A significant proportion of your inbound marketing strategy needs to be dedicated towards email marketing, but the trouble is that many businesses have an extremely woolly idea of how to go about email marketing.
There are some very strange rules and myths which people fail to question, and there are some approaches which could make a huge difference, but which aren’t being implemented.
Here is a quick rundown of the 4 ways in which your email marketing strategy could be transformed into something that delivers as it should.
1. Getting People To Sign Up In The First Place.
If your idea of getting people to sign up for your newsletter is to have a small, discrete form stuck halfway down the side of one page, or nestled in amongst the copyright and terms of business at the foot of your page, then this may well explain why your email marketing campaign is about as effective at hurling a wet sponge at your monitor.
On the other hand if you have taken the much different view that the best way to grab people’s attention is to hurl a popup window at them when they visit your site, pleading, begging, cajoling, pestering and bribing them to sign up, then again, you’re probably wasting your time.
First of all, you have to make your sign up form obvious, without it leaping about in front of your visitor’s face as soon as he arrives. There are several ways of doing this, none of which include discrete forms and annoying popups, most of which will be blocked anyway since most modern web browsers block popop windows automatically.
Having a smart form which has a contrasting background or border, a visual image to draw the eye, and a large friendly ‘submit’ button underneath a text box into which large friendly writing is invited is a start.
Another option is to go for a popover. These are much better than popups, because to begin with they can be programmed so that they don’t leap up straight away, and they don’t leap up to every visitor every time.
A good approach is to have a popup appear ten to twenty seconds after someone has visited your site for the second or third time. Popovers can’t easily be blocked by web browsers either. You can find out more, see some examples and download a free generator here: http://popup-plugin-software.com.
2. To Double Opt In Or Not?
There is serious confusion regarding what is required by law under the CAN-SPAM Act within the USA and the EU. Whilst it is recommended that businesses implement a double opt in approach, it is not a legal requirement at all. The Act doesn’t even stop people from sending unsolicited email. That’s a second widespread misunderstanding.
Imagine you walk into a bookshop, and as you’re browsing the shelf you find a book you like. You pick it up and take it to the checkout and offer them your card. Just as they are about to take your card they stop you, and ask that you go home, wait for them to write to you to ask you whether you really do want to buy the book, to which you need to then reply confirming that you really do want to buy the book, after which you’ll be allowed to buy the book.
With email subscriptions it’s much the same. As a business you have worked hard to draw to your visitors’ attention the fact that you are inviting them to subscribe to your newsletter. Not only that, but you have been successful, because a visitor has deliberately, knowingly and voluntarily typed their email address into a box on your site, and then clicked a large friendly button labelled ‘subscribe’.
It is fairly probable that your visitors knew when they entered their email address in your newsletter subscription form that they were subscribing to your newsletter. Why would you then make them wait for you to send them an email asking them the exact same question a second time?
Is it not possible that the confirmation email might be missed, or go missing? Is it possible that the visitor will forget to click the link in the confirmation email? Is it possible that some visitors will start to doubt whether subscribing to your newsletter was a good idea once they read your ‘warning’ email that they are about to subscribe?
Sometimes when it comes to marketing it is better to stop once the customer has said ‘Yes’, otherwise anything that you say after that could jeopardise all of the hard work which has up to that point been successful.
Remember, under the CAN-SPAM Act it is not a legal requirement to provide a double opt in, and it is not illegal to send unsolicited email. It is a legal requirement though to provide a visible and working unsubscribe facility within every email, to honour any requests to opt out within 10 days, and that any opt out or suppression list you maintain is used only for compliance purposes.
3. Grab Attention, But Not In The Wrong Way
If you send an email newsletter out with a subject line which reads something like ‘November Newsletter #31’ then it is unlikely that it will be read, and more likely that it will be deleted.
People generally decide whether to read, ignore or delete an email in about half a second. That just about gives them time to glance at the subject line and make a split decision.
Half a second.
It’s not much, and you have to make sure that they know the email is from you, and that it is an email that they actually requested, and you have to make sure that the subject line grabs their attention in that fleeting half second.
But there are right ways of grabbing attention, and there are bad ways of doing it. If you think that subject lines such as ‘November Newsletter: FREE eBook Announcement’, or ‘November Newsletter: Amazing Discount For All Subscribers’ sounds good, then that may be why your email marketing campaign is failing.
Because there are a number of keywords and signals which email systems today use for spam filtering, and these frequently include the words ‘free’, ‘£££’, ‘$$$’, ‘discount’, ‘amazing’, ‘revolutionary’, ‘offer’ and so on. Most superlatives are included on the list.
If you use any of these words, and especially if you use more than one, then your email is likely to be consigned to the spam folder without it even being seen, despite your visitor expressing a clear wish to receive it. Keep the language under the spam radar, avoid hyperbole and the sort of language you find being used by spammers. Take a wander through your own spam folder and you’ll get a pretty good idea of the sort of subject lines which don’t work.
When should you send out your lovely shiny new email? As soon as you have finished writing it? No. Research shows that certain days of the week generate a better response rate than others, and that even the time of day can make a great deal of difference.
This makes sense, because on Mondays most people are hectically busy, and will only spend time going through those emails that are really important or urgent, and by Tuesday those emails received on Monday will have been buried and forgotten. Towards the end of the week people are already thinking of the weekend and are less likely to read emails that aren’t important.
The best two days on which to send out an email with the greatest chance that it will be seen and read are Tuesday and Wednesday.
But the time of day also makes a difference. If you send the email out too soon people are still too focussed on their day’s work schedule. Send it around lunchtime and it will be saved until the afternoon, but then by the afternoon it will have been forgotten and will have become buried under subsequent emails. The best time is about mid afternoon, between 2-3pm ideally.
So sending out your email on a Tuesday or Wednesday afternoon between 2pm and 3pm is likely to see your email read. But don’t forget that consistency and regularity is also important.
People quickly get used to routines, and if your emails contain quality information that’s worth reading, then people will start to look out for them. Sending them sporadically whenever you think of it isn’t good. Instead try to get into a routine, and make sure that you send your email out at approximately the same time on the same day each week.
Have you had any experience with sending out marketing emails or email newsletters? Have you found certain things you tried generated a better response than others? Please share your thoughts and experience using the comments box below, or on our Facebook, Twitter or Google+ pages.