Email is one of the most powerful mediums marketers and business owners use to convert leads into paying customers. I’m sure you heard many marketers say that “The Money Is In The List“. Some of them go even further and describe their email lists as an ATM machine that gives them money on demand!
I wouldn’t go that far, but I agree on one thing. Your email list is one of your most valuable assets online, first because you own it and second because it’s relatively within your control, not like your Facebook fanbase for example.
There are 2 parts that will make your email marketing a success. The first part is attracting quality leads and the second is using email to nurture them and convert them into paying customers and promoters who will help you spread the word about your product or service.
I covered the first part in detail in many of my previous posts.
Today, we’re going to cover how you make sure that your leads or email subscribers open your emails and click on your links. This is crucial, because if people don’t open your emails and don’t click on your calls-to-action, then they will not buy anything from you. The better your open and click rates, the more people you will be able to convert into paying customers!
Source: Marketing Charts
As you can see from the chart above, email open rates have been improving a little bit over the last 4 years. However, when you look at click-through rates, you’ll see that they are slightly decreasing. So for those who are claiming that email is dead, they should all see the chart above!
You should note that the Epsilon study was compiled from 7 billion emails that were sent in Q4 2013 across different industries. This means that in your particular industry, your open and click-through rates could be slightly higher or lower. If you want industry specific benchmarks to see where you stand, then check out the links below.
Email Open and Click-Through Rates: Benchmarks by Vertical: this article contains open, click-through, bounce and unsubscribe rate benchmark stats in different industries.
Email marketing statistics 2014: The best email statistics sources to benchmark open and click-through rates for your email campaigns in the UK, US, Europe, Asia-Pacific including Australia.
How to Improve Your Open and Click-Through Rates
The open and click-through rates for email are the equivalent for the engagement rate on your social profiles. Many businesses suffer from low engagement rates on their email lists and these tips will help you improve those metrics.
1- Be Careful About Frequency
I believe that frequency is one of the most important factors when it comes to email marketing.
People are really overwhelmed with all the messages they receive either through the social networks they use, their email, text messages…etc. The last thing they want is you bombarding them with an endless stream of emails.
I personally love email because it’s less crowded. I only reserve it to companies that I really like. However, if I receive too many emails form a particular company, then I have no choice but unsubscribe.
Many marketers describe people opting into your email list as if they invited you to their homes. The least you can do is have good manners
According to a survey from Blue Hornet, the number one reason that leads consumers to unsubscribing from an email program is frequency!
Another great study from Mail Chimp reveals that the more emails you send, the less engagement you’re going to get from your subscribers!
Many businesses try to squeeze as much revenue as they can from their email lists. They do that by sending lots of emails. They will probably get higher open and click-through rates at the beginning, but their engagement will suffer over time and we all know that email is a long term medium that nurtures your leads throughout the buying cycle. If you try to rush things up by increasing your sending frequency, your conversions will suffer.
Another great study by DBMarketing.com shows that email open and click-through rates decrease when email frequency increases. It also concludes that e-mailers should not focus on sending more emails, but getting the most open and click-through rates out of the emails they send.
So how many emails you should send?
Obviously no one can tell you that besides yourself. It depends on your industry, your target market and your offering. It could be once per day or twice a month. Social Media Examiner and Convince and Convert both send one email per day and that is working great for them. Other companies send 1 email per month and that’s working for them great!
A concern many businesses have today is how they can stay top-of-mind because that’s what leads to more conversions. I believe that there is a big difference between staying top on mind and annoying your leads, so make sure you get that distinction right! You should test and see which frequency results in the best conversion rates over time. Don’t focus on short term metrics though, because they can be misleading.
2- Segmentation Is THE Key
I admit it! I’ve been guilty of this myself, but that is changing.
Although I did some segmentation on my email list before, most of my emails were sent to all of my subscribers. That is a huge mistake!
I’m in the social media marketing space and I publish a wide variety of content: Facebook marketing, Twitter marketing, LinkedIn marketing, website optimization, email marketing…etc.
Someone who might be interested in Facebook marketing could have no interest in Twitter marketing!
So what happens to that person when they constantly receive my non-targeted Twitter marketing emails?
They unsubscribe or start ignoring my emails.
Segmenting your email list the right way could lead to a huge increase in overall open and click through rates which will automatically lead to more profit!
A study from Marketing Sherpa revealed that Artbeads.com was able to increase their conversion rate by 208% through sending targeted emails instead of batch-and-blast emails. If this proves anything, it is that sending the same emails to your entire list is hurting your business!
That being said, there are 3 effective ways you can use to segment your email list:
A) Through your Lead Magnets
This is probably the easiest, yet most effective way to segment your leads.
All you have to do is write down the categories you’re targeting and create a lead magnet for each one of them.
Ex: let’s say that you’re in the sports industry and you’re trying to target different athletes: Basketball, Baseball, Football…etc.
The smart move is to create a lead magnet (ebook, video series, webinar…etc) for each of those categories. This will ensure that when people download your Basketball lead magnet, they will only receive basketball related emails.
A great company that does this is HubSpot. They basically have a lead magnet for each market segment their software targets.
From the 4 lead magnet examples above, you can see that they are targeting multiple interests: people who are interested in website optimization, LinkedIn marketing, SEO and Twitter marketing. When someone opts into a particular list, they will get a targeted and personalized email nurturing campaign based on the lead magnet they downloaded. They don’t send SEO related content to someone who is interested in Twitter marketing and so shouldn’t you!
B) Through Email Interaction
This segmentation method happens post-subscription. It’s basically segmenting leads based on the subject of emails they open. For example, if I see that someone is constantly opening and clicking on my Facebook marketing emails and not on my Twitter marketing emails, then it is a good idea to only send them Facebook related content in the future. This type of segmentation depends on the type of email marketing software you use. Some platforms have advanced features that can automatically tag people’s behavior (when they open an email, click on a particular offer…etc). Other platforms might not have such features, but there are simple workarounds that will require a little bit of work.
C) Through Leads Interest
This is similar to the previous segmentation, but it can happen both before OR after the lead opts into your email list.
Something you can do is to add another field to your optin form asking for what people are exactly interested in. You can either put a drop down menu or check boxes to let leads check what they’re interested in.
As you can see in the form above, there are 4 segmentation levels.
- The role of the person subscribing: this way they can send personalized content to each role.
- The type of business: whether it’s an agency or another type of business.
- Lead input: this will allow them to manually tag a lead based on their biggest marketing challenge.
- Receive blog content: whether the lead wants to receive blog updates or not.
This is just the first stage of segmentation which tells the platform which content each lead should receive based on their choices.
The second stage comes from the lead’s behavior. What they opened, what they clicked on, how many interaction with the content…etc. Each action the lead takes will trigger and event that will be responsible for segmenting that lead. Some email marketing platforms have scoring capabilities that will determine whether a lead is ready for an offer or a sales call or not.
Another option is to send your list a simple survey of 1-3 questions that they can fill in seconds. You can send them a survey with one question asking them for the subject they’re interested in the most. To make things easier, put check boxes for each subject your content covers. Just a week ago, I received an email from Yaro Starak over at Entrepreneurs-Journey.com containing a survey that will allow him to segment his subscribers.
As you can see, the survey contained only 3 quick questions.
- What is your email address (for confirmation).
- What is your number one goal with your business (with check boxes).
- What are your areas of interest (with check boxes as well).
The great thing about Yaro’s approach is that he gave a free valuable incentive (an interview with Rich Schefren) to encourage subscribers to fill in the survey. This way you can make sure that you get the highest response from your subscribers.
3- Don’t Let Subscribers Get In the Habit of Ignoring Your Emails
The reason I went into details on segmentation above is because you need to act fast and figure out what your leads are interested in the most. The more a person ignores your emails, the more they will continue to do so and the harder it will be for you to re-engage them.
If you see that they are not interested in checking out your blog content, then only send it to people who are. Habit is a very powerful thing and you should make it work FOR your business not AGAINST!
There are many businesses with huge lists who are suffering from low engagement. That could be caused by 2 things:
- Their subscribers have moved to other things without converting: in this case, you didn’t do a good job at converting them at that buying stage. What looks interesting to them now might not be a priority 5 months from now!
- Their subscribers are ignoring their emails: this is the worst because once a lead starts ignoring your emails, it will be really hard for you to re-engage them again.
So don’t let that happen to you. Send the right information to the right people!
4- Timing Is Important
If you’re looking to maximize your email open and click-through rates, then figuring out the right time will be beneficial to your business.
Source: Marketing Charts
As you can see from the chart above, only 3% of emails were sent between 8pm – 11:59pm, yet they have the highest unique open rate, unique click-through-rate, transaction rate and revenue per email.
I’m not saying that you should send your emails off-peak hours or anything, I’m just suggesting that you should test and find the time that works best for your business. Remember, your audience has unique habits that only you can uncover through testing. What worked for other businesses might not work for you!
An example would be that many marketers don’t recommend that you send your email on weekends. Chris Brogan sends his newsletter on Sunday and it is generating him the most business!
5- Craft Your Subject Lines
You thought I’ll never mention that, didn’t you?
The first thing which comes to mind when thinking about improving your email open and click-through rates is improving your subject lines. However, I deliberately left it to the end because I believe that you should get the strategic part right first before you move to the tactical part. If you don’t understand your prospects and segment them according to their interests and challenges, then it doesn’t really matter if you optimize your subject lines or not!
The one rule to keep in mind when optimizing your email subject lines is to deliver what you promised. Tricking people into opening your emails is a short-sighted tactic that will turn your lead off.
A test that was conducted by Marketing Experiments resulted in a 125% more unique click-throughs. 6 email subject lines were tested, each with a unique spin. They relied on 6 proven to work categories in their test: Incentive, curiosity, newsworthiness, fear, value exchange and benefits.
The winning subject line was the one that used fear to get subscribers to open the email: “Do your landing pages pass this test?“.
As you can see, the fear of not passing the test motivated more people to open the email. The subject line also has a spin of curiosity to entice people.
Point is, if they didn’t run those tests, they probably would’ve never anticipated the winning one.
I personally believe that fear is the biggest motivator of human beings. However, you need to be creative when crafting your subject lines because no one likes a person who scares people for a living, right?
For example, let’s say that I replaced that subject line with “If you miss this, your business will suffer in the next year!“.
It’s a powerful headlines for sure. It uses fear as a main component. However, it generates a negative feeling that people don’t really like to experience. So the point here isn’t to scare people. It’s to get them to open your email so you can provide them with more value.
Source: Marketing Profs
So to sum it up, crafting your subject lines is super important when it comes to increasing your email open and click-through rates. The only thing to keep in mind, as I told you before, is to always deliver on what you promised in your subject lines so your subscribers keep always opening your emails and clicking on your links.
So that being said, these were the most important factors that lead to better email campaigns. If you have another great tip, please share it in your comment below!
Image Credit: ugaldew