Author: Chris Pearson, Partner & Email Marketing Specialist at 3BM
Slow season can be a death sentence for some brands.
The lull in sales between Spring and Fall (aka Summer) can wreak havoc on a brand’s bottom line (or any “season” for that matter).
Brands know it’s coming each year, yet it still catches them by surprise.
“Maybe it’ll be different this year.”
“Maybe our customers will keep buying after the holiday season.”
“Would be nice if we could keep sales up until we get to fall.”
It can be tough to “stay ahead” of the slow season when you’re building a brand, acquiring new customers, onboarding new employees, managing vendors and suppliers, and more.
So why does the slow season still happen every single year?
I don’t have an answer to why it happens, because that’s unique to each brand, but…
I do have something else you can do to address the slow season and keep sales steady (or even grow them) until your high season.
Here they are:
4 Email Moves to Keep Selling Through Slow Season
#1. Send More Broadcasts
You may have heard the old email adage:
“Send more emails, make more sales.”
But, how do you send more without driving your subscribers to unsubscribe?
Segment, first. Then, send more.
What kind of segments?
Here are a few to get you started:
- Buyers and non buyers
- Category viewers and/or category buyers
- Placed order on X product in last Y days
With these three segments alone, you can put together a broadcast plan that allows you to send an email every single day for the entire year (and into the foreseeable future).
Yes, 365 emails in one year.
Compare that to the 75 or so broadcasts brands send each year.
I’m confident you’ll make more.
The best part?
There are about a dozen solid segments you can lean on, so that you can get more emails out the door making sales for you and positively impacting your customers.
Add More Automations
Email automations or flows can be broken into two groups:
- Pre purchase
- Post purchase
The pre-purchase flows are what you’ve probably heard of before:
- Abandoned checkout
- Abandoned cart
- Abandoned browser/product
- And more…
The post-purchase flows may be mostly familiar, but here are some wildcards:
- Post-purchase thank you
- Upsell (generic and category/product specific)
- Cross sell (generic and category/product specific)
- Replenish and/or subscription
- VIP and/or Loyalty
- And more…
The goal with email automation is to create a unique experience for your buyers to enjoy, so that they spend more with you.
One of my favorite exercises is to ask brands:
“If you had to pick ONE front end, flagship product to sell for the rest of your brand’s life, what would it be?”
Really think about your answer for a minute.
Because if you can choose a flagship product, it makes your email automations MORE effective, because you can better gauge a customers path to more products more easily.
With every product purchased in a flagship model, you can assume a few things:
- Problems, challenges, pains, fears
- Goals, desires
- Future products
Gathering this information on your customer means you’re able to help them find the products they need to solve their problems and achieve their desired outcomes.
You’re also able to send more emails, make more sales, and impact more people.
Now, I’m not saying every brand should use a flagship model, but it is a great exercise to focus on your customer and not just selling everything, all the time, all at once, to everyone.
Grow Your List
Size doesn’t always matter.
Responsiveness matters more.
But, growing your list helps you find your responsive subscribers sooner, rather than later.
Most brands use a percentage off coupon for joining the list.
Some brands use a gift card or store credit to grow their list.
Few brands use other tactics like a “spin to win,” enter to win bundle, or bundle discounts.
The bigger your list + the more responsive your list = the more email revenue you make.
Collaborate with paid media, organic, and direct mail to get more people onto your list.
Test different offers to get people onto your list.
Because the sooner you start growing your list, the higher chance you have at hitting those revenue goals without having to dump even more cash into acquisition.
There are four ways for a brand to grow:
- Invest in assets/offers/products
- Acquire new customers
- Sell to existing customers
- Reduce costs
A growing email list is a great way to reduce cost and increase profitability.
Make Better Offers
This is where the real money is made for brands, but…
It’s the one area that most brands either ignore or don’t know exists.
Putting together better offers is an art and a science.
It involves three things:
The offer and audience carry 80% of the weight, while the message only carries about 20%.
In other words, you can have a damn good offer with terrible messaging, and it would still sell.
But, if you had a crap offer with great messaging, it would die out and stop selling.
What is a better offer?
I like to start with what’s called market sophistication, a concept borrowed from the late, great, Eugene Schwartz in his book “Breakthrough Advertising” published in 1966.
Here’s a breakdown of it:
The idea revolves around understanding the level of awareness within a market concerning the availability and variety of similar products or services.
The concept of market sophistication by Eugene Schwartz is organized into five levels, which refer to the stages of a market’s maturity and the consequent marketing strategies that should be employed.
Here’s a brief overview of these levels:
The Pioneer Level:
This is the first stage where a new product is introduced to the market.
There’s no competition and the focus is on addressing a unique need or making a unique claim.
Marketing should be straightforward, highlighting the need or the claim the product fulfills.
Feature, Benefit, and Claim Level:
At this stage, competition has emerged.
The direct claims made initially are no longer sufficient, and there’s a need to outbid competitors by elaborating on the features and benefits of the product.
The Mechanism Level:
The market has heard all claims and exaggerations, necessitating a new approach to make claims fresh and believable again.
It’s about introducing a new mechanism or method that makes the old promise work in a new or different way.
The Arms Race Level:
Competition intensifies with bold claims and comparisons being made between products.
The challenge here is to elaborate or improve upon existing mechanisms to retain or increase market share.
The Rebirth Level:
The market is jaded with claims and needs a new identification with the product.
Marketing shifts from focusing on promises and mechanisms to identifying with the prospects themselves, appealing to the emotional benefits they get from the product.
These levels help marketers to understand the maturity of their market and adjust their strategies accordingly.
Each level requires a distinct approach to communication, claims, and showcasing the product’s benefits to effectively connect with the audience and stand out in a competitive marketplace.
In essence, market sophistication serves as a lens through which businesses can assess how informed or exposed their market is to similar offerings, and tailor their marketing strategies to align with this awareness level.
This concept is crucial for crafting resonant messaging and marketing campaigns that effectively cater to the evolving expectations and understanding of the target audience.
$548,512 in Email Revenue Generated in 31 Days
Using the 4 steps above, we were able to generate an extra $548,512 in Email Revenue in 31 Days for a client of ours.
We segmented and sent more broadcasts.
We mapped out and launched email automations/flows.
We tested and adjusted our list growth efforts with different incentives.
And, we’re testing different offers to sell more products to first time customers.
Email is much, much more than sending an email and asking for someone to buy.
It’s about delivering the best offer, to the right person, at the right time, in the most attractive way possible.
In majority of cases, a great offer + the right audience + a plain text email sells more than any design I’ve tested against it.
What You Learned
Here’s the tl;dr of what you learned today:
- Send More Broadcasts: Increase email frequency by segmenting the audience into categories like buyers/non-buyers, category viewers/buyers, and recent orders, to tailor messages and prevent unsubscribes.
- Add More Automations: Implement pre and post-purchase email automations for scenarios like abandoned carts and upsells to create a unique buyer experience.
- Choose a Flagship Product: Select a primary product to focus on, making email automations more effective by understanding customer paths to other products.
- Grow Your Email List: Utilize different incentives to grow the email list, collaborating with paid media and testing various offers to attract more responsive subscribers.
- Make Better Offers: Craft offers focusing on the right combination of offer, audience, and message, understanding that a good offer is crucial even with subpar messaging.
- Utilize Market Sophistication Levels: Understand the market’s maturity level and adjust marketing strategies accordingly, catering to evolving customer expectations.
- Test and Adjust Strategies: Continuously test and adjust list growth efforts, email automations, and offers to maximize email revenue.
- Focus on Timely Offers: Ensure that offers are delivered to the right person at the right time, emphasizing the significance of timing in email marketing success.
- Simplicity Can Outperform Design: A great offer with the right audience, even with plain text email, can perform better than a well-designed email.
- Measure Success: Reflect on the effectiveness of implemented email strategies by evaluating the revenue generated, and adapt strategies for improved outcomes.