Communicating with your customers and prospects via email can be one of the most powerful ways to engage them — and convert them. But, done poorly, email communications can also be one of the fastest ways to alienate and annoy them, and get them clicking “unsubscribe” before even reading your messages. How do you make sure you are sending your email subscribers relevant and useful information that they open and read — and take action on? Here are six things you should be doing to keep your email marketing campaigns performing well and delivering powerful marketing results.
1. Manage Your Subscriber List
Having a large and growing list of subscribers is a goal for every company. But more important than the size of your list is how engaged the subscribers are. It’s better to have 500 people who will always open, read and click on your messages than 1,000 who only read every 4th or 5th email and rarely click on anything. The key to keeping your list engaged is to review and update it frequently — ideally after every email. If you are getting a high number of bouncebacks, check those emails to be sure there aren’t typos, and if they are people who have left their job, they can be removed from your list.
A healthy email list also needs new subscribers added regularly. Make sure you have a prominent way for visitors to your website to sign up for your email updates. New contacts at your existing customer companies can be added, as can new customers who you have just started working with. Your sales team can ask prospects to opt in to email updates from your company, and you can also invite your social media followers to sign up for your email updates as well.
2. Find the Right Frequency
If you are monitoring your list and engagement, you might start to see trends, such as more unsubscribes when you are sending more frequent emails. Email can be powerful, but it’s important not to fatigue your subscribers. Remember that they are also getting emails from dozens of other marketers. When you are competing for attention and inbox space, quality trumps quantity. Watch your results in terms of open rate, click-through and unsubscribe, and refine your sending frequency to be daily, weekly, monthly, or some other frequency that delivers the best response from your audience.
3. Write Sharp Subject Lines
There’s an art to writing subject lines that resonate and connect with your audience. But there’s also some science to it as well — meaning, there are a few subject line styles that consistently deliver higher open rates. You can write your subject lines to convey the benefits of your offer, or tease the results of a case study as “proof” of your product’s results. Urgency — such as a limited time offer — can be effective, as can scarcity, meaning there are not many left. Or, evoke your subscribers’ curiosity in a subject line with questions that they might be looking for answers to.
Sometimes you can use more than one of these approaches in a subject line, depending on your topic. Spend some time writing several different versions. You can test them out at one of several subject line evaluators online – try subjectline.com or sendcheckit.com. If your email marketing platform lets you personalize your subject lines with each subscriber’s name, then take advantage of that. Studies show that a personalized subject line can increase open rate by almost 10%.
4. Make Content Skimmable
Email is an ideal platform for short, concise pieces of information. It’s a great tool to link to longer more in-depth articles or content. Consumers scroll through emails in the same way they scroll through social media feeds, looking at each piece of content, making instant decisions whether to click, and then closing the email. Make sure the visual format and content arrangement of your emails is conducive to this kind of consumer behavior. Your emails should be easily skimmed, with a few well-chosen, highly legible typefaces, and a well-designed visual hierarchy of headlines, subheads, photos and graphics. The reader should be able to skim through the content in about 60-90 seconds, and be able to ascertain the benefits and takeaways of what you are offering, as well as whether they want to learn more and click further.
5. Make Your Call To Action Crystal Clear
As you are visually designing your email and writing the copy, make sure the call to action is crystal clear and the reader knows exactly what to do to take the next step. Use colorful graphic buttons or bold highlighted type that are clearly links. The words you use to invite a reader to click through are important. Are you asking them to “Learn More” or Read More?” Or is the click a move to “Reserve Your Spot” or “Buy Now?” The more specific and clear you can be in your call to action language and visuals, the better your results will be. You can also consider running A/B tests to see if different call to action copy and graphics perform better than others.
6. Measure Your Results, Then Modify Your Approach
After each mailing, review how your audience responded to it. The first thing to measure is deliverability – how many of the emails you sent actually got delivered? This speaks to the quality of your list. If you have low deliverability and lots of bouncebacks, you may have a lot of old and outdated emails on your list. Aim for deliverability above 90%
Next, look at open rate. Out of all the emails actually delivered, how many were opened? If you get an open rate of about 20%, that’s about average, and an acceptable performance. If your emails have an open rate below 20% you probably need to investigate why – was the subject line ineffective? Did you send too many emails in a row? Who is your email coming from? Check that the “From” field is working – consider testing a person’s name rather than your company name.
If you are getting open rates that are inconsistent, consider at segmenting your list. Sending content similar to what subscribers have opened in the past helps keep open rates high. To segment a list, divide your list into smaller lists of subscribers, sorted by the type of content they open most frequently. Then, you can send those smaller lists more targeted emails, which they will be more likely to open and engage with. If you achieve an open rate that is above 30%, your email is performing very well. Open rates above 40%, mean you are knocking it out of the park!
You should also review the click-to-open ratio – this is how many of the openers clicked on a link in the email. This is a measure of the quality of your content, and of the engagement of your subscribers. Again, 20% is about the average. Anything over 30% is considered high performance.
Email marketing is a tactic that requires an ongoing investment of time and attention to continually evolve and refine your content and approach. It requires monitoring and measuring, and often, experimenting to see what your audience responds to best. A high-performing email marketing program can deliver very high ROI if done well, and can be one of the most cost-effective tools to deliver new customers and help you retain your repeat and existing ones.