An email list can be a powerful marketing tool with a high return on investment. However, in the current environment of phishing scams and data breaches, you must implement a strategy to persuade people to opt into your email list. Build trust by offering incentives and setting realistic expectations.
9 Techniques to a Successful Email List Campaign
In a world of text messaging and social networking, some may say email marketing is obsolete.
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Don’t you believe it.
Nine out of ten adults use email on a regular basis, as do nearly three out of four teenagers, and 72 percent of customers prefer to communicate with the companies they do business with via email, as opposed to a less than 20 percent preference each for phone calls, texts and social media.
That said, you must have a specific strategy in place to get and keep email list subscribers. In the current environment of personal data misappropriation, people are more wary than ever of giving out their information. It can be accomplished, however, if you build a level of trust with your customers by setting reasonable expectations and making concrete offers of relevant rewards.
Here are nine techniques to wage a successful email campaign.
Offer Something Specific and Desirable
You can’t expect to get something for nothing. If you want people to give you their email address and other personal data, you have to be willing to offer something in return. Don’t be vague about it, however; asking people to sign up for “updates” is unlikely to generate much enthusiasm.
Instead, offer them something specific, something desirable that they can only get in exchange for giving you their email address. What you offer is up to you: discounts on merchandise, free e-books or other exclusive content, or entry into a beta testing group.
Whatever you extend as an incentive, it should be something that your potential subscribers will value.
Collect Only the Data You Need
In order to build your email list, it goes without saying that you need your customers’ email addresses, and it pays to be proactive in asking for them. Just as offering vague “updates” isn’t enough of an incentive, neither is having a static signup button on a sidebar. There are several effective ways to request email addresses without being too pushy about it.
You can create opt-ins in the form popups on your website to offer your incentive and ask for an email address in return. These can be strategically configured to appear as customers arrive on your site, as they are leaving, or at any point during their visit. If you sell merchandise through your website, another effective but unobtrusive opt-in is a subscription tick box at checkout.
As you’re collecting email addresses, it may be beneficial to you to obtain other personal data so that you can segment your list and create targeted emails later. If you do so, however, proceed with caution. Do not collect data on your customers that you’re not going to use. Tell them up front that the data you collect will not be shared with or sold to third parties, and be sure you live up to that promise.
Be Personal Without Being Creepy
It may seem friendly to address your subscribers by their first names, but in the current climate of phishing scams and unauthorized data sharing, you’re more likely to send them scrambling for the “unsubscribe” button.
However, there are ways that you can show a personal interest in your customers without spooking them. One technique is to recommend merchandise based on past purchases, which garners a 98% positive response rate.
Another effective method is to offer deals specific to the area where the subscriber lives or works, although again, you probably don’t want to home in any closer than the city.
Target Specific Segments
People are more likely to respond to information that’s relevant to them, so if you’re sending out generic emails, you’re likely to lose some subscribers due to sheer boredom.
One way to avoid this to segment your email list; that is, group certain subscribers together based on traits that they have in common. Then you can send emails targeted to that particular segment.
For example, when you ask for email addresses, you can also ask for the location (city) where the subscriber lives. Then you can segment your list based on location and send emails to specific segments offering deals in their particular area. This way you are giving them something that is both relevant and personal.
There are many ways in which you can segment your list, but before you collect a single email address or personal datum, you should sit down and figure out how you’re going to segment your list and what specific data you need. Never betray your customers’ trust by asking for information that you’re not going to use.
Set Reasonable Expectations, Then Deliver on Them
Be upfront and clear about what your customers can expect to gain by giving you their email addresses, then be sure you deliver on what you promise. Before you extend any sort of incentive, think about what you can realistically accomplish. For example, if you can only manage to put together a newsletter once a month, don’t promise your subscribers a newsletter every week.
Keep in mind, too, that when it comes to email frequency, more is not necessarily better. You don’t want to annoy your subscribers by sending them too much material too often. Once a day is plenty; more than that borders on harassment.
Also, be sure the content that you’re putting out is in line with what you’ve promised. Don’t send out irrelevant or unrelated information, and don’t create misleading subject lines that don’t accurately reflect the content of the email, which can be considered spam.
Manage the Length of Your Subject Lines
Speaking of subject lines, the long and short of it is that the length matters a lot more than you might think. A subject line of 60 characters or less is more likely to be opened; in fact, subject lines of 10 characters or less boast a 58% open rate. On the other hand, subject lines of more than 70 characters are more likely to garner click-throughs. Therefore, you can manage the length of your subject lines based on whether you’re more interested in bolstering your open rate or your click-through rate.
In either case, what you want to avoid at all costs is the so-called dead zone of 60-70 characters. For whatever reason, neither open rate or click-through rate benefit when the subject line is between 60-70 characters long. Also, note that some analysts put the lower limit of the dead zone at 50 characters.
Some evidence suggests that shorter subject lines are more effective unless the email is being sent to a targeted audience, so that’s something to think about when sending a segment-specific email. It may also be a good idea to switch up the length of your subject lines occasionally so that you don’t become too predictable.
Watch the Clock
Believe it or not, the time of day that you send out email also makes a difference. Open rates increase for emails sent between 8:00 p.m. and 12:00 a.m. on weekday evenings. Emails sent on the weekends are also more likely to be opened than those sent during working hours on weekdays.
If these times don’t fit your schedule, you can engage an auto-responder service to send out the emails on the days and times that you specify. Just be sure that you’re meeting the expectations that you’ve established as to how often to send out emails. You don’t want to frustrate your readers by not delivering on your promise. Nor do you want to annoy them by bombarding them with emails in quick succession.
Optimize for Mobile Users
Sixty-six percent of people read email on their mobile devices. Make sure you cater to this demographic by creating emails that are readable and attractive on any device.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when considering the mobile demographic:
- Most mobile users use their thumb to tap content. So keep your buttons close to the middle of the screen for easy reach.
- Mobile screens are smaller than computer screens, so be sure to keep your font size large and legible.
- Your content will look gorgeous on any size screen if it is formatted as one large column.
Analyze Before and After
Before you send out an email, test it first for mobile readability, subject line effectiveness and red flags that may get your email marked as spam.
Then after you send your email, keep track of how effective it is.
Most email marketing services create analytics that quantify things like open rate, click-through, and unsubscribes. Looking at these analytics, you may find that you need to tweak the length of your subject line. Or maybe reorganize your segments or rewrite your text to avoid spam words.
The most important thing to remember when marketing via email list is respect for your customers. By sharing their email addresses, they are, in a sense, allowing you into their inner sanctum, their home on the web. Therefore, you should observe the same standards of etiquette in your email campaign that you would follow if you were a guest in someone’s home.