search rankings on google on mobile

How to Use Off-Page SEO to Supplement Your Growth Content

search rankings on google on mobile

SEO can be a confusing topic for marketers who typically focus on paid strategies for acquiring customers. If you split SEO into on-page and off-page, it’s even easier to get confused about what you should focus on. At Tuff, we primarily help companies with developing on-page SEO content strategies and fixing technical SEO issues. Once you’re up and running with on-page SEO and you’re starting to see some traction, you can supplement your efforts by focusing on off-page SEO.

What is off-page SEO?

Off-page SEO is anything done outside of your website that can influence your search engine rankings. One misconception about off-page SEO is that all you can do off of your website to improve your rankings is to build backlinks to your site. There are actually many more strategies that you can use to improve your search engine rankings and organic traffic to your website.

The key to doing off-page SEO well is figuring out where potential customers are researching your industry or your business and making sure that you are represented in as many of those places as possible. 

What is included in off-page SEO?

Backlinks

Backlinks, while not the only aspect of off-page SEO, play an important role in showing Google that your site is trustworthy and valuable. It’s important to focus on acquiring high-quality backlinks from trusted websites, rather than getting a ton of low quality links from shady websites. Backlinks are one of the most important ranking factors for getting your content to rank highly on Google.

search console top linking sites

Backlinks from highly reputable sites like Yahoo, The Wall Street Journal, or Wikipedia will provide the most benefit to your search engine rankings, while links from spammy sites can actually hurt your ability to rank.

As you acquire more backlinks and establish more domain authority for your site you can begin targeting more competitive, high-value keywords and start driving more organic traffic from those keywords as you start to rank. 

If you want to start building backlinks for your website, we put together this guide to SEO link building that includes an email template for reaching out to sites for backlinks and guest post opportunities.

backlink example

Guest Posts

Guest posts are incredibly valuable, especially for newer startups or businesses that are having trouble getting their website to rank for their target keywords. You can create content targeting these keywords for other sites to capture the same search traffic that you’re struggling to rank for. 

Guest posting can be a long process as you’ll likely have to go through a submission process, and or build relationships with the site’s editors to even be able to submit a post. However, even if the process is difficult, the backlinks you can acquire from these posts are typically high-quality, and can provide consistent referral traffic to your site.

Business Listing & Review Sites

Business listing and review sites like YelpExpertise.com or CNET are important for making sure your business is represented when someone is doing research before making a purchasing decision. Whether you are an ecommerce business or a restaurant, people are likely to look at different listing sites to determine if your business is the right fit for them. The more active you are on these sites, the more control you have over the first impression that people will get when looking for more information.

business listing and review sites example

In the same way that testimonials on your website are a powerful marketing tool, having positive reviews and testimonials on third-party websites is another way to build trust with potential customers and ultimately drive more revenue for your business.

Off-Page SEO vs. On-Page SEO

Both on-page and off-page SEO play a key role in a complete SEO strategy. They are related because your site needs to be optimized (on-page) so that when someone finds you on another website and clicks a link to your site (off-page) they don’t run into slow load times or other technical SEO issues.

On-page SEO

On-page SEO is about making your content and your website’s structure easy for search engines to understand. When search engines can clearly interpret what your website is talking about they are more likely to rank your content higher and start sending organic traffic your way. 

It’s important to do an on-page SEO analysis to fix any issues your site may have before focusing on off-page SEO, otherwise new visitors to your site may find broken pages or other issues that cause them to bounce from your website. If you find that your site is running slowly or some pages are broken, a technical SEO agency can help fix these issues and set you up for success when you start publishing content.

Off-page SEO

Off-page SEO is everything that you’re doing away from your website to try to improve your site’s ranking and traffic. This could be building backlinks on other websites, getting your business mentioned in list posts, or responding to people talking about your brand in forums or on social media.

Both on-page and off-page SEO are useful for gaining traction for your website, so neither is inherently better than the other. They both play an important role in attracting visitors to your website.

Read More: The Difference Between On-Page, Off-Page, and Technical SEO

How Off-Page SEO Supplements Your On-Page SEO Efforts

It’s important to focus on-page SEO to ensure that when people find your website they aren’t running into technical issues like broken links or slow pages. Before focusing on off-page SEO to drive traffic to your site, it’s important to build a solid on-page foundation so that people are able to easily find the information they are looking for on your site. After getting your site optimized for the best user experience possible, you can start looking at off-page SEO to bring more visitors to your site.

Off-page SEO allows you to expand your footprint on the internet beyond your website. The most important aspect of off-page SEO is putting your brand/business in all the places that your customers could potentially find out about you. This could be industry blogs and authority sites, product review sites, or even social media. You can have the best website in the world, but if people aren’t finding it or searching for your brand, your SEO efforts won’t be successful.

Why is off-page SEO important?

Off-page SEO can provide huge benefits for your business, by showing Google and potential customers that your company is an authority in your industry.

Domain Authority

Off-Page SEO is especially valuable for young companies that haven’t established a high domain authority for their websites. If your website is relatively new and hasn’t acquired valuable backlinks, it’s unlikely that your content will rank for competitive keywords. Off-page SEO allows you to gain awareness for your brand without having to put in the months of work to develop your website’s domain authority.

For example, if you have a software as a service (SaaS) business and you’re trying to outrank your competitors you can publish blog posts and landing pages on your website, but they aren’t going to outrank established websites in your niche. If you get listed in articles like this one from HubSpot – people searching for your product will see that an established, respected brand has mentioned yours and might click through to your website.

Off-Page SEO Allows You To Own More Search Engine Real Estate

Take a look at the results page for a given keyword. You will likely see a list of webpages all from different websites. If you’re only focusing on on-page SEO, you could be leaving valuable space on the search engine results page open to your competitors. 

When you publish content on other websites besides your own, you can occupy more space on the front page of Google and capture more of the attention share for a given keyword.

One way to understand the impact this can have is to look at branded searches. When you search for a major brand name on Google — McDonald’s for example — you’ll see more than just their website. You’ll see the company’s Twitter and Facebook pages, you might see a news story about the company, and maybe a Wikipedia page. These are all examples of off-page SEO. 

Authority Hacking

Not only can you indicate to Google that your business is reputable and a solid choice for your target audience — off-page SEO allows you to build awareness and authority simply by showing up in more places that potential customers are looking. If someone is searching for a solution to their problem and they see that your business is mentioned in the top 5 articles on

Google, they will be more likely to trust that you are the right choice for their needs.You can gain awareness from inclusion in listicles, reviews on listing sites, guest posts, and roundup posts. Because these types of mentions are from third parties, they often appear more trustworthy than content you post on your own website. You can build trust by getting your brand to show up in lists of the best companies in your industry. 

Domain authority is a metric that estimates how trustworthy and reputable your website is. Google rewards sites with higher domain authority because the content on these sites is more likely to be high quality and valuable.

Use Off-Page SEO for Referral Traffic

One use of off-page SEO that often gets overlooked is using strategically placed off-page links to drive traffic back to your site. Let’s say you’re having trouble ranking for a keyword that is valuable for your business, you can use off-page SEO to target that keyword from another site.

If you’re able to get a guest post published on a site with high domain authority and a large readership, you can rank for more difficult, higher competition keywords. If you can place valuable backlinks to your site within the guest post, as the post starts to rank, you will likely see some referral traffic start coming in from the article. The great thing about this type of traffic is that even though it may take some time to get working, once the post is ranking and people start clicking through to your site the traffic can be really consistent (and free)!

How do you make an off-page SEO strategy?

If you’re new to off-page SEO, it can be overwhelming to decide how you will go about creating and implementing a strategy. Choosing the best off-page SEO tactics for your business depends a lot on what industry you’re in and what type of traffic is most valuable for you.

Figure Out Where Your Customers Spend Time Online

It’s important to understand which websites your target audience spends the most time on if you want your off-page SEO strategy to be effective. For example, if you’re a software company that targets ecommerce businesses, you need to figure out what sites ecommerce business owners and employees read to learn more about their industry.

Determine the best way to capture their attention.

After you’ve identified a few places you could reach your customers, you can decide which type of content they are most likely to find valuable and interact with. It’s important to consider the questions that they may be asking and the problems that they need help solving.

Create content that provides value and encourages clickthrough to your website.

From there you can decide what type of content is most valuable to them and you can reach them by getting guest posts published on the sites they read. One important part of the content is that it should have a clear call to action that directs readers to your website. Linking to the content on your own website will provide a backlink and will make it easy for readers to learn how your business can help them.

inbox on a phone

They WANT to Hear From You: How to Use Email Drip Campaigns to Engage Your Best Customers

person building email drip campaigns on computer

If you’ve been following Tuff for truly any amount of time, you know that we have a history of taking a hard stance on email marketing. Hyperboles aside, email is a channel that truly pulls its weight in a full-funnel marketing strategy. What’s more, your customers (and/or clients, leads, prospects) WANT to hear from you. Need some proof?

Did you know that 72% of customers prefer email as their main channel for business communication? Did you further know that 60% of consumers say they’ve made a purchase as the result of a marketing email they’ve received? (Source)

The short story: an opt-in is a sure sign from your customer that they want to hear you. When you honor that with timely, actionable, and relevant communication in their inbox, you energize your on-the-fence customers and engage your best ones. In other words: you create a real, scalable path to growth. 

The catch: between e-blasts, marketing emails, transaction emails, list segmentation, and automation it’s hard to know where to start. We’ve got your back. 

Disclaimer! As a growth marketing agency, we’re constantly preaching about prioritization; how to identify your highest-impact/lightest-lift activities so you can quickly implement, optimize, test, and use your findings to build more detailed, impactful strategies on other channels. Email is no different. This article digs deep into drip campaigns: in our opinion, one of the best ways to drive revenue using email. But! That’s not to say that e-blasts or automated flows might make the greater impact for you. Not quite sure where to start? Let’s talk.

The Vocab: Email Marketing 101

A solid email strategy starts with a clear understanding of your options. An important note: depending on where you’re getting your information, the following terminology may vary (or be used a bit differently).

E-Blast vs. Drip Campaign vs. Automated Flow

There are a number of different methods for emailing your customers that have opted into hearing from you. The first, and typically the most common is e-blasts. This is where most founders or marketers start: this is a one-off or a consistently sent email meant to keep your customers up to date on new content, product launches, and/or events. These are manual and hands-on—the content will change each time you send. 

A drip campaign, meanwhile, is static, predetermined, and scheduled content based on pre-defined triggers. For example, a series of email that sends to someone who’s just created an account, abandoned their cart, or downloaded a white paper. The content of the series is catered specifically to the action that the user has taken. And while particularities of the content (like dynamic product content blocks based on the actual items in the user’s abandoned cart), the series itself is a fixed number of emails that eventually ends. 

Finally, an automated flow is a series of emails that dynamically changes based on a user’s behavior (the distinction between a drip campaign and an automated flow is relatively subtle). For example, if a customer has indicated through a series of behaviors that they’re a top user of your app, you can program an automated email to encourage them to upgrade their subscription, leave a review, refer a friend, or take another higher-value action. Then, if that user ends up taking that action, the automation will either drop them out of the flow or put them into a new one. 

While each type pulls its weight in a holistic email marketing strategy, above, they’re ordered from the simplest to the most complex. We recommend starting with e-blasts and maintaining a steady cadence while you build out drip campaigns. Once you’ve had an opportunity to really hone in on list segmentation, get super specific with user behavior patterns, and collect data on your open, click through, and unsubscribe rates, then (in our opinion) it’s time to dig into automated flows. 

How to Build an Effective Email Drip Campaign

Drip campaigns are communications that meet a customer when they’re most engaged: right after they’ve taken a notable action. Before you write one subject line or begin to map out your campaign, it’s super important to get specific with your triggers. 

Step 1: List Every Possible Trigger

No matter what kind of business you run (SaaS, B2B, B2C) your customer journey is stacked with actions for your potential customers to take. From the very first time they discover you, all the way through to conversion, they’ll (likely…ideally!) be seeing and clicking on your ads, finding new ways to learn about you, engaging with ways to save, and ultimately, buying. Here are just a handful of examples:

  • Placing an order
  • Attending an event at your store
  • Signing up for a webcast
  • Registering for a report or white paper
  • Abandoning a shopping cart
  • Engaging with customer service

This is also the step during which you’ll do the heavy lifting when it comes to segmentation.

email flow

We could (and probably will!) write a full extra article on segmentation but the short story: if your lists aren’t thoughtfully and properly segmented, the rest of your strategy will have a hard time getting off the ground.

Step 2: Determine Where Each Trigger Fits in Your Marketing Funnel

Where these leads sit in your funnel helps dictate how you message them and what actions you call them to take. Here are the above examples organized by where they fit in the funnel:

Top of Funnel → signing up for a webcast, registering for a report or white paper

Middle of Funnel → attending an event at your store, engaging with customer service

Bottom of Funnel → abandoning a shopping cart

Step 3: Decide How Often to Send

Quick tip: you can send more emails than you think you should. Customers WANT to hear from you. Our tactical recommendations differ depending on industry (eCommerce companies can get away with sending at a higher cadence while B2B or SAAS companies should resist sending more than five emails a month).

Lay out your email cadence depending on how long your sales/conversion process usually takes and/or how long it will take to tell a complete story about why they should purchase or subscribe based on where they are in the funnel.

A quick blueprint to help you find your starting line:

  • Plan to include 5 – 10 emails in your campaign
  • Send 4 days apart if you’re B2C, 7 if you’re B2B

Step 4: Create Your Email Content

An email drip (as well as an automated flow) is a story — how do you tell a full story from end to end? Again, this messaging will vary greatly depending on where your user is in the funnel. 

email campaign example

Users in the top of your marketing funnel will resonate best with heavy education (how does your product/service make their life better), a word from experts, general tips for how easy it is to integrate your product/service into their life. Consider crafting all emails with the primary CTA of “Learn More.”

Users in the middle of your marketing funnel are in the consideration phase. Core messaging here should be focused on how your product or service tactically works, insights or experiences from real users, and press mentions. The primary CTA here is get in touch with customer service or start shopping.

Users in the bottom of your marketing funnel are nearing conversion and actively looking to buy from you or a competitor. Core messaging here should center on your brand story—why they should believe in your company and how you outpace the competition. Here, we’ve found that personal notes from founders, explaining why and how they’ve built the company in all its particularities can make an impact. The primary CTA here is to place an order, subscribe, or whatever your ultimate conversion action is. 

Step 5: Launch, Check In. Optimize. Rinse & Repeat.

No matter which email strategy you adopt and implement, it’s critical to continuously check in on your drip campaigns to increase performance and, overtime, drive more revenue. Here’s a quick cheat sheet outlining the best metrics to scrutinize and what to try to elevate their performance:

Deliverability Rate

  • What it is: The number of emails accepted by the recipient’s server. 
  • Why it might be underperforming: You bought a list of emails (BIG no no), you don’t have a clear unsubscribe rate, or you’re using spammy/overly-salesy language.
  • How to improve it: Continuously clean your lists, delete any addresses that bounce or are invalid, and ensure the unsubscribe button is clearly visible.

Open Rate

  • What it is: The percentage of recipients that open your email. 
  • Why it might be underperforming: Your email has landed in the spam folder, it’s hard to tell who you (the sender) is, or your subject line is uninspiring.
  • How to improve it: Use simple A/B subject line tests to see what kind of language your audience resonates with.

Click-Through Rate (CTR)

  • What it is: The percentage of people that open your email and also click through to a link. 
  • Why it might be underperforming: Your CTA buttons are too far down the email, it isn’t clear to your recipients what kind of action you want them to take, or the link isn’t compelling enough.
  • How to improve it: Test different text lengths, button styles, and actionable copy to encourage a click.

Conversion Rate (CVR)

  • What it is: The percentage of people that click through to your site and also make a purchase. 
  • Why it might be underperforming: The experience of your email doesn’t match the experience a user has when they hit the site.
  • How to improve it: Ensure a smooth/consistent experience from your email to your site.

There’s truly no gilded road to email success—the best strategies start with the questions, “what’s going to be the most impactful for my business and my customer/prospect?” Sometimes, this can feel a bit daunting. The good news: we’ve got your back! Ready to fire up some effective drop campaigns? Let’s talk!

mobile delivery app growth

Wait! Come Back! How Our Email Winback Strategy Converted at 27% For Dumpling

grocery delivery in bags

At its simplest, Dumpling is a grocery delivery app. But dig a bit further and you’ll see that Dumpling is taking a service that has historically capitalized on the gig economy and flipping it. 

Dumpling’s competitors like Instacart automatically match you with a shopper. Which keeps things simple, no doubt, but you get no extra communication with the person picking out your produce. So when you’ve put “cabbage” on your list and your shopper shows up with a purple cabbage instead of a napa cabbage, you’re either changing your dinner plans or you’re running to the store. 

Dumpling was founded on the idea that both shoppers and customers could benefit from open, transparent communication and an actual relationship with the people on the other end of the line. So, when you download the Dumpling app and drop in your zip code, Dumpling lists personal shoppers (a.k.a. business owners) that you can connect with through the app. Then, once you send them your list and they hit the store, they can communicate with you in real-time when they walk up to grab a cabbage and aren’t sure which one. 

dumpling app

The best part: you can order with your personal shopper again and again, so eventually, they won’t even have to ask, they just know you want that napa cabbage. 

Dumpling reached out to Tuff looking for a growth marketing agency that could help them attract and keep more engaged users. Here’s a look at what we worked on together.

Goal 1: Drive App Installs

Dumpling reached out in search of a team to help them supercharge their acquisition efforts and smooth their new users’ path to conversion. 

We knew we wanted to drive some quick wins (and the sophisticated Dumpling team had already established a number of paid acquisition campaigns). So we started with robust Facebook and Google Search strategies to drive users to download the Dumpling app. 

Goal 2: Turn New Users Into Power Users

Next, we turned our attention to the large number of users that had taken three key actions:

  1. Downloaded the app 
  2. Created a profile
  3. Connected to a shopper

From there, we identified three subgroups of users that signified a huge potential:

  1. Users that have ordered once and never reordered
  2. Users that have placed 1-3 orders but haven’t reordered in 2+ months
  3. Users that have never placed an order

As part of the signup flow, users shared their email addresses with us, so our reengagement strategy centered around email

email winback flow

Using Value Props to Drive Conversions

In order to entice users to come back and order again, or order for the first time, we created email flows that were super specific to each of the three different types of unengaged users. 

To start, we organized the value props that were most relevant to each user at their particular moments in their journeys. For example, the first email we sent to the segment that had downloaded the app delivered two important messages: first, that connecting to a personal shopper will make their life easier (a tangible benefit) and second, that when you order through Dumpling, you’re supporting your neighborhood. Here’s what that copy looks like in action:

Hi there [name],

We created Dumpling for two main reasons:

  • To make your life easier! Grocery shopping isn’t at the top of anyone’s list when it comes to the best ways to spend time (catch that pun? 😏)
  • To make it easier for people in your neighborhood to be awesome personal shoppers. 

So, our magical equation…

You + Personal Shopper = ✨

Using Offers to Drive Conversions

After we organized our value props and created separate flows catered to each of the three segments, we layered on discounts and special offers. 

The discount that the Dumpling team had found most impactful after testing several offers against each other in their email newsletters and on social media was a 15% discount with an order of $50 or more. So, we ran with it! We sent this offer to most of our segments, but we drove it home hardest with the users that had connected with a personal shopper but had never placed an order. Here’s what that offer looks like in action:

Hi there [name],

It’s simple. When you shop with a Personal Shopper on Dumpling (like bizOwner_name!​) you…

✔️ get what’s on your list

👋 support a local small business

🛒 and you save yourself a trip to the store 

Plus, Dumpling doesn’t mark up your groceries like the other guys. And if you needed just one more reason to place your first order, use code WELCOME15 to save $15 when you spend $50 or more. 

So what are you waiting for? Make your grocery list today.

The Dumpling Team

And, although every email we sent to this particular segment included the offer, we set up some A/B subject line tests to see if including the offer in the subject line would impact overall conversion rate. Surprisingly, the CVR wasn’t significantly different between the emails that included the offer in the subject line and those that didn’t.

The Results

Simply, the results we saw after we implemented these email flows were incredibly impactful and made a significant difference in the overall business health for Dumpling. Here’s what that looks like broken down:

Segment: Users That Have Ordered Once and Never Reordered

  • Of the 2,084 users in this segment, 352 placed an order (17%)

Segment: Users That Have Placed 1-3 Orders and Haven’t Reordered in 2+ Months

  • Of the 2,035 users in this segment, 556 placed an order (27%)

Segment: Users That Have Never Placed an Order

  • Of the 3,455 users in this segment, 480 placed an order (14%)

Are you currently segmenting your email lists and creating dedicated flows? Think that automation can save you time and drive revenue? (Hint, you’re right about that one).

Get in touch!

 

email inbox

A Hill We’ll Die On: Email is Critical to Your CRO

Email marketing is a crucial way of keeping your audience engaged. Full stop. No matter if you’re an eCommerce or SaaS, B2B or B2C, email is an incredibly powerful tool that can move users through the funnel and help them pick up steam on the way towards conversion.

That’s why the way we think about email needs to change.

If your strongest association with email involves things like newsletters and announcements, you’re definitely not alone. But if we accomplish anything with this article, it will be helping you shift your perspective so you think of email as a powerful tool for conversion rate optimization (CRO). Since email is an intimate way of communicating with your customers, it is the perfect way to drive conversions.

Whether someone signs up for your email list at a conference, exchanges it for gated content, enters a giveaway, or joins your list after making a purchase, they are already familiar with your brand. That’s what positions it on a pedestal high above discovery-based channels like social media (although of course, social plays a different but equally important role).

Let’s talk about how to do some marketing alchemy and turn that familiarity into conversions. 

A note on newsletters

Before diving deeper into how email can be used as a CRO tool, it’s important to note that newsletters (while, true, we might have talked some smack above) are also a super important part of your overall strategies. 

Once you add someone to your email list, maintaining regular communication with them is essential. Doing so “trains” your audience to look for updates and keeps your brand top of mind.

Newsletter emails are also a great way to optimize your calls-to-action (CTA) by tracking how customers interact with them.  

In an attempt to avoid confusion for the intent of this article:

  • There is a CRO component to newsletters (button type, subject lines, actionable copy, etc) but that’s NOT what we’re talking about here.
  • Thinking about super targeted emails that communicate with your customer as a touchpoint in their bigger-picture path towards conversion IS what where talking about here. 

Step #1: Map Out the Customer Journey

The first step to turning email into a powerful CRO tool is by putting yourself in your audiences’ shoes. 

While email acquisition is its whole separate strategic beast (we could—and will!—write a fully separate post on this topic) it’s important to think about the different ways people jump onto your email list. 

Email flow and segment chart

So, on that note, before you think about creating CRO-focused email flows, put your heads together with your marketing team to dig in and map out what your customer journeys look like. This includes answering questions like: 

  • What are the myriad ways someone might give us their email address?
  • How long does it take cold traffic to convert? 
  • Is there a seasonality to buying? 
  • How is our sales team involved and how can we avoid duplicate messaging?

Once do the legwork here and get these down on paper (or mapped out on a white board) it will make segmentation much, much easier.

Step #2: Segment

In email marketing, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. It’s critical to clearly define your customers and create a personalized email strategy. To get the best results, segmentation is an important piece of the puzzle. That way we can target recipients based on factors like behavior and attributes and make email feel like a real part of a conversation as opposed to an impersonal blast.

Every business is different. (Stating the obvious, much?) Which means there’s no one blueprint to follow for segmentation. Hopefully once you’ve mapped out your user journeys, getting in and segmenting your users feels like a natural next step. 

Here are the two most common ways to go about it:  

Behavior

Behavior segmentation is a good way to target your audience based on how they will react to your emails. A few examples of behavior segmentation would be:

  • When someone downloads your app but doesn’t create an account 
  • When someone downloads a white paper 
  • When someone abandons their cart 

Analyzing how your customers behave on your website gives you valuable insight to help increase conversion rate optimization. 

Attribute

Another way to segment your audience is by their attributes. This involves collecting user information either when they give you their email (the MUCH easier way to go about it) or in retrospect through surveys or other tactics (a good approach if you already have a large list of emails but don’t have much associated information). 

Pro tip: Only ask for the most important information when collecting a user’s email address. 

Tips for Segmenting Your Audience 

Collect the least amount of/most relevant information as possible 

As we mentioned earlier, people don’t want to take the time to give out more information than they need to. It takes more time for them to sign up and users don’t want to give out information if they are not absolutely sure about the value they’ll receive in return. Only ask for the most important data that will benefit the end user and help you segment.

Think about the fewest number of ways you can segment 

Deciding the best way to segment your audience in order to drive maximum conversions can be the trickiest and most time-consuming piece of this equation. Our tip: don’t do it in a vacuum!

Segmenting your audience into fewer categories allows you to efficiently learn user behavior, run tests, and optimize your email strategy. Too many segments will waste resources and leave your approach scattered.

Just like customer journey mapping, segmenting your audience is a difficult undertaking, but doing it well makes the rest of the CRO process much easier.

Step #3: Get Detailed With Your Email Flows

The short story: the better your messaging speaks to your user that’s considerate of where they are in their customer journey, the more likely they will be to take the action you’d like them to take. 

Based are where your segmented audiences are in their customer journey helps you decide how to set your goal for your email flow. Do you want a user to sign up for a premium plan? Buy a product? Continue to a landing page? 

Guiding users to take action necessitates engagement and continuous reasons to stay subscribed (read: offers, awesome content, etc.). One of the most common (and worst) mistakes companies make is emailing too often or sending irrelevant emails without purpose. The last thing you want is the reader asking themselves “what’s the point of this email?”  

For instance, an email to remind someone about an abandoned cart will look nothing like an email sent to someone that signed up for a coupon after seeing an ad.

While designing your flows, keep in mind that you’ll want to have a plan for what to do once a user reaches a goal. This might mean moving them into a new flow or putting them back on a general newsletter. 

Pro tip: this is where it’s super easy to get overwhelmed by the number of possible flows you can create. We recommend starting with an email flow that targets a segment that’s most likely to buy (abandoned cart, quiz takers, and people that have recently joined your list) then refine, measure success, and scale from there. 

Also, stay organized! We map out our users’ journeys in a spreadsheet, like this one

Step #4: Create Really Great Emails

No matter how targeted your flow is, poorly designed emails won’t lead to conversions. The key to conversion rate optimization is creating really good emails.  

Before you create an email, you should be able to answer these questions: 

  • What critical benefits do you want your user to know and in what order? 
  • What are the biggest blockers between your user and conversion? 
  • How can you meet them where they’re at and deliver a targeted, rock-solid message.  

The hierarchy of messaging can make or break your flow. Your users not only need to receive the right information, they need to receive it in the right order. 

Next, consider the obstacles between your audience and conversions. When designing your emails, think of ways to help users overcome these hurdles. (Think social proof, user testimonials, press mentions, or even “personalized” messages from your founder).

Email copy example.

Finally, be sure to keep CTAs in mind. Every email should include a clear action for your audience to interact with. Even if users aren’t ready to make a purchase or subscribe to your service, peripheral CTAs can keep them engaged along the way.

Step #6: Analyze, Optimize, Rinse & Repeat

Once you have emails sending and your strategy in motion, the work isn’t quite done. The way your users interact with your emails can give you super valuable insights. 

Consistently analyzing data like which links are most clicked, which subject lines drive the most opens, and which sends trigger the most unsubscribes should be leveraged on a monthly basis to drive design, copy, and flow. 

Ultimately, odds are, your first email strategy won’t be as effective as you want and that’s okay. The important part is to trust the process, analyze the results, and optimize your strategy until you get the results you want. 

In short, winning companies think about email as a CRO tool. By doing so, you can better optimize your communication strategy and generate more conversions compared to competitors that only see email as a way to talk to your audience. 

Looking to supercharge your email strategy to drive conversions? Let’s chat about it!

Example of an ecommerce email on a phone.

A Crash Course in Email Marketing for Your eCommerce Store

Man working on a computer.

If you sell products online, you have a lot of options when it comes to marketing tactics. From influencers to ppc, it’s less about what you can do, and more about what you should do.  

Whether your limits are resource-related or budgetary, you will typically want to prioritize the marketing tactics that are likely to have the highest impact on your revenue.  In terms of reliability and ease of implementation, you can’t do much better than email marketing. 

Getting your ecommerce email strategy right, however, can prove a challenge. You only get one chance to grab a potential customer’s attention, after all, and you don’t want to lose sales once you have someone in your funnel. 

Keep reading for tips on how to build your list, the most popular email triggers, and inspiration from some of the greats! 

Building your list

In order for any type of marketing to work you need an audience. To pursue email marketing, this requires, of course, email addresses. There are several ways you can go about collecting these. The easiest is to simply acquire emails at your point of sale. This is a natural part of eCommerce, and customers who do not want targeted marketing can always opt out. Of course, this only allows you to target people who already buy from you.

One popular method to grow your customer base is to institute a “pop-up” that entices website visitors to submit email addresses for a coupon. Keep in mind that you do not need to directly ask for the email address. Instead, simply offer the coupon. If the customer bites and you gain a sale, you will collect the email naturally. 

eCommerce email pop up example from Brumate.

Another strategy involves giving away free content. For example, you could provide “how-to’s” related to your industry, such as recipes if you sell cookware. These are called “lead magnets”, because they lure potential customers to your website through the voluntary submission of contact details. If you have a popular blog, you can request emails for access to a newsletter with exclusive content. 

Picking your triggers

Since online consumers get bombarded with marketing, a straight-forward email-based solicitation likely won’t get you many buyers. Because of this, you’ll need a trigger, or a purpose for your email. Some of the most effective triggers you can utilize include emails for abandoned carts, up-sells and cross-sells, promotional offers, and special promotions for customer loyalty and re-engagement.

Abandoned Cart Emails

We’ve all seen them in brick-and-mortars: the abandoned shopping cart, left idle like flotsam amidst the swift-running current of commerce. The e-commerce equivalent of this happens all the time. Any number of reasons can drive us to click away from our shopping carts before we complete a transaction. A sudden caller may arrive at the door, for example, or the phone rings, the baby cries, or we get diverted through a particularly salient social media post.

Believe it or not, nearly 70 percent of all online carts get abandoned before submission of payment. Shipping fees provide the number one reason for this, as customers get turned off by what they perceive as an “extra cost”. A simple way to transform this loss into a win is to send an abandoned cart email that offers free shipping. If you can’t take this hit to your margins, you can alternately send an email survey to learn the reason for the abandoned cart.

Up-Sell Emails

Up-selling occurs when you invite a customer to purchase a more expensive item in order to increase the overall value of their order. Cross-selling, a similar practice, happens when you recommend a similar or complementary product. Since customers with a three-year relationship spend 67 percent more than new customers, it makes sense that these tactics regularly target preexisting business. One way to capitalize on this tendency is to simply send an order follow-up email with related items. 

Promotional Emails

The promotional email offers a one-time discount or coupon, or announces a sale. These are among the most popular types of email marketing for sellers and consumers alike. Seasonal sales provide shoppers the opportunity for discounts, and give sellers the ability to clear out unsold stock. Coupons can help drive a burst of immediate sales, and can provide shoppers discount on bundles, or one-time savings that convince them to finally buy that expensive new toy. 

Example of sales promotion from an eCommerce brand.

A special type of promotional email is that which seeks to reel back in an old customer. If someone has purchased from you once, chances are they will do it again if given the right incentive. A customer loyalty or re-engagement email can provide just this kind of incentive, through promotions like those mentioned above. What makes these different than straight-forward promotional emails is that they feel exclusive. For example, the discount could only apply for customers who have made a purchase in the last year, or those who made purchases from a specific category.

Creating your emails

Having seen a ton of great emails pass my way, I’d love to share a short list of some of the emails that have stood out to me. 

Uber

Like all of Uber’s brand-related communications, the email was streamlined, clever, and well designed. These qualities help identify their brand, and therefore make Uber’s marketing efforts all the more successful.

Poncho

Some of the most effective communication weds brevity with humor. I like how the customizable weather forecast tool Poncho regularly utilizes this strategy through colorful, short marketing emails punctuated with witty copy. For example, the email below used a bright gif to communicate a forecast of high temperatures, and paired it with a statement about slathering on sunscreen to impress the dermatologist you’re crushing on.

Pit Viper

These emails have character. Pit Viper sells sunglasses online and their brand has a voice unique. Here’s one of my absolutely favorite emails from them that came after I ordered a pair of their sunglasses. This sticks out to me because it’s a simple confirmation email. They already had my money but instead of it being the same boring “thanks for your order” they took the opportunity to leave a lasting impression with their customers. 

Example of an order confirmation email.

Warby Parker

Lastly, Warby Parker, which could probably offer a PhD in emailmarketing, sent me a feedback email a couple of weeks after I bought a pair of glasses. I like this one because it’s short to the point and honest. And the subject line “Three cheers for feedback” is human and inviting. 

Bottom line, all eCommerce sites should get into the practice of email marketing as soon as possible. The benefits are simply too broad, and the expenditure so low, that it makes email marketing a no-brainer. Once you have your list of recipients, you can experiment with which types of emails work the best for your business. Get started soon, and each sympathetic recipient will not only grow your list of subscribers, but also your business’s bottom line.

Email onboarding flow computer.

Onboarding Emails: Three things that increased clicks by 50%

Email onboarding flow computer.

Installs, sign-ups, trials, and demos mean nothing if you can’t keep your users. Which makes your onboarding email campaign incredibly important. 

It’s your first impression. But, it’s also your opportunity to guide new users to take the action that will increase their lifetime value. 

Before you start working on getting more people to your site, you need to make sure you have an onboarding experience that motivates your users to take that action you care most about. Otherwise, you’re throwing money out the window.

Onboarding Emails In Action

Earlier this year we started partnering with Felt, a company building an app that sends your personal, handwritten cards and photos from your phone. Our goals were to increase reach, installs, and revenue by running data-driven campaigns on different channels. 

 

Felt app screenshot.

While our full strategy was a mix of campaigns and channels (Facebook Ads, Google, YouTube, Apple Search Ads, etc), in this post, we’re going to focus on just one of the tactics: onboarding emails. We were able to increase clicks by 50% through these three steps:

  • Step 1: Mapping out the existing flow and setting benchmarks
  • Step 2: Figuring out the “aha” moment (using data)
  • Step 3: Rewriting, redesigning, and rebuilding each email to focus on that “aha” moment

But, first, we’ll set the stage.

The Results: A look inside the numbers

On average, 600 – 700 people install Felt every day. Each person who downloads the app and doesn’t immediately send a card, gets put into the new user onboarding email flow. 

Here’s what the numbers looked like before and after we made adjustments based on our research, learnings and experience. On the left, you have the original onboarding flow and on the right, you have the updated flow.

Email onboarding flow case study.

With our first round of improvements, we were able to increase the ‘Clicks per unique opens’ from 7.5% to 11.3%. This action (getting people back in the app and sending cards) immediately gave us a sustainable increase in daily revenue.

At this point, we’re only scratching the surface. 

Holistically mapping the user journey 

With every client, we analyze each piece of the conversion puzzle so we can spend our time focused on the areas with the highest impact on revenue.

In the first two months of partnership, we: 

  1. Configured Branch for better campaign analytics 
  2. Produced copy and creative (videos and images) 
  3. Set up Facebook/Instagram ads
  4. Set up Google Ads
  5. Set up Pinterest ads
  6. Built and launched an influencer program 

With the combination of these tactics, install volume skyrocketed. It’s also worth noting that sending handwritten cards from your phone is a helpful resource while the country sheltered in place.

With the spike in users, it was even more important to make sure they were adopting the Felt app, sending cards, and having an awesome experience. 

So we conducted a full funnel analysis. We asked key questions and mapped data to the user journey to identify where we could improve. We started with: 

  1. How does a user get from install to paying subscriber? 
    • For Felt, it’s when the user sends their first card. If a new user sends a card, they 2x their spend in the subsequent 5 day period. 
  1. What’s our “aha” moment? When do users really get the value of Felt? 
    • When the person they sent a card to actually gets it in the mail. Which speaks to the “do good, feel good” aspect of Felt. When people send cards it makes them feel happy. 
  1. What touchpoints can we leverage to guide our users down the funnel? 
    • For us, this came down to triggered emails, retargeting ads, and app-based onboarding cues. The first, and quickest win was email, so we started there. 

Here’s what we did: 

Step 1: Mapping out the existing flow and setting benchmarks

The 5-series email flow for new installs was in good shape. It was already set up in Mailchimp and had been running for months. We liked the timing but wanted to see if we could increase the number of users who click on each email in the sequence. 

We started by mapping out the entire email flow: 

Email onboarding map.

(There are tools to visualize this type of work but I still love good ol’ fashion spreadsheets).  

Step 2: Figuring out the “aha” moment (using data)

When we conducted the full funnel analysis we uncovered one of the most critical moments for a Felt user. The first card in Felt is always free. When a user sends that free card within the first week of downloading the app, they are 4x more likely to become a paying customer. 

So, how do we get someone who downloads the app to send a card quicker?

Step 3: Rewriting, redesigning, and rebuilding each email to focus on that “aha” moment

Now that we were crystal clear on the one action we wanted our users to take (CTA was “send a free card”) we rebuilt the email flow to focus users on taking this action in a few ways:

  • We stripped out extra images (removed 4 total) 
  • We removed any marketing copy that wasn’t about our sole CTA (cut the word count by 505) 
  • We outlined the user journey so it was clear exactly what the next steps with Felt looked like 
  • We acknowledged that they had already done something huge (install the app) and so only had one more thing to do 
  • We linked the “send free card” twice – in the primary CTA and in the text of the email

To put it more directly, we removed anything that would distract the user from sending the free card.

Before and after email examples.

Up Next

We mentioned these adjustments are just scratching the surface. We’re lucky that the Felt team had already been sending onboarding emails, giving us a benchmark to start from. 

As we continue with our goals to increase reach, installs, and revenue we’ll want to continue updating and testing emails so the next post is about how we increased conversion by 50%.