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How to Avoid Overselling in Email Marketing


If the only email marketing messages you send to your audience are sales messages, your results are unlikely to always be positive. The reason is simple. Not everyone is ready to buy when they receive your message.

There’s a reason we call it email marketing rather than email sales. For email marketing to succeed, you need to meet your audience where they are. You can’t expect them to jump where you want to let them be.

This means that the majority of the messages you send through email marketing will not be entirely sales-oriented. Instead, you’ll send far more informative messages to build brand awareness, build trust, and nurture relationships with your audience. Your goal is to learn more about different members of your audience, identify where they are in the buying process, and send them relevant content.

In other words, you need a strategy to guide people through the marketing funnel – from the top where you generate leads, through the middle where you nurture them, and down where you convert them into qualified leads, customers or repeat buyers (depending on the specific audience and your goals).

With that in mind, here are some tips to help you avoid overselling in your email marketing messages so prospects who aren’t prepared enough to be interested in buying aren’t put off by promotional content.

1. Types of content you can send

The key to success is aligning your message content with your audience – where they are in the marketing funnel and who they are based on their buyer personas. Thinking of the three stages of the marketing funnel, your content should align as follows:

Top of the funnel

Send lead acquisition and brand awareness messages that educate and inform above all else. The goal is to show people that they want to to continue to receive messages from you and to learn more about what you have to say (and therefore about your brand) because you send valuable content.

Posts that link to blog posts on your website, short ebooks, videos, checklists, and other low-risk but valuable content work great as a call to action at the top of marketing posts. via email funnel. Very little content in your posts (or very few posts you send) should promote your products or services.

middle of the funnel

Send lead nurturing messages that continue to educate and inform while positioning your brand as the go-to source for information related to your industry, products, services and expertise. Keep adding value through your content.

People in the middle of the funnel are closer to making a purchase decision and may already be more invested in your brand than people at the top of the funnel. Therefore, keep nurturing them and include call-to-action links that lead to more in-depth content like longer ebooks, mini-courses, guides, etc. You can include promotional content in your messages (or send entirely sales-oriented messages), but don’t overdo it. This audience is not yet ready to buy. They need more care first.

Bottom of the funnel

Send conversion messages that help solidify your brand as recipients eager to buy or research further. These people are in the final decision stage of the buying cycle, so you want to show them the reasons for buying.

This is the time to send messages offering a paid trial, demo or consultation. You can also send sales-oriented messages to people who have purchased from you before with the goal of selling them and generating another sale.

2. Goals to set

You need to have a goal for every message you send, and to achieve that goal, recipients need to click your call-to-action button. If your goal for every message is to make a sale, then you’re going to fail.

Today, email marketing is a long-term marketing strategy used to qualify and nurture leads. Ultimately, you can try to convert leads into sales using bottom-of-funnel messages sent to qualified audiences, or you can forward those leads to your sales team for one-on-one outreach. However, people who aren’t ready to buy should receive different content from you, and you should set different goals for those audiences and messages.

To help you start thinking about goals you can set for your email marketing messages, here are some call-to-action ideas you can use at different stages of the marketing funnel:

  • Top of the funnel (acquisition and awareness): Click to read a blog post on your website, access a checklist or worksheet, or download an ebook or white paper.
  • Middle of the funnel (Nurture): Click to watch an explainer video, read a case study, or register for a webinar.
  • Bottom of the funnel (conversion): Schedule a demo, sign up for a trial, contact a seller or make a purchase.

Keep in mind that the higher up the funnel, the less time and energy people will invest in reading your message and accessing your content. Segment your lists and make sure you always send the right content to the right people!

3. Engagement Tracking to Qualify Leads

How do you know if your email marketing investments are working? How do you identify people on your list who are ready to buy? The answer is the engagement metric!

Think of it this way, if someone opens a message from you, they must be interested in the topic based on the subject line. If someone clicks on a link in your post, they must be even more interested because it’s a bigger time commitment on their part. And if someone clicks on the call-to-action link in your post (for you to reach your goal), then they must be even more interested! Likewise, the more messages a person opens over time and the more links they click on in your messages, the more you will know about them. Use the information to score your leads.

Simply put, more engagement with your posts probably equates to more interest in your business. Using this theory, you can assume that people who opened and clicked on a lot of your messages are more qualified leads than those who showed little engagement with your email marketing messages.

Lead scoring can get very complex. You can assign point values ​​for opens and clicks (e.g. five points per open and 10 points per click) and more points for clicks on your call to action button that lead to the goal of your message (for example, 20 points per call-to-action click). Next, set thresholds that identify when a track is getting hot. For example, you can set a threshold that a score of 80 or higher is a hot lead that should move the person down the funnel campaign list or be forwarded to your sales team for one-on-one outreach.

Key points to remember to avoid overselling in email marketing

Put yourself in your audience’s shoes. Do you want to repeatedly receive commercial messages from a company? If you’re ready to buy, these messages might be welcome (assuming they’re relevant up to you), but if you’re not ready to buy, you’ll quickly be bored by these messages.

It’s up to you to track how people interact with your messages, then send them the right kind of content based on their buyer personas and their positions in the marketing funnel and buying cycle. Only send sales-focused messages to people who want them, and send informative, educational, and useful content to build brand awareness and trust for everyone.

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