Boost Sales with Email Marketing the Hard/Soft Way

When it comes to email marketing, there is a reasonable (but fictional) perception that email marketing consists of either helpful emails that don’t sell, or pitching in a brash manner.

Like most things in life, there is a promotional spectrum to email marketing, ranging in scale from “hard” to “soft” pitch emails. Purely “hard” would be considered the more overt pitching style, while nothing-but-“soft” would be wholly educational content.

Most of the time, you can cover the best of both worlds by providing educational content with offers that appear as an extension of that content.

This tutorial will be helpful if…

  • You like the ability to turn up promotions and use email as a lever to turn up revenue
  • You want to develop a consistent regimen for creating long-term relationships with customers, and simultaneously sell almost as an side effect

Let’s break down the five core types of email pitches, starting with the most “hard” pitches (5 on a scale of 1 to 5) down to the most “soft” pitches (1 on a scale of 1 to 5).

5 Basic Kinds of Promotional Content

5 – Promotional Pitch Without Content or Education 

A type “5” pitch is an email explicitly speaking about a sales page and sending a prospect to that page. If you’re a consultancy or service company, the offer is probably driving people directly to make an appointment. If you’re an eCommerce company, the offer drives a prospect to a product sales page.

This email doesn’t need to be worded aggressively, but it’s really not about education – it is overly pushing a particular offer. I highly recommend mixing this type of “hard” pitch in with the other strategies in this spectrum (read this article for additional insight into email tactics that work).

4 – Promotional Pitch With Content or Education 

A type “4” pitch might be some semblance of a sales page introducing a new product – we’ll use hiking gear as an example. This email might lead to a landing page that demonstrates the use of or applications of a particular tent.

You might consider including interesting pictures, lessons that people can learn, etc. There is still a straight-forward sales call-to-action on the page, but prospects also have the opportunity to learn something useful.

3 – Educational Snippet Embedded in a Sales Page

A type “3” pitch has some specific educational snippet included on a sales page. If we stick with the hiking gear company example, we might have advice from an expert on how to tie down a tent in windy weather. This expertise is an entire self-contained educational snippet located on a sales page, with the product information surrounding that article/video (check out this example by REI; this page has multiple snippets and is grouped on a ‘themed’ page, but it illustrates the concept well).

If you’re a marketing agency or other consultancy, you might have a 5 to 7 minute video (I don’t recommend much longer) about Facebook marketing strategies with fundamental criteria to split test picture ads on mobile. At the bottom of this page bottom, we can have our call to action i.e. “if you’re interested in learning more, make an appointment here.” There is no mention of overt selling, but prospects are offered a chance to purchase.

*These last 2 strategies (type 4 and 3) work well for testimonial-driven content:

 

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If you have a sales page with lots of case studies and testimonials, these can often be blended into these types of email efforts.

If you are not currently using social proof or testimonials with email promotions and sales efforts online, you are generally doing yourself a disservice. Case studies and testimonials usually promote higher engagement and encourage follow-through on the purchase.

2 – Purely Education With Relevant Peripheral Calls to Action

A type “2” pitch is what I like to call the sweet spot in email marketing. This usually entails sending folks to an article or a video.   Sticking with camping equipment, you might include a link to an educational video on preparing food in rations.

The promotion, which should be visible in the right- or left-hand sidebar, or as a banner at the top and/or bottom of the page (I suggest picking 2 of these options), mentions your complete rations superstore on your main camping website.

You don’t mention anything about promotion in email, just include a link to the educational article. The call to action is in the peripheral banners. You want fantastic content with light and non pushy calls to action, that encourage people to take the next step if and when they are ready.

We call type 2 the “keeping the buying door open” option, and it may be the most important concept in this tutorial. When you have an email list, you are very far from having a 100% open rate on emails. Most people reading this email likely have between an 8% and 22%.

Say your open rate is at 20%. Every so often, you send out a promotional email higher up on the “hard” spectrum, but you’re missing a huge swath of that email list, who will never know you promoted, if you’re only sending newsletter with no sales materials.

I like to and encourage clients to mix in educational materials with lighter promotional efforts that are peripheral on the pages/blog i.e. falling in the type “2” category. The majority of content should be hanging in this sphere most of the time for MOST businesses.

1 – Purely Education

Type “1” pitch is also known as “keeping the buying door closed“. There may be certain industries or instances in which a company wants to come across as being very far from selling when they first start a prospect relationship – like high-profile lawyers, other sensitive services, or massively high ticket products -and send an email with a link to a blog or video, absent of any call to action.

For most businesses, this very soft pitch isn’t the way to go if you want to drive revenue, unless you have a very specific objective in doing so.

The Hard to Soft Email Marketing Spectrum:

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I hope this tutorial was helpful and that you’ll experiment with some of these pitch types in your own business. Leave us a comment on the CLVboost blog or Youtube channel and let us know your successes or your own ideas – we love to hear from our subscribers.

-Daniel Faggella
CLVboost Founder

 

About The Author

Daniel Faggella

I grow businesses with marketing automation, email marketing, and conversion-rate optimization. I’ve spoken on business and emerging technologies internationally and at some of America’s finest schools (Yale, Stanford, Cornell, etc…). My marketing strategies have been featured in the Boston Business Journal, MarketingProfs, Direct Marketing News, and much more. CLVboost is where I share marketing strategies, TechEmergence.com is my major pursuit.