3 Rules for Email Marketing ROI Excellence

Writing emails that encourage your subscribers to take the action you desire is about a lot more than clever copy. (Though that helps.) Here are some other aspects that can make the difference between acceptable open and click-through rates, and breakthrough email marketing ROI success.

1. Don’t Get Deleted

First and foremost, as a content marketer you have think about your subscribers and how the react to emails in their inbox. I may be an extreme example, but I have 500 emails land in my inbox every day — at a minimum.

Yes, there’s a good bit of spam in there, and at the other end of the spectrum, quite a few emails from clients, colleagues, and even family and friends. (Though not from anyone under the age of 30. They all text …)

Most marketing emails land in the middle — not spam, not critically important. That’s certainly true in my inbox, where the middle consists of emails I’ve signed up for that I may read one day and delete the next. So how can you make sure your emails are read more often than they’re deleted?

Start with a subject line that makes it clear what’s in it for the subscriber. Let them know what they’re about to read. Subject lines like, “Andigo Newsletter” (which, I’m embarrassed to admit we did ourselves last month) isn’t terribly effective unless you are a truly beloved presence in your subscribers’ inboxes. (Non-profits, celebrities, etc.) Otherwise, assume you aren’t quite as beloved as you’d like to be and make it clear what’s in it for them to read further.

Also be sure that your from name or send name is clear. If it’s not clear who the email is from, the email is more likely to be deleted. For example, we invoice via email and had a client we always had to chase down for payment. We finally realized that he didn’t recognize our bookkeeper’s name, so he deleted the emails from her. Once we changed the from name to “Andigo Accounting,” we solved the problem. (And this even though “Andigo Invoice” was already the subject line. Don’t assume your recipients are reading both the subject line and the from name. They may be reading just one or the other.)

Above all, you need to remain relevant. Don’t be offended when you lose subscribers. They may no longer be in the market for your services. Do be offended if you don’t see the open rates and CTRs at their expected levels. And do something about it. This is where A/B and other testing is incredibly important.

2. Don’t Get Blocked

Avoid spammy words in both your subject lines and your body copy. Think twice before including free offers and other known trigger words.

Most commercial email service providers have excellent deliverability records and strong relationships with ISPs. (Those relationships are why your mail service has strict rules about who you can and can’t send mail to.) If you have a commercial service provider you’re probably fine. But it can still make sense to talk to your IT team about ensure your DNS records include the appropriate SPF and DKIM entries for any source of outgoing email bearing your domain, including your website and your email service provider.

3. Don’t Get Dismissed

If you’ve made it this far, don’t ruin your chances when you’re so close to the finish line. Be sure your emails are mobile friendly. Check your stats to see whether mobile is a big part of your audience and to see if there is a gap between mobile and desktop in engagement.

Make sure your content is scannable with plenty of white space and judicious use of images. Long stretches of text without any graphics to break things up is bad, but don’t overdo it on the graphics, as slow-to-load emails get deleted in a hurry.

Consider a mix of content for immediate consumption in the email environment and longer form content that drives folks back to your website. Ultimately, that’s where you’re going to convert them, but if your email is an all-or-nothing proposition, you’ll lose many folks who might convert later but aren’t ready to now. Give them content they can consume quickly and immediately so you keep them interested for they day they are ready.

Finally, if you’re going to personalize your email, make sure that means something other than including the subscriber’s name in the “Dear subscriber” line. Personalize by segmenting your list so that you send content that is relevant to the people receiving it. Unless your target audience is one giant segment, this is critical.

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