Harness the Power of Your Customers for Better Email Marketing

by Joanna Xu

Last updated on July 24th, 2017

Email marketing may seem like a one-way street; after all, you’re the one who’s spending valuable time writing creative copy and building attractive layouts, right?

Actually, you can collect plenty of content and information from your customers to enhance your email campaigns, spread the message, and obtain valuable feedback for fine-tuning.

Here are 6 unusual ways to put your readers to work!

1. Third-party is the best party

Drawing on user-generated content (UGC) is a powerful way to sell, since it showcases your product from a more objective standpoint. In fact, a recent case study cited a 16% increase in click-throughs when they used UGC in an email campaign.

Alexia Foods Email Campaign - UGC

This Alexia Foods email campaign puts the spotlight on numerous third-party endorsements.

In just one email, they highlight:

  • A consumer-determined product award
  • A stamp of approval from the American Heart Association
  • Product testimonials in the sidebar with star ratings out of 5
  • Links to reviews for each individual product

Instead of prompting the reader to purchase immediately, the company smartly puts its product front-and-center, and lets the results speak for themselves.

2. Referral programs: help me help you

Don’t just stop at UGC. Harness the social power of your subscribers by encouraging readers to share your content with their friends, and provide incentives for each successful conversion. New customers are much more likely to be receptive to your message if it comes from someone they trust, and they’ll have a reason to make a purchase right off the bat.

Here, both ModCloth and Discover ask readers to help spread the word in a program that benefits both referrers and referees, thus giving patrons an incentive to go above and beyond when passing on the message.

Note that they emphasize the advantages of sharing, and aren’t overly pushy when asking for referrals. Discover also provides social sharing links, which allows their subscribers to refer friends with minimal effort.

Email Referral Program - ModCloth & Discover

3. Let your readers be picky about their subscriptions

Optimizing your unsubscribe action is just as important as fine-tuning any other part of your email campaign.

Instead of only providing the option to remove emails entirely, allow your readers to pick from updates for specific items such as weekly promotions, company updates, industry news, etc. Segmenting your emails by such categories is good practice anyway, as it allows you to deliver concise and focused information in each newsletter.

If your website has plenty of content to deliver, consider providing options for updates of varying frequencies. For example, Kayak allows its users to receive personalized weekly or daily digests, as well as specialized subscriptions—all in an incredibly easy-to-use interface.

Email subscription settings - Kayak

Readers can change email settings for:

  • Frequency of emails
  • Specific search terms (in this case, flights from Toronto under a certain price point)
  • Subscriptions to special alerts such as deals, newsletters, product updates, etc.

Your readers will appreciate the ability to control their content, so let them dictate how often they receive information from you.

4. Reel back unengaged customers and reward your star subscribers

Many of the email newsletter services such as MailChimp and Constant Contact now allow you to segment your list by subscribers who have opened or engaged with your email content. You can apply this segmentation to recent emails in general, or to specific campaigns.

If there’s a crucial message that needs to be passed onto your customers, why not send a follow-up email to those who never opened your message in the first place? Remind them in a friendly email about what they’ve missed.

You can even use segmentation tools to determine which users are your “star clients.” MailChimp, for example, gives each subscriber a rating out of 5 stars, which reflects the level of engagement they’ve historically shown with your campaigns. Reward your most dedicated readers with special offers to demonstrate your appreciation and foster your relationship.

That being said, don’t forget to reach out to customers that you’ve lost touch with. Reengagement campaigns can be incredibly effective if you accompany it with charming, friendly copy and an irresistible offer.

Writing in a conversational tone is key because people are more easily drawn in when it seems like there is another human at the other end of the email. Keep it time-sensitive, like this Piperlime email, to urge readers to take action quickly.

Reengagement Emails - Piperlime

5. Delve deep into your analytics for leads

Why stop at just engagement statistics? You can take your analytics even further to determine your audience’s sales readiness, thus providing a gold mine of information for lead generation purposes—an especially important task for B2B companies.

Incorporate content or calls-to-action that appeal to customers at various stages in the funnel, and track which links are clicked on.

You can pull off having different content types in one email, so long as you keep the information streamlined and the copy limited. This Atomic Interactive newsletter brings in a number of diverse elements:

Email Lead Gen via CTA - Atomic

  • Social share buttons, some featured work, and a link to their latest video for low- to medium-commitment readers, who just want to browse and pass on the message
  • Two informational articles for buyers who wish to learn more about the product niche
  • Quick product descriptions and links to product landing pages, for more serious buyers

Once you’ve identified the key interests of your subscribers, you can segment them according to their level of commitment and deliver customized content.

Readers that are higher up in the sales funnel can be nurtured with easy-read content such as industry tips, social media tidbits, and photo albums.

On the other hand, serious buyers can be offered free trials or more in-depth resources like whitepapers and e-books.

6. Adapt to changes (but ask for help!)

By now, no doubt you’ve heard much commotion about the new Gmail inbox, which automatically separates incoming mail into folders categorized as Primary, Social, Promotions, and Updates.

While there’s little you can do to remove your newsletter from the Promotions folder, you can always ask your subscribers to make an exception for you. RentTheRunway has made an especially great effort to notify its subscribers of this change, even going as far as sending an email with illustrated instructions to Gmail users.

RentTheRunway Gmail update

The email used a three-slide animated .gif to show exactly how to make this change. In addition, they added this crucial information to the preview area of its newsletters:

Gmail users! Don’t miss out – Move this email to the Primary tab & click “Yes” when prompted.”

This short and casual reminder was visible from the inbox overview screen and was included in all emails for the past month—after all, nothing gets the message across like repetition.

Get crackin’ with email

Nowadays, email marketing tools can give you lots of intricate data and feedback, so make sure you take advantage of this goldmine of information.

What’s more, finding resourceful ways to engage your subscribers via email is a win-win situation: you can build your community while generating winning marketing materials.

Lastly, don’t forget the basics when it comes to crafting a brilliant email marketing campaign.

What unique strategies do you use to enhance your email marketing campaigns? Let me know in the comments!

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Joanna Xu

Joanna Xu works on the marketing team at WhatRunsWhere, a competitive intelligence platform for digital advertisers. When she's not digging up the latest industry news and spreading the word about WhatRunsWhere, she can be found eating salty snacks.


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  1. Amit Gupta says:
    September 24, 2013 at 5:24 pm

    Hey Admin,
    “Yes you are right, e-mail marketing is a great way of constant traffic and earning.
    Before few days I was thinking what is e-mail marketing. But now after read your post I understand most of thing about e-mail marketing.
    Thank you so much for sharing this post. It’s really help’s me and helpful for newbie 🙂 “

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