By now, anyone with a business knows the basics of email marketing: you collect addresses, then send out your message to those addresses. The more email addresses you have on your list, the greater the chance for your message to be converted to whatever you’re promoting. The email should look nice and have an effective message. With everything in its place, you should have an open rate of about 5%, and a clickthrough rate somewhat higher than 1%.
I would prefer a 15% engagement rate, wouldn’t you?
Email marketing has been plagued by spammers for as long as I can remember. Nowadays, spam is estimated as high as 72% of total global email traffic. That means for every three email messages you receive, your email provider is catching and discarding seven. Now think about how much spam does make it past the filters. It’s a sobering thought. The good news is that even considering all this, email remains the most effective direct online marketing tool. By giving you their personal email address, your recipient has handed you a powerful means to communicate with them. It’s up to you to make the most of it. So how do you get your subscribers to actually click and open your emails? These ideas can help.
A/B Email Marketing
You can apply A/B split testing directly to email marketing. By determining which message was better received, you can increase your open and response rates. While most people believe that a 2% open rate is something to get excited over, I’ve had experiences with open rates on A/B tested email of closer to 20% by constantly improving my clients’ messaging through testing.
A/B email marketing should be available as a service from whichever email provider you use. I prefer Reader Impact, a company that I’ve used for years with complete satisfaction. They’re more bare bones than Mailchimp or Constant Contact, but as a developer, I have no problem with that. I get the same statistics, the same ability to group contacts, manage lists and so on, and A/B split testing is one of several campaign options available at no extra cost. And, because I’m a vendor rather than a regular customer, I have a special deal that makes it cheaper for my clients to send out emails when they want, as often as they like, for far less than a monthly account at the other email sites. Other tools such as Google Analytics, anti-spam testing, QR codes, signup forms for your website, etc. are available as well, at no additional charge.
Social Media Cross Promotion
The purpose of the email is to focus your recipients on the message you’re promoting, but they’ll also see and respond to other elements in the email. Some of the easier things to promote are your social media channels. Every single email you send out should have links to your social media channels: Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest or wherever you have active social media content. By offering your recipients an alternative way to connect to your business that’s comfortable for them, you’ll still be able to retain them as viewers even after they purge their inboxes.
Using Embedded and Linked Images
Using images in email is a double-edged sword. Use too few, and your email looks uninteresting. Use too many, and spam filters will send your email to the junk folder. Nearly every email client will automatically block images that are linked from your server. If the user wants to see the image, they have to specifically allow the images to be seen. The reason for this is the request for a remotely linked image can be used to formulate email open rates and even track which specific recipients have opened the email.
Embedded images are sent along with the email as embedded code and reassembled when the email is viewed. The advantage to that is users will immediately see the images when they open the email. But since they don’t have to be called from the server, the can’t be counted in your statistics as having been opened.
Here’s a tip: set up your email so that one key content image is a link, not an embedded image. By using one linked image among your other embedded images, users will be intrigued by the “missing” content and authorize the download of the image to see what they’re missing.
I get an email that has my first name in the subject regularly, and I open it nearly every time I receive it. Why? Because it grabs my attention by talking to me personally. It’s one of the oldest tricks in the book, but it absolutely works. By grouping your list into interests, demographics, and even previous email actions (clicked, not clicked), you can personalize the content you send to improve your engagement.
By using these strategies in your email marketing, you can dramatically increase the quantity and quality of engagement with your subscribers.