Fifteen years ago, e-newsletters were touted as the future of marketing. Inexpensive, instantaneous and relatively simple to create, marketers embraced this new means of reaching customers, and even today, e-newsletters and email marketing remain some of the most effective ways of reaching existing and potential customers.
But nothing is perfect, and as consumers have become savvier, enthusiasm for email marketing has cooled as well. In fact, by some estimates, fewer than 20 percent of all e-newsletters are opened by their recipients. That’s by no means a dismal rate (the response rate for direct mail continues to hover around two percent, in comparison) but it’s still much lower than many marketers would like to see.
Although email marketing isn’t going away, it’s time to revise your approach. By making a few simple tweaks to your email marketing messages and carefully designing your campaigns,you can improve your results and increase your message open and response rates.
The vast majority of people are reading their emails on mobile devices these days — which means that the formats and design you have used for your emails in the past probably won’t work anymore. Considering more than half of all unique email opens in 2012 took place on mobile devices, it’s in your best interests to develop mobile-friendly e-newsletters. A narrower design, larger fonts and simple images are the basis of a mobile-friendly strategy, but consider other facets as well. Include tappable calls to action, for instance, that allow users to easily access your website from their device.
The ease and low cost of sending emails to your customers makes it tempting to send multiple messages — why wouldn’t your customers want to hear from you every day? But the average person receives almost 100 emails per day, including messages from friends, family,co-workers, marketers and spam, so there’s a good chance that your e-newsletter could be lost in the shuffle, especially when it’s the fourth time this week that you’ve sent a similar message. To maximize the effectiveness of your newsletter and increase the likelihood it will be opened and read, limit your newsletters to one or two a month, and focus on the quality of your content rather than the quantity of messages. Additionally, create a consistent schedule; sending messages on the same day at the same time helps your customers expect your message.
When your readers share your message with others, you reach a wider audience. You can make it easier for them to do so. Ask them to forward the message to others, and include sharing buttons so they can easily share your messages with their friends and followers on social media.
If you’ve spent hours crafting the perfect email message, you want people to read it. So why would you hide it behind a lackluster subject line? Calling your email “Latest Newsletter” is simple, but it’s not going to stand out amongst a sea of email messages. Your subject line needs to be engaging and benefit-oriented in order to get people to open it — in other words, you need to give them a reason to read the message — but most of all, it needs to be short. Again, because your customers are getting their mail on mobile devices which often truncate subject lines, a long subject line is going to get cut off. Your subject line should be no longer than 59 characters so it can be viewable on mobile devices.
When a high percentage of your newsletters mailings are bounced back as undeliverable, not only are your customers not seeing your message, but your online reputation suffers. One solution is to get whitelisted; in other words, get your followers to add your email address to their address book as a trusted sender so all emails from you are delivered. Getting whitelisted lets you know that people are interested in your messages and helps improve your delivery rates. Include a request to users in each newsletter you send, and make it easy for them to add you with just a few clicks.
Effective email marketing doesn’t require a complete overhaul of your program or the development of an entirely new strategy, in most cases. By making a few small changes, you should see some substantial growth in your response rate and progress toward your goals.
About the Author: Jack Arneson is a marketing expert and blogger with nearly two decades of experience in Internet marketing and e-newsletter development.