Four First-Date Tips… Applied to Email Marketing

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Creating and running a successful email marketing program can be difficult—as difficult as finding an enjoyable first date.

And the two have even more in common.

Applying the following four simple dating rules to email campaigns will improve your marketing—and likely your chances of establishing great customer relationships, too.

1. Don’t jump to conclusions

First-date tip: Misunderstandings happen, especially when you are still trying to get to know each other. Open communication and asking for confirmation on your assumptions will provide clarity and avoid quarrels.

Applied to email: Repeat tests from time to time to confirm results.

Why:

  1. The way customers engage with email is constantly changing. For example, customers are opening their emails on mobile now, and so an email design that performed well last year might not any more because of how it renders on mobile.
  2. New customers on your list might not behave the same way as previous ones. As you acquire new names, you may end up with a completely new list that prefers receiving emails on Saturdays, whereas a year earlier your list preferred Monday emails.
  3. When making important decisions, you should confirm results. There could be errors in segmentation or reporting that give you incorrect results. Sometimes you will find your results are not statistically significant and additional data is needed to make a final decision.

Words of caution: It is important that you have a large enough list to test. If your list is too small, your test results will not be reliable.

2. Look beyond the obvious

First-date tip: Don’t judge a book by its cover. When you meet someone new, get to know him or her better. Talk to them and their friends. Take a note of their gestures and body language; these may tell you what words never will.

Applied to email: If your open rates are struggling, a faulty subject line is the usually the first guess. However, there could be other factors that influence whether your customer saw your email: delivery rate, inbox placement, From name…

Why:

  1. Delivery rate: Your email might have failed to go out fully. That is, part of the list may have never received the email.
  2. Inbox placement: Low open rates could be the result of low inbox placement. That is, your emails ended up in the spam folder and customers never saw the email.
  3. From name: The From Name can have a huge and varying impact on customers. For instance, having a vague From name such as “no-reply” might decrease open rates as customers do not recognize the sender.

Words of caution: Figuring out the real reason for low open rates can be tough, and it might take time. Moreover, once the issue has been figured out, it could take months to fix.

3. Give them a second chance

First-date tip: First dates aren’t always perfect. Perhaps she had a busy day at work? Or, his puppy is sick? Give them a second chance!

Applied to email: Resend emails to those who didn’t open the first time.

Why:

  1. Consumers are bombarded with emails. They are likely to miss some emails they’d like to receive.
  2. A subject line that appeals to one customer may not appeal to others; give those others a second chance.
  3. Because of factors such as day of the week or time of the day, customers may have missed the email completely.

Words of caution: Although customers who missed your email unintentionally would appreciate receiving your emails, other customers are not interested in receiving your emails at all. Exclude customers who have not opened your email for an extended period (e.g., six months). They are unlikely to open any more emails from you.

4. Know when to say goodbye

First-date tip: Sometimes, they are just not the right one for you, especially if they are not showing any interest. Relationships are a two-way street; if there is no initiative from the opposite side, walk away.

Applied to email: Lower the frequency or stop sending emails to unengaged customers on your list.

Why:

  1. Customers may have signed up for your email by mistake, especially if you do not use confirmation emails for opting in to your list. You may be sending emails to people who are not interested in receiving your emails.
  2. If you offer incentives for signing up for your email, the customer may have signed up merely to get the freebie.
  3. Many people silently unsubscribe. That is, they do not opt out of your emails but instead stop engaging with you.

Words of caution: A long-term test will be needed to determine the best strategy for lowering your email frequency or ultimately removing names from your list.

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