Give Your Email Marketing a Makeover with This Conversational Email Strategy

Email marketing is here to stay. It’s effective. It’s powerful. And it’s one of the conduits of your brand experience.

In fact, according to our 2020 State of Conversational Marketing Report, email is the #1 channel marketers use to connect with buyers. Yet, that same report shows that almost 53% of buyers are sick and tired of receiving irrelevant emails and ads from companies. (Just think how much you hate your own crowded inbox).

It’s time to stop using email to sell, and start using email to spark conversations.

One way to start doing just that? Try using conversational emails, which combine compelling email best practices with Conversational Marketing and chat.

Conversational emails:

  • Improve reply rates
  • Scale outreach
  • Increase conversions across email

Today I’m sharing what we’ve learned so far about the power of conversational email to inspire your new email engagement strategy and ensure you’re sending emails people will actually want to open.

If you’d rather watch the presentation on this topic, click here. Otherwise, keep reading for all the insights 💡

3 Keys to High-Converting Emails

Let’s take a quick quiz: Which of the following is the worst feeling in the world?

  1. Heartbreak
  2. Rejection
  3. Spending 30+ minutes crafting an email – just for it to be unopened or deleted from your customer’s inbox

The answer is clear as day (well, to this marketer, at least).

Here are three ways to rework your emails and guarantee your message will be read 👇

1. Great Subject Lines

You’re hopefully getting open rates between 20% to 30%.

But what if you could get that open rate much higher by writing better subject lines? Subject lines are the first thing a person sees when scanning their inbox and are a deciding factor in whether or not to read your email, so make them enticing like these examples below.

When we write emails at Drift, we brainstorm 10+ subject line ideas (sometimes more) to make sure we end with the most creative, engaging message we can.

2. Plain Text vs HTML

The answer to this great debate is simple: Test (always be testing, even when you think you know the answer). See what makes the most sense for you and the goals of your projects.

For instance, check out this webinar email invitation:

We featured a photo of someone posing with a gong to grab attention, but also to tie in with the actual content of the email: an invitation to a webinar with Gong. Most of the time at Drift, we use plain text emails. But if we’re sending an email to a CEO or CMO, or hosting a larger event like this, we often find HTML works better. By testing formats, you’ll learn what resonates most with your audience.

3. Segmentation and Personalization

Boring. Generic. Irrelevant. These are just a few of the reasons why traditional email marketing has such a bad reputation. But with segmentation, or dividing your recipient list into smaller segments based on shared attributes, those issues can all be avoided. There’s a wide range of segment possibilities to try out including:

  1. Segmenting by Industry: This can be especially useful to make an email to a first-time recipient feel relevant and personal.
  2. Segmenting by Intent: Doing so allows you to focus on those who are most likely to buy.
  3. Segmenting by Sales Stage: Segmenting by sales stage helps tailor emails to the different questions and concerns leads might have depending on where they are in your sales process.
  4. Segmenting by Customer Lifecycle: You’ll want to make sure you’re sending the right message at the right time about best practices, new product releases, service/support updates, training workshops, and more.
  5. Segmenting by Behavior: Have your email recipients attended your event in the past? Maybe they love your webinars. Call that out in dedicated segments to create hyper-personalized experiences.

After you’ve segmented your email list, you can begin to further personalize content. A study found that 70% of brands using dynamic content and advanced personalization see an increase in ROI.

If you need more proof, as seen in the data up above, targeted messages and selective segmentation equals more engagement and reply rates.

Segmentation is key to better personalizing your email content, along with the offers and CTAs used.

Accelerating Your Buyers Through Your Funnel

Ideas for engaging conversational emails don’t just appear out of thin air. At Drift, we learn a lot from examples used in B2C and apply them to B2B.

This example email from Whole Foods contains mouthwatering recipes and other tips to incorporate greens into your diet. It’s a quick and helpful way to engage their buyers on the go. At the same time, Whole Foods guides these buyers through their customer journeys, advancing them through the company’s funnel in a more personal way.

Focus on achieving this same thing. Use what you know about your customers and how they interact with you for segmentation and to inform your email strategy. This is key to serving up the right content, at the right time, to accelerate buyers through your funnel.

At Drift, we use a funnel-based approach in our email nurture to help achieve all the above and create more relevant buying experiences for recipients.

This means you need to bucket nurture and email offers by top-of-funnel (TOFU), middle-of-funnel (MOFU), and bottom-of-funnel (BOFU).

Build a Testing Culture to Optimize and Improve

How can you tell if things are working? Test on a regular basis. Divide your email list in half. Send an email to the first half, then send an email to the second half, testing each of the items below:

  • Date and Time: Many marketers claim Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays are the best days to send an email. But you’ll only know the best options for your audience through testing.
  • Subject Lines: As I shared earlier, subject lines are incredibly important. They’re the first thing a customer will see when scanning their inbox. (For great subject lines, consider elements like: statement vs. question, long vs. short length, and capital vs. lowercase.)
  • Copy and Design: Do your buyers prefer images or text? Do they like logos? Emojis? Real photos or cartoons?
  • Offers: Identify different types of offers and which one works best for your target segment.

So, What Comes Next?

Your conversational emails are cleaned up and more people are opening your content.

Your next move? Make it easy for buyers to engage with you once they click a link and land on your website.

Instead of making buyers fill out long forms or navigate your website to a solution, fast-track their questions to chat using Conversational Marketing.

Conversational Marketing is the best way to start real-time conversations with buyers and drive more conversions from your email program. The three-stage framework is simple:   

  1. Engage the buyer. Say hi. Acknowledge them when they are on your website and make them aware that you know they’re there.
  2. Understand your buyer by asking if they’re looking to learn more about a certain topic, solution, or if they’re just there for support.
  3. Recommend the next steps for them once you know what they’re looking for. Get buyers to the answers they want right then and there or book a meeting to discuss at their convenience.

In this new digital-first world, everything is customer-centric. Incorporate conversational email into your Conversational Marketing framework for maximum impact.

The bottom line is that people want to be treated like people. So, treat your email recipients like the valued contacts that they are. They’re much more than just names; they’re people you want to do business with.

Check out our Conversational Email Templates book for 12 game-changing email templates and more best practices.