I just got off the phone with a client of mine who’s enjoying a year on year increase in site sessions. Organic traffic is up, referral traffic is up, and email traffic is up – lovely stuff – but engagement metrics have also improved, especially for those visitors coming via email, and so I wanted to look at why.

We’ve got the luxury of some lovely new resources to tempt the recipients of emails to click through and download ebooks, whitepapers, and datasheets, but we still need to persuade them to open, and then read, the emails in the first place. It’s that that I want to focus on in this blog post.

Email copy to convert

You’ve got your lists set up, and you understand that you need to build relationships with all the contacts on there in order to eventually sell to them and have them convert. But how? Here are some ideas to get you thinking about exactly how to approach what can be a bit of an intimidating, even disheartening, activity:

Don’t be afraid to try and sell early on

People that have recently signed up to your email list are good, qualified leads. They’ve categorically told you they’re interested in what you do and what you can offer them, and so don’t hold back in those first couple of weeks. Get them used to the idea of converting with you with something small (either in terms of price, or perceived commitment). For those who’ve been on your list for a while, it’s probably time you checked whether you’re still relevant. If they haven’t been opening your emails, they’re probably just not that into you…

Cleanse your list

The idea isn’t to build a huge email list. The idea is to build a relevant one. An email list full of people who delete on receipt is useless. When you offer something genuinely useful, you don’t need to force people into the sales funnel, they’ll enter willingly. Segment the disinterested recipients and build a small campaign to check in and see if they still want to receive your communications, or whether they just forgot to unsubscribe. If they go, they go.

Segment, segment, segment

Set up different lists for different offerings so you can really tailor your emails for higher conversion rates. First, you hit up the entire list, then you can split it down based on their level of engagement; did they open/click through/read/download/purchase/sign-up etc. The more you divide your lists up, the more granular you can make your email campaigns. It may require more copywriting time, but it’s worth it if it works!

Be comfortable when you’re selling

You’ve got something good, so don’t be worried about trying to sell it in. Encouraging conversions through a sales email campaign is fine. It’s an accepted practice. You don’t need to be sorry that you’re promoting what you do to the people that have told you they’re interested in what you do by signing up. There’s no need to be pushy, but you can be honest about your intentions.

Test your email copy

Think of the email as a “micro conversion”. You want people to open your email, and then click through to the landing page, where the conversion actually lives. You can split test your emails with the click through as the goal, and so the email with the highest click through rate will be the one that you send out to your list(s). You can vary between short, punchy emails, and longer, more story-like ones. People like stories, but certain segments of your list might not require the same volume of information as others. Similarly, someone that hasn’t clicked a sales email previously might require a little more persuasion than someone that’s already switched on to your brand.

Improving email conversion rate

Unfortunately, email is seen by many as an ugly sales tool. It’s had a bum rap because there’s a very fine line between reaching out and spamming someone’s inbox. A lot of people have experienced those campaigns that advertise a LIMITED OFFER NOT TO BE MISSED only to find that the offer is not only irrelevant, but then receive further follow up emails about the offer extending… that could get annoying pretty quickly.

Stay relevant, stay honest, and keep testing – you may lose subscribers, but you’ll keep the ones that matter.