communications strategy

Gone are the days of ‛batch and blast’

Thinkshift | May 16, 2013

Almost every recent article on email marketing I’ve read begins with, “contrary to what people believe, email marketing is not dead” or some paraphrase of that.

I find it hard to believe that anyone believes email marketing is going away.  In a single day, I probably receive at least 20 emails from organizations, businesses, and retailers.  I don’t always open all of them and I don’t always click through them, but I do allow them to keep coming, so that I can scan the subject lines and stay in the loop.

Then there’s the fact that Thinkshift helps many of our clients conduct successful email marketing campaigns by creating compelling content, subject lines and email layouts. And the stats we track once the campaigns have been launched show us that yes, people do open and act on emails.

Finally, according to various sources, the number of people who receive emails from brands of interest has increased. A survey by Digital Strategy Consulting found that 67 percent of customers will give their email address to companies to receive discounts and promotions, and 55 percent will exchange their email for a “freebie” such as a coupon, report download, or study that provides useful statistics (yes, I’m part of that 50 percent).

So instead of debating whether email is still alive, let’s look at some stats that point the way toward improving email as a marketing tool and ensuring more successful campaigns. While most people will give out their email, open and click-through rates are much lower (no surprise). A recent MarketingProfs study found an average open rate of 18.9 percent and an average click-through rate of 3.3 percent in the United States. So what happens between email gathering and delivery (other than, the person got their thing and doesn’t want to hear from you anymore)?

Inbox placement is the key to a higher open rate—if the email doesn’t make it to the inbox, it will never be read. Duh, right? The point is, inbox placement is a bigger challenge now than it’s ever been, with ISPs doubling down on security measures and spam control.  Additionally, opt-in subscribers often use “this is spam” complaints as a shortcut to unsubscribing.  Marketers account for 70 percent of “this is spam” reports and 60 percent of all spam trap hits (see Return Path’s Email Intelligence Report). Multiple reports of spam against an IP address are a sure way to keep the sender’s emails out of the inbox.

If your organization uses email marketing, what can you do to avoid the spam list?

Here are a few best practices for email marketing that can help.  While these practices are not new, they are certainly becoming more important.

Segment your list. This is about knowing your audience and sending out emails only to the people who want to see them.  Track email stats and segment your lists to avoid inundating subscribers with emails that are irrelevant or uninteresting to them.

Consider testing subject lines to gauge interest levels. The team that ran President Obama’s very successful re-election email marketing campaign tested subject lines for each email on small batches of supporters/subscribers before sending it out. In addition to finding what subject line will pull best for a particular email, this is a great way to learn more about your audience and tailor your lists.

Keep your content relevant and interesting. People opted-in to receive your emails or newsletter out of interest. If that interest isn’t fed with relevant information or offers (at least most of the time), then the emails will become an annoyance. And annoyance sends a little arrow speeding toward the spam button.

Manage your lists. There are two types of common spam traps: planted and recycled.  Planted traps are email addresses that are created and placed to catch marketers who use purchased lists. Recycled traps are old deactivated email addresses (unused for 6 to 12 months) that are used by ISPs to test the quality of an email list. Using an opt-in list and managing your lists will keep you from the clutches of ISP spam traps.

It all boils down to having a personal touch—staying on top of your lists, knowing your subscribers and delivering the right email.


Don’t miss out!

Get PR & thought leadership insights delivered monthly.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest