As a marketer, I consider email to be the best marketing tool. It is fast, cheap, and easy. Best of all, you can achieve better response rates with email marketing compared to other online marketing tools such as banner advertising.
However, as a consumer, I noticed that the rise in e-mail marketing’s popularity led to an increase in the number of messages in my inbox. Whereas I used to receive only 10 messages a day, I now get as much as 50 a day. I get all sorts of stuff — newsletters, special offers, new product announcements, sale offers, and many more. And I am not even talking about spam.
With the number of emails I am getting, I hardly have time to read them all. If you are like me, I only read the messages with headings that catch my attention. The rest, I either put off reading until I have enough spare time, or send it straight to the trash bin. I, then unsubscribe to those that I chronically delete and whose usefulness have ceased for me.
My own behavior in reading emails has raised some question, if not fear, in my marketer’s mind. Where are my emails in the priority list of my customers? Are my emails the first message that they read in their inbox? Are my messages in their must-read list, or is it in the read-next-vacation list? Or, horrors, are my messages being deleted without even being read?
As marketers, we should understand that sending email messages to our customers is not enough. Our tasks do not end as soon as we hit the ‘send button’ of our email messages. We need to know if we are delivering what our readers expect and want from us. We need to determine if we are giving what we promised to them when they signed up.
To get more mileage from your email marketing campaigns, adopt these strategies to fine-tune the effectiveness of your emails:
1. Monitor your Performance.
After sending out your email messages, your next task is to measure the effectiveness of your campaign. Measuring the response rates will help you determine the kind of articles your readers want (if you are a content publisher), the subject headings that compel them to open the emails, and the kinds of offers that tend to work. With this information, you can improve your emails to better respond to your users wants.
There are a number of different ways of tracking the effectiveness of your email campaign, all of which boils down to their response to your call to action. If you are a content publisher, the number of people who clicked on your article determines the response rate. If you are selling a product, the amount of sales generated indicates the success of your campaign. It can also be the number of people who signed up for your newsletter.
How do you know if your campaign is effective? The first indicator is your view rate, or the number of people who actually opened your email. However, this can only be done in HTML emails, where images can be embedded. If the recipient opens the email, the images will be called up from your server and will be recorded in your log files. You will then have a general idea as to how many subscribers opened up your email. You will also know how soon your subscribers are reading your emails: do they open it immediately, or do they take a week before they can get to it? If only half of your subscribers opened your email, then you better start rethinking your approach.
Your click-through rate is another important indicator. Click-through rate is the number of people who “clicks” on your site relative to the number of email messages you sent out. If you sent out 10,000 emails and got 1,000 clicks from it, then your click through rate is 10%. One note of advice: when launching an email campaign, be sure to create a unique page in your site for interested visitors. Having a unique page will allow you to isolate your daily traffic from those who responded to your campaign, making it easier to determine the effectiveness of your campaign.
For many marketers, the conversion rate and acquisition rate are the key measures of a campaign’s success. Conversion rate is call to action, and it depends on your campaign objectives. It may be the number of newsletter sign-ups generated by the campaign, sales of your products, sign-ups for demonstrations, or downloads of your software. Acquisition rate, on the other hand, measures the number of recipients who became new paying customers.
You also need to keep track of your unsubscribe rate. If the number of people requesting to be removed from your list increases, you need to re-evaluate your email offerings. Are people unsubscribing because of the length, content or frequency of your emails? Has the quality of your newsletter gone down; and if so, in what way?
To improve the quality of your mailing lists, you also need to regularly clean it and get rid of bounce mails, particularly the undeliverables and those whose mailboxes are chronically full. There is no point keeping people with erroneous emails or inactive mailboxes in your list.
2. Personalize your Email – but only if you can.
Personalizing your emails can increase their effectiveness. It is just human nature: people are more open to you if you address them by their names. You will then be able to develop a stronger bond with your customer. If used properly, personalization can increase the number of your opt-in list as your subscribers spread the word about your business, improve your sales conversion rates and develop your company brand.
Personalization has been gaining ground among Internet marketers through the years. The number of firms personalizing their commercial opt-in emails have jumped up significantly. To personalize your emails, you can put your customer’s name in the “To” line of their email or insert their name in the greeting, such as “Dear Steve”. If you have the technology, you can even deliver unique content to different subscribers, based either on their preferences or certain demographic factors.
However, avoid personalizing your emails if you do not have the information from all your subscribers or the technology to implement it. I once received an email from a big small business portal, and it opened as “Dear Unknown.” Offended, I immediately unsubscribed from their newsletter and even fired off a missive lecturing them on the importance of respecting their subscribers. If you cannot do it, do not force it.
3. Control the Size of your Email.
Some marketers only want to deliver the very best. Alas, “very best” sometimes mean sending kilometric text messages or overbloated HTML messages. I used to subscribe to a text newsletter that prints out to seven pages! Another newsletter sends out 60K HTML emails. I immediately unsubscribed from their newsletters.
These marketers’ intentions in sending out a bulky email may be good, but there is such thing as “email fatigue.” According to an eMarketer study, 46% of email users already feel that they are receiving “too much” mail.
The size of your message can affect your conversion rate and retention rate. You cannot expect subscribers to be happy if you send out too much information or slow-loading graphics that causes their mailboxes to fill up quickly. The size of your email is particularly important for those using free email services such as Hotmail or Netaddress, which impose limits on their account sizes. Some of your users may also be paying for per-minute use of their Internet access, and they would appreciate you more if you save them time downloading your messages.
To control the size of your messages, minimize the use of graphics when sending HTML emails. Avoid sending attachments: if you want users to preview certain documents, simply put a URL link in your email where they can check out the documents from your site. If you are running text messages, try publishing only a portion of your featured article rather than the entire article in the email. Make your subject headings work for you and use short copies with links to your web site.
If you are regularly sending out emails to your customers, know the difference between keeping a customer informed and overwhelming him or her with information.
Recommended Books on Email Marketing:
- Email Marketing By the Numbers: How to Use the World’s Greatest Marketing Tool to Take Any Organization to the Next Level
- The Complete Guide to E-mail Marketing: How to Create Successful, Spam-free Campaigns to Reach Your Target Audience and Increase Sales
- Successful Email Marketing Strategies
- Email Marketing: An Hour a Day
- Targeted Email Marketing: Email Marketing and List Building for Kick-Ass Profit
- Permission Marketing : Turning Strangers Into Friends And Friends Into Customers