A decade ago, e-mail marketing was hailed as the elixir of online marketing, as email campaigns were getting as much as 30 percent response rate. Not anymore, though. The story has changed and many marketers are finding that that the response rates of their email campaigns have decreased to about 5 percent or less. While open rates hover anywhere from 20-45% depending on the industry, click through rates barely reach 5%.
What happened? As more and more email comes into user’s inbox, response rates from email campaigns fall. The increase in email volume, in large part due to spam, has led people to delete emails before even opening them. According to a study by the technology market research firm Radicati.com, the average American receives an average of 13 spam emails per day. Hence, it is no wonder that people are using spam-filtering software to help reduce the number of spam messages in a day. The use of these filters can also affect an email campaign. A great deal of legitimate emails is automatically deleted by spam filtering software if these emails contain words that the software attributes to spam (e.g. work at home, money, etc.)
People are also swamped with email that many do not have time to read through their inboxes. Call it “email fatigue,” many people now gloss over their inboxes to select emails they consider important; and more often than not, emails from Internet marketers (even those whom they give permission to contact them) are at the bottom of the totem pole. Hence, a common reason given for unsubscribing from email newsletters is that they “simply have too much email.”
Another important factor to consider in the slowdown of the effectiveness of email campaigns is the growth of instant messaging and social networks. Users spend more time in the social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Given the challenges that email marketing now faces, here are some strategies to ensure the continued effectiveness of your email campaigns.
Send email only to customers who agreed to receive your messages.
This is a very basic premise to a successful email campaign. Whether you use opt-in or double opt-in subscription process, you can generate the best response from your email marketing campaign if the customer actively sends you their email address so that you can send them e-mail. The best way to get or keep a customer is to build a one-on-one relationship.
Avoid strategies that will undermine your credibility as an Internet marketer.
Your goal is to be perceived as a reputable business. Some of the big no-nos in conducting an email marketing campaign include: automatically subscribing a person to your list just because he communicated with you; combing a web site for e-mail addresses; and holding on to subscribers who have already expressed their desire to be taken off your list.
Only send emails relevant to the recipient’s interests.
The key to a successful email campaign is to send out emails containing information that the user needs. Ask yourself the following questions: What kind information does my customers/subscribers want? What will keep them interested to continue receiving my e-mails? Does my subscriber want to receive information on new products or special offers?
Determine the information needs of your target market.
A May 2002 study by Quris/Executive Summary Consulting on e-mail users’ preferred email marketing personalization models showed that users want content customized to their needs (4.2 on a five-point scale where 5 is “very positive” and 1 is “very negative). The other factors deemed essential by respondents of the study are: personalized name (3.9), demographic targeting (3.7), reminders (3.6), human sales representatives (3.5), geographic targeting (3.5), targeted by site purchase history (3.3), and targeted by content history (3.3).
Encourage customers to forward your offer to acquaintances.
Word-of-mouth, called viral marketing is very effective on the Web. Always include a request to forward your email to other people your customers may think need the information. If you are selling informational products for children, your customer may know other parents who could benefit from your product. If you have a budget, consider giving incentives to customers who forward your emails to others, particularly if the recipient purchases products from you.
Always include essential information every e-mail mailing should have.
Your e-mail should always have the following key information – subject line, sender of the mailing, date, subscription and unsubscription information, privacy policies, and links back to your web site. Make it clear in the subject line what the offer is and who’s it from. Remember to employ a strong subject line: it must catch your customer’s attention and stand out from the sea of emails he received.
Test, test and test.
You will never know what works best if you don’t test it. Find an email provider that allows you to test your list, such as A/B testing. There are a number of tests that you can do. For example, you can test your subject lines in many different ways:
- Question mark vs. sentence
- Using certain words or phrases — e.g. “How to Succeed as an Entrepreneur” vs. “Succeed as an Entrepreneur”?
- Shorter vs. longer subject line
- Time sensitive vs. informative
You may be surprised by the results of your tests. You may find that an additional 1,000 people (or more) in your list opens your email if you use the word “How to” in the subject line.
Test your call to action: “Buy Now” vs. “Visit our website”. Test the length of your email. Test the number of links in your email. Test using a photo or no photo in the email. There are a number of tests that you can do to help you find the best formula for increasing the response rates of your audience.
Recommended Books to Help Increase Effectiveness of your Email Campaigns
- The New Inbox: Why Email Marketing is the Digital Marketing Hub in a Social & Mobile World
- Email Marketing Rules: How to Wear a White Hat, Shoot Straight, and Win Hearts
- Effective E-Mail Marketing: The Complete Guide to Creating Successful Campaigns
- AUDIENCE: Marketing in the Age of Subscribers, Fans and Followers
- The Complete Guide to E-mail Marketing: How to Create Successful, Spam-Free Campaigns to Reach Your Target Audience and Increase Sales