So now you’ve built a pretty decent subscriber list, how do you get your subscribers to respond to your message?
First off, lower your expectations. If you get more than 25% of your subscribers to open your email, you are doing great. Keep in mind that the ROI for email marketing is so good because the cost of execution is comparatively good. But there are some things you can do to raise the stakes.
Any email service provider (ESP) worth a dollar is going to provide you with data metrics—think Google Analytics for your email blast. Here is a list of rates to measure (refer to the flowchart above):
Counterintuitively, enticing keywords are a turn-off. Trendy taglines that might work in other marketing channels just just bomb your open rates. What kinds of subject lines work best? Honest and straightforward. Tell your subscriber exactly what to expect by opening your email blast; if you are sending a promotion, don’t call it a newsletter. Bottom line: putting your company name in the subject line usually does best.
Whether you are selling a product, informing an audience, building awareness or mobilizing people, all email blasts have the same design pattern: a call-to-action linked to a landing page. All email marketing has the same one objective: to elicit a response. There is no sense in sending out an email blast without some sort of call-to-action (C2A). If you don’t have something to click in your email blast, why bother?
Designing sexy C2As is best left to an expert (like me), but here are a few tips:
Even if you have several links in your email, feature one single C2A prominently. This is true even if you only send a quarterly newsletter. With a preponderance of choices, most email readers will choose nothing. Why muddle up your metrics with too many factors?
Make sure your email looks good with images off. Most email clients don’t allow for the automatic downloading of images. Will your email blast look blank without images? What’s going to invite your subscriber to respond then? Why force your subscriber to take one more effort before responding to you?
Don’t neglect the text version. HTML email might be the default these days, but a text-only fallback is perfectly harmless. Most email service providers automatically generate a text-only version for you. Check through it to ensure everything reads well (you might even notice mistakes the design hides.)
Avoid advanced web design. Compared to a modern web browser, most email clients are still stuck in the 20th Century (Microsoft Outlook still thinks it’s a word processor!) Even browser-based applications like Gmail can wreak havoc on your flawlessly-designed email. It’s best just to rely on tried-and-true conservative layout techniques:
Never send out an email campaign without testing it first—no matter what. The more reviewers the better; the more email clients you can test the better too (while helpful, don’t completely trust the client previews your email service providers offer).
Moreover, test your campaigns with A/B split tests. Send out two samples of your email blast, and then send out the best performing version. You can test versions of your subject lines, C2A placement, or even best day to send. If you can imagine a split test, by all means test it.
Also, don’t limit your testing to the campaign itself. Test your landing pages, test your abandonment responses, and test your confirmation emails.
I have been directing email campaigns for businesses and non-profits for more than five years now. I built large lists from scratch for the automotive industry. Send me your RFP to get your email marketing started.