Every morning my alarm goes off at 7am. After turning off my blaring alarm, I begin to check email from my phone. The excitement of a new day with new emails is enough to keep my eyes open. Every morning, there are emails I actually read, like the inventive lifestyle blog MaskCara, and those I simply trash, like JCrew because either a) I don’t care about their product or b) They have emailed me so many times that I don’t care what they have to say anymore!
As a marketer, I understand that there are reasons why there are certain emails we open and others we trash, and I’ve learned a lot from my own love/hate relationship with email marketing that I can apply when creating my own email marketing campaigns.
One purpose of email marketing is to generate conversation about a product or service in a personal space. In order to do this effectively, subscribers must trust you. Personalizing an email after an opening salutation can create a sense of intimacy. If you have a certain segment of customers who may be interested in a message due to geographic location, or special event, send a specific email to those customers highlighting the information that is most relevant to them.
People do not want to be taken advantage of or bombarded with useless information. Keep your content fresh, timely, and interesting. Be sure that the subject line is compelling. Including an incentive in your subject line can increase open rates by as much as 50%. Sending special deals to your customers provides motivation to remain on your list and will provide more patience for the days your message does not spark their interest.
In line with my own personal qualms with email marketing, the top reason why people unsubscribe from email lists is because they are sent too often, or the receiver no longer finds the content relevant. Content is key. Make sure that what you have to say is worth reading.
Always create an alternate text version of your email as it is easier for users who might not be able to easily view the images. If a subscriber cannot view content, they will almost certainly delete it. An added bonus—creating a text version will help your SEO if you publish the same content on your site.
Mass emails often do not even reach your customer’s inbox. It is critical to remain off the email blacklist. Being on the blacklist will shoot any emails from your IP address directly to the trash or spam folders. The blacklist is calculated using an algorithm, which is largely influenced by the amount of people who report your emails as spam, or unsubscribe from your list. This can be avoided by using a provider like Hubspot or MailChimp to send out mass emails and by keeping your subscription list up to date.
Keep your list up to date. On average, 25% of those on an email list will change in a year. It is best not to use a third party email list as this works against the idea of inbound marketing. You want a captive audience, not an angry audience wondering how you got their information. A good way to do this is to make sure to have a subscription button on your site, located in a prominent place. Social media is also an effective way to invite your followers to subscribe to your email list.
The most active hours for email are on week days between 2-5pm. The frequency at which you send out email blasts depends largely on the relevance of your content to the customer. At minimum, you should be emailing once a month.
Quick recap: Don’t be annoying, be valuable. Do this by creating relevant content and being mindful of how often customers are being emailed. Stay off the blacklist by keeping your list up to date and paying attention to when your subscribers are online. Depending on your audience, the time of day and frequency at which you email them may differ. If you find yourself emailing someone three times a day (pay attention, Groupon) it is probably too much. Good luck!