Plus Little-Known Pointers To Build Your List, Find Content And Improve Your Deliverability, Open Rates And Response Percentages
Who doesn’t love how easy, inexpensive and FAST it is to send out an e-mail marketing campaign?
Apparently NOT a lot of MSPs. Last month we conducted an online survey of our subscribers about how they are using e-mail in their marketing mix and what their biggest challenges are. What I discovered honestly surprised me. A shocking 34% of the MSPs polled said they are NOT using e-mail to market to their list, and 24% said they are “kind of” using e-mail. Essentially, 58% of MSPs are not doing any e-mail marketing or are doing it so inconsistently that they aren’t getting traction.
This is surprising, given how easy and inexpensive this media is, particularly when selling to existing clients who are more likely to open, read and respond to e-mail communications. If you can’t get e-mail marketing done, your chances of getting more difficult and expensive media done (direct mail, trade shows, PPC, SEO, etc.) are slim to none.
So where’s the hang-up? According to our survey, the biggest challenge MSPs have with e-mail marketing is CONTENT CREATION. Specifically, what to put in the e-mails you send that will be interesting, relevant and engaging to the recipients. A close second to this is LIST BUILDING, or getting qualified prospects to give you their e-mail address in the first place. Third in line is concerns over getting the e-mails delivered, opened and responded to.
What “Content” Are We Really Talking About Here?
Since “I don’t know what to write about,” or content creation, was the #1 e-mail marketing problem for MSPs, it’s important to clarify this important point: do NOT attempt to write long e-mail messages; instead, use the e-mail to drive the prospect to somewhere on your website where the content lives or to complete some action.
As a point of clarification, some e-mail campaigns are designed to move the sales process along (book an appointment, follow up on a proposal) or to drive some type of action, such as registering for a webinar or seminar, downloading a report, completing a survey, etc. These e-mails shouldn’t require a lot of “content creation.” The e-mails in this category are short, to the point and relevant, based on what’s going on with the prospect or client at that moment. Could someone have trouble writing those? I suppose so, but I believe that’s not the type of “content creation” the MSPs we polled were talking about.
I believe the content problem is more specific to drip marketing campaigns – e-mails that are designed to keep your list of prospects and clients engaged and bubble up hidden opportunities using content marketing, such as driving people to your blog (e.g., e-mail newsletters).
This is a particularly effective and important type of marketing to send to those prospects who have “gone dark” or who are not interested in booking an appointment or getting a quote right now, but who have NOT opted out of your list. The goal is to “drip” relevant, interesting content to them via e-mail to stay top of mind so they think of you when they are ready to make a buying decision. Another e-mail drip campaign you want to initiate is to current clients so they stay connected with you and to develop them into more loyal and productive clients. If done right, you’ll get more referrals and cross-sell opportunities, as well as better “behaved” clients.
And THIS is where the “content” challenge comes in: if you don’t have an interesting article or juicy tidbit of news to share, you don’t know what your audience WOULD find interesting and relevant AND you are clueless about how to write influential marketing pieces, WHY would you e-mail someone?
So the REAL “content creation” problem is the article, the newsletter, the video, the webinar, the audio recording, etc., that the e-mail drives the recipient to consume. If that’s a problem you struggle with, go online to www.MSPSuccessMagazine.com/content-marketing-msps for my top five content creation strategies.
How Often Should You Send E-mails?
According to our poll, 64% of MSPs are e-mailing their list once a month or less. Only 14.8% e-mail their list two to three times a month, 18% once a week. A very small segment (3%) are e-mailing their list more than once a week. So who’s right? How much e-mail is TOO much before people get angry and opt out?
As with many things in marketing, it depends. If the content you’re sending is extremely interesting to your audience, you can (and should) e-mail at least once a week. If you e-mail only once a month, you lose traction with your audience and the list becomes less responsive.
That’s why many highly successful content-driven websites, authors, consultants and speakers with big AND productive e-mail lists religiously send at least one e-mail a week to their lists. Those e-mails are mostly driving the reader online to read, watch, listen to or consume content, with the occasional promotion thrown in.
What’s The Average MSP’s List Size?
The breakdown of this was rather interesting. As you can see from the graphic on this page, most MSPs’ e-mail lists are under 500 people, with a surprising almost 20% who have a list of 1,000 or more. The survey did not differentiate what percentage of those lists were clients vs. prospects, and it didn’t detail ACCOUNTS; these are “users” (that simply means you might have multiple e-mail addresses from one account, making it appear you have more buyers than you actually have). But before you take this to the bank, there are some other metrics and factors that were NOT on the poll that may play into how productive, responsive and lucrative their lists are.
For starters, you need to know and monitor how many e-mail addresses are MARKETABLE, meaning you have permission to e-mail them, and they haven’t bounced or opted out. Over time, everyone’s list shrinks for these reasons. Another factor is engagement, or how many people open and respond to your offer (or at least click on the link in the e-mail)? Some e-mail broadcasting services will automatically suppress anyone on your list who has NOT opened or clicked on an e-mail in three months or more, making it critical that you put some serious thought into sending messages that WILL get opened and clicked on. And while the “open” rate is far from 100% accurate, it does give you an idea of how well your messages are resonating with your list, and how much the recipients are paying attention.
Most e-mail marketing statistics show that a 15% to 25% open rate is considered average. Who you are sending the e-mail to (or your list segment) will greatly impact this number, with clients having much higher open and response rates than prospects. Further, newly opted-in leads will obviously be the hottest, most engaged prospects you have, so it’s smart to segment them from everyone else and send them a carefully constructed follow-up process (often called an indoctrination campaign) rather than dumping them into your stock standard broadcasts.
What Do MSPs Use To Send E-mail Broadcasts And Manage Their Lists?
Again, not too surprising was the vast disparity of applications used to send e-mail broadcasts, with the largest percentage of answers being “other.” It’s not a surprise, given that there are thousands of e-mail list management and broadcasting applications on the market today. Further, most PSA tools have e-mail broadcast capabilities baked in. But what’s the BEST application? Here are a few pointers
- Look for an application that is a complete CRM and MARKETING AUTOMATION platform, not just an e-mail broadcasting software. Having these tools (CRM and marketing automation) native to your e-mail broadcasting service allows for more sophisticated targeting of messages, automated follow-up, better reporting and the ability to move a “click” or show of interest to an actual sale. Essentially, you want all the data in ONE PLACE, not spread across two, three or more applications that don’t talk to one another.
- Look for marketing automation based on “if-then” logic. This is the primary reason we chose Infusionsoft as our CRM. If I send an e-mail broadcast to my list, inviting them to a webinar, I can quickly and easily pull a list of those who didn’t respond to send them a second invite a few days later, or to get a salesperson to follow up. I can also segment those who clicked in the e-mail but didn’t register to send a more appropriate message and follow-up (“Hey – saw you clicked to register for this week’s webinar but you didn’t register. Did you have a problem registering? Did the the date and time not work for you?”). I can also segment (suppress) those who HAVE registered and trigger a “show up” campaign instead of just spamming out another invitation for them to register. Marketing automation makes quick, easy work of this type of segmentation and tracking. It can also trigger e-mails automatically if certain actions are taken (they book an appointment, register for your lunch-and-learn or download a report) or if they FAIL to take action.
- Look for customizable forms from your e-mail broadcasting solution. You should be able to give your webmaster a code they can use to completely customize the form (what information you request) as well as the ability to wrap your own design around it. Some e-mail broadcasting solutions don’t offer that and it makes for a very amateurish-looking opt-in process, or forms that simply don’t work for you.
- When switching to another e-mail platform, look for a company that won’t require you to opt everyone back in again. No legitimate broadcasting service will simply let you opt in your list and start spamming, because they have to protect their servers from being blacklisted, but they shouldn’t go so far as to require you to get everyone on your list to click to confirm or fill in a form to STAY on your list. As an example, Infusionsoft allows you to import and then start sending small batches of e-mails. If they see a HIGH number of spam complaints, you’re not permitted to continue to send to that list. But if all is okay, they open the gate for you to send to your entire list.
- DEMAND in writing how you get your data BACK if you cancel. This is a big one. I’ve seen far too many MSPs burned when they tried to cancel the service and discovered they didn’t own their own list, or couldn’t easily get the data out in a usable format. The best contracts all have a prenup, and this is no different.
Want More Strategies, Tips And Formulas For Successful E-mail Marketing?
Go online to www.MSPSuccessMagazine.com/email-marketing-MSPs to get instant access to a webinar I conducted titled “E-mail Marketing For MSPs 101.” This content-only webinar will give you examples and proven strategies for building a QUALITY e-mail list of highly responsive prospects and clients. I’ll cover what to send, how to send, when to send and how to optimize every e-mail that goes out.