We set out to ask some of the best marketers what their counter intuitive tips are for using email to get customers responding. They were nice enough to share with us their ideas.
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- Keep it short
- The most important part of any email is the subject line
- Straight-forward, non-sexy subject lines can be very successful
- Baby Boomers want a clean and simple subject line
- Use subject lines like text messages
- Imagine your email as a mini webpage
- Use customer logic, not company logic
- E-newsletter goes to PEOPLE, not businesses, so make it highly personal
- Try a short sentence
- Use a digest in your emails
- Remove as much design and styling from your email newsletter as possible
- Don’t overuse images in your newsletter
- Do not market your content by using the title of your content
- Use the lightest possible touch
- Split your email up into micro conversions
- Offer something of value, but do not give any kind of sales pitch
- Be a little negative
- Your mailing list should consist of people, who are actually interested in your product
- Tell non-responsive fans you’re going to remove them from your list
- Send re-engagement emails
- Use a real person’s address as the reply to
- Click-throughs and emails opened statistics don’t matter
Before writing your next marketing email, ask yourself, “What do you want to get out of this email? – @BigCommerce
By Allie Lockhart, Public Relations at Bigcommerce
According to a recent study, the attention span of an average adult is 8 seconds. Keeping your email marketing short, sweet, and to the point will help you focus on both your goals and those of your customers. Before you start writing your next marketing email, ask yourself, “What do you want to get out of this email? What do you want your customer to get out of the email?” Knowing this will help you get straight to the point. It will also help you draft a clear Call to Action (CTA) that helps guide the recipients towards what you want them to do, whether it’s reading you educational information, starting a trial, or taking advantage of any other offer you may be including.
If you’re featuring a resource, make the clear in the subject line – @RtMixMktg
By Tom Treanor, Director of Marketing at Wrike
Use numbered lists in the subject line. Just as people love numbered lists for blog posts and social media, people will be more like to open an email that provides “3 Secrets”, “10 Resources” or “5 Steps”.
If you’re featuring a resource, make the clear in the subject line. For a webinar or a guide, I usually call it out in brackets like the following: 5 Step Process to Improving Team Productivity [Webinar].
If you’re featuring a resource, make the clear in the subject line – @Tom_Treanor
This clearly explains what’s in the email and also makes it stand out from most of the other emails.
Start to A/B test your headlines. Most email marketing or marketing automation systems include a way to test out two or more versions of a headline. Start to take advantage of this capability to boost your email open rates.
By Ian Greenleigh, Author of “The Social Media Side Door”
One insight that surprised me is that straight-forward, non-sexy subject lines can be very successful – @be3d
Some of the best and most counter-intuitive email data comes from MailChimp. For example, open rates are negatively affected by the words help, percent off, and reminder. One insight that frankly surprised me is that straight-forward, non-sexy subject lines can be very successful. I wouldn’t have thought that [COMPANYNAME] Sales & Marketing Newsletter was a winner, but in their study it received between a 60% – 87% open rate.
Be simple and classic and think about what your target audience wants to read – @Freuler
By Patrick Freuler, Founder/CEO of Audicus
While today’s trends seem to be sending open ended email subject lines to intrigue the reader, this only works with certain demographics. Email marketing to baby boomers is unique in its field. Consider including clean and simple subject lines. When an email appears in someone’s inbox, the subject line is the first thing they see. Be simple and classic and think about what your target audience wants to read.
By LisaMarie Dias, Social Media and Email Marketing Strategy for LisaMarie Dias Designs
Many email marketing ‘experts’ suggest short, catchy subject lines but I recommend longer ones – @LisaMarieDias
I know that many email marketing ‘experts’ suggest short, catchy subject lines but I recommend longer ones, especially when sending event announcements or reminders. Something like ‘Optimizing Your LinkedIn Profile Webinar June 6 @ noon (ET)’ will serve as an announcement or reminder, even if they don’t click thru to see the entire email. It is a way to send a message, like a text to them via their inbox. Even if they delete, without opening, hopefully the info is seen and registers!
By Michael Erwin, Web Designer at Cloudsmith Studio
Imagine every marketing email that you send is like a mini webpage – @MisterMichael
It’s easy to think of email marketing as just some text. Instead, imagine every marketing email that you send is like a mini webpage.
The purpose of the message should be immediately obvious. Don’t ramble through 500 words before the reader knows what you are saying. The message title and image should be clear indications of your intent. The message must look great on a wide variety of devices or in other words, be designed responsively. It is just as likely that the reader will be using a smartphone as it is a desktop.
And just like any good marketing web page, there should be one clear call to action within the message.
You really need to put yourself in the mind of your customer when crafting your emails – @BryanMclayton
By Bryan Clayton, CEO of GreenPal
The biggest mistake I see is entrepreneurs writing their emails using company logic as opposed to customer logic. You really need to put yourself in the mind of your customer when crafting your emails. Run your email copy by friends and strangers. Get a feedback, because its so challenging to get out of your own skin.
By Emily Staley, Media Specialist at Boileau Communications Management
The e-newsletter goes to PEOPLE, not businesses, and we want to make a personal connection with our clients.
Showcase your product or service with something timely and relevant to your customers. Example: We wanted to show our video production chops, so around Christmas time we produced an original Christmas video card instead of the traditional mail types. Link to our video Christmas Card here.
Make the e-newsletter highly personal. We poke fun at industry trends and feature favorite clients. The e-newsletter goes to PEOPLE, not businesses, and we want to make a personal connection with our clients.
I’ve used the 9 word email in my marketing and get a great response – @BrianStefanelli
By Brian Stefanelli, Co-Founder of WeDoPortfolios.com
I’ve used the 9 word email in my marketing and get a great response. These have lead to several signups for our web design service. Here’s an example of one: “Still looking for a web designer for your interior design business?” This technique tends to work best when following up with leads.
Consider listing 3-4 different topics discussed to give readers more options to click – @MichaelJuba
By Mike Juba, Content Marketing Specialist at EZSolution
Consider listing 3-4 different topics discussed to give readers more options to click, along with a visual and call to action button. Our click throughs have increased from readers having the option to what they want to read, instead of how it used to be a one topic email.
Send real emails as part of your newsletter campaigns, and you’ll experience higher engagement – @UsabilityGuyPGH
By John Turner, CEO of UsersThink
The actually important emails we receive are normally from one person to another, often just typed in a browser or phone app. They have very little format to them, and look like someone just typed into a mail app.
That’s how your newsletters should look too. They should look like one person emailing another person, not a prepackaged piece of marketing material. It feels counterintuitive, but we all emotionally filter out the marketing emails from the real ones. Send real emails as part of your newsletter campaigns, and you’ll experience higher engagement.
Emails should be sensibly balanced with at least two lines of text per picture – @PaulFord
By Paul Ford, VP of Product & Marketing at SendGrid
Marketers are often tempted to go big on visuals, but forget that they increase the risk of emails being classified as spam. If images are unavoidable, emails should be sensibly balanced with at least two lines of text per picture.
Do not use the content’s headline in the newsletter – @Brentrt
By Brent Turner, SVP, Solutions, Cramer
If you are using your newsletter to promote content on your site (like a blog post) do not use the content’s headline in the newsletter. For example, the headline on your blog post should set up the story on that page. The headline in your newsletter needs to market your piece. Digital-first media publishers are now doing this more and more (see Mashable, MIT Technology Review, Upworthy), but marketers rarely think to do this.
Before you send a newsletter, test your copy quickly and easily on social media – @Brentrt
Before you send, test your copy quickly and easily on social media. Use social media to get a quick sense of how you should promote the content. For example, on Twitter, you can put our three different headlines for your content. If one takes off, go with it. You don’t need perfect tests with controls and statistical significance – just ‘testing the water’ is better than ‘taking one bite at an apple.’
We send out an email and simply say, “We just thought you’d like to see this.” The result? Website traffic – @ExcelSportswear
By Mary Van Tyne, Marketing Communications Manager at Excel Sportswear
Our company designs and prints custom T-shirts and we produce hundreds of awesome designs for our customers every month. We send out an email and simply say, “We just thought you’d like to see this.” The result? Website traffic – and corresponding sales from our website – went up 30% in 2014.
The goal of the email is to get a click. Do not try to make or close the sale in the email – @BryanMclayton
Bryan Clayton, CEO of GreenPal
The goal of the email is to get a click. Do not try to make or close the sale in the email.
Here’s some of the features of the email:
Subject: Just get the open
Sub head: Peak their curiosity
Header: Convert that curiosity into interest
Body: Quickly point out what you’re going to do for them
CTA (call to action): Get them to the landing page
By Ian Aronovich, Co-founder and CEO at Government Auctions
No matter how disguised your marketing pitch is, your recipients will gauge that you have an agenda – @GovtAuctions
This is counterintuitive because most marketers will want to include a plug for their service or product ever so slight. But the truth is, no matter how disguised your marketing pitch is, email recipients will almost always gauge that you have an agenda. And when you have an agenda, they subconsciously won’t trust you. However, if you keep sending them something of value in every email, and without any pitch whatsoever, they will let their guard down and you can most likely get them to do what you want without even asking them.
By Amanda Johnson, Marketing Manager at OutboundEngine
Negativity is a highly underrated marketing strategy. Marketers shy away from negativity because they don’t want to run the risk of pulling a Debbie Downer on their customer base. But sometimes negative equals provocative. By putting a slightly negative angle on your content, you can reference pain points, address your customers’ fears, offer a solution to a problem.
Negativity is a highly underrated marketing strategy – @OutboundEngine
For example, OutboundEngine recently created an infographic for real estate agents about how to fail at real estate. At first glance it paints a doom-and-gloom picture of their business, but it’s actually a tool on how to more effectively spend their marketing dollars, not a plot to send them into a spiral of depression. As long as you end your problem-focused content with a silver lining about how to solve it, going negative is barely a risk at all. Just don’t overdo it.
By David Waring, Editor at Fit Small Business
Make sure that the people who are signing up for your list are actually interested in your product – @DavidWaring
Increasing your email signup conversion rate is not always a good thing. Many companies make the mistake of offering high converting free email bait on their website that does not get the prospect any closer to actually purchasing their product. In addition to your list not engaging with you, this makes it hard to figure out what the people on your list who are actually potential customers want, as your tests will be clouded by all those on your list that have no interest in your product or service.
If you want an email list that engages and responds, start by making sure that the people who are signing up for your list are people that are actually interested in your product or service.
By Megan Feltes, Email Marketing Specialist at Rockhouse Partners
The best “trick” I learned for re-engaging email subscribers was saying goodbye – @MeganFeltes
Back in my sales days, the best “trick” I learned for re-engaging email subscribers was saying goodbye. It was born out of frustration. After working to get folks to sign up for information about a product, they just fell off the face of the earth and never responded to anything in our lead nurturing series. Finally, we created a “Sorry to see you go” campaign targeted to non-responders to let them know we’re removing them from our list unless we heard from them. The idea of casting off subscribers was a hard pill to swallow, and a bit of a hard sell to our marketing team. In the end, we were surprised to see responses flowing in. Many people we had never heard back from reached out to us directly to let us know they were still interested and led to closing some deals we had written off as lost for good. And as an added bonus, we were able to pare down our list and re-focus our efforts on active responders again. Today, we call those win-back campaigns.
If recipients don’t respond to the re-engagement email, remove them from the list – @Jennag812
By Jenna Gross, CMO at Moving Targets
Send these to subscribers who haven’t opened an email for a long period of time (usually 6 months to a year). This simple email says something along the lines of: “We noticed you haven’t opened our emails in the past few months. Are you still interested in receiving them?” If recipients don’t respond to the re-engagement email, remove them from the list. This tactic can help you in the long run by reestablishing a connection with some you thought were lost as well as removing people who may flag you as spam in the future.
Reach out personally after someone unsubscribes from your email list – @Jennag812
Reach out personally after someone unsubscribes from your email list. Users are accustomed to a barrage of confirmation receipts, ridiculous surveys and it-can-take-a-week-to-remove-you-from-the-list emails after pulling the plug on their subscriptions. Reaching out to see how you could have provided more value may afford some priceless lessons on how to prevent more unsubscribes in the future.
When you ask a question in the newsletter, people will be more willing to reply and engage with you – @SBriggman
By Salvador Briggman, Founder of CrowdCrux.com
It seems more natural to use a no-reply or some kind of generic company email, but by using a real person’s email (who is running marketing for your company), you will increase the amount of feedback you get. When you ask a question in the newsletter, people will be more willing to reply and engage with you. In addition, if they forward your email along to a friend, the friend has a more direct way of getting in touch with you. That could lead to sales or PR.
By Adam Barnhart, Marketing Director at AllProWebTools
Use tracking URLs to find out: What pages people are visiting on your website after clicking throughs – @Barnhart007
Well, they matter a little bit. But they’re less than half the story.
Email marketers should be focusing on more specific statistics:
- Use A/B split testing to find out what kinds of buttons get the most engagement
- Use tracking URLs to find out:
- What pages people are visiting on your website after clicking throughs
- Sales generated (in dollars) from each campaign
Keeping those higher level statistics in mind can help you craft emails that are the most expertly targeted to your list. Emails opened really just tells you how good your subject line was, and how well-loved your brand is by your list. Email click-throughs give you a little more information, but are hugely over-rated.
Many companies fail to track their phone leads as accurately as they track their web leads – @Pennylaaaane
By Lexie Bond, Content Marketing Manager at Blue Corona
When it comes to tracking the success of online marketing strategies like email, many companies fail to track their phone leads as accurately as they track their web leads. This is a huge mistake! We’ve found that in the home service industry, phone leads can outnumber web leads 8:1. Imagine how skewed our client’s data would be if we didn’t track phone leads!
By sending responsive emails you instantly give yourself a competitive advantage – @PaulodeF
By Paul de Fombelle, Director, Global Development at Mailify
According to Litmus, 51% of all emails are now opened on a mobile device, but 70% of consumers immediately disregard an email that doesn’t render properly on mobile devices. By sending responsive emails or emails that adapt to the screen size/device a reader is using, you instantly give yourself a competitive advantage.
Many marketers ignore email preheaders: those are usually filled with the default text – @ixez89
By Alexander Bekhterev, Chief Marketing Officer at Era81.com
Many marketers ignore email preheaders: those are usually filled with the default text such as If you have trouble reading this email, read the online version. This piece of writing is displayed after your subject line. Why to lose this valuable space? Write there more stirring up details.