When sending an average of 100,000+ emails every month in automated pathways and an additional 30,000 emails for specific marketing initiatives, BELAY’s marketing team was faced with a challenge that was twofold.
The first challenge was how to maintain relationships – or BELAYtionships as they are affectionately known. The second was how to break through the noise of the hundreds of other emails that prospective clients and clients likely receive daily to deliver meaningful and useful information.
With relationships as BELAY’s cornerstone and the hallmark by which its service has come to be recognized, the marketing team needed to be intentional about staying connected to both clients and prospective clients by providing insightful content and experience as an industry leader.
When Ayrin Petersen joined BELAY’s marketing team as one of its content marketing specialists, she was the first of her kind to exclusively own all email marketing efforts.
Whether it was a one-off email or a nurturing campaign, Ayrin assumed responsibility for crafting copy, A/B testing subject lines, and studying behavioral analytics.
No pressure, right?
So first things first, she checked the metrics when she assumed her role.
“I started by looking at open rates,” Ayrin shares. “Before diving into copy, we needed to get more people wanting to open our emails [because the] majority of our email open rates were sitting between 18-25 percent.”
Armed with that data, Ayrin got to work.
“The first and most pressing task I dove right into was implementing a new customer nurturing journey for prospective clients,” she says. “Right away, I noticed the copy had no emotional connection; the emails were being sent from ‘The Team.’
“This told me two things. First, we were missing an opportunity to build a relationship. And second, we were missing an opportunity to build a relationship.
“And yes, I said the same thing twice – because it matters that much.”
Relationships are the cornerstone of BELAY’s award-winning culture and the bedrock upon which its success had been built over its ten years – so the emails did warrant some much-needed attention.
But there was more.
“As I began to dive into our marketing efforts in email, the [next] thing I noticed was a lack of personalization.
“Yes, we are an incredible company with so much to offer but we are also human. I realized early on that there needed to be a shift in our relational efforts before anything else.
“Email marketing is essentially a conversation. We wouldn't start a conversation telling someone they need help right off the bat. We would validate their efforts and attempt to find common ground before offering our opinions – or at least we should.”
So Ayrin pored through every email drip and campaign to prioritize what needed attention and triage first.
“The first campaign I began to rework was our bookkeeping pathway, the emails that nurture those who are interested in our bookkeeping services. We knew we had some work to do rewording our service, so it made the most sense to start there.
“So beyond copy edits, we also moved our emails out of our [previous] email system and began using a premium design email builder that allowed us more functionality to ensure our emails fit our style and brand,” she added.
“We also added sender headshots and now send our emails from an actual team member’s email address [because] if the point is to build a relationship and have a conversation, you can't be sending emails from your ‘info account’ and expect a lot in return.”
With an average email open rate for staffing and recruiting firms of roughly 21 percent, Ayrin’s efforts soon paid off.
“After only a few weeks of relaunching our bookkeeping pathway, many of our open rates had almost doubled,” she shares. “One email jumped from a 20-percent open rate to a 35-percent open rate!
“Since then, we have watched more and more email open rates skyrocket, including our church pathway that has an email with a 40-percent open rate – which is pretty exceptional.
But the boom in email engagement didn’t end with her pathways.
“We continue to see our open rates and click-through rates increase across the board,” Ayrin says. “I monitor these rates regularly and quarterly to make heavy changes as needed.”
And the proof is in the engagements.
“The biggest change I have seen – other than our click-through rates increasing – is the number of people responding to emails.
“Some are looking to start their journey with BELAY, some thank us for the added value, and some give feedback.”
Unsurprisingly, however, Ayrin attributes her success to what makes BELAY so exceptional: relationships.
“I love my team; I love BELAY,” she shares. “It is out of gratitude that I wake up every morning ready to work. I know I am not in this alone. If I get stumped or need help brainstorming, I know I have a tribe of incredible high achievers ready to step in and help me climb higher every day.
And in return for the love and connection she receives, Ayrin gives the same to every email.
“I bring what I love to the table – connection. Email marketing allows me the space and opportunity to give this gift with open hands. At the end of the day, we all just want to be seen and understood.
“So for a busy business leader to get to the point where they’re waving their white flag asking for help – in a society that casts shame on those who can't do it all themselves – I want to meet them with understanding and acceptance; that it’s OK to need help. It's an honor to be on that side of history in our world today.
“Their decision to come to BELAY took many sleepless nights and painful days, and it's my job – my privilege – to make sure that they know they’ve not only earned the help they seek but to make sure they know that they truly deserve that help. And that BELAY is here to provide just that.”