Nothing is more satisfying than when you craft an email message and are rewarded with high open rates, high click through rates, and large conversions that are directly linked to that single send. However, email marketers don’t get this feeling very often. In fact, in many cases, their email marketing campaigns are met with the exact opposite response: low open rates, lower click through rates, and low conversions.
So how can we improve our email marketing strategy? While I was attending INBOUND 2016 this year I had the opportunity to attend the presentation 13 Things to Stop, Start, or Keep Doing with Your Email Marketing presented by Tom Monaghan and I learned a lot of great ways to send better email. I’ve picked out seven email marketing best practices can mimic to help make your email marketing more effective:
1: Your Recipients Are Only As Good As Their Source
Consider who is receiving your email message. Is he or she from a list of contacts that you’ve purchased (or gotten from another dubious source)? Is this a list that historically sees poor engagement rates?
These lists are a waste of time, and you probably know it.
Lists that you can curate yourself through lead generation tactics have a 4x better engagement rate than those you can purchase or acquire from other sources. Take the time and energy you’d put into creating that email campaign into curating your own list. Everyone will be happier.
2: Ask Yourself Why You’re Sending the Email
Before you even begin to craft your email campaign, you should ask yourself the following questions:
- Why are you writing this email?
- What is the purpose of this email?
- What action do you want your audience to take?
Do you have the answers? Good. Ensuring you have answered these clearly will help improve your overall engagement. Follow these six steps for success:
- Think of target customer and tie your message back to reach them
- Pick one single goal you want to achieve: driving traffic back to your website to buy a newly stocked item for example
- Build the email for that specific goal/success
- Give people options with a CTA that is in multiple places (button, text link, image, etc)
- Track the success you select! Once you know what works, repeat it for optimal success.
3: Make the Message Personal
Personalization is one key component that will help improve your email performance rate tremendously. This makes sense: many people like seeing things that resonate with them from their name to specific content that is tailored just to them. You can easily tie this into your marketing efforts by adding some personalization that will be relevant to your audience. Add a name to the email or subject line, or show some content within the body that is unique to them.
That being said, nothing is worse than when using personalization incorrectly. So, here’s a great list to help ensure your personalization is as effective as it can be:
- Does it work with a real contact? Test send your email and make sure it actually works to avoid something going wrong
- Did you set up a default value? What’s going to happen if you don’t have that information available? Make sure you pick something relevant
- Make sure it matches. Ensure consistent font style and size with the rest of your email so it isn’t glaring at your subject.
- Don’t get too personal. There’s a line with personalization that you won’t want to cross. Otherwise you may lose the impact you were hoping for. Aim for one small thing. One small step for your email is one giant step to your recipient.
- Test, Test, Test (so you can avoid problems when the email does send)
4: Sending From No Reply? It’ll Probably Result in a “No Open”
Do NOT (and I repeat do not) send an email from “No Reply.” Why? This is one sure-fire way to beg your customers to not engage with your email. Personalizing the from address has been proven to show a positive impact on engagement because it shows your message is coming from a real person.
The main argument to use No Reply in the first place is because you may think you don’t want the replies you’d get back. If you fall in this camp, consider this: replies are the best form of engagement and when someone replies they’re more likely to open and click your emails in the future.
5: Stop with Tuesday!
Tuesday is a bad day to send an email. And while you’re at it, Thursdays are pretty bad too. As are Wednesdays (mostly because of association).
Want an open? Send your email Friday or Monday in the afternoon hours. Really want an open? Live on the edge and send Sunday or Saturday. In fact, Saturday may just be your jam; emails sent on this day are typically read for longer.
This may seem counter intuitive for your industry or market. When in doubt, run a test. Data will be the best way to support any single rule because at the end of the day, sometimes intuition misleads us.
6: I Don’t Like Spam! (and Neither Do Your Customers)
Guess what? Email marketers are sending Spam, and many don’t even realize it. It’s easy to assume otherwise, but the fact remains the same, and that’s because the definition of Spam has changed. Today we have Graymail.
Graymail is when someone voluntarily signed up for your email notifications, but over time they stopped interacting with your content.
How can you stop sending Graymail? Suppress those who are not engaging. Yes, this will impact the number of people you’re sending to, which could hurt in the short term. But consider this: there’s a larger chance that by sending to a high list of unengaged individuals your address will be marked as Spam by Email Service Providers (ESPs). So rip the bandaid and let these folks go already. If you’re not ready to completely let these people go, try suppressing them for a little while for a while to give them a break. Absence does make the heart grow fonder after all.
7: A Storm’s A’Brewin’
The clouds may already be forming along the horizon. Here is how you can start identifying if you are about to have stormy seas up ahead:
When someone unsubscribes:
This is just like the Rolling Stones Song; you can’t always get what you want. When someone unsubscribes you are no longer pleasing that person. While this isn’t good, it is also not bad; these people are politely telling you they are no longer interested in the content you’re sending. Better they tell you this way vs. filing a Spam complaint.
Should you be worried? Not necessarily. Look at the unsubscribe rate across similar sends. Check to see if anything has changed. If something has, find it and fix it.
If you’ve noticed that your open rate has drastically dropped, this could mean that your message isn’t being opened because people are no longer finding it in their inbox. Prepare thyself… the worst may be ahead.
Should you be worried? Yes because next comes the Spam designation. You definitely don’t want this. Fix the upcoming problem immediately by suppressing your unengaged, looking for a source problem that is collecting individuals who aren’t interested in your content, and beginning to testing different variables to increase your open rates.
You’re marked as Spam:
This means your reputation is at risk, and you have problems. Inbox problems are coming which can include blacklistings from ESPs.
If you’re not worried, you should be. Find the problem right now. Immediately decrease the number of emails you’re sending (or stop completely) until the source is found. Fix what’s broken before you hit send again.
No unsubscribes/complaints means no problem, right?
Not so fast! Consider this: your recipients can't unsubscribe or mark your message if it is in their junk folder. You may have a problem that’s hiding from you just waiting to surprise you later. Start doing some searching
I want to leave you with one final thought and consideration: Always treat other inboxes as you would want yours treated. Chances are the things that bother you may bother those you’re emailing as well.
Are there other tips you have to increase engagement for your email campaigns? Share them in the comments below and let’s keep this list growing!