Now is a perfect time to get your email list into shape. Why? Well, just like our bodies can’t function at optimal levels if we don’t take care of them, our email lists can also suffer if they are not getting the attention they need.
A clean, up-to-date email list is critical to the effectiveness of your campaigns, and to ensuring that you’re getting the best possible results. Once your list is in good shape, with a little ongoing maintenance, you’ll see improved delivery, response, and conversion rates — and a better-looking bottom line.
If you’re already a Net Atlantic customer, you may know that our email marketing software automatically updates your list every time you send. It keeps track of successful sends, bounces, unsubscribes, deferrals, failed attempts, and more. Your mail server will make many attempts to deliver your message to all of your subscribers, and only after several failed delivery attempts will it automatically put a subscriber into “held” status.
That said, there are still things that you can do as a list owner, above and beyond what the software does automatically, to get your list into tip-top shape. Here are some ways to tune up your list, improve engagement and interactivity, and get better results from your email marketing efforts.
- Send a brief survey to find out exactly what kind of content your recipients want to receive. You can also ask them why they may have not engaged with your email in a while. Maybe they are no longer interested in your products or services. Or maybe it’s just a matter of tweaking your content to make it more compelling. Sending a survey will eliminate some of the guesswork about why these subscribers have become inactive, and will help you improve your email campaigns going forward, too.
- Encourage sharing, forwarding, etc. ISPs give increased relevance and mail quality rankings to email that gets shared and forwarded. So put your best stuff in your newsletter, and encourage your subscribers to forward it to a friend.
- Ask for feedback by encouraging your subscribers to respond directly to your email message. This helps you establish a nice dialog with your subscribers, and as a result, your inboxing and engagement rates will improve. A simple “Tell us what you think” or “Disagree with us? Tell us why…” can get people to start interacting with you.
- Create segments and fine-tune your content accordingly. If your subscribers are interested in different things, sending the same email to all of them is not going to be as effective as you’d like. So it makes sense to segment your list based on the specific interests, behaviors, and/or actions of your audience. For example, if you sell pet supplies, cat owners who subscribe to your list aren’t going to be interested in the new dog food you’re promoting. In fact, those cat people are probably going to ignore or delete your email without even opening it. This is important to note, since many ISPs track engagement as a way to determine whether your emails end up in the spam folder instead of the inbox. Moral of the story: the more specific your segments are, the more targeted you can make your content, and the more likely your subscribers will be to open your messages. They’ll feel like you’re speaking directly to them, and they’ll feel compelled to engage.
- Run a “win-back” campaign. You’ve probably seen these in your own inbox on occasion. The subject line might say “We miss you!”, or offer a discount as an incentive for you to open the mail and hopefully make a purchase. They can be very effective, especially if you have something unique or valuable to offer. When done right, these campaigns remind your subscribers about why they signed up for your list in the first place.
- Send a “last chance” email. Just put it right out there. Let your inactive subscribers know that you’ve noticed that they seem to have lost interest over the last several months. Give them a chance to show you that they still want to hear from you by giving them a link to click, or another opportunity to engage with your message.
One Last Thing…
We want to make it easier for you to get your list into shape! Click here to register for a FREE list evaluation and report.
Okay, I’m just going to put this out there: the “Gmail issue” – that is, the ever increasing challenge of getting marketing emails to land in the Gmail Primary tab — is super frustrating! There. I said it! And I know I’m not alone on this. However…
Do you know who doesn’t hate the Gmail issue? Gmail, that’s who! And thank goodness for that, because they’ve given us all a reason to pause and consider how we think about our email campaigns, and what our subscribers want to know, receive and read.
That said, from a delivery and compliance perspective, senders can do a lot to ensure they get the best possible results in terms of where they want their mail to land at Gmail.
Email is widely regarded as one of the best ways to build long-term customer relationships, and it’s the most powerful marketing channel for retention and driving conversions.
On the other hand, social media is great for creating a sense of community around your brand, as well as inspiring real-time conversations with your customers and prospects. And then there’s the ability to deliver highly-targeted ads.
While it may not yet be common practice to use these two channels in conjunction with one another, the results can be quite powerful.
With a few months’ worth of the new Net Atlantic Executive Summary report under your belt, you may be wondering how you can improve your grade.
We recommend studying and reviewing trends in your list(s) from month to month. Study your subscribers, list growth, sending habits, opens and clicks, and more. The better you understand each element of your email marketing program, the better chance you have of improving your grade.
Of course, studying is only the beginning; you have to apply what you learn. Below, I’ll take you through the main areas of the Executive Summary Report, and provide some tips on how to improve your results in each one.
As you dip your toes into the waters of email marketing, you need to prepare yourself for the possibility that some of your email might contain content that people don’t want to receive. This is what ESP’s refer to as prohibited content. When you send a message with content like this — snap! — you’ll feel the jaws of compliance bite down on your email program!
Lionel Richie asked this question (well sort of) back in the ’80s, with his heartstring-tugging hit song Hello.
And you could ask the same question of your subscribers. You know, the ones who haven’t opened one of your mailings in a while. Or the ones who haven’t engaged with you in a way that shows they’re still interested.
Addresses from dead domains are like zombies. They exist in your list and look kind of like the real thing (i.e., valid addresses that you can send to). They may have been on your list for a long time, maybe since you started collecting addresses way back when. But, like zombies, they are mere shadows of their former selves.
When compliance folks like me talk about dead domains, we are referring to addresses within a sender’s list that are from domains which are no longer in business, or are no longer providing mail client services. Having addresses from these domains on a mailing list is an indication to any good compliance specialist that the list is in dire need of clean-up, or that the list owner may have purchased addresses. Neither of these scenarios is good for the client’s sender reputation, nor the ESP’s overall reputation.
What’s the most important part of any email marketing program?
Huh? Wha-? Not what you expected? Well, think about this:
Your subscribers joined your mailing list because they love your products, they’re crazy about your service, and they want to hear what you have to say. Setting expectations around how often your subscribers will hear from you, and then fulfilling those expectations, is the key to keeping them happy and getting the best results from your email marketing efforts.
Blackjack is a staple at any casino, and it’s a game in which skill and luck both play equal parts. Skill and a little bit of luck are needed in email marketing, too. For example, why take a chance on your email address collection process when you can improve your own odds by using a double opt-in sign up method whenever you can? See what I did there…cards and contacts? Tricky!
Seriously, though: The definition of doubling down is “to become more tenacious, zealous, or resolute in a position or undertaking”. And this is how everyone should approach email address collection. Why?
OK, you can laugh at the title of this post (or even groan at it – I don’t mind)! But the fact remains that you need to find the right email sending frequency; otherwise, it can harm your relationship with your recipients, and ultimately hurt you as a sender.