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Got spam? Sure, you do. In today’s digital world, the amount of junk email that lands in our inboxes every day gives a whole new (and not so welcome) meaning to the refrain, You’ve Got Mail.
For email marketers in the trades, SEO only goes so far. Cutting through the online noise and making real connections with existing customers of a small business presents a few challenges. How do you leverage a simple email to provide professional, timely, and unique marketing to existing and potential customers—and stop leaving revenue on the table?
It all starts by mining, then automating your company’s data.
A three-person master marketing team at ServiceTitan joined Chloe Davis, Chief Marketing Officer at Express Plumbing, Heating & Air in Idaho, for a recent webinar to share email marketing tips for creating effective, hyper-targeted campaigns that have great deliverability. They also highlight the advantages of utilizing ServiceTitan’s Marketing Pro email campaigns, versus other platforms that require more manual entry.
To summarize the key takeaways, we’ll provide email marketing best practices on:
How to segment or build a targeted audience
How to find inspiration for new campaign ideas
How to customize and personalize email templates
Typical metrics for a well-executed email campaign
Free or inexpensive tools to make emails stand out
What does audience segmentation mean?
The No. 1 rule for your marketing efforts: Know the demographics of your audience.
Who are your customers?
Where do they live?
What services did they buy?
How long ago?
How much did they spend?
To target the right prospects with a targeted email list, successful marketers use customer data to segment audiences into specific groups they believe may be more receptive to particular messaging. They're a real person, not just an email subscriber, so your e-commerce message has to be relevant.
“It’s taking your broad audience and applying criteria to it in a way to narrow it down, so whatever message you’re sending out is very relevant and resonates with the audience you are creating,” says ServiceTitan Strategic Project Manager Heather Donaldson.
For instance, a blended HVAC-plumbing company that wants to cross-sell plumbing services to customers who recently bought HVAC installation services can build a better audience by segmenting that specific group to email clients who are relevant for that message.
“A lot of people do this manually by running a bunch of different reports, but with ServiceTitan Marketing Pro, we can just apply a few filters,” Donaldson says.
That’s because Marketing Pro integrates seamlessly with the ServiceTitan software platform, giving companies full access to a complete customer database with job history and other details, says ServiceTitan Senior Content Marketing Manager Jackie Aubel.
“That’s unlike other email marketing tools, where you usually have to create integration or do the dreaded CSV upload, which I have done many times,” says Aubel, a former email marketer for startup companies.
Does Marketing Pro help build a better audience?
Davis, CMO at Express, looks at audience-building like a funnel.
“You can get super, super narrow, but if you get too narrow, you’re not going to be able to cast a wide-enough net,” says the mostly self-taught marketer, who’s currently pursuing degrees in marketing and entrepreneurial management at Boise State University. “But, if you’re too broad, you’re going to have less relevance.”
The ideal audience lies somewhere in the middle, depending on your message and time frame, Davis says. She often relies on the grading tool located at the top of the Marketing Pro dashboard to decide if her audience segmentation for a specific email campaign appears strong, too broad, or too narrow.
“Marketing Pro has some amazing tools to help guide you along,” Davis says. “It’s honestly one of the best funnels I’ve been able to utilize.”
She uses Marketing Pro filters to build audiences based on:
Created on date (customer service history)
All of the above offer unique identifiers saved in a ServiceTitan account that companies can access within Marketing Pro to build and target a specific audience, Aubel explains.
“If you weren’t using ServiceTitan or Marketing Pro, these would essentially have to be different columns in a CSV that would be related to the individual customer,” Aubel says.
Some popular audience-building filters for effective email marketing strategies for the trades include:
Are they an HVAC or plumbing customer?
Have they purchased an install in the last five or 10 years?
How many maintenance visits have they had?
Do they have an open estimate?
Are they a club member (signed up for a maintenance agreement)?
Is your company performing better within certain zip codes?
“Audience segmentation is essentially pulling every single data point you can have on your customer and identifying, based on these data points, what type of message to send them,” Aubel says.
Simplify your audience-building efforts, advises ServiceTitan Senior Manager of Marketing Operations Sarah Ghirardo by viewing copywriting through the lens of storytelling. You don’t need computer programming skills to sell your brand’s story to a captive audience.
“We make it so complex in our minds we stop ourselves from actually building the audience,” Ghirardo says. “People in the trades are master storytellers. Let’s just dive into this audience and really tell the story we want to tell.”
As you walk through the audience filters in Marketing Pro, use the customer’s journey to inform your next steps.
“Don’t get intimidated by all of these filters,” Ghirardo advises. “Don’t let fear set in. Just go ahead and tell yourself the story, and then create the intent of the message and the campaign behind the story.”
Where to find inspiration for new email campaign ideas
Look no further than your own spam inbox for ideas that work—and ones that don’t. Which email marketing campaign tactics speak to you? Which subject lines catch your eye and entice you to read more—and don't make you want to unsubscribe?
“Putting yourself in the shoes of your own customer will work wonders, because you know what works for you, you know how you want to be spoken to by the brands you work with—you can apply that to your own customers and your own marketing,” Donaldson says.
Aubel also suggests checking out this free online tool for email inspiration: Really Good Emails, as well as various online email subject line graders to grab your customers’ attention.
A steady stream of new templates uploaded into Marketing Pro gives Davis the inspiration she needs to customize email campaigns for Express. She uses the templates to add the company’s colors, images, videos, and more to grow the company’s branding. And, of course, Marketing Pro offers a subject-line grading tool within the tool.
Ghirardo’s team conducts constant research to create a wide variety of templates available in Marketing Pro, and encourages users to customize the templates so they fit their brand.
“Just remember, campaign creation is all about the intent of your message,” she explains. “What do you want to do? What do you expect out of the campaign? Don’t be afraid to put something out there and really make it your own. Utilize your brand and tell your brand’s story.”
Every marketing message needs an intent, she says, and the template should reflect that. For example, is your intent lead generation to identify new customers? Or, do you simply wish to welcome new members who signed up for maintenance agreements?
“Not everything has to have a direct call to action,” Ghirardo says. “You don’t need a booked call from every single email. Email is part of the branding journey, and it’s really just going to help lift all of the other channels.”
Customize email templates for personalization
With Marketing Pro, Davis says she loves using the merged tags feature, which simplifies HTML to automate and personalize the company’s email templates for each customer, so the message comes across as more “alive,” and not just stagnant digital marketing.
She also strives to keep her email designs clean, with only a few added features, so customers don’t get distracted.
“Type, font, and color are my biggest three,” Davis says.
She also focuses on how the message will display on mobile devices.
“I always go to mobile first to preview something," she says, "just because I know how many of our customers are going to see it there for the first time, versus on a desktop.”
She also pays attention to proper spacing, not using too many colors, and bolding keywords throughout the content to catch the reader’s eye as they skim through it.
While Marketing Pro templates often include lively gifs to draw attention, Davis also created her own animated company tagline using Adobe Photoshop.
Aubel suggests some other free or low-cost tools for creating your email templates, including:
Adobe’s Color Wheel to find good color combinations
Canva to create custom graphics and animated images
Giphy to make your own company gifs
Typical results from a well-executed email campaign
Send customers a series of short emails that build off of each other, or try creating a longer template for your company email newsletter to reinforce branding.
Davis found success by doing a lot of A/B tests, which involves sending out one campaign for a period of time, then pulling it back, changing one thing, and sending it back out to see which one performs better. You can also send different test emails to two separate, small groups to get an idea of which one garners the most attention, before sending the winning message to the larger segmented audience as a whole.
“Put yourself in the shoes of the consumer,” Davis says, and try to assess whether they like to read long or short emails, rather than basing it on what you prefer.
"A lot of my self-taught techniques have been based on what I like and don’t like,” she says. “I also go around the office and show people—‘What do you like about this? What don’t you like about this?’—it gets my team really excited and gives me some really good insight.”
Using Marketing Pro and its automation functions to send a drip campaign for unsold estimates recently, Davis applied the appropriate filters, narrowed her audience, and sent a message with a specific CTA asking customers to review the pending estimate with a direct link for easy approval. The campaign achieved a 49.3 percent open rate in the last 30 days, whereas the industry average for open rates ranges from 15 to 20 percent. The clickthrough rates were significant, also.
“We’ve seen major increases in terms of email open rates and attributed revenue,” she says of utilizing Marketing Pro to send targeted email campaigns.
The main differences between ServiceTitan’s Marketing Pro and other email service providers and marketing platforms like MailChimp or Constant Contact, the group agreed, really boils down to two things: Access to customer data and an easier workload.
No more time spent exporting, importing, scrubbing, or analyzing customer data for accuracy.
“The data within ServiceTitan, our existing client data, is a gold mine of missed opportunities,” says Ghirardo, summing things up. “The workload was really the biggest difference for me. … Marketing Pro just makes your job easy.”
ServiceTitan is a comprehensive home and commercial services business software solution built specifically to help companies streamline their operations, boost revenue, and achieve growth. Our award-winning, cloud-based platform is trusted by more than 100,000 contractors across the country.
Ready to learn more about what ServiceTitan can do for your business? Contact our team to schedule a demo today.