After an email free week in Tasmania, I returned to a mailbox of 150 genuine and 50 spam emails. As I trawled through the spam mailbox, I realized that in the last few years the humble email had gone from connecting people to alienating them, thanks to spam. To understand more about this evolution I decided to do some research of my own.
According to the Radicati Group, the number of worldwide email accounts is projected to increase from over 2.9 billion in 2010, to over 3.8 billion by 2014 (Sara Radicati, 2010). The rapid growth of email accounts seems to have contributed to spam. In 2010, a typical corporate user sent and received about 110 email messages in a day, surprisingly 18 percent of messages received were spam! (Sara Radicati, 2010)
So in this spammed out world, how do you use email to effectively connect with current and prospective users? Let me share a few learning that have helped me to use email as an effective marketing tool:
1. Planning is half the battle: Answering the question, “why” someone should read your email is developing a compelling email campaign. The answer to this question should come from the unique features of your brand that help the recipient to solve a problem or add value to their lives.
2. Content is king: A punchy subject line will increase the chances of people opening your email. In my experience, emails work best when they are a part of an integrated campaign, especially when the call to action directs users to the brand website to obtain further information or engage with the brand via offers, coupons or contests.
3. Trick the spam filter: Keeping the subject line to 65 characters or less and avoiding the use of capital letters and special characters will make sure that your email does not get caught in the spam filters. In addition, since it could potentially indicate spam and might get caught by the spam filter. Although, addressing individuals by first name, last name or both in the email body helps to create an immediate connection with the recipient it is best to avoid the use of a person’s first name in the subject for the reason above.
4. Build an asset: I am a big fan of building a database since it gives you permission to build a long-term relationship with the clients. Although the process of building a database might seem expensive or arduous, I believe this investment can create a sustainable advantage for business. To ensure that you are reaching the right people and (not the ones who unsubscribed last time), list hygiene is key. Thus, if possible the database should be refreshed regularly.
5. Measure and report: Tracking the actions of your customers and prospects is critical to campaign success. Email open-rates, opt-outs, hard and soft bounce rates are some hard measures that are often quoted by the email marketing agencies. I have seen open rates from 10 to 40 percent across product categories, which is quite strong if you compare 2 to 5 percent open rate of direct mail. The number of people unsubscribing should be less than 1 percent of your total database otherwise either you are talking to the wrong people, sending them too many emails or the content is not relevant.
Running a successful email marketing campaign requires planning and a strong understanding of your customer’s needs. If executed correctly, email marketing can be an asset to your marketing mix, if not it could be your ticket to the ever-growing spam club.
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