"Conversion" means different things to different people.
Though many e-commerce companies have an old-fashioned Buy button right on their site, service companies (consulting firms, marketing agencies, accountants, pest control companies, painters...) have prices and requirements that change with each job. For them, a prospect's "conversion" involves more than sending visitors to a purchase page, and a client engagement almost certainly involves phone calls or in-person appointments.
Though it might seem that such a more tailored and customized sales process hinders a service company's ability to deliver email marketing that's immediately profitable, there are actually just as many ways to drive "conversions" (appointments, in person sales) via email for a service business as there are for e-commerce companies.
Emails from consulting firms don't have links to sales pages, or anything that says "add to cart." However, they could be a lot more creative than simply listing a phone number.
Instead, service marketers (and others) can drive conversions using email with unique calls to action that grab attention in different ways and help turn an opt-in into an appointment.
Any service business can use the following four tactics.
1. Surveys and Web Forms
If you send an email to your list asking for a reply, you'll find that your response rates are far lower than if you link to an external survey or Web form. Often, a Web form or survey feels less like the start of a conversation and more like a professional engagement, possibly evoking less fear or trepidation from a prospect or subscriber.