April 27, 2016
You’ve sent out thousands of e-mails. You know most of what you’ve sent out will never be opened, but you’ve tried everything to change that.
What is the key? Is there some magical way to foster a readership, or what?
What is it that drives successful e-mail campaigns? It’s hard to tell, and it causes you to question if you’ve got qualitative e-mail being leveled at potential clients.
Apparently these tactics work, as you’ve seen others successfully use them.
There is a method to writing strong e-mails that definitely engage readers. Part of that method involves creating subject lines that are impossible to ignore.
10 Tips to Help You Produce Really, Really Good E-mail Content
Quantified through practice over the last 20 years, following are 10 tips which will help you create stronger e-mails that will be much more effective.
1. The Power of Relationship
According to the following pie chart from ExactTarget, the most used contact channel is e-mail.
More than 90 percent, in fact. ExactTarget has also stated that 77 percent of buyers prefer marketing contact of the permission-based kind via e-mail. This means how your e-mail appears to a client mustn’t encourage a bad perception of your business or services.
- Structure content and titles to be useful in a way that encourages positive relationship.
- Subject lines shouldn’t look mass-produced; they should feel personable.
- Content should apply to those who receive it.
If you continuously send useless information to clients unlikely to buy in the first place, you’ll lose them before they’ve even explored what you’re selling. Building relationship means taking more time to consider those with whom you’re communicating. It’s much too easy in the digital age to neglect actual contact in lieu of bureaucracy.
2. Personalize Your Content
Content that has been individually tailored is more likely to be useful. Subject lines that have been personalized will be 22.2 percent more likely to be read than those which haven’t been. In fact, based on the subject line alone, one in three (33 percent) people may not even open the e-mail.
3. Be Brief
The shorter the subject line, the more likely it is to be opened. It turns out that 58 percent of subject lines with less than 10 characters are opened.
4. Play The Numbers
About 50 percent of a contact list is going to be actively clicking on e-mails and opening them. This means that even if you don’t have the resources to personalize all the content (if you’ve got a 20,000-person list, the time involved eats at potential profit heavily), a concise, personalized subject line will increase the chances your message is received and acted on. There is a ratio that is individual to your business that will determine the proper level of personalization-to-contact-list. It may require several successful campaigns to get the formula just right, but considering it is important.
5. Provide Value
Seventy percent of people with e-mail accounts say they’ve made use of either a discount or a coupon that came from a major marketing e-mail putsch the week before. That’s seven out of 10. If you’re being brief, personalizing your content, fostering relationship, and playing the numbers, you should be able to quantify positive results from a well-managed e-mail marketing campaign.
Providing value means knowing your clients, too, and structuring e-mails accordingly. For example, among B2B companies, there are a number of short words that are statistically proven to increase your e-mails value to recipients.
6. Think Mobile
Approximately 64 percent of clients that will make a decision are doing that from a mobile device. Remember in the previous tip, where it said “it may require several successful campaigns to get the formula just right?” Well, that applies here, too. As it turns out, 39 percent of people in marketing have no strategy whatsoever for mobile e-mail. That means when you send out a mass e-mail, you need to start taking into account how it’s going to affect the increasingly mobile demographic. Doing this alone will give you a competitive edge over one in three of the marketers out there. It’s not quite two out of three at 39 percent; so one guy and his buddy’s arm, perhaps.
Demographic is also a big part of thinking mobile. In general, some good tips for a mobile e-mail are:
- Be Brief
- Be Authoritative
- Incorporate as Much Personalization As Is Possible
- Provide Immediate Value
7. Establish Dependency
Dependency means making it so that e-mail recipients come to “depend” on the content of your e-mail. This can be done through things like humor and direct value. While humor is a more risky proposition, direct value is all around worthwhile.
Here’s an example of direct value: since 72 percent of B2B buyers have a likelihood of sharing useful content via e-mail, it makes sense to take time structuring your own content, such that it’s the kind of thing people want to share. This means not only is the implication of the content valuable, the content itself is valuable.
Some ways to do this are:
- Include useful tips and tricks related to your constituency’s occupation.
- Provide statistics demonstrating positive trends.
- Offer regular coupons and discounts.
Do this often enough, and you’ll have a readership that grows on its own and may have a greater demand for your e-mails than you’re initially able to support.
A newsletter is a great way to do this, but be careful not to get obnoxious with it if you’re playing the “useful” card. You can only actually advertise so much before you’ll start losing conversions.
8. Avoid All Appearance of Spam
If spam weren’t somewhat successful, people wouldn’t still use it. The thing is, it isn’t respectable, and conversions from spam are far lower than they will be for personalized e-mails—at least according to all the statistics explored so far. Eighty-four percent of all e-mail traffic in 2016 will be spam. This is a statistic you do not want to be considered part of, even if there’s a technical truth to it.
9. Use Available Stats to Determine E-mail Practices
This graphic is an e-mail benchmark compilation from SilverPop showing statistics for click-rates through 2015. Since SilverPop has been purchased by IBM, these numbers are representative of larger businesses. As you can see, depending on the service you’re offering, you’re going to get more or less successful responses. This means depending on what you sell, you should allocate more or less time to personalization. In this chart, consumer products and non-profits do much better than anything else, meaning it’s not unthinkable to downsize personalization slightly, should the cost of implementing it be something which needs trimmed.
(Image source, Smart Insights: http://tinyurl.com/llkfsds)
10. The Customer Is Always Right
Whether or not an e-mail is spam, estimates are that 21 percent of e-mail is reported as such by recipients even if they know for sure it isn’t.
This may be a passive-aggressive way of punishing marketers, or it may be a justifiable response to e-mail inundation. Either way it’s a statistic that should cause you to do everything in your power to be pleasing to potential customers in a way that is affordable.
Obviously no one has the time to write personalized e-mails to 20,000 individual recipients; but you can chop them up by demographic and at the very least sort broad categories to discourage immediate dismissal.
Putting Your New Knowledge to Work
If you put these practices to work, you won’t have to wonder at the magic of others’ success any longer. Statistically, quantifiably, you can increase the effectiveness of e-mail marketing directly.
Build a good relationship with your potential customers that has loads of personal content, but isn’t overwhelming. Brevity is the soul of wit, as Oscar Wylde once wrote. It’s quantifiable, in fact, and that’s why you should play the numbers and see what particular practices work best for your business.
If you’re providing value to customers, they’re more likely to share your programs and increase the effectiveness of your sales. Coupons and discounts are a great way to do this.
Don’t forget to think in mobile terms, as mobile technology increases, and many marketers plum forget this. Establishing dependency is a good method across the board, and if you can do it in a mobile way, all the better.
You won’t be a depended on source or a mobile seller if your e-mail has too much of a spam appearance to it, so use reliable statistics to ensure the best practices are being used, and the “sales” to “personalization” quotient is at its most profitable.
Remember, at the end of the day, the customer is always right. There’s no use getting them angry at you before they’ve even had a chance to try your product. So write good, brief e-mails that bring direct value, and see how your marketing effectiveness increases.
Julia McCoy is a top 30 content marketer and has been named an industry thought leader by several publications. She enjoys making the gray areas of content marketing clear with practical training, teaching, and systems. Her career in content marketing was completely self-taught. In 2011, she dropped out of college to follow her passion in writing, and since then grew her content agency, Express Writers, to thousands of worldwide clients from scratch. Julia is the author of two bestselling books on content marketing and copywriting, and is the host of The Write Podcast. Julia writes as a columnist on leading publications and certifies content strategists in her training course, The Content Strategy & Marketing Course. Julia lives in Austin, Texas with her daughter, husband, and one fur baby.