Email Remains the Best Medium for Business Communication

The best medium for business communication is email

When it comes to business communication, email is still the best medium over all other channels, regardless of your industry or location. Email trumped social media, messenger apps, phone, and even face-to-face communications.

What this means is that you should take full advantage of email automation to “move” your leads down the funnel. Unfortunately, a lot of Philippine organizations don’t use email marketing. And for the few organizations who use them, they often employ ineffective email marketing tactics, or worse, implement malpractices causes more harm to their brand.

Why email remains the top choice for business communication

We’re in the Philippines. Despite our reputation for being the texting capital of the world, when it comes to business communication, SMS text and even Viber or Messenger don’t cut it.

Why?

Because most software uses email addresses as the unique identifier in creating leads. Read this article I wrote before about the definition of a lead. I am writing a post about how most business owners operate (which is, sadly, still paper-based).

The point I want to get across with that article is that if there is no way to measure what and how you’re doing, you won’t be able to make informed decisions.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) softwares are typically used for tracking leads, opportunities, and revenues.

Bottomline is this: these CRMs rely on email addresses to identify whether a person is unique or not. Also, given the state of technology in our country, there is no commercially available software that allows for tracking based on phone numbers. Yes, we have text blasts services. But they aren’t connected to a system that contains all other information you might have for the lead or customer.

What that means is any information sent back by them won’t be integrated with your existing systems. You have to manually update them. You also won’t be able to create a segment for, say, leads in the last 14 days, then only send a text blast to them.

How email fits in the marketing and sales funnel

Most organizations’ number 2 directive is to generate more leads. The first is to get new customers, but let’s talk about that in some future post.

One thing that we know is this: not all leads are created equal.

This is where lead nurturing comes in.

According to EConsultancy, lead nurturing is only performed by 31% of companies despite being termed as the “holy grail” of marketing automation.

There are numerous ways to implement lead nurturing campaigns. But one thing remains — there is a need to nurture leads; otherwise, you’re wasting your time and money acquiring leads when you already know they aren’t going to buy now.

Put yourself in your customers’ shoes

How do most organizations handle their new leads? They hand them over to sales and/or send them sales-y messages immediately.

Imagine this scenario:

You enter a store with the intent to browse. Then, a salesperson started following you around. The person doesn’t strike a conversation and doesn’t ask what you’re looking for. The salesperson just started offering their products at discounted prices.

How would you feel if you were the customer?

That’s the same thing when it comes to digital marketing.

If you don’t create value-adding touchpoints in between, you’ll annoy them and cause them to leave.

Lead nurturing solves that problem.

Nurtured leads produce, on average, a 20% increase in sales opportunities and make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads.

So, what are you going to do next?

Having a lead nurturing strategy in place can ease the pressure of getting new leads each month because your existing ones don’t fall through the cracks. Instead of worrying about the quantity, you can start focusing on the quality of your leads. You build a relationship with them over time.

I wrote about 3 lead nurturing examples from companies you’re already familiar with. In that article, I broke down both the good and the bad parts.

Get some inspiration on how they execute their lead nurturing campaigns.

And if you have questions, feel free to reach out in the comments below.

12 Different Types of Marketing Email to Make Your Email Marketing Effective

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Most organizations think that email marketing is all about sending the newsletter. Did you know that there are 12 different types of marketing email you can send?

In this article, I’ll go through all these 12 email marketing examples and present a way to categorize them:

  1. Product/service update email
  2. Newsletter
  3. New content announcement email
  4. Event invitation
  5. Dedicated email send
  6. Co-marketing email
  7. Social media send
  8. Internal updates
  9. Confirmation email
  10. Thank you email
  11. Welcome email
  12. Lead nurturing emails

But before we get started, I want to go through some preparatory points.

What you call a newsletter is actually one of the most ineffective marketing tactics marketers use today.

In this post, I’ll be sharing 12 different types of marketing email you should be sending from your email marketing software.

Preparatory Points: Email Categorization

There are two broad categories of emails that you can send: one-to-many and one-to-one. This doesn’t include personal/manual emails —like the ones you send to your customer or your boss.

One-to-many emails, sometimes called informational emails or campaign-specific emails, are types of email you send out to a lot of people. It’s what you’re probably most familiar with. Newsletters fall under this category of emails.

One-to-one emails are also called transactional emails. They are only sent after a certain action and/or behavior. A password reset request or an order confirmation from an e-commerce store are examples of transactional emails.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get started.

12 Different Types of Marketing Email

One-to-many Emails

1. Product/Service Update Email

A product/service update email is a type of email that 99% of organizations send out.

They (wrongly) call this a newsletter.

It’s an email about their products/services. Most of the time, its main message is a sale or a promo. Sometimes, it’s an update on features.

Here’s a great example from OptimizePress, a WordPress page builder.

product service update

Promos such as Black Friday sale, Christmas and holiday sale, year-end-sales also fall under this category since it talks about your products and services.

Like I said in other posts, there’s nothing wrong with it— unless it’s the only type of email you are sending.

2. Newsletters

The newsletter is a roundup of your blog posts and/or curated content.

It is NOT an email for promotions.

Promotion of your blog posts, maybe. But not sales related.

It is educational in nature.

Newsletters are used to deliver content to your reader’s inbox. For example, I am subscribed to the newsletters of WordStream, HubSpot, Jon Loomer, MailChimp, Copy Blogger, Close.io, and a whole lot more.

I subscribed to them because I want their content, WANT to read it. I look forward to it.

I learn from it.

Below’s a great example from Influence & Co, a content marketing agency. Take note that everything you find inside adds value to the reader. Click on the image to view a larger version.

Influence and Co newsletter adding value to the reader through content

If your readers are not excited about reading your newsletters, then most probably they are not educational content.

So. Please. Stop. Calling. Them. Newsletters.

I talked more about this issue here.

3. New Content Announcement Email

The content announcement email is an email that I have not seen a lot of companies do.

It’s an email you send that invites them to download and/or access the new content you just created.

For example, here’s one from WP Engine, one of the most well-known WordPress hosting.

Content announcement email from WP Engine to download a white paper

The link above is an affiliate link. At no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the link.

Content, in this case, is a “big piece” of content. It’s not a regular blog post or article. It is something more significant.

They are examples of marketing offers or lead magnets. Something most companies aren’t using.

4. Event Invitation

As the name suggests, this type of email is an invitation to an event. It’s usually a one-time send; but for those who engaged, i.e. pre-registered to the event, they get sent more information about the event.

For example, you might announce a webinar to your mailing list. From there, those who register get reminder emails on the day of the webinar, 1-hour before, and 15-minutes before the actual webinar.

Here’s how that may look like. This series came from a webinar I recently attended by CopyBlogger.

Example: Webinar invite email

copyblogger webinar 1

Example: Webinar on-the-day reminder email

copyblogger webinar 2

Example: Webinar 1-hour reminder email

copyblogger webinar 3

Example: Webinar 15-minute reminder email

copyblogger webinar 4

These emails doesn’t have to stop here. You can branch out and do more to continue to engage your audience. When you do a webinar, you basically have 3 audiences:

  1. People who registered and attended
  2. People who registered, but didn’t attend
  3. People who didn’t register

So, depending on those segments, you can create your “here’s your replay” email and make it more personalized. For example, to the first group, your messaging can go something like “thanks, here’s the replay to the webinar,” while the second group, you can say something like “sorry you missed the webinar, here’s the replay!”

This will help keep them engaged so they try out your product/service or whatever your offer will be.

5. Dedicated Send

This email is sent to a specific segment in your list about something.

The webinar reminder email I listed above is an example of a series of dedicated send emails.

You can use this for webinars, events, conference attendees, etc.

Here’s a great email from Aweber, an email marketing software.

Aweber's dedicated email send inviting me to a webinar

6. Co-marketing Email

This type of email is when two or more organizations send an email promoting the other one to their respective email lists.

Most of the time, the organizers are related and complementary to each other. For example, a marketing agency and a social media scheduler partnering together to promote a webinar they will be hosting together.

Here’s an example where MobileMonkey is promoting an SEMRush event to his mailing list.

MobileMonkey and SEMRush comarketing email

MobileMonkey is a chatbot software while SEMRush is an all-in-one marketing software.

The link above is an affiliate link. At no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the link.

7. Social Media Send

And speaking of MobileMonkey, this type of “email” isn’t exactly an email but it’s done inside any social media that allows messaging.

LinkedIn is where this is most likely to occur. You can also put group messaging apps/channels/chatbots here. For example, Facebook Messenger, Viper, Whatsapp, Telegram, and Slack allows you to send broadcast messages.

In a way, it’s a one-to-many messaging but uses another platform instead of email.

Sample chatbot messaging from MobileMonkey

8. Internal Updates

Email marketing is not limited just your prospects and customers.

Internal update emails are usually used by big organizations for announcements like corporate events, policy changes, etc.

Usually, HR and IT are the groups that send these types of email.

  • For HR, these are usually new employee hires and promotions
  • For IT, it’s mostly maintenance scheduling and/or cyber security best practices

But don’t stop there. It’s best to keep everyone updated on what’s happening around the organization—quarterly sales, new products lined up, what the executives are working on, etc.

For example, here’s a rather-public email from Tim Cook a few years back regarding their $1 trillion milestone.

Email of Tim Cook, Apple's CEO, regarding their  trillion milestone

One-to-one Emails

9. Confirmation Email

A confirmation email is a type of one-to-one email that summarizes a conversation and/or activity that the user just made.

If you bought from any e-commerce stores or signed up for a webinar or tradeshow online, you would have received a confirmation email immediately. That’s a great use of this transactional email.

Another instance this is used is during customer service chats or tickets. Upon finishing the ticket (assuming you provided your email), it will send you the transcript of the conversation.

Here’s an example from NordVPN, one of the most-trusted VPNs out there:

Sample confirmation email from NordVPN

The link above is an affiliate link. At no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the link.

10. Thank You Email

A thank you email is a type of email that gets sent right after a user action. Most of the time, this is when a person filled out a form on your landing page to access a marketing offer.

Others call this a form submit kickback email or incentive email.

Here’s an example from close.com, a CRM software, on a guide I downloaded.

Sample Thank You email from Steli of close.io

There are two ways you can use thank you emails:

  1. To deliver the promise or your marketing offer; or,
  2. To give additional information about the marketing offer

For example, if you download the white paper I made, you will receive a thank you email that has a link to the thank you page. That page is where you can access the white paper.

If you’re hosting a webinar or event, of course, you can’t deliver on your promise right away. So, your thank you email should contain information about the webinar or event — date, time, topic, etc.

The confirmation emails are, in a sense, also a form of a thank you email.

11. Welcome Email

A welcome email is exactly what it is— an email (or series of email) that welcomes the new subscriber into the email list or community.

Here’s a great example from Skillshare when I signed up for their service before.

Sample welcome email from SkillShare

The purpose of the welcome email is to be helpful or give added value. It’s not a place to sell.

The Skillshare example fulfills these criteria by being helpful —giving me a free offer — and adding value —they also included a list of their most popular classes.

Take note that this welcome email is for a specific action only. In the example above, it’s for signup to skillshare.com.

In your case, you could set up a separate welcome email for new subscribers to your list, new trial sign-ups, etc. (hint: personalization and segmentation)

12. Lead Nurturing Email

Lead nurturing emails are undoubtedly my favorite among these types of marketing email. Why? Because it’s so easy to do yet so few do it.

Lead nurture emails are designed to supplement your sales process by providing helpful information at the right time. Here’s how you create one from scratch.

If you use some marketing automation tools, you already have access to this. All you need to do is create them.

Think about it this way: your sales process is driven by stages (usually called sales stages or pipeline stages). If you defined what each stage means properly, you’d have identified which information you need at each stage.

For example, if you only have a name and email, they would most likely be only at stage 1 only. But if you know what they want to buy, their budget, and their timeline, they might already be at stage 6 of your sales process.

Lead nurturing emails supplement this sales process by sending these people educational content that will help them decide better (thus, faster) by giving them the information they need even before asking.

I wrote about 3 great examples of lead nurturing campaigns here.

So, What Are You Going to Do Now

Using these 12 examples of email marketing will differentiate you from everyone else.

It’s so easy to follow what everyone else is doing. And, because the bar is so low, a simple change will immediately catapult you to the front.

Start applying these different types and you’ll immediately see results from them.

What Is an Email Marketing Software

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An email marketing software is a tool that marketers use for email marketing. The software is used for a variety of reasons. These include both technical and business reasons.

For example, some business-related reasons are growing a list of email subscribers, promoting your products/services to these subscribers, and providing valuable and helpful content. On the other hand, some technical-related reasons are designing and building customized email templates, segmenting the list, and tracking. 

The purpose of using email marketing software goes beyond simply sending emails. It should allow you to develop relationships with your prospects and customers while achieving your business goals.

Below are some key features your email marketing software should be able to do.

5 Key Features of Email Marketing Software for 2021

Apart from the ability to create, format, and send an email, these five key features are the minimum features your email marketing software should have. Why?

It’s 2021 already. The market changes so rapidly that if you don’t have these “basic” features, you’re being short-changed. You’re already losing. It’s like using floppy disks when everyone else is using 2T hard drives.

Feature #1: Segmentation

This feature has got to be at the top of the must-have’s. The ability to segment lists is the one feature that can make or break your email marketing.

I won’t get into the details here. You can read it in my other post.

A short summary is this: segmenting your list gives you the ability to sent relevant content. It also guarantees you don’t send irrelevant content.

Simple explanation of how lead management works

I’ve used this example a lot. It’s so simple yet very few organizations do this.

If you’re a pet store, you can easily group your prospects and customer list into 3 broad segments — dog owners, cat owners, others.

If you have those segments, when you send dog-related content, you only send to dog owners. After all, if they are cat owners, why would they care about dogs, right? If you send to everyone in your list — which is one of the ineffective email marketing tactics today — you’re simply sending irrelevant content.

Feature #2: Track and Analyze Performance

Digital marketing allows you to track almost everything. Tracking and analyzing performance is crucial if you want to stop wasting resources.
Your chosen email marketing software should allow you to track and analyze the performance of your email marketing activities — at least. Some advanced softwares allow you to connect your eCommerce store — where you can see how much revenues your campaigns and specific emails brought you.

Some basic metrics are the open rates and click-through rates of your emails.

A high-level overview of the two metrics and how you use them is this:

Open rate

Open rate is the % of people who opened your email. It is calculated as number of opens divided by total emails delivered.

The higher your open rate is, the more people viewed the content of your email.

PS: This is one of the vanity metrics you should stop obsessing on though. I’ll discuss more about this in another artilcle.

Click-through rate

Click-through rate (CTR) is the % of people who clicked on a link in your email. It is calculated by the number of clicks divided by the total opens.

The higher your CTR is, the more people are taking action on your email.

Feature 3: A/B Test

The ability to A/B test is a very important feature. It allows you to move from “I think” to “I know.” In other words, stop guessing.

When you use A/B tests, you determine which “variable” is better. There are, of course, a lot of applications for this in other aspects of digital marketing.

But in email marketing, the most popular A/B test is the Subject Line test. That’s where you test two (or more) subject lines.

Normally, the process for A/B testing goes like this:

  1. Determine variable to test
  2. Determine a metric to use
  3. Determine percentage of audience to test
  4. Determine time period to determine winner
  5. Execute

So if you’re doing the A/B test on a subject line, the thought-process goes like this:

  1. I want to test the subject line. I’m going with just 2 combinations.
  2. Since the content of my email is an announcement, I want more people to view it. So, the metric I’ll use is the open rate.
  3. I want to test the subject lines to 50% of my list.
  4. I’ll choose 4 hours
  5. Send

What will happen here is that once you hit send, 50% of the 50% will receive the subject line 1 and the other 50% will receive the subject line 2.

After 4 hours, the email marketing software will see which subject line has a higher open rate. Then, it sends that subject line to the remaining 50%.

Feature 4: CRM Integration

Your email marketing software should integrate smoothly with your CRM software.

This is especially true for B2B and for those who focus sell high-ticket items where it’s necessary to develop a real relationship with your customers (real estate, furniture, etc.).

For most organizations, the email marketing software acts as the master database. A CRM integration gives your salespeople the ability to see the bigger picture.

For example, if you’re using HubSpot, you’ll be able to see that contact’s interaction/engagement history. This can give you a better understanding of the concerns of that lead.

Here’s a specific example on one of the leads on my site. The person found me via LinkedIn. Then the lead subscribed to my newsletter on this specific page on my site.

Sample HubSpot Email Marketing Software - CRM Timeline
HubSpot Email Marketing Software / CRM Timeline

So, if you were the salesperson, you’d already have a starting point for your conversation. This will help you build rapport easily.

Feature 5: Automation

The last feature your email marketing software should have is the ability to make life easier for you. Email marketing automation is the process of automating activities you’d normally do yourself.

For example, sending a welcome email series to your new subscribers (like this one below).

MNLGrowkits First Purchase Welcome Series
MNLGrowkits First Purchase Welcome Series | MailChimp – Email Marketing Software

Or using auto-responders for action-based activities. For example, if you downloaded this case study, you’d get an email like this:

Sample autoresponder email on ariel-lim.com

There are a lot of uses of automation. It really depends on how your organization is set up and what your goals are.

These are the 5 key features your email marketing software should have. If your current system don’t have these, it’s high time to start looking for a new software.

But if your organization is still not using email marketing and are looking for a software, you can start with these features. Afterall, email marketing gives you the highest ROI across any channel — including social media.

5 Examples of Ineffective Email Marketing

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Email marketing is simple, but hard to execute properly. Most of the time, marketers blindly do what they are used to without realizing that there are more effective ways to use email marketing.

In this article, you’ll learn the 5 ineffective email marketing examples and why you should avoid them if you want to grow your business:

  1. Sending only newsletters
  2. Sending promos/discounts disguised as newsletters
  3. Not using autoresponders
  4. Sending to your entire list
  5. Not having a lead nurturing strategy

Stop for a moment and think about the last email you sent from your email marketing software.

I’m 99.99% sure that you call that email a newsletter. And I’m 99.99% sure that the contents of that email have something to do about your current promos or events.

Did I get that right?

If I did, read on.

If not, you’re most likely using email marketing effectively.

Ineffective Examples of Email Marketing: What Is It and How to Spot It

Before proceeding, I’d like to take this chance to say that this post contains examples of ineffective email marketing.

I highly recommend reading those. You might be doing those email marketing tactics but aren’t aware that they’re illegal. Or maybe you’re new to email marketing and the only thing you know are sending newsletters and promo emails.

Now that that’s out of the way, here’s a list of ineffective ways marketers use email marketing.

Why are they ineffective?

  1. These tactics are not violating any laws. If they did, they’ll be under the list of malpractices.
  2. They are not bringing in results to your organization. Or if they are, it’s most likely taking a long time. This is the primary reason why they are ineffective.

5 Ineffective Email Marketing Tactics Used by Marketers

1. Sending only newsletters

Sending newsletters is a given in any organization that uses email marketing. Most of the time, this is sent at least once a month.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this. In fact, this is better than not sending any emails to your prospects and customers at all.

Why is this ineffective?

Studies have shown that it’s better to send an email at least every 2-4 weeks. This allows you to “stay top of mind” with your prospects and customers.

But if this is the only email type you’re sending, you’re not using email marketing fully. There are 12 different types of email you can send using email marketing.

And using only one puts you at a disadvantage.

2. Sending promos/discounts disguised as newsletters

Newsletters originally came from company bulletin boards. If you aren’t aware, these are spaces intended for posting of public messages, awards, and other memos.

Then, when organizations started using email, information was disseminated through the company mailing list. See, before the internet, email was only used internally by employees. Thus, the company newsletter.

When the internet arrived, marketers adopted this mass broadcasting of information.

In the early days of digital marketing, newsletters were used to summarize blog posts, company announcements, and events that happened to keep the public informed and up-to-date.

However, with the growth of eCommerce — especially the group buying and flash sale sites — the newsletter has lost its true purpose. It has become a way to advertise sales and promos.

Why is this ineffective?

Again, there’s nothing wrong with sending these kinds of email.

But, you have to be careful when you use this tactic. If you do not consider your message carefully, you will only end up sending irrelevant content to your email list.

Or another way to put it, if this is the only type of email you send out, you’re only going to irritate your recipients.

Here’s a specific example…

The call-to-action they have on their website is to join the newsletter. Pretty standard for an eCommerce site.

After joining, here’s the only thing I received from them:

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Everyday it’s about a sale. It’s about them getting something from me.

When people subscribe to a newsletter, they expect content. They expect to receive something valuable to them.

Not sales.

Not promotions.

Take a look at some of the organizations that do this well.

MailChimp's newsletter in my inbox, full of worthy content
WordStream's newsletter in my inbox, full of worthy content

Both send at different intervals.

  • MailChimp sends once a week;
  • WordStream sends daily emails

Do you see anything sales related?

The emails were all about me getting something from them. Not the other way around.

That’s also the biggest reason I read them all because it helps me grow. I learn from it. That’s why I keep using these services.

3. Not using auto-responders

Auto-responders fall under the transactional category of emails. They are sent only after a certain action by someone.

Most common uses of auto-responders are a reset password email and a confirmation email.

Why is this ineffective

If your organization is not using this, you are missing out on developing that relationship with your audience.

Auto-responders have the highest open rate among all types of emails. If you want to communicate something, this is the email to use.

If you’re using marketing offers (aka lead magnets), you should have a confirmation email that supports the message in your thank you page.

4. Not segmenting your list

Segmenting your list is one of the components of effective lead management.

Segmenting means categorizing the people in your database based on certain criteria and/or behaviors.

Some examples of segments that every organization should have are as follows:

  • Blog subscribers
  • Leads
  • Opportunities
  • Customers

Why is this ineffective?

If you subscribed to a blog, what is the message you’d expect to get from that organization?

Content from their blog, right?

But this isn’t the case. Most of the time, organizations send promotional emails disguised as newsletters. This creates a cognitive dissonance in your audience.

These nuances add up. Different people have different thresholds. Once you go over that limit, you lose that person forever.

For example, you have a customer who just bought an item at a regular price. If you are not segmenting your list, you could end up sending a promo for the same item to the person who just bought at a regular price.

You’d end up disappointing that new customer. Albeit small, that person might not buy from you at regular prices anymore.

5. Not having a lead nurturing strategy

A proper lead nurturing strategy is essential if you want to succeed in email marketing.

An effective nurture strategy has one goal — to move that person from one stage in the funnel to the next.

Naturally, you need a well-defined marketing and sales funnel for that to happen. A sample funnel which I described in the previous section is this:

  • Blog subscriber
  • Lead
  • Opportunity
  • Customer

Once someone enters a specific segment, that person should be sent automated emails that moves them to the next stage.

Why is this ineffective?

Without a cohesive strategy to manage your leads, you will end up failing in email marketing.

Let’s say you attended an event. You gave out dog treats in exchange for the person’s email.

When you get back to your office the next day, you added everything to your email marketing software. Then, send them your on-going promotions.

If you’re thinking that’s the right thing to do, you’re not thinking long-term. You’re violating the primary goal of lead nurturing.

The first thing you should send is a thank you email. Next, you should send them more info about your company, what you do, what makes you different, etc.

This warms up the lead. It “reminds” them who you are. It shows that you care about them, not just their money.

What About You

It’s no wonder a lot of marketers say their email marketing isn’t working.

Sending sales-y messages isn’t wrong. But it should not be the only thing you send out from your email marketing.

Almost everyone is doing that. If you want to stand out, it’s really easy.

Stop sending these sales messages.

Create helpful content. Send them to relevant segments. Focus on adding value through education.

What Is Lead Management

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Lead management is a set of practices designed to generate revenues by tracking leads, segmenting, and qualifying them from acquisition until they become a customer.

It is one of the 3 pillars of email marketing.

Another way to describe lead management is that it is a system that enables you to segment the leads as they come in your database based on several factors that you deem relevant; then later on, be able to nurture them until they either become your customer or simply fall of the marketing and sales funnel.

What Does Lead Management Look Like

Let’s say you are a pet store that recently started an eCommerce website. You sell pet food and accessories.

As with most pet stores in the Philippines, majority of your customers are made up of dog owners and cat owners.

Simple explanation of how lead management works

With proper lead management, you will be able to segment people who are dog owners from the cat owners.

This segmentation allows you to send emails to dog owners without sending that same email to cat owners.

[bctt tweet=”Data shows that 56% of email users unsubscribe because the content is no longer relevant. http://snip.ly/higla” via=”no”]

That way, the owners will not receive emails that are irrelevant to them — i.e. Cat owners receiving an email about dogs, and vice-versa.

4 Components of an Effective Lead Management Strategy

Implementing an effective lead management strategy is not easy. It requires collaboration among different departments / groups of people depending on how big your organization is.

1. Alignment Among Departments

The first step in implementing lead management is to have all departments / people who engage with prospects and customers to agree on what information to track.

This alignment allows everyone to be on the same page. It also makes it possible to ensure no overlap happens among the functions.

This usually starts with the alignment of marketing and sales. This determines who is in-charge of who and at what stage in the funnel they are in.

If a person subscribes to the blog, who’s in-charge? Is it marketing? Or is it sales?

What specific information and/or action does the lead need to take before marketing passes the lead to sales? What about when does sales pass it on to customer success?

Example of a Defined Marketing and Sales Funnel

A simple funnel looks like this: visitor –> lead –> opportunity –> customer.

  • A visitor is someone who visits your website.
  • That person becomes a lead once you have their email address
  • They become an opportunity when they either requested for a price catalog or when they checked out.
  • They become a customer once they pay.

Marketing has responsibility for visitors and leads, while sales have responsibility for opportunities and customers.

2. Identify Key Segments

Next, everyone needs to determine the key segments in the database. Put it in another way, the organization needs to agree on how to slice-and-dice the people in the database.

This is a prerequisite to implementing an effective lead nurturing program.

Continuing from the pet store example, here is a list of the basic segments you should be using:

  1. Leads vs Customers (lifecycle or funnel)
  2. Type of owner (first-time, certified pet parent)
  3. Pet owned (dog, cat, others)
  4. City / area

You’ll see this in action in the example at the bottom of the post.

These are the different segments that are relevant to your organization. This differs from one company to another.

You have to define this based on what you think is important to your organization. The most simple way you can do this is following the example in the next section.

Why is this important? 

Data shows that 56% of email users unsubscribe because the content is no longer relevant. Think about that for a moment.

These people unsubscribed from companies not because the email subject nor the copy was bad. In fact, it may be awesome. Rather, they unsubscribed because the content is no longer relevant to them.

If you’re a cat owner and continuously receive emails about dogs, how would you feel?

3. Create Content for Each Segment

At this point, your marketing and sales funnel stages are aligned and you have already identified the key segments. The next step is to plan and create content for each segment to move them further down the funnel. This process is also called content mapping.

Take note that you should only move them down the funnel one step at a time. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a very pushy message.

Example of Content Mapping

For example, you map out your funnel like this:

  1. Subscribed to blog
  2. Downloaded a PDF
  3. Requested a price catalog
  4. Purchased an item
  5. Refer a friend

In this example, blog subscriber should not be sent emails about promos and discounts because the next step in the funnel is to have them engage deeper with the organization. This is identified as downloading one of the marketing offers.

Combining #2 with this one, you can create these PDFs as marketing offers:

  • Tips for First-Time Dog Owners
  • Tips for First-Time Cat Owners
  • Tips for First-Time Pet Owners

So, all your emails to blog subscribers should move them down the funnel. That is achieved by (1) continuously sending them blog updates to honor their first action, (2) send occasional messages asking them to download an offer relevant to them.

Of course, there are times when you can bypass this flow. There are only 3 scenarios here: two of which are effective while one isn’t.

  1. If a blog subscriber takes a specific that puts them in the lower stage of the funnel (i.e. requested a price catalog or bought directly)
  2. Ask them (and agree) to be evangelists/promoters
  3. Ignore the segments and send emails that aren’t the next logical step
An Important Reminder

It is perfectly fine for that person to stay on that stage in the funnel for a long period.

That just means you are continuously providing value to that person but isn’t ready to buy yet.

In addition, the funnel stages are not necessarily linear.

For example, I’ve been a subscriber to HubSpot’s blog since 2012. I became a customer after 2 years. But, because they didn’t push their product in my face and continued providing me value, I eventually used their software once the circumstances were right.

In that two years, they’ve probably sent me 5 emails or less about their product. But I’ve received over 300 emails that I’ve read. I’ve been very vocal about HubSpot (making me an evangelist), but then I became a customer.

4. Use Automation to Move Them Down the Funnel

Email automation is where you use a software to automate the sending of emails (or messages if your software allows it) when certain conditions happen.

This is the bridge between the segments in #2 and the content in #3. The principle behind this is to deliver the right message at the right time.

For example, a person downloads a PDF about Tips for First-time Dog Owners. Two things happen here:

  1. You know they are dog owners
  2. You know they are first-time owners

So, the next logical step here is not to sell to them. Rather, it’s to send them educational content that will help them reach the next stage.

Once they downloaded the PDF, they get sent an email series that teaches them about being a first-time dog owner. This could be a 5-part email that is spread 1 week apart.

This bears repeating — this email series is designed to educate them. So, don’t mention your products or services. You could write about the nutrition and how to determine the right amount of food to give, or how to train, etc.

Bringing It All Together: Lead Management Example

Lead management is easier to demonstrate everything using specific examples. Take a look at this table:

StageActionCat OwnerDog Owner
LeadSubscribed to blog– Continue sending emails from the blog about
– Send an email asking them to download the PDF of Tips for First-time cat owners
– Send an email about a what to do when your cat does this
– Continue sending emails from the blog about
– Send an email asking them to download the PDF of Tips for First-time dog owners
– Send them an email about a 8-week puppy training program
Qualified LeadDownloaded an Offer (PDF)Enroll in an email series.

For example, everyone who downloaded a PDF gets enrolled in an email series like this:
Email 1: Do’s and Don’ts of Cat Parenting
– Email 2: How to Train Your Cat
– Email 3: Cat Litter Training
– Email 4: 24/7 Vet Clinics in ____ City
(what content do you think should go here?)
OpportunityRequested a price catalog– Send them occasional emails about new products / promos
– Ask them to visit your shop
(what content do you think should go here?)
CustomerBought an item– Send timed emailsBought 1kg cat food; if they own 1 cat, send them a reminder to stock up after 4 weeks.
– Ask for reviews
– Ask if they want to sample a treat/toy/accessory you’re promoting
(what content do you think should go here?)

Automation is all about delivering the content you made to the individual segments at scale. This allows you to continue “selling without being pushy.” You’re nurturing the relationship and building trust. You’re demonstrating that you care about them, not just their money.

Lead management is how the leads that come in your database are tracked, segmented, and nurtured. It starts the moment they enter your email database. It is a continuous process that never ends.

4 Common Email Marketing Malpractices

4 Common Email Marketing Malpractices

Email marketing is one of the most frequently used marketing tactic by organizations. Unfortunately, it is also abused by a lot of marketers.

In this article, I’ll share 4 email marketing malpractices (or frowned-upon tactics) that marketers often use.

It’s important to note that these are different from ineffective use of email marketing — which a lot of digital marketers are also doing.

4 Email Marketing Malpractices / Wrong Ways People Use Email Marketing

  1. BCC method
  2. Buying lists
  3. Sending emails to people who have not explicitly opted in
  4. Not including an unsubscribe option

Before anything else, these malpractices are using US laws regarding email marketing. The reason for this is the Philippines doesn’t have such law existing nor have any legislative body that can effectively implement violations.

1) Sending mass email via BCC method

The BCC method is sending an email to multiple people at the same time, but instead of sending the email in the TO field, the sender enters the email in the BCC field. This is a malpractice because it violates at least two principles in the CAN-SPAM Act:

  1. Recipient must opt in to receiving emails from the organization (or a representative)
  2. Recipient must be able to opt out / stop receiving the emails

This is a form of spamming because of the nature of the content (commercial) and lacks permission.

Sample Scenario

This method is often used by salespeople in order to announce a sale or promo happening.

Often, these are real estate agents who either (1) acquired the email addresses via an event like an open house, or (2) through one of their buddies in the industry (see buying lists).

They send from a Gmail or other free email accounts with a convention of [email protected]

In some cases, marketers also use this tactic. They are either (1) archaic/old, (2) young, or (3) cheap and don’t want to spend.

Rarely would these people use this tactic to game the system. Yes, those people exist. But most of the time, these people simply don’t know any better.

For example, fresh graduates (and those looking for internships) also use this kind of tactic to send their resumes and applications to multiple companies at the same time.

Discounting the job application example, in the US, this kind of unsolicited email can cost the organization up to $40,654 per email. That’s over PhP 2M per email!

Just imagine the penalty you could be facing if you send unsolicited email if the same laws apply here to the Philippines.

What to Do Next

As I mentioned above, there are no laws regarding this form of spamming in the Philippines. That is why a lot of marketers are still using this tactic.

If you’re one of these marketers, as a fellow professional, I strongly recommend you stop doing this. Use an appropriate email marketing software to handle your email marketing.

If you’re on the receiving end of this kind of email, I recommend approaching it at two levels:

  1. Inform the sender that that is a disgrace to the profession and must be stopped, and asked to be removed from the list. Then, mark the email as spam.
  2. If the sender ignores your request, and since you cannot opt out, create a filter to put all incoming emails from that email address to your junk/spam folder.

2) Buying email lists

Buying email lists, as the name denotes, is acquiring an email list from a separate entity (person and/or organization) for a price. Other variations of this email marketing malpractice is a colleague sharing their email list with you. While there is no money involved in the latter, it still falls in the same category.

Buying email lists is not a “problem” by itself. You can choose how to spend your money. It is the act of sending emails to the people on this list that makes it an email marketing malpractice.

It violates the opt-in principle where people should not receive commercial emails without their permission. 

Because list buying is so prevalent, internet service providers (ISPs) use a technique to called spam traps. They are basically email addresses that never opted-in nor is used by any person, but is constantly monitored.

spam trap looks like a real email address, but it doesn’t belong to a real person and can’t be used for any kind of communication.

Campaign Monitor

If you send to these email addresses, your domain could be blacklisted. That means you can’t send from your domain anymore.

So, if your organization is using this tactic, just stop. Practice effective lead generation and you’ll avoid this easily.

3) Sending emails to people who did not opt-in

Sending emails to people who did not opt-in to receive your messages is probably the most common among these malpractices. And, it is the easiest to solve!

This particular scenario is worth highlighting because the organization is collecting emails. But, they are not explicit as to what the emails will be used for nor what type of messages will be sent.

Every organization has different types of messages they use in their email marketing. Here are some of them:

  1. Blog updates
  2. Product/service updates
  3. Newsletter
  4. Promos
  5. Events

Depending on your organization, it’s best to be explicit as to what you will do with the emails upfront.

Example 1

For example, if they downloaded a PDF (aka lead magnet/marketing offer) on your website, most organizations include the person in the newsletter blast. Here’s where the problem starts.

Most organizations treat any lead in their database as the same. However, the person who downloaded the PDF does not necessarily want to receive your newsletters.

In addition, newsletters sent by organizations are mostly promotional in nature. They are not what they used to be — a round-up of industry news, blog articles, and other announcements.

So, if you send these promotional emails to people who did not opt-in to receive these kinds of emails, to that person, your emails are irrelevant. And that is the biggest reason for unsubscription.

Example 2

Another situation is if you are collecting newsletter subscribers via your blog. Most organizations are doing this.

But the problem is that organizations use that as a way to send their promotional emails.

The people who signed up for your newsletter only receives promotional messages. They never receive any content from your blog. There is a huge disconnect in the offer (newsletter from the blog) with the actual emails (promotional).

Both examples are borderline deceitful. There is a mismatch in the recipient’s expectations vs the sender’s intent.

And it’s easy to fix.

You can do this using segments. There are two ways you can achieve that: (1) by using a distinct signup form and (2) by asking them to update their email preferences.

First, determine what types of messages you want to send. Product updates, blog updates, promos, etc. Then, create the segments in your email database.

Application 1

You can create a separate form that goes into each of those segments. For example, in your blog sidebar, you can place a blog subscription form that sends them into your “blog subscribers segment.”

Then in other areas of your website, say your about us, you have a form that has a newsletter subscription.

Application 2

If multiple forms are too difficult to comprehend right now, then use this option. (I’d argue that that is the best way to do this since the more forms you have, the better chances of conversion you have)

Here, you simply highlight the email preferences section in your emails.

All email marketing softwares include an unsubscribe link (see malpractice 4 below). But the great part is that instead of frustrating them with annoying emails, be proactive about it and tell them immediately that they can choose to receive which types of emails they’ll be getting.

That way, you have better control over their experience.

4) Not including an unsubscribe option

An unsubscribe option is a link in an email that allows the recipient to stop receiving from the sender.

Some email marketing software use this as a way to either (1) customize the types/frequency of email the recipient wants to receive and (2) to unsubscribe completely/stop receiving emails from the sender.

The CAN-SPAM Act tells explicitly that any commercial email must have a way to opt-out of receiving these promotional messages.

Not including an unsubscribe option can only happen if you are not using a modern email marketing software. All modern marketing softwares follow the CAN-SPAM Act. Therefore, the unsubscribe button is one of the requirements when sending an email.

Most often, this scenario only happens if you are using the BCC method (aka manual email marketing). Since it is using your regular email client (e.g. Gmail), there won’t be any unsubscribe button.

So if you’re not using an email marketing software, please sign up for one today.

How About You?

These are the top 4 email marketing malpractices used by marketers today. As a marketing professional, you should not use any of these frowned-upon tactics.

If your organization is using these techniques, please stop gaming the system. It is not a good, long-term bet. You’re simply taking away from the future to benefit you now.

To be successful in email marketing, you have to invest in developing relationships with your list. And that starts with an effective email strategy.

Do you think I missed any malpractice?