Over the years, email marketing has become an art form. There are so many variables that it is almost impossible to scientifically pinpoint what works or does not work. This blog discusses 5 major areas of concern one must be aware of and offers 5 tips on how you can negotiate around them.
Why your email may not be read
o PEOPLE'S BEHAVIOR: A challenge marketers have today is the simple fact that an email address is akin to having post office boxes. You can have more than one. Many of us have several "business" email addresses and possibly two or more "personal" email addresses. Studies done by HubSpot found that the older the person is the less likely he/she will have a second email address.
This is a trust issue and a big one. How many in your email list are using an email address used specifically for filling out forms on your landing page and sending your messages to a non-read inbox? HubSpot reported that at least 58% of men use these "phantom" inboxes while 49% of women do. Ouch!
o SPAM FILTERS: A second behaviour challenge bridges age groups as well. Older folks do not have the savvy or have not embraced technology completely and are not fully aware on the use of filters. If you are targeting a younger set, marketers need to be aware that they grew up with the technology and are more sophisticated in its use. Bottom line - over 60% of persons in the 18 to 30 age group use automatic email filers compared to less than 50% in the age group over 60.
o THE DELETE BUTTON: If your marketing message survives the "phantom" email address and the spam filter, it still has to survive the next filter - the human filter. We receive hundreds if not thousands of emails in our inbox each week and we only open a small fraction of all the emails using our past experiences as a filter. We tend to summarize all of these experiences into a list of "spam words." These words will automatically trigger a response - instantly delete your email.
o EMAIL PURGING "ON THE GO": The advent of the Smartphone has created another obstacle for email marketers. People's behaviour on when to check emails has changed. A Smartphone gives us all the advantage of being able to check our emails on the go whether we are waiting for a traffic light to change from red to green, or waiting in line at the supermarket. Marketers have just a few seconds to capture the person's attention.
o POOR TIMING: Tied to the greater use of the Smartphone to open emails "on the go" is the timing of marketing messages. Before we were introduced to Apple's first iPhone, email messages were typically opened during working hours in a specified pattern or in the evening. The same could be said to the introduction of Facebook in our lives. Where in the past we stuck to the Monday to Friday pattern of sending our marketing messages, the Smartphone has made it easy for us to check out emails on the go even during recreational activities on the weekend.
Tip 1 - KNOW THY AUDIENCE
If you have not differentiated your targeted audience by age group, assume in advance that your email is going to either end up in an email inbox which is never checked or automatically filtered by the younger people - pure and simple. You can avoid this by building your email list correctly.
• First, you have to have the intended receiver of your emails "trust" your business. Stating in advance what kind of emails you plan to send out and their frequency will allow your targeted audience make the decision to "open their inbox door" to your emails thus avoiding the spam filter or worse yet, the "phantom" email address.
• Second, you want your emails to have a personal touch. Make sure the "from" line has the name of a person as the sender and not a non-descript sender such as Sales@ or CustomerService@ etc.
• Third, if they do open the email allow the receiver the opportunity to opt out. Not only is it the law, but it shows that you care and respect their decision to continue receiving your emails.
Tip 2 - THE MESSAGE HEADER
Construction of the message top portion of the email message is critical. In most instances you will have four lines of display - sender, subject and 2 lines for text. Each line limits the number of characters displayed. A typical message will look like this using the email app on the iPhone:
- Vicky@SunBeach... (person's name - two words)
- Your email marketing success (from the title of the article)
- Guarantee your emails are read (from 1st line of text)
- 5 tips you can use today.
The display obviously varies according to the size of the Smartphone screen (or tablet) but definitely it is a variable to keep in mind as we construct our marketing messages. In many cases, the Smartphone actually allows more information displayed than you would on a laptop or PC depending on the email program used by the receiver.
Tip 3 - CREATIVE SUBJECT LINE
Drawing curiosity to your email marketing message is focused on the subject line. Best practices from experience is addressing your audience (You), keeping a sentence format (Only capitalizing the first letter of the first word), staying concise (less than 30 characters), being creative (generating curiosity) and avoiding words like free, £ sign, meeting, quickly, etc.
There are many according to subject and you can find them by searching under "email spammy words". And, of course, the subject line has to reflect the interest of your audience. You definitely cannot sell ice to an Eskimo.
Tip 4 - DAY OF WEEK
Timing the emails is a consideration. If your targeted audience is within the same time zone, it would pay to test sending your email at different times of the day and determine which time frame gets the best response. If your email list contains an audience in different time zones, this would be a waste of time.
From experience, the first two days of the week do not give very good results simply because of the sheer volume of emails received in the first two days of business. More and more, emails sent on the weekend especially on Sunday afternoon and early evening have given me better results. Again, it depends on the audience and thus I throw a flag of caution on how effective it can be.
Tip 5 - BE EFFICIENT, BE PROFESSIONAL
The final tip is using the professional services of an email program. You can design professional-looking emails in minutes with a customized template which meets the new mobile technology and easily adaptable to your business. The templates you create for your business can easily be duplicated (giving all your email campaigns a consistent look and feel).
These programs allow you to time your emails to be released at different times so you can test effectiveness. You can manage your contact list and easily remove those that bounce (for various reasons). And, best of all, it allows you to track the results on a real time basis (open rates, click-through rates) and thus adjust your email marketing campaigns for maximum efficiency.
And there you have it. Wait, not just yet. You will need patience to build your skills and continually test to see what works best for you.