When using email marketing to promote a product, brand or service, you have the ability to reach people right in their inboxes and thus to have a very personal and profound impact. The statistics clearly show that this is a highly effective way to promote a product and to potentially make a lot of money but you know what they say: with great power comes great responsibility.
Read on then and we’ll look at some ‘best practices’ for email marketing that can avoid you making any awkward faux pas. Not only will this help you to avoid frustrating your audience or being caught in spam filters, but it will also help you to get more clicks and conversions by not rubbing them up the wrong way.
1 Two a Week is Enough
You may choose to send a higher volume of emails to build anticipation for a product or promotion. The rest of the time though, try to avoid going beyond 2 a week. Otherwise you’ll just frustrate your audience and they’ll quickly become sick of your messages.
When you look at the sending frequency, sometimes more is not always better!
We have heard in the past people saying things like “Send volume is the key to email success!” Basically, that means sending more email=engaging more, making more money, and doing better (whatever “better” means to you).
Their argument is simple:
My data shows that the more people receive/open/click my email, the more money I make.
Since I can’t magically conjure up new email addresses, I should therefore send more frequently to those email addresses I do have.
If you’ve got 10,000 addresses and every time you send to them you get 100 purchases, then by sending to these addresses twice a month instead of once, you’d expect to get 100 more purchases, right? That’s money in your pocket! Why not go for it?
And to a point, these folks are right. But it’s not that simple.
You may be able to increase your frequency to drive purchases, or you may not. Here’s why: Engagement is not independent of frequency. As you send more, engagement per campaign goes down. So in steady-state (we’ll go into this more) there’s a frequency sweet spot you need to hit. Let me explain:
Frequency and engagement are negatively correlated
Ok, the first thing we need to establish is that frequency and engagement are negatively correlated—meaning as you send more frequently, people tend to engage with each campaign less. Mail chimp did a study proving this to be true and you can see the results of the study here.
2 Avoid ALL CAPS
All caps is annoying wherever it’s located but in your inbox it’s particularly abrasive and rude. Don’t do it!
Effective subject lines are a critical component of effective email marketing. Subject lines that are irrelevant or contain a lot of capital letters and excessive punctuation tend to trigger spam filters. Avoid words like “free,” “act now,” “limited time,” or “click now.”
One of the easiest ways you can improve your email or newsletter content is to follow consistent rules of capitalization. Above all, avoid using all uppercase text (known as “all caps”) in your headlines and text. These suggestions apply whether you’re writing your own content or reviewing the work of a copywriter.
Here are three practical reasons why…
1: Uppercase words slow people down.
Quite simply, words written in uppercase text are harder to read. Studies show that people read uppercase words up to 10 percent slower than other text.
Some experts say that uppercase text affects word shape recognition. In other words, it’s more difficult for people to recognize and process the boxy shapes of uppercase words. Other cognitive experts have differing theories.
Regardless of why it happens, the result is the same. When you write text in all caps, you’re making your website users work harder.
2: Are you yelling at me?
Without context, using all caps is often perceived as electronic yelling. You may simply be trying to get a point across ? while your users think you’re shouting at them.
To eliminate any perception of yelling and focus your users on your core messages, switch to one of the following forms of capitalization:
Sentence case. With sentence case, you capitalize the first letter of the first word only. For example: “Three reasons to avoid using all caps.”
Title case. With title case, you capitalize the first letter of each word, rather than just the first word. Typically, you exclude words such as conjunctions (e.g., “and” or “but), prepositions (e.g., “to” and “in”) and articles (e.g., “a” or “the”). For example: “Three Reasons to Avoid Using All Caps.” Both styles are well accepted. To appear credible, the key is to be consistent across your website.
When you change erratically between styles ? for example, sometimes you capitalize words in your navigation and main titles, but other times you don’t ? you start to create issues.
According to Dr. Jakob Nielsen, website usability expert, this inconsistency can cause your website visitors to wonder whether your site is professional and trustworthy.
3: There are better ways to emphasize text.
Most people don’t read word for word on the Internet. They scan text. They look for content that jumps out at them, such as headlines, sub-heads, and bulleted lists. They also look for bold text ? it draws their attention. If you’re trying to make a point or emphasize a message, use bold text instead of all caps. It’s an easy, effective fix.
3 Use Re: With Caution
Using ‘Re:’ in the subject header is a great way to draw attention to your e-mails. It’s also somewhat manipulative though and essentially amounts to tricking your readers. Don’t overdo this method then.
There is plenty of advice out there for email marketers who want to increase their open rates and get better results from their campaigns and while much of it is useful, there are a few tricks it’s best to stay away from.
In the never ending quest to increase open rates and get more conversions, many email marketers resort to techniques like starting their emails with “Re” or “FW”. If you’ve read about this and think it might be worth a try, read on.
At first this tactic may sound clever because it implies a personal relationship with the recipient. The idea is that once the recipient receives the email they are more likely to open it, believing that it is relevant to them and once it’s open, it’s more likely they will click through and convert.
This all sounds good in theory but what happens once your recipient opens the email and realises that they have been duped?
Although there is no doubt that compelling subject lines can lead to higher open rates, if you have tricked your recipients into opening an email by using “Re” or “FW” as a prefix, chances are they won’t be impressed, and they may retaliate by hitting the delete button or worse, marking your future emails as spam.
Higher open rates generally lead to more conversions but in the case where recipients have been deceived into opening emails, the opposite is likely to be true. Email marketing is largely built on trust and violating that can lead to consequences that are more far reaching than a few deleted emails.
Using FW and Re can trigger spam filters
As well as the risk of annoying and upsetting your recipients, using FW and Re to entice people to open emails can trigger spam filters. Many ISPs have spam filters set up which are designed to recognise email subject lines containing certain words and characters commonly used in spam emails and divert them straight to a user’s junk mail folder.
In addition to FW and Re, these triggers can include overuse of exclamation points, text all in capitals and phrases like “buy now” and “special offer”.
Triggering spam filters can lead to your email address being added to a blacklist. This means that none of the emails you send in the future will get through and other businesses using the same email service provider could also face similar restrictions. Once you are on a blacklist it is very difficult to get yourself removed.
Using “Re” and “FW” in subject lines is not worth the risk. It may seem like a harmless idea, but it’s one that could alienate your recipients and affect your overall deliverability. You’re far better off writing genuinely compelling subject lines that are relevant to your recipients and encouraging them to open your emails because of the awesome content within.
4 Make Unsubscribing Easy
There are numerous reasons why a subscriber might want to leave your mailing list and I have outlined a few below, firstly If you use Mailchimp, Aweber or GetResponse then unsubscribing should be easy. This is key – as otherwise you can do serious damage to your brand and reputation.
So why would they want to leave?
- They are no longer interested in your products: There are several reasons why this might be.
- They might not have the funds anymore or their priorities have changed. Alternatively, they have bought your product or a similar one from a competitor.
- There is no way to tell the true reason for this as these de-listings will happen sporadically.
- They think you are sending too many emails: This is when you send too many emails to your list and annoy them.
- They don’t remember subscribing to your list: This happens when you haven’t sent an email for a long time. Therefore, while it is important not to communicate too often; you should also ensure you keep in contact regularly enough that they remember who you are.
- Your content is not relevant: If you are not providing them with valuable content they can use, then they are likely to leave your list. In this case, you must adjust your strategy to provide something of worth.
In many of the cases you might not realise why they have left your list. However, if you’ve changed tactics recently, this can be a good indicator. Ensure that when you are adjusting campaigns that you check for changes in your standard statistics. For comparison, your email unsubscribe rate should be roughly 0.5% to meet industry standards.
5 Deliver Value
Whether or not your e-mails are welcome in someone’s inbox or frustrating will ultimately probably depend on whether or not you provide value. As long as you offer value, people will have a good reason to read what you’re sending them and they’ll be glad for it. Consistently do this and don’t send lots of messages that are just self-promoting.
6 Respect Privacy
Yes, you can sell an e-mail list for a fair amount of money. However, unless you have explicitly gotten permission from your subscribers this is something you should not do. And don’t use that sneaky ‘Yes I do do not do want to let you share my address with partners’ trick.
Ultimately, you are a guest in your subscribers’ homes. Act that way and treat them with respect and gratitude – it will ultimately be better for you and them in the long run.
In a report provided campaign monitor which looked at mobile vs. desktop there are some interesting findings, here are the key take away’s:
- Opening email on mobile devices is more common than opening in desktop or webmail clients. 41% of opens now happen on mobile devices.
- Marketers need to make responsive design a priority in order to drive the best possible outcome from their campaigns.Readers are less likely to click through from mobile devices.
- 87% of clicks will happen when a reader opens an email for the first time, but only 78% of clicks on mobile devices happen on the first open.
- As more people consume email on mobile devices, the standard for compelling content is higher than ever.
- If a mobile reader opens an email again from a different device, more clicks happen.
- Mobile readers who open emails a second time from their computer are 65% more likely to click through. In addition to creating compelling content, marketers need to focus on optimizing their campaigns for both mobile and desktop environments.
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