How’s your email marketing going? As one of the most effective ways to reach your audience, your outgoing emails are something to focus on this year. If you aren’t sure how to handle this essential part of your marketing strategy, you’re not alone! Getting it all under control can lead to more opens, clicks and conversions, so you’re not going to want to miss this episode.Today’s guest, Kim Courvoisier, is the director of content marketing and social media at Campaign Monitor. One of her specialties is designing successful email marketing campaigns, and today she is going to share her wisdom with all of us. If you’re hoping to build traffic and increase conversions, you’re in for a treat.
“Marketers are really more focused on the quality of the [email] list... so they can send more personal and relevant emails.”
“People buy from people.”
“When it comes to growing an email list, you have to have a good relationship.”
Nathan: Email is one of the most effective ways to reach your audience. The question is how can we do email marketing just better? That’s why you and I are picking ’s brain today. Kim is the director of Content Marketing and Social Media at Campaign Monitor. Kim has years of experience optimizing email marketing campaigns and today on the Actionable Content Marketing podcast, you are going to learn how to build traffic that drives profitable customer action with her advice.I’m Nathan from CoSchedule and I’m pretty pumped about this episode. Let’s learn how to get more email opens, clicks and conversions with Kim.Hey Kim, thanks a lot for being on the podcast today.Kim: Thanks for having me.Nathan: Kim, could you help us get started by just filling me in on Campaign Monitor and what you do there.Kim: Sure, I’d love to. Campaign Monitor is email marketing automation for growth obsessed companies. We have 2 million customers and over 140,000 companies globally that use Campaign Monitor to grow their business. That includes brands like Vice Media, Unicef New Zealand and Rip Curl. When you want to grow your business, acquire new customers, launch new product, offer promotion, you turn to email because email delivers better than any other channel. In fact, email’s 40 times more effective at acquiring a new customer than Facebook or Twitter. The reason I’m obsessed for growth obsessed brands to use email is that it delivers the best ROI. In fact, I’ve been in email marketing for over eight years and I’ve actually seen the ROI number climb from $38 for every $1 spent to $44 this year.Nathan: Wow. I can say too you can have another one to the list, CoSchedule is a Campaign Monitor customer. We’re pretty excited to be chatting with you today.Kim: Definitely. I’m the director of Content Marketing and Social Media here which in a nutshell means I own content, social media strategy production and promotion and with that comes management of the editorial calendar which is in CoSchedule. The writing and social team and editing and promoting all the things. My role sits on our demand gen team. It’s directly tied to driving organic traffic back to our site as well as sign ups and customers. Content’s really tied to the full marketing funnel here at Campaign Monitor.Nathan: Your background there makes you a really great fit for our topic today. I really wanted to talk to you about building an email list, generating traffic, some elements around converting that traffic from email. To start at the very beginning, Kim, could you explain to me what are some of the best email list building tactics you seen?Kim: Absolutely. I’d love to. Topic near and dear to my heart. What I would also preface this with is that with your email list, the focus used to be on just getting the biggest list possible. You want this massive list to send to and people would send a one size fits all email to their entire list. What we’ve seen to the evolution of email marketing now is that marketers are really more focused on the quality of that list and feeding quality data into that list so that they can send more personalized and relevant emails to different segments of their list.I’m thrilled about this because when you send quality content to the right person at the right time, you are going to increase your engagement metrics across the board. That’s a great thing to see. No longer do we see the days of email blasts. Every time I hear that word, I cringe. The spray and pray mentality, people are really focused on quality. The best way to get quality email lists is by using signup forms and these are simple to do if you use any email service provider because most of them provide that for you and you can customize it with really any fields that you want so that you can collect the right data to power that really great personalization that you want to do and also your automation.Some of the cool things that I’ve also seen people doing beside sign up forms is obviously gating their content. You can do this through landing pages. Because I run content, I like to give away a fair amount of content and not gate everything. But give away especially top of the funnel content, and then look at strategically gating things through your middle of the funnel and your bottom of funnel. That way, you provide a lot of utility to folks but then ask them for that information at the right time.Exit intent popups, if they’re done well, can also be really, really useful at growing a quality email list. Pop ups used to have a really bad name and reputation but we’ve gotten a lot better at getting these to come up at the right time and not be annoying.Lastly, it’s a little more challenging to do but interactive content, polls and quizzes, to collect information. What I love is when marketers are being a bit more creative these days, we’re not just popping and planning pages to the form on it. We’re enticing people to give us good data and good information that we can use to create email list. You’re asking them some quiz questions or doing a poll and then presenting at that form with the content. Those are all some of the best tactics that I’ve seen.Nathan: I really like that. Specifically, you mentioned email blasts. I hate that word too.Kim: To the end of email blasts!Nathan: Exactly. Let’s just ban those. It’s really interesting to think of a tactic right off the bat is together that right information to segment your list as you build it. We’re doing some of that right now in CoSchedule, we will see who opens an email that was a similar topic that they really, really liked and will send a second email to those people who opened. We found that that actually gets higher conversions which is fun and not email blast-y.Kim: Absolutely. That’s the right way to do it.Nathan: Alright, Kim. In order to get traffic from email, I think you need to get your emails opened. Starting there, what are some of the best ways that you’ve seen to get more email opens?Kim: Absolutely. Starting at the beginning, to get your emails open, you have to build a relationship with your subscribers. The best way to build a relationship with your subscribers is to send them valuable and desired content that they come to expect and want. Something lands in your inbox that you never asked for, will you open it? No, of course not. If I don’t send you the right thing that you asked for, you’re not going to open that either. If you’ve expressed to me that you love Harry Potter and I send you information on Romance, you’re probably not going to open that. You really have to have a respect for your subscribers and deliver what you’ve promised to them. We were talking about sign up forms, and what you put in your sign up form to get people to subscribe in the first place, you tell them what can they expect from you. You’re going to send email tips every two weeks. If that’s what you deliver then you should have great relationship. But if you start sending random things then those people probably won’t open and engage with your content. Valuable and desired content is key.Mobile, if you want to get your emails opened in 2017, better be sure that you’re optimized for mobile. In 2016 email opens on mobile reaps 68%. Amazing, right? Make sure that your emails are mobile friendly, otherwise people won’t go and open them in the first place.We talked a little bit in the first question about personalization. Emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened and marketers have found this 760% increase in revenue from doing this. Personalization is more important than ever, it’s got to be your mantra for 2017 is to use personalization. You can take it way beyond the subject line. I would also tell marketers to spend time crafting their subject lines similar to how you would craft a headline for your story or for a blog post. 8 out of 10 people will read your headline but only 2 out of 10 people will read the rest of your post. For people like me who spend a lot of blood, sweat and tears creating content, it’s just as important for your headline or your subject line in an email. Recently, talked a little bit with Nina Patel and he advises spending as much time writing as your headline as you do the rest of your content. That’s a big shift for people. We spend so much time creating our content, our calls to action, our imagery but how much time do you at the end just go ahead and stick in a subject line. That’s where you’re doing, slip that on its head and spend a lot more time on that subject line. You can AB test to see what works with your audience.I’m also a huge fan of pre header text and I think it’s either largely ignored or it doesn’t get a lot of attention. Pre header text is simply that little line of text, it serves as a wingman for your subject line to provide more context. It can really help you increase your opens.Last but not least, emojis. Emojis are an engaging way to triple charge your subject line. Brands that are using emojis have seen a 56% increase in their unique open rates. This isn’t a report from experience. We’re really seeing an increase in emojis and you can use them in a brand appropriate but they do add a nice little bit of flare and attention getting in the inbox. You’re seeing a lot more brands doing this, we’re actually doing it a ton more than we were a year ago.Nathan: I like all of those. Especially the advice on just spending a little bit more time on that subject line. I think that that’s really important, a lot of people just maybe put so much time in creating content but they do themselves a disservice by not focusing on the 6 to 10 words that will increase their opens. Emojis is a cool thing too, I didn’t know anything about that. But it makes sense because with CoSchedule, we analyze social media message optimization and we’re finding that posts with emojis are doing really well.Kim: Yes. Emojis and GIFS are huge. And it was interesting because probably eight months ago, GrowthHackers started doing a ton of emoji in their subject lines and I reached out them. This is really unexpected from GrowthHackers, they’re a little bit more serious, a little more probably on the tech side of things and they said, yeah, we’ve been experimenting with it and it’s making our email open rate just soar. You never know.Nathan: I love that tip. Alright Kim, let’s just say that our subscribers have opened our emails, they’re there, they’re ready to read what we have to say, we’re talking about maybe getting traffic from email. I’m wondering, what tactics have you seen work best for generating more clicks?Kim: Perfect. Again, I’m on the content bandwagon and nothing will replace great content. You can get the best subject line in the world, you can have a great emoji in it, you open it up and then if you get inside the email and the content falls flat and it’s something that the subscribers aren’t interested in, you’re not going to get that click through. Always, always have your quality content front and center. What we try to do too is make that content and our emails really digestible, having just a brief snippet about content that’s engaging. A CTA that’s linked to the content that’s posted on our blog runner site. Not making this huge well lit text that people have to sniff through but just giving them an engaging snippet CTA, get them to the content.Personalized content as well in email. We have a feature called Dynamic Content and most ESPs have something like this. If it’s Rip Curl and they’re sending out an email with their latest and greatest products, they can segment and send girl’s content to girls and guys’ content to guys. That way, as a Rip Curl subscriber, I’m not getting board short emails, I’m getting the new bombshell wetsuit. That’s going to make my propensity to click through much greater than if I received the board short email. Personalized content for the win.Video is so engaging for folks and we’ve seen that open rate increases of 19% and click through rate increases upwards of 50% by just including a video. A really sure example of this is that we have a customer onboarding journey that we do when someone signs up and then becomes a customer because they paid us for the first time, we send them through a customer journey that gets them all kinds of tips on using the product. We recently redesigned these and included video and we’ve seen a huge increase in engagement on these. By adding the video, we now see 44% of the traffic to the videos coming directly from this journey and four times more customer watch the videos than had before. We saw increases in both our open rate and our click through rate. Most importantly, the product adoption of what was shown in these videos, that’s the goal.Nathan: I could see video doing really well. Again, there’s so much connection to social media here too because video is becoming such a huge way to connect with people. They get to see people behind the scenes. There’s this brand but the brand is made up of people. There is a connection there, an engagement with something more than just a place where you buy things from.Kim: Absolutely. People buy from people. Video, keeping it really short and snappy, we’ve been even experimenting with doing little tasty style videos, under two minutes just showing how quick and easy and simple it is. Video can seem really challenging but that’s easier than you think.Nathan: Definitely. Kim, we’ve talked a little bit about opens and clicks and segmenting and personalization has come up a lot but I was just wondering, every email that you send offers that data to help you improve with the next email you send. I was wondering what things do you look at or what insights can you glean from those email opens and click through rates?Kim: That’s a great question. Worst thing is that marketers are beginning to want more and they’re actually beginning to look beyond the basics of just open and click through rates which measure interest. Like I said before, they move beyond just caring about how to get a big list to having an engaged list. We recently did a survey and 58% of the marketers said that increasing their engagement was their top goal and 44% of them said it was their biggest challenge. Looking at your engagement metrics in your email, open and click through are key, but what I would say for marketers now is really looking at your conversion rate and then your revenue generated based on what your goals are. But what I loved that you said earlier is that you’re using things like how people are engaging with your emails to take them through different journeys, that’s the power of marketing automation. We can say if this person opened this email, send them this, if they didn’t, send them this other thing. Or if they clicked on this CTA, send them this or that. You’re really able to get to a level based on these engagement metrics that you can send truly and a very personalized journeys to people and we no longer have to do the one size fits all. I think that’s the power of these metrics.Nathan: I love that. I think that also just ties back to personalization. One size doesn’t fit all, especially with email or the way that people are expecting that brands interact with them. You mentioned this earlier but you said that people buy from people and that’s actually one thing that I really wanted to pick your brain on. We know that people buy from people they know, like and trust and I think you’ve alluded to some of these but how do you build that trust with email?Kim: That’s one of the single, biggest things that I love about email marketing is that it’s a work course for marketers because it’s an opt in channel. You have to ask for it to get it. Brands can’t send you messages about you permission. At least brands that follow the rules. Everybody understand the rules of an inbox. If you give a brand your email address and permission to send you, then they’ll send you messages that are valuable and you have the opportunity at any time if you don’t find value in those messages to unsubscribe. Or if they’re using a preference center which you would absolutely advocate, you can just change your preferences and say mail me less or actually mail me about these topics and not these topics. As a subscriber, you hold the cards. You have that relationship, you’re not going back to what we’re talking about in the beginning. That’s why when we started talking about growing an email list, you have to have a good relationship. This isn’t one sided and you hear a lot of analogies about email marketing being like dating and it really is. You’re courting each other. If at any time you come on too strong, that subscriber can end the relationship. Just making sure that you’re continually nurturing that as an on-going relationship in an email. Unlike some things, you can really have ability to be relatable, to be funny and to be real, and don’t just view the subscribers on your list as email addresses, these are people.Nathan: Actually, can’t remember who said this but they’re suggesting that we should stop seeing email lists and think about these people. Email list sounds like an asset versus relationships and I think that you crushed it by suggesting that.Kim: No, I love that. Your email list as you said exactly is the asset of the subscribers and the people that make up that email list are real. In this day and age, they’re demanding this personalization, they’re demanding this level of dynamic content that speaks to them because anyone of us can see right through when it’s just this blanket thing that’s one size fits all. It doesn’t feel good anymore. Nathan: You know Kim, to switch gears, we know a lot of the background with how to get those opens, the clicks, we know people buy from people they know, like and trust. Doing all of these seems like it’ll take a lot of organization and team collaboration. I was just wondering if you could describe or give me an example of what your work flow looks like for creating email campaigns?Kim: Luckily, I have an awesome tool that I use to create my email which is Campaign Monitor. Our workflows are really simple because our tool’s so easy and there’s no coding required to drag and drop interface and even customer journeys are just a snap. But we just launched, this is super timely, yesterday, this cool new feature that’s designed for team collaboration that allows you to lock down sections of a template so they can’t be changed or modified. It’s just perfect for teams where say a designer would create a template and then they can lock down certain sections and then the content team could just come in and drop their content in and not risk breaking it, blowing it up, changing it. It gives a ton of control and this has been something that our users in particular have asked for for a really long time. It’s been a game changer for us and certainly I think for other people who collaborate like this. I have multiple people touching their content and their emails. With that said, we do religiously follow a crease like check list that includes just checking every single element of an email before we send it. Looking at the subject line and a pre header and a calls to action, clicking every link to make sure it works and sending an inbox preview to over 30 different clients. We actually use our inbox testing tool that’s connected with lightness to do this and we are able to see it in over 30 different inboxes and clients to make sure everything renders correctly and we don’t risk putting it in somebody’s inbox and not looking totally on point.Nathan: I really like that, the pre-flight checklist. That’s a really interesting way to describe that but it just makes sense to have this framework to follow to make sure that everything looks correctly, that the content’s good, that everyone has the Ts and Is completed.Kim: Completely.Nathan: Maybe Kim, we know that process inspires sufficiency. How do you keep your team organized as they execute projects like that?Kim: Process is my middle name. I love it. One of the first things I did when came aboard at Campaign Monitor was to institute CoSchedule and this isn’t just a shameless self-plug. It’s very much where we do the line share of our work and we have different workflows in CoSchedule for different types of content. Blog posts have a different workflow than ebooks. social campaigns, our newsletter or info graphics. Everybody knows each step of the process. We know where we’re at, we know what comes next, and I love looking at the editorial calendar. I can see a percent complete so I can know if we’re on track or if we might be at risk for a piece of content not getting out on time. Which never happens.One of the other things we’ve done to make sure we’re really organized and can execute our projects on deadline every time is that we’re really consistent, especially with our email and our newsletters to make sure that we send on the same day, in the same time, so that we can always plan for it and also to continue that relationship, our subscribers also know when to expect it. Our newsletter goes out to 250,000 subscribers all around the globe and it always goes out Tuesday at 9:00 Pacific Time. When I launch it, I launch something called World View and with World View, I can watch our subscribers open and click and sharing that email in real time. A little face of the subscriber will pop up every time they click or open or share it. It’s like wild fire here whenever we launch a newsletter. People really gather around, we put it up in a screen and we can see people engaging. It’s a highlight in my day and knowing that real people are engaging with our content from places far and wide in getting value from it. It’s truly why I do what I do every day and love every minute of it. Because those are real people, they’re not an email list.Nathan: That’s a great way to end this, actually. I love that World View, by the way, too. It’s just like that fun thing where you connect the dots between what you’re doing in real people and not just a list but the relationship behind it. Alright Kim, I guess that’s it. Thanks for sharing your tips on getting more emails open, getting those clicks up, and converting some of that traffic from email marketing.Kim: You’re so welcome. It was a blast. Thanks for having me.
Nathan is the Head of Content & SEO at SimpleTexting. He's a demand generation enthusiast, content marketing advocate, and team player. He enjoys spending time with family and friends, running ultra marathons, and canoeing in the Boundary Waters in Minnesota.
Connect with Nathan on LinkedIn.