Improving the Effectiveness
of Email Marketing
The effectiveness of email marketing can be improved by following these practical guidelines and using email marketing metrics.
Find the best time to send
As a starting point, midweek from Tuesday to Thursday is generally considered best, and avoid weekends. BUT bear in mind - what if this doesn't suit YOUR customers? When do YOU think they’re most likely to read your emails? What’s their work/home schedule? Are your customers spread over different time zones?
For maximum effectiveness, experiment with different days and times, or split-test by sending half the campaign on one day and the rest on another. Track the results, repeat what works and ditch what doesn’t.
By the way, if you have a big email list, your campaign might not be sent to everyone at the same time but in smaller chunks. Check with your email system provider.
Reduce the number of hard bounces
A hard bounce is an email that your delivery system tells you has been returned undelivered, usually because the email address doesn’t exist.
Check your hard bounces for obvious typing errors. Also check your data capture and processing methods. Is there enough room for customers to clearly write their email address? Can you add a line asking them to write clearly? Are customers giving you false emails just to enter a competition or prize draw? Is the person processing your data a poor typist? Are they checking unusual domain names?
Reach more in-boxes
A percentage of your emails will always end up in junk folders. It’s absolutely unavoidable and impacts on the effectiveness of email marketing by even the biggest companies. However, your single best chance of reaching in-boxes and maximising effectiveness is to use a reputable and well-established email marketing system.
It also helps to ask people to add your sender email address to their safelist or address book.
Get more people to open your email
Number of emails opened is the baseline for determining the effectiveness of email marketing. When someone is scanning their in-box, you have maybe 2 to 3 seconds to hook their interest based on these key factors:
- Do they recognise and trust the sender?
Clearly state your business name, and add your own name if the recipient is likely to recognise it.
- Did they invite you to send them emails?
IMPORTANT - aim to fill your database with customers who have voluntarily opted-in.
- Does the email subject line grab their attention and curiosity?
The recipient will ask themselves WIIFM? What’s In It For Me if I open this email? Keeping your subject line under 50 characters long will usually increase the number of emails opened.
- Have they really liked your previous emails?
Self-explanatory, and probably the single most important factor in long term successful email marketing.
Find the best frequency of campaigns
Not as crucial to the effectiveness of email marketing as top quality content, but it runs a close second. Too frequent emails will eventually lead to ‘subscriber fatigue’. Try low frequency to start, maybe once quarterly. If you decide to increase frequency, monitor closely for downward trends.
Get more click-throughs
Getting a click is the critical point at which your email campaign starts to earn its corn. It's another key indicator of the effectiveness of email marketing. Whether it’s to buy or download something, or to visit your website, decide on your Most Wanted Response and make your Call to Action big, clear and obvious.
Here’s an example of email marketing templates that uses a big customised download button as a Call to Action.
Resist the urge to cram your campaign with lots of content. Having just one or two main core elements to your email is the best way to avoid recipients feeling overwhelmed and confused when they first open it.
How many links is best?
If you do have a lot of different parts to your email content, it’s best to summarise each one very briefly and create a link to more content elsewhere, eg on your website. This keeps your email short, makes it very easy for people to quickly assess and choose the parts that are interesting and relevant to them.
Tests have even demonstrated that having 25+ links in an email actually increases the number of clicks. The logical conclusion would be that the more options you give people, the more likely they'll find something that interests them.
Reduce the number of unsubscribes
There is no magic solution here. It’s all about the quality of your content. You’ll always have unsubscribes, but monitor their number closely and if you see a steady increase, treat it as a reflection of what people think about your emails and take action.
Try experimenting with split-tests using different content. If your system has a dynamic content feature, it will change the content automatically according to your customer segments, without creating two separate campaigns (eg designated male customers receive content about beer, female customers receive content about cocktails). Not every system offers dynamic content - see our free guide to Email Marketing Systems for more info.
Does your email marketing system have a survey or poll option? Then ask subscribers what they think about your emails. Don't guess! Fine-tuning your campaigns to meet the needs of your customers is a sure way to maximise the effectiveness of email marketing for your business.
Before you start worrying about detail like the best day of the week or time of day to send your email marketing campaign, take a long, hard, objective look at the content. Would YOU welcome it, if you were a customer? Would it make you want to forward it to a friend? Would you look forward to the next email? Above all else, super-valuable content will ensure the long term effectiveness of email marketing for you. |
By the way, even the biggest companies don’t always get it right. I’ve had emails from MBNA and even Google Adwords land in my junk folder!
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