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Email Marketing – what to send and when to send it.

Email Marketing

ID-100198141-300x300Theories abound on increasing open-rates on the marketing emails you send but it’s an art not a science. Below are some great tips on getting more people to read your marketing emails.

Many people say they just delete all marketing emails without reading or even looking at them so receiving them is a waste of time. Oddly, the same people won’t unsubscribe – just in case they’re sent something they might actually want one day!

This is good news for email marketers. Well, ok, it’s not great news, but it’s better than people unsubscribing in their droves! At least you know the emails are being received and may, one day, be read.

Actual open-rates vary according to industry. At the lower end emails about IT, Events or Recruitment average around a 17% open-rate (1%-2% click-throughs) whilst Photo & Video or Religion can see open-rates up to 45% with click-throughs at 3%-5%. Across the board averages show open-rates to be around 15%-20% and click-throughs just over 2%-3%

This shocks many people embarking on email marketing as they spend days designing the perfect template and crafting the perfect text, expecting that ‘almost everyone’ will open and read their email.

What you say, how you say it, which day you send on, the time you choose etc., are all variables on which opinions vary wildly. However, there are some fundamentals you should consider that are pretty well cast in stone:

Subject Lines:
Experiment with your subject lines but avoid salesy hype. Try including details about the content of the email actually in the subject line.

For example, if you’re an Accountant, writing a subject line in your marketing email that says “Accountancy services at great prices” will appeal to nobody. However, saying “Still not done your Tax Return? You have 23 days until you’re fined. We can help you right now” is way more likely to resonate – at the right time of year.

There’s a simple rule to help you consider who you write the subject line: “tell what’s inside, don’t sell what’s inside” (meaning sell the sizzle not the sausage). What you actually do in your business makes it tempting to create a punchy, salesy subject line using words such as ‘free’ or ‘guaranteed’ or ‘money back’ or ‘special offer’ etc. but don’t be tempted as these will only increase the email’s chance of being seen as spam.

If you have a reasonable size recipient list (even if it’s only a few hundred) try splitting it up into three or four separate lists and use different subject lines in each. You have nothing to lose and you’ll be able to see which generates the best response. Learn by experimentation to see what works for you as everyone is different.

time-300x107Day/time sent:

There are as many views on the best time to send emails are there are hours in the day but recent research shows it’s really not that important. The position your email appears in someone’s inbox is way less important than the quality of the subject line, the relevance of the email and their familiarity with you and your brand.

A recent experiment even showed that sending emails on the worst possible days and times (such as New Years’ Day) to recipients who had previously received emails, resulted in an open-rate variation of only 2%-3%.

Similarly, research shows that even on a normal day open-rates vary only by around 10% throughout the day. One reason for this is undoubtedly the rise in the use of mobile devices. If your emails are targeted at people you believe are more likely to read them whilst at the office, there’s an equally strong chance these days that they’ll be reading them on the way to the office or on the way home. This also means you will need to consider how mobile-friendly your marketing emails are since a recent study showed 50% of people are now opening their emails on a mobile device.

orange-300x210Juicy content:

In the body of the email get the important/relevant content up the top and make it benefit driven. Think from the recipient’s perspective; “what problem do I have that you’re able to solve?”

If you’re running a seminar on the Work Place Pensions scheme, make the first sentence bigger and bold text and say something like “The new pension scheme for businesses WILL affect your business very soon. Let us help you get prepared”. That way I instantly know what this is about and can decide if I want to read-on.

If you’re offering a free service (such as the seminar above) it can be difficult not to use the word ‘free’ when it is actually free (it’s a very spammy word) but if you say “...entirely at our expense” or “…at no cost to you”, these are powerful phrases that get the message across.

Remember; many people will see a preview of your email before deciding to open it or ignore it/delete it. Make sure your email is recognisable and that your key points are in the top section.

Recipient’s name:
Including the recipient’s name as ‘Dear first name,’ is very powerful. Many of us have opted to receive email newsletters but can’t actually remember which ones we’ve signed up for. Having a newsletter start with the recipient’s name immediately makes you familiar and creates a sense of trust. However, be very, very careful to get it right and, if necessary, scan through your recipient lists to make sure they all contain a first name. Sending an email addressed to ‘Dear Mrs Yvonne Gardner’ is really obvious that they’ve been picked from a list, especially if their name is Michael Johnson!

Any decent email marketing system will allow you to place a name tag in the body of the template to dynamically pull-in the name of the recipient.

Fun. Yes, have fun with your email marketing. Don’t stress over it but do follow the basic rules in order to reduce the chance of your emails being deleted or spammed, and to increase the chance of them being read and responded to. That is, after all, the whole point of sending them.