There’s a lot of hype about social media right now, and some business owners are actually starting to believe that there’s no need to bother with email lists. After all, social media can send you tons of traffic, right?
That may be true, but smart marketers know that building a list is still as necessary today as it ever was. And still as effective. No other channel has ever come close to the ROI (return on investment) that email marketing offers.
For each dollar you spend on your email campaign, you can make up to $43 back. That’s a whopping 4300%!
So, if you’re already building (or growing) a list of email subscribers, then Bravo! But if not, it’s time to get started turning all that traffic into a useful email list that you’ll be able to market to over and over again without having to pay for the privilege each time you do so.
But, building a list that you can monetize effectively isn’t only about continually adding new subscribers. It’s also about tracking important email marketing metrics, and doing what you can to improve your email open rates and your CTR (click-through rates).
Use the tips in this article to help you run more effective (and profitable) email campaigns starting right now.
1. Never Buy Email Addresses
While this may seem like a quick and easy solution for anyone who wants to see fast results in their email campaign, it’s never a good idea to buy an email list. It may be tempting in the early days: Rather than slog for days, or even weeks, to win emails from dozens of people, you can actually get it done in a few minutes and kickstart your email campaign!
But, please, resist the urge because that won’t benefit your business in any way. The owners of the emails you’re purchasing didn’t agree to receive your content, and there’s no knowing how interested they’ll be, or even if they are a good fit for what you offer. Also, buying lists is now in violation of the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), something we will talk more about below.
2. Follow CAN-SPAM Rules
CAN-SPAM stands for Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing. Passed in 2003, this is an act that establishes commercial email/message rules. It gives recipients the right to stop businesses emailing them, and outlines specific penalties that will be incurred by anyone who violates the law.
You need to make sure that your email messages are compliant to these rules. You can find out everything you need to know on the FTC website, but some highlights are:
- Including a valid postal address with each email sent out
- Making the unsubscribe options clear and obvious in every email
- Using clear ‘To’, ‘From’, and ‘Reply to’ to accurately show who you are
3. Have a GDPR-Compliant Opt-in Process
By now, everyone has heard of the GDPR, a law that was enacted in May 2018 all across Europe. This was done in an effort to offer more protection to the personal data of internet users. This is a complex piece of legislation and it would be impossible to memorize it, but if you have email recipients that live in Europe, use this one major guideline when developing your email campaigns:
If the page you use on your website to solicit personal information from your visitors has that little prechecked box for opting users into your email campaign (for them to receive newsletters, updates, and special offers from your business), make sure that it’s unchecked for all your European users.
Having that box checked violates GDPR. Your users and customers need to make the decision to sign up for your email campaign for themselves. All you can do is to give them a clear option for opting into your email list.
At first glance, this may sound like a rule that spells bad news for your email campaign, but in actual fact, it can improve your email open and CTR rates. How?
By limiting your subscriber list only to those people who specifically want to join it, you ensure that your messages are received by only the most interested individuals, and this vastly increases the chances of converting those readers to qualified leads with your email marketing efforts.
4. Promptly Email New Contacts
Email your subscribers in the first 24 hours after they sign up. Take advantage of that window of opportunity when your business is at the top of their mind to cement your brand and set expectations. It’s also a great way to get a pulse of future engagement. You often know how people will engage with your emails by what they do in that first 24 hours of subscribing to your list.
If your automated email workflows aren’t set up yet, you’ll be missing out on vast opportunities to engage and nurture not only the new contacts but your existing ones as well.
You can use your email autoresponder service to create personalized email workflows that trigger automatically in various ways, such as when a contact is added to your list, clicks on a link within your email message, submits a form on your site, views a page on your blog, clicks on your Google Search Ads (formerly Google Adwords), or if they become a qualified lead.
5. Send Emails as a Person, And Not a Company
Email open rates increase when emails are sent from real people as opposed to companies. This is something that has been tested and proven to be true in every industry, and the reason it works is that your email recipients are less likely to trust a generic sender name and email than a personalized one.
Everyone is inundated with so much spam these days that they hesitate to open any email from senders they aren’t familiar with. That’s why it’s always better to go with a sender name and address that are personalized as opposed to a generic one.
Using your name and company name together also works well, too, like ‘YourName@YourCompany.com’. Just remember to split test to find out what works best for your own business, industry, and subscribers.
6. Set the Email Preview Text
Certain email clients (like Gmail, Outlook, iPhone Mail app, etc.) will display a snippet of text from your email message along with the subject line. This gives the users a preview of what’s contained in your email. Exactly how much text is shown depends on individual email clients and their user settings.
You can leverage this to provide a short summary of your offer. Keep it under 50 characters and make sure it’s to-the-point. If you don’t set the preview text, your email client will automatically take some from your email body. This looks messy and unprofessional, and it’s also a wasted chance to engage your email audience.
7. Create Clickable Subject Lines
You already know how important your email subject lines are. You’re competing with A LOT of other marketers in your recipients’ inboxes, so your best chance of having your emails opened is to write compelling subject lines that they can’t help but click on.
Use the following tips to write the best subject lines for your emails:
- Use fewer than 50 characters
- Make sure the subject lines are clear and easy to understand
- Use exciting language that’s attractive to your target audience
- Include action-oriented words to create a sense of urgency
- Include exclusive value propositions such as, 20% off something, or a free ebook, etc. so they know what they’re getting.
- Avoid spam triggers, such as ‘Cash’, ‘Save’, ‘Quote’, etc.
- Include the subscriber’s first name/location for your most important offers (don’t overuse this)
8. Keep Emails Concise
Your subscribers’ inboxes are already packed full, so why add to all that with long-winded emails? Short, concise emails generally perform better than long ones. Send emails with an obvious focus so that when your users scan through their emails, they are more likely to get the overall message in your email before they decide to take action.
Also, too much copy in your emails is a red flag for most spam filters. That’s another reason to send short, compelling emails. If your email must be longer than usual, try to break it up into many paragraphs. The visual breaks will make skimming it a lot easier for your readers.
9. Include a CTA Button in Your Emails
Most people will simply scan your email without taking the time to read all the copy. That’s why it’s important to have a clear CTA (call to action) button that is easy for them to spot. Place it where it can be seen easily and where it makes sense for your subscribers to click on the button.
Without this button, you’re not able to call on your audience to take the desired action that will benefit them (and grow your business). Adding a CTA button to your email is something that you can do quickly and easily no matter which email tool you’re using.
10. CTA Images Must Contain Alt Text
A lot of email clients block images by default – and that includes your CTA buttons, which means the majority of your email recipients won’t get to see your beautifully optimized call to action. Instead, they’ll see the ‘alt text’ of the image, if you’ve set it.
For those who want to complete the action (signup, download, etc.), the alt text lets them know where they can click if they can’t view the image. To add the alt text to your email image, you can do so manually in your email tool’s HTML editor or you can simply go to the rich text editor and right click the image, and enter the text.
11. Hyperlink Email Images
Your main goal in all your email marketing campaigns is to get your audience to click through to web pages. One way of increasing your CTR (click-through rate) is by hyperlinking the images in the email to webpages that correspond with the image content. This helps you to achieve your main goal without the need to litter your copy with links.
If, for instance, you’re inviting your subscribers to download a copy of your free ebook, you can have a picture of that particular book and hyperlink it, as well as the text telling readers to ‘download it here’. This works because people are more attracted to images than to text. Also, you want to offer your audience as many options for getting to your ebook as possible.
12. Have One or More Clickable Element above the Fold
If you want to make your emails more clickable, then try placing at least one clickable element above the fold. This could be a text link, CTA button, or clickable image. Put the item near the beginning of your email to encourage more clicks.
This works particularly well with mobile users as they tend to scroll more, sometimes pinching, squinting, and zooming. When you give recipients something actionable that they can see upon opening the email in such an environment, it makes it more likely that they will click on it.
These are just a few things that you can start doing right now to immediately improve your email open rates, click-through rates, and your overall lead generation capabilities. There are tons of other suggestions that we are going to look at in future posts, including:
- Adding social sharing (not follow) buttons to your emails
- Using ready-made tweets in your emails to simplify sharing
- Adding email forwarding options to extend clicks beyond your email’s shelf life
- Cleaning up your email’s plain-text version (since not everyone gets the pretty HTML, rich-text option)
- Optimizing your email for mobile users
- And, finally, cleaning up your contact list.
You also have to learn which metrics are the most important to track, such as your open rates, CTR, bounce rate, and conversion rate. Keeping an eye on these numbers will help you to determine how well your email campaign is performing and also to see where improvements need to be made.
Use the tips you’ve learned here to send compelling offers to your target audience, and pay attention to those little details that go into your emails so you can increase your opens and clicks, and ultimately generate more leads and sales!
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