.
As marketers, we are always excited to talk about our company. We like to explain why we’re the best and promote all of the great things about our companies. We assume that the more we can educate a subscriber, the more likely they are to convert.
Here’s a secret; sometimes, less is more.
While you may think your new guide to MailChimp marketing tactics is going to be a big hit, some customers may not care. Why give them the opportunity to make that decision before they even get to your landing page? Even worse, why give them that decision before they even open the email?
Curiosity triggers action.
Let’s continue to use this post as an example. Which variation are you more likely to click on:
Subject: Advanced MailChimp Marketing Tactics
Check out my new blog post on advanced MailChimp marketing tips.
I’ll go over a few ways you can improve your subject lines, some advanced segmentation tips, and some advanced features most marketers aren’t using.
Check out the blog post here.
Subject: This helped me double my traffic
I always hear marketers say they want more traffic from their emails, but none of them are doing this.
I made this simple change and my website traffic has doubled.
My only regret is that I didn’t do this sooner.
So, obviously this is an exaggerated example, but you should get the point.
In the first example, I know exactly what the article is about before I even open the email. At that point, I can decide whether I’m in the mood to read that article an open/click accordingly.
In the second example, I don’t know where the link will take me, but I do know I want to double my traffic. At the very least, I’m curious, and this curiosity can be satiated with a simple click.
Do some people prefer more detail? Yes.
Can this get obnoxious if you do it ALL the time? Yes.
Is this appropriate for every business? No.
Try it out and see what works best for your business.
I have to admit, I’m still a sucker for emails like these even though I know exactly what the senders are doing.
Use Surveys and Polls
All of the tactics we’ve discussed so far are based around “guessing” subscriber preferences and behavior. You know the best way to learn about your subscribers? Ask them questions.
You could run multiple campaigns and split tests to find out whether your subscribers prefer articles about Topic A or Topic B, OR you could simply ask them.
One of the best ways to do this is through a poll. We all like having our voices heard, but we don’t want to do too much work. I’m not recommending that you send out your 10-Minute survey to your customers.
Instead, use MailChimp merge tags.
MailChimp allows you to embed a poll directly into your email. You simply ask a question and setup the answers using merge tags.
My advice – stick to one question.
You also want to make sure the answers will give you an actionable takeaway that will allow you to modify future marketing activities.
Here are some example questions that you may want answered:
Let’s use a fitness blog as the example
Which topic do you enjoy the most?
Weight Lifting Guides
Which do you struggle with the most?
Finding time to go to the gym
Sticking to a diet plan
Why haven’t you purchased our 30-day meal plan yet?
I purchased another meal plan from somewhere else
I’m waiting for New Years
I like making my own meal plan
Remember, you are asking a favor from your subscribers, so be courteous and make sure your email copy entices them to answer.
The cool thing is, you can then segment customers based on their answers. So, if subscribers like reading about supplements, you can send them articles about supplements without wasting their time on weight lifting guides (and vice versa). If you know WHY a customer isn’t buying, you can make a better pitch.
Remove Customers Who Never Opened an Email
Depending on how you collect subscribers, you may have a lot of “low quality” subscribers on your list. For example, if you use viral giveaways to increase opt-ins, you may have a bunch of “freebie lovers” who don’t care about your product.
You pay the same amount for every subscriber, regardless of the quality. From time to time, you may want to clean up your lists.
If a subscriber hasn’t opened an email in 3+ months, they are of no value to you, you are paying for them, and they are distorting your campaign stats.
I like to clean up my lists from time to time. You can do this by creating a segment and then deleting all of those emails.
Generally, I’m pretty liberal with my approach. If a subscriber hasn’t opened a campaign in the past 3-5 months (assuming, I’ve sent around 10), I will remove him/her from the list. This keeps my email marketing costs down and keeps my stats relevant.