Friday, May 25, 2012

Improve Your Response Rates in Email Marketing

Yesterday I listened to a one-hour webinar on effective email marketing from an email/online advertising company, The webinar had two themes:
  1. Avoiding spam filters and improving your odds of making into your potential customers’ inboxes (the more technical part of the presentation) and
  2. How to get people to actually read and respond positively to your emails (the more writing skill part of the presentation).
Below is a prĂ©cis of their presentation…at least the parts that I think are relevant to our market.

Stay out of the spam filters!
In order to do this, stay away from specific words in your Subject Line and in the email in general:
  1. “Dear Friend”
  2. “Dear (name of client)”
  3. “Amazing Results”
  4. “Call Now”
  5. “Buy One Today”
  6. “Guaranteed Results”
  7. “Make her happy tonight”
You get the idea here. Keep your subject line short and relevant. If your emails start getting trapped by spam filters, pretty soon the ISO companies tend to put ALL your emails into the spam box, or, worse yet, delete them and not send them on at all.
You can test your email before sending it to see its “spam quotient” (which ideally is lower than 2.0) by testing your email before you mail it at:

Clean up your email list
If you are getting bounce-backs for dead email addresses, remove them from your list promptly or get your email provider to remove them if you are not doing this yourself. Over 1-2% hard bounces are a red flag for ISO companies. A positive number for bounce backs is less than 1 per 2000 emails.

Once you get into their inbox, how to you get people to read them?
First, remember their reasons for subscribing to your newsletter, blog, or email service in the first place and keep your content relevant to your customers’ interests. The main reason that people subscribe to any email service are:
  1. Discounts
  2. Special promotions
  3. Regular customer of the company
  4. You offer some exclusive content
  5. You are a non-profit that they support regularly
Second remember why people do or don’t open an email. They open it it:
  1. They recognize who it’s from
  2. What is in the subject interests them
They don’t open the email if:
  1. You send too frequently
  2. They get too many emails in general
  3. They don’t remember that they signed up with you
  4. They are no longer interested for whatever reason
So that means you have to…..

Write good emails!
The most important part of your email is the subject line. As many as 80% of people will read the subject line, but only 20% will read the whole email. Also, 60% of spam complaints to an ISO are based on what’s in the subject line! That means you should spend as much as 50% of your time crafting your subject line and 50% writing the rest of the email!
Then in the body of the email, write a short intro/salutation. As early as the first or second sentence, put in your first “call to action.” In other words, tell them as immediately as possible what you want them to do (buy your services, come to your event, download your free ebook, etc.). This means there is an obvious button or words for them click on right there at the beginning.
Last is your signature with your physical address (makes your email legal) AND a PS with another call to action live link. For example, something like: “Thanks for reading my email, Check this product out today” or “Download your copy now.” Research suggests this second call to action link is the second most clicked-on item on your page.

Who is this from?
In the “sent from” field, it’s best if it is your name…not just the name of your clinic, for example. This means you are more likely to create relevant content because your name will be on it! And it makes it far more likely that you escape the spam filter and that your reader opens the email. People are wary and want to see emails sent from a valid address that they know. Even if this is a “POP” address and the response goes to your front desk staff or wherever…a real person they know is better than or

Use of space
Put everything necessary for a response above the fold. Make the opening sentence stand on its own and tell enough of the story for them to be interested. Tell them the 3-second version of the story, plus a “Click here to___” button.
Make sure you have an “Unsubscribe” or “Safe Removal” button at least at the bottom…but at the top of the email as well is courteous and reduces spam complaints down to almost nothing.

They may look cool in the design, but large images increase your spam score! Avoid them or use sparingly. They suggested using text-to-tag images (words inside the picture box telling the viewer what the picture is), because 70% of your recipients will have images blocked as a preference. If you have a coder helping you design your emails, tell them to code your images as if it were 1999. For example, Outlook ’07 does not support background images, forms, flash, java script, and heaven knows what else. Keep that stuff to a minimum.

Final suggestions
  1. Keep your subject line short. Research says the best length in 30-45 characters (which includes spaces between words)
  2. Keep the width of your emails between 600-800 pixels
  3. Keep your emails short and to the point
  4. Run them through a spam checker if you can
  5. Don’t put the recipient’s name in the subject line
  6. Put your call to action in the first paragraph and again at the end
  7. Don't send more often than once per week. Too many emails is the #1 reason for “Unsubscribe” responses.
  8. Don’t send because you think you should. Wait until you have something useful to say to your subscribers!
  9. Don’t sell, rent, or give away your emal list; remove bounce-backs and unsubscribes promptly.
Best of luck and I hope these tips help you with improved results in your email marketing. To get professional help, take a look at all the blogs, ideas, and services at
Click here to get Honora’s marketing ebook!

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