An email inbox is highly personal and private digital territory to enter. Email is regarded as confidential and secure information. Governments, financial institutions and almost every social online service use email as the secure channel to confirm personal identity. Bank statements, tax returns, family pictures, and countless private files are stored in the inbox like an external hard drive.
Understanding the personal role that an email inbox plays in your subscriber’s life is crucial to creating your email marketing strategy. Before crafting your email program, ask yourself one question: Is my email relevant to my subscribers?
If your message is not relevant, regardless of how a subscriber opted into your email program, it will not be met with a warm response. An irrelevant email arriving in an email inbox is far more irritating than finding the exact same content while scrolling through a Facebook news feed. While social media channels allow subscribers to “surf” content and post their own, email is a one-to-one, reciprocal relationship.
The days of loading a subscriber list into an email service provider (ESP) and blasting the same message to everyone are long gone. Your subscribers, like everyone, want information relevant to them. Otherwise, they unsubscribe, hit the spam button or, worse, ignore or delete your emails.
To implement a relevant email program, you need to get to know your subscribers and deploy smart, dynamic messaging. Again, ask yourself: Is my email relevant to my subscribers?
The following are four strategies you can implement to help you execute a relevant email marketing campaign: dynamic welcome series, triggered messages, unsubscribe landing page and ongoing testing.
Dynamic welcome series
A triggered welcome email is a perfect example of a relevant message. Your subscriber receives this message because they expressed interest in your email program by opting in. Because of this relevancy, welcome emails typically have a higher open rate than any other email you send.
Take advantage of this message. It is the first point of contact with your subscriber and your opportunity to set expectations for your email program. The message should contain the basic info, such as who you are and why they are receiving your email, but there is also an opportunity to tailor this messaging based on your subscriber’s behavior.
By using dynamic content in your welcome message, you can display content based on your new subscriber’s information. For example, if your opt-in form requires geographical information such as city or zip code, you can dynamically populate nearby stores or incentives unique to the location.
Another way to take advantage of the welcome message is to create a welcome series. It is important not to overwhelm your subscriber with too much information at once. A series of two or more emails can be more effective than cramming all your info into a single email. Consider sending a follow-up welcome email a week after the initial message that encourages them to like your Facebook page or download a whitepaper.
Whatever your goals are for your email program, utilize your welcome messages as an educational and personalized experience for your subscribers.
Triggered messaging based on subscriber behavior
In many cases, an “email address” may be the only piece of data you have for your subscribers. If email is the only identifying info you have on file, you can still learn about your subscribers through their behavior.
Major ESPs allow you to query your list and segment based on your subscriber’s email behavior. You can take this a step further and set up triggered emails based on this behavior as well. For example, if a subscriber has not opened an email in the past six months, you can have an email automatically deploy to remind them why they are receiving your emails and give them a chance to update their preferences or opt out completely.
Identifying and deploying personal messages to unengaged subscribers is just one example of utilizing subscriber behavior and triggered messaging. There many possible uses for this with any email campaign. Triggered emails are very effective (and relevant) and a lot less work than manually deploying campaigns.
Unsubscribe landing page
Unsubscribes can yield great insight into your campaign. At the very least, these are subscribers who are opening and clicking links in your email. Since they have taken the time to remove themselves respectfully, they may be willing to take a few more seconds to hear a final appeal.
Consider creating a landing page that offers subscribers one more chance to update their preferences and “opt down” rather than leaving completely. You can also use this page to offer other channels for your subscribers to stay in touch, such as your social pages, SMS, etc.
If there is nothing you can do to keep a subscriber, then find out why they are leaving. Ask them to provide a reason for unsubscribing. This feedback can be crucial to updating and improving to your overall email efforts moving forward.
Email decisions are often made by assumptions or perceptions of best practices. For example, your CEO thinks that the best time to send emails is 10 a.m. on Tuesdays or that putting the subscribers’ first name in the subject line will drive open rates. These are good ideas, but you can easily take these tactics from concepts to proven strategies by gathering real data to back them up.
Whether you employ multivariate content testing or simple A/B split testing for subject line, ongoing testing of your email efforts is key to the success of your campaign.
Think of testing as part of your ongoing email marketing efforts. There are countless elements in your email program that can be improved through testing. Continually try new tactics, but be sure to test your efforts to ensure they are working and not hindering your campaign’s success.
Through testing and responding to the analytics you gather, you are allowing your subscribers to tell you what is working or not working rather than taking shots in the dark.
There are many ways to improve your email marketing efforts, but the tactics described above can be applied rather quickly and can benefit any email campaign regardless of the industry. Even if you have very limited information on your subscribers, there is a lot to learn based solely on behavior and their interaction with your emails. Ultimately, you need to continually evaluate your email program, and always ask yourself: Is my email relevant to my subscribers?