Email marketing. Everyone should be doing it.
Yes, even in 2017, with all our SEOs, PPCs, SMM’s and whatnot, email marketing is still just as important as it ever was. It’s still the channel with the largest ROI, it still drives conversions and it still delivers your message to the public.
So how can you improve?
Glad you asked.
As you may know, I started my digital marketing career back in the early 2000s at an email marketing company so I know a little something about this very issue. The problems I saw then as a Technical Support Rep then aren’t very different at all from what I’m seeing now, almost a decade later. It all comes down to best practices.
With that in mind, here are five ways you can improve your email marketing for your business.
5. Stop Writing Novels
Remember how people a few years ago would always use the line ‘ain’t nobody got time for that?’ and we would all laugh and laugh, sigh and eventually become sick of hearing people say it because it got old?
Yeah, all that applies to reading your ridiculous ‘War and Peace’ length emails.
It starts out great, everybody likes it but then it’s like ‘OK, this should be wrapping up now..’ but it doesn’t. It keeps going. And going. Now we’re all sick of it and you.
Look, nobody but nobody wants to open an email from a company, organization, house of worship, fan club, zydeco band or anything else and be greeted with a wall of text that goes miles and miles down the page.
Ain’t nobody got time for that. Even if they did, how presumptuous is it of your brand to think they want to spend it reading about you for five hours? With the possible exception of people trapped on the toilet, I can almost guarantee you no one is looking to read your ‘long form content’ emails and even those currently on the crapper are probably checking Facebook or playing mobile games, not reading fifty thousand reasons why your latest widget is so great.
The ideal email length is 20 lines and some images. The end. That’s all.
Stop writing emails that make people’s eyes glaze over. Your marketing shouldn’t appear at first glance something people should have to endure.
You have more information? Great. Twenty lines and then throw a link to a landing page with the rest of the information. If they want it, they’ll click it. If they don’t click, they didn’t care anyway so you didn’t lose out on anything. If people can’t be bothered to click, they definitely won’t be bothered to convert.
4. Stop Spamming People
I get it, you want to stay in constant contact (see what I did there?!) with your audience and yes, email is a great way to do so but really, there’s a line.
It’s not hard to figure out if you think about it.
Say you have this friend who you like, right, and you like hearing from him to know what’s going on in his life and what he’s got going on for the weekend and things like that.
Follow me so far? Ok.
So lets say that this friend sends you an email in the morning about what he’s doing this weekend. Then he sends you another one around lunch time to tell you what he just bought at the store. Then he sends you another one around dinner time to tell you where he’s going to go tonight.
And let’s say this friend does this EVERY SINGLE DAY OF YOUR LIFE.
Are you going to be jumping for joy when you see his name appear in your inbox? You gonna keep on opening those emails from him? Are you going to have to have a sit down with this needy type of so and so that needs to understand that you have other things to do and enough is too much?
Yeah, you get my point when I put it that way, don’t you?
And in that example, this was someone you actually knew and had a somewhat friendly relationship – and he wasn’t even trying to sell you anything!
Yeah, if you want to crush your contact lists, be my guest, keep on harassing people who signed up. Even if they don’t opt out, they’ll (and I’m not making this up) ‘emotionally unsubscribe‘ from you. Basically, its when people on your list get your messages and go ‘God, not these *expletive deleted* again..’
Really, if you want to know how often to send your messages, just listen to what your subscribers say. There’s no magic number but come on, stop being ridiculous with your emailing everyday business model…no one does this anymore because all studies show that nearly all people hate it.
3. Stop Using Garbage Subject Lines
Step your writing game up. Plain and simple. I won’t tell you what you should do because then you’d have to pay me but I’ll tell you a few things not to do from my own personal preferences.
- If your subject line says ‘please don’t ignore!’ or ‘open now!’, I’m not opening this and I’m going to ignore you because it sounds like you’re either spamming or begging.
- If your subject line is so long that it requires me to scroll over or open the message on mobile just so I can read the whole thing, I’m deleting you.
- I know people seem to like them but if you’re like my stock broker or lawyer and you’re using emojis in your subject line, I’m deleting you and probably looking for a new broker/lawyer. (Stay on brand voice!)
If you don’t know what works, there are a lot of good tips and helpful articles out there but it always comes down to finding out what your particular audience responds to. What works for a targeted audience of boy band fans probably won’t work for investment bankers so target to your niche. Also, if you’re not A/B testing your subject lines to see what gets you the most response, you’ve failed.
So do it!
2. Know What Days & Times to Send Your Emails
If you’re sending out your emails on a Friday afternoon or a Monday morning, you’ve failed.
No one is going to read that. It’s always been that way and it probably always will. On Mondays, people are getting their work stuff going on and on Fridays people have already mentally checked out for the weekend.
Tuesdays and Thursdays have always been the best days to send marketing emails traditionally and for good reason. You can learn more about that here.
Moreover, it isnt just the day of the week but the time of day you need to concern yourself with when scheduling your sends. Even though it isn’t as much of a consideration as it would be with something like Social Media marketing, knowing the right time of day to hit your audience’s inbox is also a big piece of the puzzle.
1. STOP BUYING, RENTING, HARVESTING, LEASING (INSERT ANY OTHER WORD THAN ORGANICALLY, OPTED IN HERE) CONTACT LISTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Don’t do this. Just don’t do this. It’s 2017 and people in the email marketing industry have been screaming this from the rafters for over 10 years and there are some people out there that are still doing this.
I don’t care if you’re buying a list, renting a list, leasing a list, harvesting a list, paying a “data mining” service or whatever else you call it, this is not going to work.
Let’s go over the reasons this is the worst thing you could POSSIBLY do to yourself:
- You have no idea how the service “acquired” these addresses. Yeah, they can tell you anything but how do you know? This is literally trusting a shady salesman that says ‘trust me! This is the real deal, high quality stuff!’…come on, now.
- Most major email marketing companies like iContact, Constant Contact, etc. all have policies that basically state ‘if you use a bought, rented or harvested list and we catch you, you’re kicked off of our service, you spammer.’ and for very good reasons.
- You know what the fastest way to get marked as spam and have email ISPs think you’re a filthy spammer is? That’s right. Buying a list of people who don’t know who you are
- Want to crash your sender score? Go ahead, rent or buy a list.
- Most of the time, spam emails like the ones that you’ll end up sending from these horrible list rental places, don’t even make it to the person’s inbox because they get caught in spam traps/firewalls and the ones that do hardly ever get opened. The email addresses are usually old or not monitored even if they don’t actually return a bounce. So what did you just pay all that money for?
- You can take a fraction of that money you’re about to pay some shady company to ‘data mine’ and get you ‘qualified email addresses’ and use it for a good, targeted social media, PPC or content marketing campaign and probably do so much better than spamming people.
- You’d better learn what CAN-SPAM is. That line you’re on couldn’t be any finer.
Look, real talk: the only people recommending that you do this are people trying to sell you a list.
When’s the last time you even looked at an email in your inbox from a company you never heard of? When’s the last time an email from a company you never heard of actually made it to your inbox, especially since almost everyone uses Gmail these days. I thought so.
So why are you still trying to trick people with these spammy tactics?
There is no good reason for this. It’s WAY TOO EASY to collect clean, opted in contacts for your lists from people that actually want your messages. Put a sign up form on your page, collect addresses with a fishbowl on your counter, promote your email newsletter via paid social, something…just STOP SPAMMING. There’s zero excuse for this.
The Bottom Line
Email marketing is not hard. When in doubt follow the 3 basic Smokehouse SEO Golden Rules of Email Marketing:
- Don’t send unto others nonsense, walls of text and self-promotional garbage that you wouldn’t want others to send unto you
- Know your audience and thou shalt know what to send and when
- Don’t be a filthy, filthy spammer. Useth thine own opted in email addresses at all times.
That’s all there is to it.