- Send Interesting & Relevant Content
Like any media, make sure that you provide your readers with the information they want. Just because it’s free, doesn’t mean you can get away with crappy content. In my experience, poor content is the number one reason for unsubscribes.
People are used to seeing plenty of email in their inboxes, so they rarely unsubscribe because of the volume of email you send them, they only unsubscribe when the content doesn’t interest them – or if you get too salesy. Using a clothes store as an example, if you mail your whole database every time you held a sale on women’s clothes, you’re going to get plenty of men unsubscribing. Much smarter to segment your database by gender, and send out gender-specific emails each week.
- Avoiding the Junk Box
With so much spam flying around these days, most people have rigorous spam protection systems in place to trap junk email before it gets into their inbox. Spam filters generally score each email against some set criteria. To ensure that your email doesn’t find its way into the spam box, test it first. Most email senders and CRM systems have built in ‘spam checkers’ which will tell you how your email scored. If yours hasn’t got one, there are plenty of free spam checkers available, just do a quick Google search. Some sensible precautions to take include avoiding using words like ‘Discount’ or ‘Free’ in your subject line.
- The Power of Personalisation
Using your recipient’s first name in the subject line of your email will increase open rates,
it will help your mail to standout from the dozens of spam emails in the same inbox. Starting your email ‘Dear Dave’ rather than ‘Hi’ will increase your reading rates and your click-through rates too. There’s lots of very inexpensive email marketing software that can do this for you. You don’t have to type each one!
Neither of these facts is surprising, we all know the power of personalisation. What is shocking is the number of businesses that continue to send emails out without including any personalisation whatsoever, when it’s so easy to do.
- Repeat Email Communication
Whatever you do, don’t just send one email. In the exact same way that you’d always get better responses from a series of hard-copy direct mailers, you will by sending multiple emails. I use autoresponders in my business, emails that are scheduled to be sent at a certain time intervals after someone has joined one of my mailing lists. Autoresponders are a great way to automatically follow up with your subscribers or provide them with more information on your products or services.
Autoresponders are standard these days, nobody expects to wait for a response, they expect to click the button, open up their inbox, and have the information right there, straight away.
- Consistency is Key
It’s important that all of the communications that are sent out to your database retain the same look and feel, and use similar language and tone. This helps your database to feel comfortable and familiar with your brand, and build up trust.
If you’re running a regular newsletter make sure you keep each issue fairly consistent. Customise your template, colours, and fonts and include branding elements like logos and images that will help the recipient to recognise your business quickly.
- The Subject Line
When your email arrives in your subscriber’s inbox, they’ll make a fairly instant decision about whether to ignore, delete, or open your email. Their course of action normally comes down to how interesting, enticing and compelling the subject line is. Your subject line is like the headline in a sales letter. You’ve got to grab interest and force your subscribers to open the email.
If your database is big enough (or your email important enough) testing different subject lines on a small segment, before mailing to the whole list, is the easiest and quickest way to drive up open rates. Try out different Subject lines and compare the open-read- rates for each one. Or, you can use another trick I use which is to monitor who has opened my emails
(the same software does that for us as well!) and those that haven’t opened it get sent the same email again, 24-36 hours later BUT with a different subject line. This gets us an average of 15% more ‘opens’. Neat huh!
- Provide a Plain Text Version
HTML emails look great, but sometimes complicated HTML emails can be blocked by the recipient’s email system. Plain text, although not as pleasing to the eye, is rarely blocked, and most email senders allow you to easily create a plain text version of any HTML email before you hit send. Oh, don’t forget to test the way your email looks in different email clients (Hotmail, Outlook, Google Gmail etc) to make sure everyone sees it the way that you want them to.
- Statistics and Tracking
Most popular email marketing systems provide really good statistics so you can monitor the number of opens, clicks, bounces and unsubscribes for each email or campaign. There’s no excuse here. If you’re taking email marketing at all seriously, then you’ll be looking at the reports for each email and testing to see how you can drive up your open rates and click-throughs. Don’t be too quick to unsubscribe bounced addresses. There are loads of reasons why emails can bounce, so wait until it’s happened 3 or 4 times before taking it off your list.
- Targeting and List Segmentation
The fact is, people are more likely to respond to and act on emails that are relevant and targeted to them. A surefire way to drive up the responsiveness of your list is to start segmenting it using the information that you know, into segments that will be relevant to your marketing.
- Include a Call to Action
Just as you would with a traditional direct mail letter, make sure that your emails spell out exactly what you want the recipient to do. Make links blindingly obvious using big bold letters and arrows and repeat them throughout your message. Don’t just put one link at the bottom of your message and expect everyone to scroll down and find it.