Email marketing has remained one of the most effective ways to put a message in front of users, strengthen budding B2C relationships, and reestablish contact with lost opportunities like abandoned shopping carts, incomplete subscription or sign-up forms, or dormant customer accounts. It is direct, personal, and can be customized to deliver an immediate and relevant message to your target audience. So why isn’t your email marketing strategy as effective as you would like it to be?
All too often, marketers and business professionals find themselves facing one of the biggest hurdles when it comes to email marketing – how to keep their message from ending up in the trash bin before the recipient has even opened and read it. When that happens, it doesn’t even matter what your message has to say, because the whole thing is being ignored and deleted. Before you can deliver relevant and valuable content to someone by using email marketing, you have to deliver a message they want to read. Doing this is no small task, but it isn’t a herculean one either.
There are two pieces of information provided to your email recipients that make or break their decision to open and read it or toss it in the trash bin without looking further. The first piece of information, and actually the most critical of the entire email, is the subject line. What you may not be aware of, however, is that the second piece of information provided to a recipient before they open your message is the sender data, and this data can also cause many recipients to ignore a message in their inbox.
The Importance of Irresistible Email Subject Lines
Without a doubt, the subject line of any email is the single most important piece of information. You could be pitching a cure-all for every ailment known to humankind, exclusively through email marketing and offering it completely free of charge to those who respond, and no one will ever know about it if you cannot convince them – with the right subject line – to open the message and read the contents. How in the world can you do that when over 260 billion emails were sent and received every single day over the past year? According to statistical studies, the average office employee receives over 120 emails each day. That’s some tough competition for your single email message.
Using all capital letters, exclamation points or other punctuation, and emoticons do not draw positive attention to your email subject line, contrary to the beliefs held by quite a few marketers. In fact, those tactics actually create an immediate impression of junk mail, spam, blatant advertising, or other content that a user generally does not want in their email inbox. You can find a wealth of information to help you craft the perfect email subject lines for your marketing content, but here are a few tips to get you pointed in the right direction:
• Personalize the subject line whenever possible (recipient’s first name, at least)
• Create a sense of urgency in regard to acting upon the content within a certain time frame
• Front-load the subject line with the most important words in the subject line (some devices only display the first four or five words)
• Be specific about what the recipient can expect when they open and read the message or act upon the contents, and do not mislead them with false or dishonest statements
• Infuse the subject line with your unique personality, tone, or style of writing
• Make sure the subject line speaks clearly of the value contained within the message, or how it will benefit the recipient in some way
• Never stop testing the effectiveness of your subject lines and recycle the most successful ones
Many people are now accessing their email while they are on the go, using a variety of mobile devices to do so. Whether someone is viewing your message’s subject line on a desktop computer, tablet, iPad, smartphone, or even a smart watch or other device, make sure the message is simple, short, clear, and that the value or benefit to be found within the message is easy to understand. The importance of testing the effectiveness of your subject lines cannot be overstated, and you can find a variety of analytics tools to help you monitor the performance of your email marketing strategies. Aside from the few tips listed here, you should also make sure you truly know your audience – not only in terms of their basic demographic, but also what they want from you in terms of answering questions, solving problems, fulfilling wants, or meeting needs.
Sender Information: The Silent Killer of Effective Email Messages
Surprisingly enough, quite a few email recipients look at the sender data of a message and use that, and only that, to decide whether or not to toss it in the trash. Why do they make their decision based on who the message is from? Because the sender information is often a neon sign for spam, junk mail, or disinterested senders. If you are wondering why it makes such a significant difference, here’s why.
Many email inbox displays will show the first and last name of the sender. If there is no name at all, or some variation of “you cannot reply to this message,” you are already pushing your message toward a quick death by delete button. There are a few inbox displays that also show the email address of the sender, and those that don’t will reveal it if the user hovers over the sender name or selects it from their list of messages. When the sender’s email address is “do not reply” at any domain name, this typically tells a recipient right off the bat that you are not interested in hearing back from them unless they act upon a marketing CTA included in the message itself.
Here are a couple of things you can do to help you make the sender data of your email messages give the impression of investment in recipient engagement rather than disinterest in their actions.
Even if you don’t want recipients to reply to the message directly because it is a catch-all email address that no one actually checks, avoid using any variation of “do not reply” as the address. Make sure you do include a valid email address within the email message itself along with the instruction to contact you through it, rather than using the reply feature, if the recipient has questions, concerns, or wants further information before acting upon your message.
Use a first and last name of a real person at your company as the name of the sender, with their permission, of course. If this is not possible, use the name of your business and a department or division within your company that is relevant to what is being marketed in the email message. When you are sending an email newsletter or other type of generic content, like a list of tips or a how-to message, you can make the sender’s name specific to the content if you wish. For example, you could use “SEOBlast’s Tipsheet” or “Blog-o-mania Newsletter” as the sender’s name, but recipients generally prefer real names of people or companies.
Because people do receive a large amount of email on a daily basis, they are becoming more discerning in determining what is worthy of being read and what should, in their opinion, be promptly deleted. There are dozens of things you can do to the email content itself to make it more engaging, relevant, and appealing to your recipients, but it won’t do you any good at all if you can’t get them to read it in the first place. The information here will help you start crafting subject lines that get noticed and acted upon, and avoid using sender data that is an immediate turn-off for recipients.
Don’t let email marketing lose footing in your marketing arsenal simply because it does not seem to be working as effectively as you would like. A few changes here and there can turn a lackluster email strategy into a highly successful one, making it one of the most powerful marketing tools at your disposal.