How to Turn Readers Into Invested Email Subscribers

Today’s B2B marketers have an endless supply of tactics and technologies at their fingertips, each holding the promise of improving results in some area of their marketing strategies. And while a successful strategy requires the right combination of various solutions, one still shines above all in terms of results: email marketing.

When social media first came on the scene, many gurus began sounding the death knell for email marketing. They were wrong.

Just take a look at these statistics:
• Every dollar invested in email marketing yields an average return of $38 (DMA).
• B2B email marketing has grown 56% since 2015 (Salesforce).
• When asked which channels drive the most leads into their sales funnels, 73 percent of B2B marketers cited email, more than organic search (70 percent) and social media (55 percent) (SmartInsights).

Of course, any email marketing strategy is only as strong as the size and quality of your email list, and that’s where many marketers become stumped. How can you convince business users — who receive dozens if not hundreds of emails every day — not only to subscribe to your list, but to remain engaged with you? We’ve identified six proven strategies to help you turn the casual readers into the most dedicated email subscribers.

1. Create Irresistible Lead Magnets

Years ago, a call-to-action like “Sign up for our emails to get free tips on XXX” was all any B2B marketing team needed to fill their email subscriber list. Unfortunately, few of today’s users — even if they trust you to deliver useful, usable, top-quality content — would take you up on the offer. With the average business user receiving 121 emails per day, not many are willing to add to the flow.

Business users are, however, hungry for content that helps them solve their problems, and if you can deliver it to them, they’ll gladly accept a subscription to your list as part of the deal. When planning your lead magnets, think beyond what everyone else in your industry is offering and present users with irresistible assets that speak directly to them. Use what you’ve learned from intent data to find out which types of topics your targets are researching, and tailor your white papers, ebooks, and other assets to offer solutions to their specific problems.

2. Offer Content “Upgrades”

Once your irresistible lead magnets are in place — aim to have at least one for each major content category — begin inserting offers in your blog posts as “content upgrades.”

A content upgrade is simply a call-to-action that invites blog readers to download a resource featuring more in-depth insights on the same subject. For example, if your company offers HR software and you create a blog post featuring advice on hiring millennials, you can close the post with an offer for a report on this year’s biggest hiring trends.

To see a content upgrade in action, watch how HubSpot closed the recent blog post “How to Search on Google: 31 Google Advanced Search Tips” with the following content upgrade offer:

If a visitor reads your blog post all the way to the end, clearly they have more than a casual interest in the topic. Content upgrades allows you to capitalize on that interest by presenting an opportunity to deepen their knowledge, while also offering you the opportunity to nudge those interested readers into your marketing funnel.

3. Optimize Your Landing Pages

Once your readers have clicked on your content upgrade call-to-action, you’ll take them to your asset’s landing page — a crucial juncture in the lead generation process.

A well-crafted landing page will enable a seamless conversion process, while a poorly-written, confusing page will have visitors clicking away as soon as they arrive. As you create landing pages for each of your irresistible lead magnets, keep the following best practices in mind:

Keep it brief. Don’t go overboard with your landing page copy. Your visitor has already clicked over to it, so they just need a couple of good reasons to seal the deal. Include a short description of the asset, plus a few bullet points highlighting key insights.

Eliminate distractions. Your landing page has one purpose and one purpose only: to convert visitors. Clogging it with additional links and offers will only confuse the visitor, and each link offers an opportunity for your prospect to go down a “rabbit hole” and forget all about your white paper.

Consider using video. Studies have shown that including video on a landing page can help increase conversion rates. Experiment with adding a short video “ad” for your asset to the top of your landing page and see whether it drives more conversions.

4. Keep Opt-In Forms Short

When you have a lead who is ready to convert, it’s tempting to grab all the information you can get from them — name, title, company, phone number, email address, biggest challenge, etc. However, lengthy forms — especially if all or most fields are required — are likely to drive visitors away. According to a recent study, one additional form field can decrease conversions by up to 11 percent.

Consider how much information you really need from each lead, and make it a practice to keep your opt-in forms simple. Marketo’s forms, for example, include just five fields:

5. Onboard New Subscribers

So your visitor has converted and downloaded your content asset, and now they’re an email subscriber. Bravo! What’s next?

Think about it: your visitor has submitted their personal information in exchange for a piece of your content, so clearly you’ve made a good impression on them. That impression creates an opportunity, and by seizing this critical moment to further your relationship, you improve your chances of turning this new subscriber into an invested, engaged devotee.

Instead of a single welcome message, think about how you can onboard your new email subscriber. Uberflip offers a terrific example in their own subscriber onboarding sequence:

1. Basic welcome
2. Link to a top-performing blog post
3. How to find additional information
4. Offer an additional piece of premium, gated content
5. Ask for feedback

Of course, every audience is different, so it may take some experimenting to find the right cadence for offering your subscribers the optimal onboarding experience. Speaking of experimenting…

6. Test, Test, Test

Each brand is unique, as is each target audience, so it’s important to experiment and discover the secret formula for your mission.

Many marketing automation platforms offer some kind of A/B testing features (if yours doesn’t, there are third-party tools available), which allow you to compare two versions of an asset to see which variation performs better. Make it a regular practice to test variations on each of your subscription assets on a regular basis, including:

• Content upgrade offers — copy, design, and placement
• Landing page formats
• Opt-in forms
• Asset delivery (in browser or via email)
• Onboarding email sequence — copy, design, scheduling

Remember, audience preferences are constantly changing, so build A/B testing into your marketing schedule to ensure that you’re always using the most effective approaches for engaging your targets.

For B2B marketers, good online marketing practices can generate healthy traffic numbers, low bounce rates, and a high percentage of returning visitors — all worthy accomplishments, but they only tell part of the story. To get the most out of your blog and other on-site resources, it’s vital to convert those readers into engaged, invested email subscribers. By following these and other best practices, you can spin your everyday on-site content into powerful lead-generating machines that can build your email list, fill your marketing funnel and start building relationships that lead to sales.

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