How to level the playing field with email marketing

Small Business Tips | How To Level The Playing Field With Email Marketing


Leveling the playing field

I’ve always been one to root for the underdog. Personally, being underestimated is one of my favorite things to be. That being said, when competing against Goliath-sized companies {and their huge marketing budgets and huge marketing teams}, it’s easy to start to compare yourself and see all of your limitations.

However, there is one area of marketing where a smart strategy and implementation can completely level the playing field: email marketing. Once you have earned the right to be in a customer’s inbox, you have the exact same footing as large industry players. Because once you are in the inbox it’s 100% about the customer, not you {or your competition}.

Below are some of the lessons learned while growing our email list from 10 readers to 17k weekly subscribers.

Get Personal

The important thing about growing an email list is delivering relevant information to those on your list. It’s not just about subscribers opening your email this week, it’s about them opening the email you send and sharing it with their colleagues/friends, etc. There’s nothing better than getting a request from someone asking to be added to our weekly email list because they heard about it from a friend!

So it goes without saying that getting personal is about more than just inserting someone’s first name in the salutation. Email automation systems like MailChimp and Infusionsoft allow you to send different pieces of content based on what actions people take with your emails. If you want to keep it simple, that can just be divided into who opens every single email and who hasn’t opened any of the 5 emails you’ve sent them. Another easy distinction would be the information that you would send a general inquiry “more information” CTA on your site vs. the “schedule a tour” CTA follow up sequence.   Sounds obvious, I know, but sadly we were not executing a different delivery sequence up until this past year…it’s made such a huge difference, I’m kicking myself for not doing it earlier. It takes a while to plan out these drip campaigns {You should see our whiteboards} but the end result is your customers’ respect + attention….and most valuable: Engagement.

Automation for the Win

I’m sure most of you know this already, but automation is a godsend. When you are a mighty team of three, you need all the efficiency you can get! Automating your email sequences allows for the correct drip campaigns to begin based on triggers you have predetermined.

For a multifamily community, this may happen, for instance, when someone’s application is approved, and they then begin to receive a series of informative emails about the move-in process. {How to schedule the loading dock, how to set up their resident portal account, etc.} Earlier last week 30Lines announced that they completed integration with Entrata that allows for these types of triggers to automatically start the series of emails. Pretty cool for Entrata users!

Filed under the ‘lesson learned’ column, we know that our prospects require a massive amount of follow-up before they lease. While I 100% stand by the fact that our leasing folks need to be executing this, I also used to be a leasing agent….and we’re busy! So that nothing falls through the cracks, we have implemented an 8 email follow-up campaign after someone visits the property. Each email delivers a unique selling proposition and a request for either a second appointment or an application.

Why eight?  Because I read, “Different studies carried out at different times, in different places, by different market research companies over a number of years all reveal that 80% of non-routine sales occur only after at least five follow-ups.” But, let’s be honest, I’m an overachiever…so eight felt like the right number to me….Oh, and I was right!

Test, Measure, Tweak, Measure

So…not every campaign is going to run perfectly. Like everything else in marketing, measuring the effectiveness of the email campaigns is critical. Not just for the immediate effect on your business, but possibly more importantly, for the data that will inform how you shape future campaigns.

As a best practice, include tracking on your emails that tie back to your analytics. Many of the email providers out there make this really easy! This, again, is critical for my small team and small budget. We don’t have time or money to waste drawing inaccurate conclusions or suppositions from open rates and click rates. I am measuring conversions once they get back to our website. Using an email provider that integrates directly with Google Analytics allows us to measure our email campaign as a source right next to any other advertising source we may be using to drive website traffic.  Below you can see some of our website conversion rates from different email campaigns.

Email Marketing For Small Businesses | Google Analytics Screenshot


I am constantly amazed at the conversion rate of folks that have visited our website, submitted some sort of contact form, received an email, clicked back through to the website and converted on the next CTA. It almost seems too easy sometimes. {Again this goes back to delivering the right content and the right CTA to the right customer}

There are some obvious small tweaks to improve the effectiveness of a campaign: email subject line, photos, CTAs, etc. Day of week and time of day certainly come into play, and the one thing we have learned is that if the subject of the email is a timely manner {one-day sale or invite to a party} weekdays are better. If the content is evergreen, there’s a great chance of a higher open rate on Saturday mornings…interesting right? Obviously, that’s not going to be universal, it’s just what has worked for us!

Look Like You Want It

Remember: online, in the inbox, we’re pretty much all equal. Your size does not determine your reach, your content does!

Spend the money to use high quality, high-resolution photos. Check to make sure the email template you are using is formatted to be mobile responsive. {SERIOUSLY, like 70% of email is opened on a mobile device AND 75% of Americans will simply delete an email before reading it if it is not optimized to be viewed on their screens” (as reported by marketing agency Brafton).

While we are talking mobile, make sure whatever landing page, website, contact form you are sending them to is also mobile responsive. Some of the really big brands still screw this one up, so if you get it right, you will win.

Take the time to send yourself a test email every time you change something. In fact, send it to yourself and another person on your team. Embarrassingly, I recently sent out almost 1000 emails before one of my awesome customers pointed out that I had spelled my own company name wrong on the CTA. I share that because everyone on my team reviewed it and we still missed it! Mistakes will happen…donot beat yourself up. But prevent as many as you can with proofreading & test emails!

Email marketing is an incredibly inexpensive approach to winning new customers and building a loyal tribe. The right messaging at the right time trumps budget spend, staff size and even brand recognition. At Apartminty, we believe the content created for these campaigns is just as effective as any of the other marketing content you create. If you ever need assistance, we are happy to help!

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