Signing up to receive email marketing communications from an organisation can often feel like a gamble. Are you going to receive something of real value? Or are you going to receive the same old tired sales messages that’ll send you heading for the “unsubscribe” link quicker than you can say “Buy Now!”.
That gamble is just as real to prospects when they’re eyeing your company’s own prompts to subscribe. Quite a sobering thought.
So how do you make your email marketing efforts feel worthwhile to your subscribers? Let’s take a look at 11 ways that you can create a valuable subscription experience that builds a meaningful relationship with your email following.
While you’re hot on the email marketing trail, why not check out our sister article 7 Essential Tips to Maximise Marketing Email Deliverability.
1. Seek Proper Consent for Email Opt-Ins
With all of the hullabaloo around GDPR this one should go without saying. Never subscribe people to your marketing lists without their permission; that includes using bought lists or scouring the web for email addresses. All subscribers on your list should give conscious and active consent to hear from you.
Similarly, email deliverability rates can be affected when huge swathes of your list simply don’t open your emails. If you’re opting people in without consent, they are unlikely to have heard of you and are likely to see your emails as a nuisance rather than an opportunity.
2. Use Email Marketing Software to Send Bulk Email
It can be tempting to avoid email marketing platforms (like MailChimp or MailerLite) in favour of simply sending mass emails through your “everyday” email software (like Outlook, Apple Mail, Thunderbird, or Gmail). However, there are a number of technical issues that make this a spectacularly bad idea.
By using this method, recipients aren’t given an automated way to unsubscribe or manage their subscription. This, along with the huge amounts of email coming from your IP address, can get you blacklisted as a source of spam. It can cause irreparable harm to the delivery rates of both your marketing and everyday email. Always send your email marketing campaigns through a bulk mail tool.
3. Maintain Consistent Copy and Design Throughout
Consistency in your appearance throughout the whole email experience helps you appear slick and established. When your tone of voice and design elements are all over the place, it’s not a good look.
Take a look at your website, landing pages, opt ins, opt outs, and of course your marketing emails. Does everything appear consistent with your brand, your company’s use of language, and how you generally present your messaging? Consistency establishes a clear and focused picture of your organisation.
4. Focus on Being Useful
Don’t you hate it when you sign up to receive email marketing from an organisation and they only send “hard sell” messages? So do your subscribers.
Use email marketing to grow relationships with your subscribers by providing valuable info and advice with no strings attached. Focus on conveying your usefulness and expertise so you’re top of mind when they need what you’re selling.
5. Set Up an Auto-Responder for Opt-Ins
Set up your email marketing software to automatically email new opt ins with a welcome message. This can be a simple email thanking them for signing up and clarifying what to expect.
This email can also include content and tips as a reward for signing up, this starts things off on the right foot by providing value right out of the gate. If you fancy something a bit more elaborate, you can also set up a flow of pre-prepared emails to go out automatically every few days (called a “drip campaign”) to help keep brand awareness high after subscription.
6. Keep Your Lists Clean!
List hygiene is a practice of managing your subscriber lists by removing addresses that continually bounce back with errors or removing subscribers who never seem to open your emails (sometimes people emotionally check out without physically unsubscribing). Keeping these unengaged emails on your list can damage your deliverability and skews the true picture of your performance analytics.
If your deliverability takes a hit, your emails may stop appearing to many of your engaged subscribers, who might feel disappointed and seek brand allegiances elsewhere. Be aware of how your email marketing software deals with bounces and whether it automatically removes them from your list.
7. Stick to a Consistent Sending Schedule
Much like maintaining consistency in your design and the language you use, sticking to a predictable and consistent sending schedule is equally important. It makes your company seem reliable and predictable, with practices you can set your watch by.
Not establishing a sending schedule and just sending out an email whenever you feel like it can all give an impression of being unplanned and underprepared. Planning content releases and topics ahead of time means that you aren’t wracking your brain for topics when the time comes to send a campaign.
8. Use Personalisation In Your Email
Make a point of collecting at least a first name along with an email address at the point of opt-in. Nobody likes to receive an email starting “Dear Valued Subscriber” or worse “Hello N/A”. Use mail merge fields within your email marketing platform to simply call each subscriber by their name – it immediately makes your email appear more authentic and trustworthy.
Giving your subscribers the opportunity to reply to bulk email and reach a real person also helps to appear authentic. Never send from a “noreply@” address for marketing email – you’re cutting off a valuable way for prospects to lodge an enquiry. Set a manned address as the “reply-to” field so subscribers can respond freely and reach a real team member.
9. Create Attractive & Honest Subject Lines
A marketing email’s subject line is arguably the most important part of the email; it’s the one thing that encourages subscribers to click! There are plenty of choices you can take with subject line copy – more than we can go into here – but providing an urgent incentive or piquing interest with something unusual generally works quite well.
There are no set rules for the length of a subject line, but brevity is usually best. Keeping your subject line below 50 characters is a good rule of thumb, so make it short but impactful.
10. Don’t Go Over the Top with Design and Formatting
Remember to stick to consistent design and not resort to gaudy colour or font choices to grab the reader’s attention. Marketing emails should contain no more than two font choices (three at a push), and all colours used should suit your branding. Rely on pleasing copy and graphics to make a great impression.
11. Opting Out Should be Intuitive and Simple
You may feel a certain temptation to make unsubscription difficult to keep people on your list, but this would go against GDPR rules. Many email marketing platforms include unsubscription options by default, with some not permitting users to send campaigns without an unsubscribe link. If someone wants to unsubscribe from your list, then you should make it incredibly easy to do so – in one click if at all possible.
What sorts of marketing emails do you like to receive? What kinds of emails rub you up the wrong way? Are there any clever email marketing strategies you’re seen out in the wild that have inspired you? Let’s compare notes – the comments section awaits!