Author: Ross Pinnegar, Client Success Manager
We all know we need to make emails relevant to capture the interest of our email subscribers. This is especially true with the growing number of Millennials and Generation Z in the work force. As we explore in this report in our 2019 trends series, both generations continue to expect more and more from the world, especially digital interactions.
There are lots of ways to collect information about what your contacts want to receive. Some are implicit, like web behaviour data or click patterns. Some are explicit: people telling you directly. As marketers, you need to collect this data, and find ways of using it to improve your marketing.
In this blog, we’ll look at some basic way of collecting contact information and using it to make content more relevant. For more advanced tactics, we’ll find inspiration from the media sector, where huge amounts of content make automation a necessity.
An email subscription is the first digital sign of intent to start a conversation about a product or service. To engage a new subscriber, you need to make the call to action compelling, and create an impactful welcome journey. But there’s a trade-off here. Do you incentivise the sign-up by asking for less information? Or do you ask for preference and contact data up-front, so you can be more relevant from the outset?
Both are legitimate, and you might want to trial each approach to gauge the effect on sign-up numbers. The general rules are to make the email subscription form obvious and keep it simple. Centrica Business Solutions were shortlisted for an award from the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), in part for their approach to this. On every page of the site, visitors can sign-up to emails in the footer.
The only information Centrica ask for is in the sign-up form is an email address. They don't feel it's necessary to collect other information at this stage. By collecting email addresses only, they’re able to gain consent.
They can use website behaviour and email engagement to gauge intent. If they track website behaviour, they know which pages subscribers have visited, and hence which solutions they're interested in. With simple email tracking they also know when, and how many times, each contact clicks or opens. Combining this data with consent creates the foundations for a solid digital journey.
As well as sign-ups, Centrica uses forms to collect explicit interests. By linking from an email, subscribers can define which type of content they want to receive. Someone might decide to subscribe to updates about events, for example. By maximising sign-ups, Centrica creates opportunities to gain wider consent.
Feeding this type of information into your CRM means richer data with which to personalise emails and segment your database. By personalising more, you can drive relevancy, engagement and in turn, revenue.
When using Vuture forms to collect sign-ups, make sure you keep it simple, and keep the form prominent when embedding into your website. Once you’ve captured interest and intent, you can always collect more information in your welcome campaign.
Vuture can also be used to track website behaviour, or email engagement, to assess implicit interests. By combining this information with explicit interests, you can further increase the impact of your email campaigns.
A Centrica-style journey is possible using a basic form. For more advanced ways of gauging and using preferences, we can look to the media sector. Media companies often create huge amounts of content which requires complex preference management.
In some circumstances, preference information might be sensitive. To mitigate risk, a lot of media companies decide to house them behind a log-in page. Using a log-in also enables users to access their preferences from different locations.
Econsultancy do exactly that.
At the sign-up stage, they request a lot more information than Centrica. There are a few reasons you might choose to take this route. If you want to increase the quality of web leads, for example. Collecting more information at sign-up stage is a great way to deter those less likely to buy and helps you tailor future sales efforts. Yet, housing this data creates risk, making a login page necessary.
When contacts have created their account and opted-in to emails, they can log in and set their preferences. They can do this straight away, or via a preference link in any email. Econsultancy provide a separate unsubscribe link in their emails which doesn’t require a password. Using separate links means subscribers can easily opt-out, avoiding complaints.
With a full set of recorded preferences, Econsultancy can create more targeted communications. They can also avoid overwhelming subscribers with too much information.
If you’ve got a more complex sign-up process, or have a broader range of communications, you should consider using the Vuture preference centre to create an Econsultancy style approach. You can house preferences behind a single sign-on page so it’s available across multiple channels. If you take this approach, make sure to offer an easy way for subscribers to opt-out of emails.
We’ve seen how preference centres can be a great engagement tool. Some companies go even further by automating the delivery of content to subscribers. The Evening standard (ES) are leading the way when it comes to content automation.
The first step is to collect preferences.
Again, ES uses a login area to do this. 'News' is the only subscription turned on by default. Subscribers can then select other newsletter topics.
ES sets expectations of email frequency and timings in each newsletter description. This means contacts know exactly what they're signing up for.
The really clever bit is automatically feeding website content into the weekly emails. This ensures content is relevant to every subscriber, and creates efficiencies for the marketing team.
We can help you create a very similar journey for your subscribers. We call this the Vuture digest centre, and it’s designed to run on a completely automated basis.
The Digest Centre enables you to link preference data to your website content. You can then create logic to trigger automated, content-led emails, or pull the most relevant articles into a landing page. The email or page will pull in content requested by subscribers, using a custom snippet.
In some cases, we know contacts have already visited articles on your website. The logic in the snippet allows you to exclude these articles so you can deliver fresh content to every subscriber.
You can even combine articles or blogs from separate areas of your site into a single email or web page.
There are a few key things to consider if you want to send more relevant content to your audience. First off, think about your strategy. Do you have a focus on data collection? Do you want to create more tailored conversations? Do you want to learn more about your client base? This will drive your sign-up strategy. That is, how bold the positioning of the sign-up form is, and how much information you ask for. Make sure you follow-up with subscribers on a regular basis so you know you’re sending the right content.
The media sector is full of inspiration of how to keep subscribers engaged with the right content. There’s no reason why we can’t replicate this success in professional services.
Please email ClientSuccess@vutu.re if you want to explore any of this in more detail.