Email marketing remains one of the most effective ways to communicate with prospects and customers. The average open rate varies from industry to industry, with those in the hobbies industry getting the highest open rate of 28.85%, and the highest click through rate of 5.41%. Perhaps not so shockingly, daily deals and e-coupon emails get the lowest open rate of 13.87%, and the lowest click through rate of 1.81%.
The point is, some industries do better with email marketing than others, just due to the nature of the business. But no matter which niche you’re serving and the size of your subscription base, you should focus on creating quality emails – they too, are content just like your blog posts, eBooks, infographics, and videos.
If you’re aiming to get 100% of your subscribers opening 100% of your emails, you’re going to be disappointed. The fact is, people are constantly inundated with email, and not every message you send out will interest them. And even if it does, there’s a chance they won’t even see it.
You’d think that because of how much email we get, as more than 205 billion are sent and received each day, email marketing wouldn’t be worth it anymore, but the data shows otherwise. The Direct Marketing Association says email marketing yields an estimated 4,300% ROI. Every dollar you spend on email marketing offers a return of $44. You should keep sending emails because email marketing remains nearly 40 times more effective than social media when it comes to acquiring customers.
Take a look at these tips to help improve your email marketing strategy so you can get more subscribers.
1. Your Subject Lines Matter
Your subject line is your only chance to grab your subscriber’s attention.1/3 of recipients open emails based on the subject alone. 2/3 of them report email as spam based on subject line (whether they’re subscribed or not.)
There are all kinds of stats out there about the best words to use, the words you should avoid – the best length to use… but in all honesty, none of these really matter. They can help you with general guidelines, but those stats are based on small samples from one company, or a global average, with a relatively small sample compared to all email accounts.
Emails with personalized subject lines – such as using the subscriber’s first name, are 26% more likely to be opened. When you consider that personalized emails provide an overall boost to all industries email open rates, but certain industries, like travel and consumer products see above average rates (40.8 and 41.8% respectively), while others like media and entertainment and business products and services see below average rates (1.1% and 13.3% respectively), it’s hard to say exactly what the impact will have for you and your business. Plus, not all brands are personalizing their subject lines – and this can skew the data.
The best thing you can do is you own testing, specific to your audience – and you can do it each time you start a new venture, because no two audiences will be exactly the same. Do this by gathering a set of your email subscribers and splitting them into two even groups.
Send one half of the list an email with one subject line – then the other half of the list with another. 24 hours after the messages are sent, use your email marketing platform to determine which messages are opened, and which ones are not.
Test again and again as desired to find the words and phrases your audience responds to, for each type of message you send.
2. Subscribe to Your Own Lists
You know what your messages will say, of course, but you need to be a subscriber on your own list so you can make sure your messages are going out when you expect them to, and look the way they are supposed to. If you can’t find your own messages, or notice they’re going to your spam filter, then you can spot issues and fix them before they start to negatively affect your list. If you’re segmenting – more on that below – make sure your email address is included in all the segments so you can see what each email looks like – not just the ones to the general list.
3. Subscribe to Lists of Experts in Your Niche
This is an excellent way to do a competitive analysis of sorts. You can see what other industry experts are doing, and see how well what you’re doing matches it. If they’re wildly popular with an audience that’s similar to yours, you can mimic their approach. Don’t copy exactly what they’re doing, of course, but you can make adjustments to your strategy to improve your efforts.
4. Harness the Power of Segmentation
Nearly half of email marketers are sending everyone the same message. When you consider that not everyone needs to hear the same message – some people on your list have made purchases from you, while others maybe haven’t yet – this is not the ideal approach. Personalization goes a long way, not only in those subject lines, but in conversion, too.
How you choose to segment your customers is up to you, and a lot of it will depend on your strategy. Some options include segmentation based on:
- Job function
- Buying frequency
- Change in buying behavior
- Past purchases
- Purchase interests
- Purchase cycle
- Stage in the sales cycle
- Education level
- Organization type
- Seniority level
- Interest level
- Content topic
- Content format
- Change in level of content engagement
- Satisfaction index
- Customers who’ve referred others to you
- Customers who haven’t left reviews of your business/products
- Customers who’ve abandoned their shopping carts
- Customers who’ve abandoned forms on your website
- Customer usage – helpful for services/apps
- Event attendance
- Page views
- Calls-to-action clicks
Research provides proof of the benefits of list segmentation. On a global level, across all segmented campaigns, compared to their non-segmented counterparts:
- Opens: 63% higher
- Unique Opens: 82% higher
- Clicks: 27% higher
- Bounces: 36% lower
- Abuse Reports: 7% lower
- Unsubscribes: 36% lower
Segmentation can be considered part of personalization – as each person receives an email that’s more relevant to their experience with your brand. A 2013 study from Experian showed that personalized promotional emails increased transaction rates and revenue per email 600% compared to non-personalized emails. It also showed personalized promotional emails had 29% higher open rates and 41% more unique click through rates. Another source indicates personalized emails increase conversion rates by 10%, while yet another says segmented and targeted emails generate 58% of all revenue.
5. Format for Mobile
Yes, some people still check their emails from a desktop computer. But, as mobile has overtaken desktop for internet usage, more and more people are turning to mobile devices to check their email, too. An estimated 53% of emails are opened on mobile devices, but 75% of Gmail’s 900 million accounts are accessed via mobile. If your messages are not displaying correctly, then you’re going to have a hard time convincing people to read and click through, let along open any future messages from you.
It’s also worth mentioning that Gmail is the most-used mail client online. As such, make sure you’re formatted to look great there. Plus, do what you can to land in the “primary” tab, so your messages are more likely to be seen.
6. Stop Wasting Time
Shorter emails have the highest open and click rates. That’s not to say you can’t and won’t have success with longer emails. But, generally speaking, people prefer it when you get straight to the point. It saves time for you, because you’re not having to write as much in each email, and it saves time for them because it doesn’t take as long to scan, or read.
Try to limit your emails to just a couple of paragraphs or less. If it needs to be longer, put the information in a blog post, and then include a link to the blog post in the email. There’s no guarantee people will click through to the blog post and read it, but then again, there’s no real guarantee they’d read the entirety of the email, either. It’s a gamble either way, so you may as well do your best to make it convenient for your readership.
7. It’s Not About the Sales Pitch
Yes, the point of email marketing is to grow your list so you can make more money. But, email marketing is just like social media. You don’t, or you shouldn’t, promote your business with every single post on Facebook or Twitter. And every email you send out shouldn’t be a sales pitch for something you’re offering.
When you’re running a sale, it’s one thing to send an email to let people know. But, when every single email you send out has something directly to do with selling your products, it becomes a hassle for your subscribers. They want information about your company, and want to stay connected to you, but when you’re constantly pitching them for money – they’ll stop reading. Your emails will be deleted, or possibly reported as spam. And the worst possible reaction? They unsubscribe from your list.
8. Speak as if You’re Writing to a Friend
When you write your emails, write as though you’re speaking directly to the persona like the two of you are friends. This helps build an emotional connection with the reader, and ensures you’re not using a bunch of industry jargon. When someone is on your email list, they need to feel like they are part of an exclusive club of people – compared to the people who may be your customers, but aren’t part of your list.
9. Make it Easy for People to Sign Up
If you want more subscribers, don’t make them hunt for the form. Keep it on the sidebar of the home page. Include it as a call to action on your blog posts. For instance, something like, “Like what you see here? Get more by signing up for our email list below.”
Other quick and easy ways to boost your subscriber count include:
- Include a link to your opt-in page on your Facebook page, or pin a Facebook post to the top of your page. You can also add a sign up button as a call to action button on Facebook.
- Add the link to your Twitter bio, too. If you don’t like that idea, you can pin a tweet to your landing page or email magnet.
- Add your opt-in link to your email signature. This way every business email you send gives the potential for a new subscriber.
- Test an exit-intent popup – giving users one more chance to sign up before they go. It’ll only popup for people who haven’t subscribed already. If there’s a negative response, then you can always remove it later. Try split-testing it to see what happens, as certain audiences will respond better to it than others.
10. Practice Makes Perfect
The more you write emails to your list, the better you’ll become at it. Of course, the more you segment your list, the more emails you’ll have to write. But, because each of these emails can be written in a friendly manner, speaking directly to that audience segment, it should be easier to write each message. And because you want to keep them as short as possible out of respect for the reader’s time (and yours), it shouldn’t take you too long to get into the habit of cranking out those messages when you need to. Plus, many messages, like the shopping cart abandonment or request for review email can be written once and sent out to whomever, as needed.
What other tips do you have to improve your email marketing? What have you found to be successful for your business? Tell me in the comments below.