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Running an email campaign is a lot like taking a swing for the fences in baseball. When things go your way, the home crowd – in this case your online audience – cheers wildly as you round the bases and enjoy the increased traffic that’s flowing into your website. Unfortunately, as any email or baseball guru will tell you, stepping up to the plate, or inbox, with a perfect batting average is just a myth. The reality is that it’s foolish to not have a plan for when you’re in a slump. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some simple tips you can employ as part of an email marketing “win-back” campaign. This way, you’ll have everything you need to reignite those conversion numbers and get your audience back into action after the excitement of your initial push slows down.

Add in a Solid Offer

One of the quickest ways to get your readers back into your campaign is to throw out a nice offer. At the top of the list, actual savings – anything that falls into the “X dollars off” range on your products and services – performs nearly two times better than any other return deal. However, regardless of whether it’s a limited time discount or free content like an eBook download, offering anything specifically for the people who have fallen off your brands marketing bandwagon can help right the ship and get them back to eagerly awaiting your regular emails.

Don’t Shy Away From Hard Data

When it comes to brand awareness and decision-making, too many people that pull the levers and knobs behind the campaign rely on the concept of “gut instincts.” Sure, in plenty of industries having a strong hunch or read on the company can take you a long way, but email marketing is a much more stats driven affair. With numbers on open rates, inbox activity, and a slew of other metrics, pinpointing the exact segments of your audience that aren’t responding, as well as what these individuals like, has never been easier or more readily available. Because of this, let the stats do all the heavy lifting in your win-back campaign and follow their lead. Not only will this help increase your response rate, it can save you a ton of time and money developing and rolling out these messages.

Never Write Anyone Off

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when it comes to starting up one of these re-engagement initiatives is to assume that portions of your inactive audience are off limits. While it might seem like a long shot to get back in touch with the people who haven’t opened one of your emails in months, the truth of the matter is that win-back campaigns can drum up interest with customers who haven’t responded in up to 300 days. Basically, it’s never too late to get things rolling again, even with the most unlikely of candidates.

Not surprisingly, the same holds true for the time that comes after you fire off these win-back emails. As long as the reader hasn’t opted out, there’s nothing stopping you showing that persistence is a virtue with this group of out-of-touch consumers. Considering that you just might one day pique their interest enough to rekindle a connection with your brand, it’s well worth the effort of covering every nook and cranny of your contact list, no matter how unlikely the lead might seem.

Your Subject Lines Matter More Than Ever

If you’re familiar with a large portion of the posts on this blog, you’re well aware of just how powerful the subject line is when it comes to enticing customers to dig a little deeper into your marketed messages. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that having optimized and powerful headings in this area is crucial to a great win-back campaign. To help you get there, skip the caps button and generic terms, like “urgent” or “final notice,” and focus more on explaining just how valuable your offers for returning customers can be. This way, when your forlorn viewers sit down and start sifting through their messages, these emails can stick out on the preview pane for all the right reasons.

Build Toward a Follow-up

One of the biggest misconceptions about these types of campaigns is that once you re-engage your customers, you’re done with the work. Unfortunately, all this does is put you back into the same spot later on down the road. Instead of finding yourself in this endless engagement cycle, focus on working multi-level offers and follow-up requests into your campaign that keep your audience active and connected with your company. If you can do this, your customers will always have a great reason to keep your brand on their minds, ensuring that lost segments and lackadaisical contact list entries become a thing of the past.

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Subject lines are the bread and butter of any great email marketing campaign. While outstanding content is a must if you want to make a splash with your audience, turning them off before they even click “open” is any brand’s worst nightmare. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to know what works and what doesn’t when it comes to the people on the other side of the screen. To help you avoid this calamity and clean up any offenders in your stable of marketed messages, here are 10 of the top offenders that have doomed countless emails to the virtual trashcan.

Free

First up on the list is a word that can’t help but sound the spam alarm for readers. While it might seem like a great idea to fit this word into your messages, the reality is that using “free” in the subject line is extremely common among scammers and spammers, who use this as a cheap tool when trying to pull a quick one on readers.

Stop

Having an email jump off the screen with the word “stop” is definitely a very particular experience for your audience – just not in the good way. There’s definitely plenty of merit behind the concept of disruptive marketing tactics, but issuing a command or trying to convince your readers to change their ways in this part of the message is not the right way to go about this process.

Donate

For the non-profits out there, email marketing is all about bumping up donations and awareness, so this one’s a little tricky. However, the key to still weaving the concept of viewers taking action into the content of your emails is to save “donate,” “charity,” and the rest of these keywords for after you make your pitch. Going the opposite way and placing this word in the subject line will simply put a halt to any momentum you could be generating for your cause.

LOL

A quick look at your Facebook or Twitter feed provides all the proof you need that “LOL,” “OMG,” and the rest of your audience’s favorite web slang are all still alive and well. However, that doesn’t mean these acronyms have a spot next to your brand name in the inbox. Keeping your messages and subject lines light and conversational is one thing, but don’t cross the line with slang that’s better suited for your personal social media pages.

Last Chance

While this entry is more of a phrase, it still deserves a spot on the list. “Last chance,” “act now,” and all the other call-to-action terms really shouldn’t be the focal point of the message header. Instead, use expiration dates and limited time offers in the body of your emails to get your audience in gear and visiting your web page or brick-and-mortar store.

Help

Much like “donate” and “charity,” “help” is a word that shouldn’t make its home in your email subject line. Again, taking a stand on an issue or advancing your cause via the actual body of your message is far more effective than using words or phrases that unfortunately come off as pleading or pushy in the subject section.

Reminder

Surprisingly, people don’t respond well to words like “reminder.” While it might not make much sense at first glance, this word invokes feelings of repetition, which in turn has a strong connotation with common spam tactics. This becomes even more apparent when first time messages bring this word into the subject line as a method of faking familiarity – a concept that’s not limited to just this entry.

FWD: or RE:

Like “reminder,” “FWD,” “RE,” and other traditionally automated tags can be surreptitiously added into the subject line to befuddle unsuspecting readers. Sure, being sneaky and trying to pass off your next message as a continued conversation might trick a few unsuspecting readers, but don’t expect your open rates to stay up for long once your audience catches on to this underhanded tactic.

Webinar

If you keep up with content marketing slang, it might seem like a no-brainer to throw in terms like “webinar” in your message headers. Unfortunately, there’s a very real disconnect between inbox open rates and emails that jam these words in the subject line. While drumming up interest for your content is never a bad thing, keep the particulars to the core of the message and let a simple, straightforward subject line stand on its own.

Awesome

Rounding out the list is perhaps the biggest blunder looking to derail your email campaign. Today’s marketing world is full sales pitches and message headers that try to pump up products with over-the-top wording and unnecessary superlatives. The worst offender of all of these words is, without a doubt, “awesome.” Of course, there’s nothing wrong with being proud of what your brand has to offer; just don’t fall for the trap of slapping “awesome,” “amazing,” “epic”, and all the other overused exemplary adjectives in front of every other word in your subject line.

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The world of email marketing is far from static or stagnant. In fact, it seems like a single day doesn’t pass without some new development shattering what we think we know about connecting with customers via their inboxes. Recently, AOL decided to keep up with this trend by dramatically altering how they handle email verification and spam for incoming messages to its user base. If you plan on promoting your brand and shipping out offers and discounts to your customers via email, you’ll want to stick around and find out exactly what AOL changed, and what you need to do to make sure you don’t end up with a logjam of bounced messages coming back from this ISP.

The Big Changes

In a blog post detailing the move, AOL unveiled the particulars of this email verification change. Basically, emails that claim to originate from the ISP’s servers must undergo a series of checks that ensure these messages actually fit the bill regarding credentials and authenticity. If it turns out that these messages simply use an @aol.com in its address but originate from a different server entirely, then all bets are off once AOL’s system starts sending up the red flags. Messages that fail this check will bounce right back to the sender, making sure that the email never comes close to the intended recipient’s inbox.

AOL’s Logic Behind the Move

So why is AOL completely changing its policies regarding server verification? While some might think it’s a direct shot at the email marketing industry, the truth is that promoted messages are simply a unintended causality in this ISP’s continued efforts to fight back against spammers and their illicit messages. Near the end of April, AOL users became the target of a widespread spam attack, leading to numerous compromised accounts and even more junk messages making their way to new mailboxes. To help stop the problem at its source, the ISP decided to shut down one of the biggest tools in the spammer’s kit: Spoofed messages that edit the outgoing address. Unfortunately, if your brand is also using this technique for legitimate purposes, chances are you’ll need to rethink how you reach out to customers before your messages start showing up in these customers’ inbox again.

A Growing Precedent

Of course, this isn’t the first time something like this has happened for those who dabble in email marketing. Recently, we covered the news and offered some insight on a similar change unveiled by Yahoo. Not surprisingly, the circumstances leading to this action were eerily similar between these two ISPs, so seeing both platforms come to a similar conclusion makes sense. Again, this growing precedent isn’t a knock on email marketing so much as it is the mistakes of a few – think spammers and others trying to pull a quick one on unsuspecting viewers – ruining a good thing for you and the customers who enjoy checking out your latest offer or discounts.

The Future of ISP Interactions

Until service providers can find a way to eliminate spamming and junk emails that hit the inbox stuffed full of viruses and shady links, chances are that these new verification checks are going to become the norm in the email industry. While there’s no guarantees that Gmail, Hotmail, and the other big names out there will definitely follow in AOL’s footsteps, if spammers start to put more pressure on the ISPs that haven’t made the switch, you had better believe it won’t take these platforms long to shut down spoofing and legitimate usage of these domain names alike.

Redefining Your Mailing List Strategy

Before you do anything else, the first change to your strategy is one that needs to happen ASAP if you rely on an @aol.com outgoing address – stop sending messages that are just going to bounce right back to your platform. From here, switching up your domain to one of the other free options out there, like Gmail or Hotmail, can help alleviate your issues in the short-term. However, as you can see, there’s a definite argument that one can make for all of the major email ISPs to eventually follow AOL and Yahoo’s lead on this issue.

To protect your email marketing operations in the long-term and make sure your messages always hit the consumer inbox on time, consider going with a domain name you either own or operate. This way, you’ll never have to worry about internal changes coming from AOL or any of the other big names directly affecting your ability to stay in touch with an audience that’s eagerly awaiting your next email.

AOL

 

Saying that Gmail is kind of a big deal to your email marketing operations is like saying that it might get a little rainy during a hurricane. With over 425 million users, including 5 million businesses, and 66 of the world’s top 100 universities, chances are that a big chunk of your email contact list is dedicated to reaching out to Gmail’s vast base of users. Because of this, making sure you know how to tailor your messages and target these customers is one of the biggest hurdles standing between your brand and an audience that is more than willing to keep in touch. To help you along the way, here are five great tips for connecting with the millions on Gmail, regardless of how big your contact list is currently.

Avoid Constantly Changing Sender Addresses

Having a “From” address that is all over the place is not a smart way to make a good impression on these users. The main problem here is that most email users equate a constantly changing From address as a highly spammy tactic. While some marketers do incorporate constantly shifting sender addresses, this isn’t exactly the company you want to keep when it comes to your brand’s outreach. Instead, stick with a stable and easily recognizable address. This way, your audience can view your emails more like a message from an old friend and less like a shady scam sent by a spammer.

Don’t Go Overboard on Shortened Links

Speaking of spam tactics, one that often finds its way into the world of email marketing is shortened links. While there is nothing wrong with slimming down your message with a shortened link or two, having a message full of these sometimes cryptic looking additions can leave your Gmail users wondering if this message is full of digital landmines that they’d rather not navigate. Instead, keep things simple with only a few links and let the body of your message speak for itself. This way, Gmail users don’t get the wrong idea and blacklist your message before finishing the first sentence.

Keep up a Reliable Headcount

Another smart way of targeting Gmail users is simply knowing how many you have on your list. While this might seem like a “duh” statement at first, there is a lot of info you can glean from an accurate headcount. Comparing Gmail usage to other providers gives you the basis you need to properly interpret analytics. For instance, since Gmail caches images to keep user information private, and you potentially have a large number of Gmail users on your list, viewer location and other tracking statistics may be way off base if you are assuming the numbers accurately represent your entire audience. Should this be the case with your current system, having a revelation like this regarding your Gmail users can not only help you plan around gaps in information regarding this audience, but also gives you the added benefit of refining the numbers supporting the other portions of your email contact list.

Understand the Real Power of Segmentation

Plenty of email marketing “experts” like to talk about segmentation, but chopping up your audience by email service providers isn’t exactly being thorough. The best way to segment your users, specifically those who stick with Gmail, is to sort your list by interests. Whether you find this information via surveys or by tracking activity on your page once users click your links, having this knowledge on hand gives your list a new sense of definition that can drastically improve your targeting process. Considering that really connecting with your customers is the name of the game in email marketing, it only makes sense to put a little more effort into the process than just checking off whether they use Gmail or some other service provider.

Do You Really Know How Deliverable Your Emails Are to Gmail Users?

To wrap things up, the biggest way you can enhance your targeting and success with Gmail users answers a pretty simple question – are they even reading your messages? With over 85 percent of the world’s email traffic considered malicious in nature, it can be pretty hard to get users to even give you a chance to move this message out of the spam folder on Gmail and into their inbox tabs. By tracking placement rates, you can see where your message ends up 7 days a week, clueing you in on a sudden shift in the wrong direction – namely toward the virtual email trash can – and giving you a chance to retool these messages toward more relevant and desired content that entices Gmail users to give your brand a second look.

G_mail

 

Everyone who has a stake in the world of email marketing loves to talk about the “power” of reaching out to customers in their inbox – but where are the hard facts backing this up? If this is your first go round with tailoring messages toward a specific audience, there’s plenty of stats, known as key performance indicators (KPIs), that can help you sift through all this talk and find out what’s really working and what might need a little bit of tweaking before the next email campaign. Instead of wasting your time listing off dozens of KPIs that may or may not have some bearing on how you gauge success, here are the five crucial stats that not only apply to any email marketing initiative, but also do the best job showing off exactly how well things are going once your messages hit the audiences inbox.

Gross Sales

First on the list is the gross sales stat. While it might seem pretty obvious, there are few performance indicators that make it easier on you when you need a quick and simple method for figuring out what’s working and what’s not. The whole process for evaluation goes a little something like this; email campaign starts and sales go up, then you’re doing something right. If sales stay the same or dip, it’s time to bring things back to the drawing board and retool your plan. Naturally, this is cutting out a ton of variables – changes in the industry, new product releases, etc. – that can shift sales one way or the other, but it’s a great indicator to start the evaluation and lends itself well toward digging into the more specific measurements.

Site Traffic

Another KPI that takes a look at the big picture is site traffic. Like the name implies, this one’s all about taking note of visits to your site from repeat customers and new shoppers alike. While most companies just glance over the totals for this site metric, doing so could cause you to miss out on some highly valuable info every time you don’t spend more than a few seconds looking into this stat.

Understanding the nature of the visit helps you break down performance by going beyond the plain old “good” and “bad” labels. Instead, looking into how many new or unique visits come in, or how often repeat visits occur with known customers, helps explain your sites traffic in terms of what segments you do well with and what segments might need a little extra attention. Depending on your products and services, looking beyond the surface of this KPI can really give you the insight needed to knock the customers’ socks off with your next set of emails.

Click Rate

Going a little deeper, click rates can help you sort traffic into different groups via the source – who’s coming in from your emails, from social media, Google search pages, etc. – in addition to frequency and the type of visit.

With this information in hand, you can determine if a link was compelling enough to warrant a click, and if users are responding to certain landing pages more than others. On top of all this, by having the raw numbers in hand and comparing them with the metrics from your other outreach avenues, you can really gauge exactly where your emails stand in your entire marketing initiative.

Bounced Messages

Stepping away from KPIs that are mostly used to show how good things are going with your emails, here’s one that can help uncover a big problem that might be undermining all of your hard work – bounced messages. Companies that experience high bounce rates are dealing with a contact list that’s full of incorrect or deactivated email accounts, both of which lead to undeliverable or “bounced” messages. If you’re working with a marketer or software that has the right tools, simply setting up your system to automatically ditch these duds as soon as they bounce will go a long way to clean up your list and more importantly increase your ROI.

Churn Rate

The final KPI that should be an essential part of your next email marketing evaluation pulls a little bit of inspiration from some of the others on our list. The churn rate of an email marketing campaign keeps track of the number of people who decide to opt-out of your contact list. Obviously, in a perfect world you wouldn’t see any; however, it’s just part of the marketing process, so turning a blind eye to it can only hurt your options moving forward. Instead, staying aware of your unsubscribes, as well as how they stack up to new and sustained contacts, can give you a great overview of where your outreach stands – especially when you pair it up with the other leading KPIs found on this list.

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Imagine this scenario: Your email audience is turning over rapidly, click and open rates are plummeting, and you have no clue how to fix this mess. It might not be your worst nightmare, but it has to be pretty high up on the list if you’re serious about the future of your online brand. Thankfully, there’s plenty you can do to give your email marketing campaign some much needed virtual CPR. With these five tips, you’ll have the tools in hand you need to say goodbye to sluggish results and reinvigorate a disinterested audience.

Don’t Go the Quantity Route without Quality

One of the biggest mistakes an email marketing campaign can make is to go the spam route. While quantity isn’t always a bad thing, emailing your database all the time with junk is a surefire way to turn off your viewers in a hurry. If you’re already trying to keep up the pace with lots of regular emails and that’s not working, consider scaling things back until you start pumping out content that’s worth reading. By refining what they’re reading and then upping your monthly and weekly messages, you can rebuild an audience that’s tired of having to sift through offerings that are better suited for the virtual trash bin.

Clean Up that Preview Text

Just like web pages that don’t bother filling out the meta description for entries on Google, Bing, and the other search engines, having weak preview text can wreak havoc on your email’s chances of getting opened. Think of it this way: if you’re checking your inbox while enjoying a morning cup of coffee, are you going to click on the email with sloppy text that doesn’t fit in the preview area, or the one with a clean, simple explanation of what’s inside? Unless you’ve got a thing for poorly optimized emails, you’re probably going to make the same choice as your audience and click on the email with tidy and enticing preview text.

Power Words and Numbers Go a Long Way

Taking this a step further, make sure that your subject lines, preview text, and headlines in the actual email really pop in the viewers’ eyes. While this sounds like a marketing buzzword deal, it’s actually a big reason why some email lists generate massive traffic and others find their way to the spam folder. Sensory and emotional words are the big draw here because they evoke response from viewers.

Instead of the bland “please read” approach, try telling your viewers what happens if they don’t read your email, or what they can gain by reading it. This way, you’re creating a call to action that gets them interested in what you’re actually promoting. Similarly, using digits instead of writing out numbers also stands out in an inbox. In fact, the “5″ in the headline of this post might have been the hook that got you to click on this tip list in the first place.

Time is Money

Time is money; it’s an old saying that’s mostly meant to teach people the value of a great work ethic, but in this case we can give it a new spin. Basically, when your viewers are reading your emails is just as important as what they’re actually reading. If you’ve got great content but can’t seem to generate any traffic off of it, it might be time to switch things up as far as when you’re shooting off these emails. Depending on your target audience, figuring out what time’s best might be a little tricky, but that’s nothing that some A/B testing or trial and error can’t sort out. Once you’ve got it figured out, you can check this box off of the list of potential problems that are keeping your readers disinterested.

Give Them Something Extra

Last, but certainly not least, is the tried and true concept of giving your audience more stuff to get them in your virtual storefront. If all else fails, there’s nothing wrong with offering better discounts more often to liven up a flagging or stale email list. Considering that the alternative, facing turnover that hovers around a 33 percent a year average, is basically the last rites for any email list, it can’t hurt to see if giving an extra coupon or limited time offer here and there can help. Combined with all the other tips and tricks on this list, periodically putting these kind of “enhanced” promos out could be just the spark your list needs to come back to life and get your bottom line in the green again.

Bullhorn

 

Sometimes we let the discussion on this blog get a little too meta, covering topics and reports that assume you have years of experience in the email marketing business. However, if you’re just looking for something a little more introductory to get your feet wet before taking the plunge into a full-on campaign centered around emailing interested customers, we’ve got you covered. With the help of a great study on the subject, as well as a few other resources that offer some seriously potent insight, you can get up to speed in no time and see just how important email marketing is to your brand awareness.

Content

The first pillar, which also happens to be the most obvious, focuses on what your message actually says to the reader. Of course, shooting off an email that makes you and your customers sound like old pals getting back in touch – all while sneaking in a sales pitch – is easier said than done. Thankfully, there are a few simple tips that can help get your message across and beef up your email content in a big way.

To start, give your readers something they actually want. Is your newsletter just thinly veiled product links and descriptions? Chances are you’re not going to get very far with that kind of approach. Instead, tie your offerings into things that relate to your reader’s daily life if possible. Making things fun and conversational never hurts either – but more on that in just a little bit. Perhaps the biggest way to make great content is to make your message scalable by the viewer. Your audience is just as busy as you are, so make it simple for them and put an emphasis on the big points. From there, they can go the extra step and read a little deeper if you caught their attention.

Personalization

Getting back to that whole conversational thing brings us to the second pillar – personalization. If you can swing this one, expect open rates to jump by 29 percent when compared to the standard mass message approach. Just remember that personalizing your messages and adding a conversational tone can go wrong in a big way if you don’t know what you’re doing. If you want to avoid coming off like a creep, don’t go overboard with the name dropping. While it might seem like a great idea to have your emails insert the viewer’s name for “X” throughout the message, all you’re doing is making what could be a great newsletter or promo turn into the most awkward email your audience members have ever opened. That’s not a reputation you want attached to your brand no matter how good your prices are.

Segmentation

Last, but not least, is matching up your messages with the right audience at the right time. This process, called segmentation, looks pretty complex at first glance, but is a breeze once you set your mailing list forms up right. Basically, think back to any form you’ve filled out recently online. While it might not have meant much to you to tell the site your gender, location, and any other vanilla info, this stuff goes a long way when splitting up your audience into little groups. Digging a little deeper and asking simple questions related to your business gives you all the knobs and levers you need to push out your various emails to the right screens at the perfect time.

In many ways, you can use this data to make personalizing your emails go beyond “Hi, (insert name here).” Think of it this way; if you sell car parts and ask for the type of vehicle on the subscriber form, you can drop in a little nod to the car by asking how it is in the email. For all the brand diehards out there, asking how the Chevy, Ford, etc. is running to kick off the email adds a nice little touch that can reel them in for the rest of the pitch.

Bringing It All Together

Naturally, these three pillars are just the beginning of email marketing. Just like anything else, once you’ve mastered the basics, there is always more you can add to go the extra mile. To hit the ground running though, you really can’t go wrong by hammering out great, personalized content that segments your audience into manageable, unique groups. From here, the sky’s the limit for where your email marketing campaign can go as you learn to tweak all the moving parts of the process and score a win with your target viewers.

Pillars

 

“It’s one small step for man, one giant leap for email marketers”

That first step when integrating email marketing into your marketing toolbox can be a bit scary. Even though Elite Email makes it really easy to manage your mailing, create emails and track reports, just like anything new, it can be a challenge to get started.

Often times the biggest question is simply how do I get started and what do I do now?

Our customers know they want to send out amazing looking email newsletters, but what is the first step to get things going on the right foot while following best practices.

To help answer that question in a fun and visual way, we had our expert design team create a brand new infographic.

This graphic, which can be found in our Learning Center, is an overall road map for how to get things rolling.

It also includes some of the best ways to start building a permission-based opt-in list, which is one of the main questions people have when they start their email marketing efforts.

View Full JPG | Download PDF

Getting Started with Email Marketing [infographic]

Getting Started with Email Marketing [infographic by Elite Email]

 

Today we have a guest blog post from my very good friend and seasoned email marketing veteran, Aubrey Stork.


Like other Email Marketers, I’ve put a lot of time and effort into finding fun and unique ways to build the opt-in subscriber lists for various organizations.  The truth of the matter is, if you don’t continue to deliver on your promise, all your list-building efforts are for not; your list will erode as quickly as you can say “See ya later alligator!”

Please Don't Unsubscribe

While some still use shady methods to minimize opt-outs like hiding the opt-out link and creating convoluted processes, retaining subscribers is best done through proper opt-in practices, optimal sending frequency and ensuring value is delivered with each and every communication.

Here are some of the biggest factors contributing to unsubscribes:

1. Shoddy Opt-in Process

Permission is paramount.  While this point has been driven home for years, it’s still prevalent with many organizations who simply add addresses they think should be added to their mailing lists without proper permission.  Marketers: list size is only one measurement of success.  If your mailing list is massive, but no one on your list cares about what you have to say, what’s the point?  Sending your message to those who haven’t opted-in not only goes against worldwide email best practices and is in direct violation of the E-Privacy Directive (and shortly CASL/FISA/Bill-C-28 in Canada), but it’s also a great disservice to your brand and will result in higher opt-out rates.

Single opt-in’s can also be an invitation for illegitimate sign-ups, so implement a double-opt in to maintain the integrity of your list.  Though on the surface, marketers see the double opt-in as an impedance to the process, it’s actually a fantastic opportunity.  Your new subscriber is more likely to open your double opt-in and welcome email than any other communication through your entire email relationship.  Take advantage and use these pieces as up-sell and profile-development opportunities.

2. Unfulfilled Promises

Sign-up now and get a free week membership!

Sign-up now to access your free white paper!

Sign-up today and receive a $50 gift card!

These incentives may be enough to get the opt-in, but it does little to set the expectation for the ongoing email relationship and may therefore translate to poor subscriber quality.  Tell the potential subscriber how you’re going to continue to provide value.  Include the ongoing promise in the call-to-action.  For example, “Sign-up now to access your free white paper and receive exclusive access to research every quarter!”

During the sign-up process, include a link to your latest newsletter to demonstrate that you’re living up to your promise and continuing to offer value to subscribers.

3. Wrong Frequency

Frequency is a balancing act.  With consumers being exposed to as many as 5,000 brands each day, you don’t want to inundate your subscribers with information too frequently, but you need also need to stay present so that they don’t forget who you are and the value you bring.

Some studies show that a communication every 3-4 weeks is ideal, however; this really depends on your business, your customers/subscriber base and your content.

One of the key benefits to email is the ability to run tests and get quick, accurate results.  So, see what difference a week makes with your subscribers and try testing frequency:  Take 2 samples of your database.  Send to 1 sample a week in advance of your regular sending time.  Send to the other sample 1 week after your normal sending time.  See how they compare to the rest of your subscribers.  Were the open rates higher?  How about the click-through rates?  If there’s no significant difference, keep this going for a few months (4-6 months should begin to show some variance).  Continue this sort of test to further refine and find the optimal frequency foryour subscriber base.*

Your optimal frequency can also be driven by content, which brings us to the next point…

4. Poor Content

While still considering all of the above, if you have an engaged audience who recognizes the value of your email, frequency will matter less than an exchange of valuable content.  The biggest factor driving opt-outs is irrelevant or too much content within a given communication.  Another key benefit of email is the ability to easily target your message.  Make sure everyone your sending to will care about what you have to say: target your messages accordingly.

If you’re trying to maintain a certain frequency but you don’t have content to pique the interest of everyone in your database, consider the following:

  • Add dynamic content to ensure that regardless of the story/stories being featured, there’s something individually pertinent to each recipient.  For example, if you’re a Realtor and you’re sending information to your client base on increasing rates, someone who just locked into their mortgage for 5 years may not be interested, however; if you can highlight homes in the specific recipient’s area, this will provide value to the subscriber.  Or, if you run a gym you could include an exercise of the week that’s tailored to the type of workout the recipient does (cardio, weights, classes, etc.) alongside your primary message.
  • Include polls.  If you include a poll, regardless of the editorial content, you’re providing something for your subscriber to engage with, not to mention that polls can build on your recipient profiles which can in turn help you continue to refine and tailor your content.
  • Include social feeds.  Similar to polls, this could be another way to engage your subscriber.  Even if your recipient doesn’t relate to the content in your current newsletter, the communication is an opportunity to build brand ambassadors in the social space.  Get them involved by showing the latest – and most compelling – conversations about your organization on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.

If you have the opposite problem, too much content, organize it dynamically or target reordered variations of your message based on the recipient’s profile or past interaction(s) with your newsletter(s).  In any case, keep the content within your newsletter to a minimum.  Include teaser-text and link out to the full story, not only to keep the message clean and clear, but also to be able to accurately measure engagement and better understand the kind of information most important to your subscriber.

Over and Out

Building a high-quality subscriber base can be tough work, so be sure to treat every communication as a privilege and not a right in order to continually engage and retain your subscribers.  Leverage the power of email with testing, personalization, segmentation and dynamic content to refine your efforts.  Above all, never forget about the promise you made when your subscriber signed-up; ask yourself if each recipient will find value in your email before hitting send.

 *This is a simple test method that requires all other variables to remain consistent (i.e. content, day and time deployed, other communications with your organization, etc.)


For 10 years, Email Strategist Aubrey Stork has been making meaningful connections with customers, clients, prospects and donors through email. His strategic approach blends the experience of bringing both technical and creative solutions to many of the world’s most recognized brands.  As a trusted partner, you can count on Aubrey to deliver strategic email solutions that effectively address your unique business challenges.

Is your audience disengaged?  Is your share of wallet what it could be?  Are you caught in a cycle of expensive customer acquisition due to high churn?  Connect with Aubrey today to learn how your business challenges might be effectively and efficiently addresses with email.

 

We have released a new Elite Email TV episode focusing on the second step of the “adding contacts” process.

In this video we explore the 3 different ways you can easily add contacts to your account including:

  • Manually type (or copy & paste) just the email address
  • Manually type (or copy & paste) the email address along with other information such as name, phone number, etc.
  • Upload a file in a variety of formats (Microsoft Excel – .XLS/.XLSX, .CSV, .TXT)

You can mix and match methods to suit your specific needs.

No matter what method you choose, you don’t have to worry about duplicates or invalid email addresses because we’ll automatically catch those for you. This way you can focus more on your marketing and let us worry about making sure your data is in tip-top shape!

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