Posts Tagged ‘frequency’

How often should you send? How often is too often? Is it better to send more or less? Is there a ‘just the right amount’? With email marketing one size doesn’t fit all which makes this whole question very complex and multi-faceted. One thing we can say is that experts may not all agree on everything, however they do all agree that it is not recommended to send more frequently to every address on your list.

“We’re of the opinion that treating everybody the same with frequency is not the right approach” says Forest Bronzan, CEO of email marketing strategy-management firm Email Aptitude.

He says by increasing email frequency to those who are engaged, they make more money. And in the same token, by decreasing frequency to those who aren’t engaged, they also win that way too.

OK sounds great in theory, but how do you determine which subscribers should be in the ‘increase email frequency’ basket, and which should be in the ‘decrease email frequency’ basket? Optimising email frequency requires analysing all your email campaign reporting metrics to see where people are sitting on the spectrum.

Email Aptitude looks at opens, clicks and measures who is consistently opening, reading and clicking through their emails…. these go in group A – the engaged group. And for those subscribers who do nothing with their email they go in group B - the unengaged group. The big caveat here is that this can change so you will need to keep monitoring your reports, as one week someone could be really engaged, as your emails could be really relevant for them at that time, yet over the next couple of weeks this may change and you find them dropping into the unengaged group, so you need to adjust accordingly. One thing to note is that if you see a trend of subscribers moving into the un-engaged territory, you may need to revise your content and make sure that it’s relevant to your audience. Also, check that you aren’t just over-emailing people either.  One thing you could do is send a survey out to all your subscribers and ask them to give you feedback. You need to be prepared to listen and act on that though – don’t ask them what they think unless you are prepared to make some serious changes.

Email Aptitude applied this philosophy to men’s clothing retailer Bonobos’ email strategy and was able to increase email frequency to highly engaged subscribers by two to three times.  They increased the revenue for that group of highly engaged subscribers, and they decreased the frequency to the more un-engaged subscribers and that ironically had a positive impact as they suddenly started to become more engaged  by becoming more interested in the emails as they arrived less often, as opposed to being overwhelmed and deleting emails. So over the course of a few weeks, those people became more engaged and thus the email frequency to those subscribers started to increase.

In the land of email marketing it’s critical to continually be testing to ensure you are constantly adjusting all aspects of your campaigns to your subscribers needs and wants.  One of the best ways to find out what people want apart from analysing email metrics and data is use a preference centre. Some of my favourite email campaigns have a link at the top of every email saying ‘don’t love this? click here’ and this takes me directly to their preference centre where I can tell them that I like animals, but I’m not interested in food, I do want emails about art and homewares but not sports, and that is exactly what they deliver. In a weeks time if I decide I want to get emails about food again I simply have to click that link and tell them. And I love them for it.

Basically it all boils down to sending the right message to the right person at the right time which we have said many times before – basically that sending targeted, relevant, and timely emails wins every time.

Credit for Email Aptitude Case Study: McGill Report

When someone receives an email they skim the From Name, and then the Subject Line in quick succession, which makes these two areas the ‘gatekeepers’ for each message.

If you are a marketer relying on email to communicate with your audience you need to get past these ‘gatekeepers’.

Firstly you need a From Name that ticks three boxes: it must be recognised, trusted and relevant to the reader right now.  An email from my mum ticks all three every time.  With a business it’s a little more complex.  Even if I know ‘Air New Zealand’ and I love travelling with them, this year I am on a tight budget and so right now you are not ‘relevant’ to me. I might think ‘I have no intention of being tempted into reading your email offers no matter how good they are, and I will delete every email you send.’

It’s good to bear this in mind when you review your email campaign reporting as there simply will never be 100% of your database read your message – I’m on holiday, the dog died, this report is due – basically life gets in the way.  I suggest a rule of thumb that the ‘top mark’ possible is closer to 75% so if your open rate is 35% then that’s about half of your possible audience – a great result.

From another angle, it’s good to bear this ‘triage’ behaviour pattern in mind when you undertake engagement analysis of your database – Who reads every email? Who has stopped reading?  It’s important to make sure the ‘zombies’ who are effectively dead to your brand are cleaned out on a regular basis for email deliverability, so we do actively encourage this exercise.   But.  Just because I’m not opening your emails right now doesn’t mean I don’t want you to keep sending them.  I may well just be on a tight budget for a few months.  Arrgggh!  Why does email marketing have to be so complicated!

Assuming your email has passed the above gatekeeping/triage process of the From Name, next up your reader is looking to the Subject line for indication of a value exchange that is in his or her favour.  Their time is worth an awful lot to them.  Your email must deliver more value in order for it to be open and read.  And so your subject line needs to hint at that value as clearly and quickly as possible.

To get a Subject Line right, there are many many many possible approaches to take. The subject line is often promoted as a good thing to ‘test’ and see if your readers respond better to a particular set of words, or tone.  The reason testing is good idea is that the answer to the question ‘What works best?’ is almost always ‘It depends’.  I have seen tests show more words work better to get clicks in the email, and I have seen tests show that less words work best.  Similarly I have seen marketers use a set format for every campaign of a similar ‘type’, and I have seen people change the format for every single email they send, to good result.

Focus on clearly describing the value that is within your email, and then make sure you deliver that value in a way that makes sense and is easy and intuitive to action for your reader.  We have written about good subject lines before – read those posts here and an older post about the importance of your From name is here.

Now you are fully equipped to get past the first two hurdles of a successful email campaign, how do you ensure it makes you lots of money?  That’s fodder for the next article or ten.  See you then.

If you follow the email marketing industry, you know that engagement is quite the buzzword lately.  But Engagement isn’t new at all. It has been a part of the filtering mix for quite a while. ISPs including Yahoo! (Xtra) Hotmail and Gmail are adding clicks, opens and other measures of user engagement to the long list of other engagement metrics that have been in use for a while. All these metrics try to do the same thing — figure out which messages are truly wanted by subscribers.

ISPs are measuring engagement and using it to decide who gets to the inbox, and who goes to the junk folder. In simple terms, the ISP is basically looking at whether or not your subscribers open, click, and in general, “interact” with you. If you send an email that mistakenly goes to the junk folder, then the subscriber moves it back out, you scored some engagement points. If your subscriber clicks your links or hits “reply” to send you a message, you get some engagement points.

Returnpath’s George Bilbrey says to senders:

“Treat inactive subscribers differently: This is probably the biggest change that most marketers need to think about. Mailing to a lot of inactive accounts may actually make your reputation look worse at some ISPs. Segment out inactive users and run a win-back campaign. If you cannot win back these subscribers, you may simply want to stop mailing them altogether.”

Over at Clickz, Jeanne Jennings had this to say about inactive members of your list:

“If these folks really aren’t that into you, they may take the next step and report you as spam. It’s like that shunned suitor who just won’t go away; eventually the victim will consider him a stalker and get a restraining order. Keeping inactive names on your list can open you up to blacklisting and deliverability issues.”

There is an art to deciding who is engaged and who is not.  This will depend on your buying cycle and the types of emails you send. It is good to use an email expert to help you make a matrix for your own business but there are some things you can consider:

Do you have strong calls to action in your emails – so that there is something to click?

Do you have a genuinely relevant and  interesting email stream, sent at least bi-monthly (6 per year)?

If you have a frequent email (weekly or more) do you allow people to control the frequency and type of emails they get using a Preference Centre?

  • From time to time you should dissect your email list to identify who have never opened, clicked or bought something from you. We call them ‘zombies’.  They bring all your metrics down, they impact your engagement measures and they don’t pay their way.  Try to get them to wake up – or kill them off.
  • Next look for who is in a coma – used to engage and now don’t.  Talk to them differently too.
  • Who is on their way out?
  • Who are you best responders?  Make them feel special, use them to spread your word, and keep up the good work!

There is much to this and a good agency can help you do this and come out the other side with a more profitable program.

And worst case is you get to kill a few zombies!

 

 

 

We say it with only a slight tongue in cheek – 100% of the emails you send that are not delivered will never sell anything.   So, since email-in-inbox is the start of everything – here they are – the top 5 deliverability myths de-mystified!

1. Thinking that sending legally compliant messages will protect you.
Not true! Legislation like the NZ UEM Act, and the USA’s CAN-SPAM is just the bare minimum threshold that you should adhere too.  We always say that if you are trying to hide behind fine print you are doing something wrong. Treat your database with respect by doing what you say you will do, increasing the relevance of your content to your subscribers, and working on all of your deliverability best practices to improve your reputation over time.

2. You think confirmed opt-ins wouldn’t click the ‘mark as spam’ or ‘add to junk folder’  button.
Not true! This action is viewed as a complaint by ISP’s and is taken really seriously by them.  If you have more than 1 in a 1000 of these ‘complaints’ you could see an impact on your email delivery.  Why do they do it?  It can be a quick way for subscribers to remove the email even if they have subscribed. A significant % of recipients do this rather than unsubscribing – one reason is they may not know the difference between the ‘spam’ and the ‘unsubscribe’ functions and not realise the effect it has on reputation.  We’ve seen reports that subscribers don’t want to ‘hurt your feelings’ by unsubscribing so they just sweep you out of the inbox.  For others hitting ‘spam’ is simply quicker than finding the unsubscribe button and going through that process.

3. You think if you make it difficult to unsubscribe that you will stop people unsubscribing.
Not true! It only makes people flag your email as spam (as in 2. above) if they don’t want your email, rather than searching for your unsubscribe link. Best practice is to have a clearly visible and simple unsubscribe link in all your emails, and allow subscribers to simply and easily opt out and don’t give them any reason to complain.  We recommend they are in the top and the bottom of most email campaigns, and prefer a one click instant unsubscribe method on our own clients emails.

4. ‘Free’ ‘Deal’ and ‘CAPITAL’ words instantly flag your email as spam.
Not true! Certain words aren’t great for sure, but they won’t do this if they are relevant and effective in the context of your campaign. Deliverability is measured on many factors, and these combined determine the reputation. So words such as ‘deal’! and ‘free’! used well in the right context will do no harm.  These days, most Internet Service Providers (ISPs) filter based on reputation, so content plays a much smaller role in that filtering decision. If you have a good reputation, it will usually override any content filter being used, and your mail will be delivered appropriately. However, that doesn’t mean that your content is never a factor in determining inbox delivery.

5. Compelling content is the best way to create engagement and retain long term subscribers.
Not true! Sending good emails and good content will make your emails welcomed and useful to your audience.  However if you send just one  email too many, or any email at all if you’re ignoring other deliverability best practices, this will affect your reputation despite having the greatest content in the world.  Also on content -  balancing ‘image to text’ by having as much of your email as possible in text, while leaving images in a supporting role, is important both to the eye and to the deliverability of your email too.

Yes there are many more things you can do to enhance your reputation and optimise your deliverability, these are just the top 5 things that you should be aware of and take into consideration.   If there is one thing we can be sure of – there’s no sure thing.

If you’d like more detail on deliverability or if you’d like to discuss concerns or ideas, give us a call any time on +64 9 360 6463.

 

“Countless small businesses send out countless emails every day” . “If you were to sift through campaigns and results (as I do), the mountains of data would suggest two breeds of email campaign: the outstanding … and the invisible. Your emails need to be outstanding.”
~ Gary Levitt from MarketingProfs.

Levitt has a good point and here at Jericho, we see a lot of outstanding emails, and we see a fair few ‘invisible’ ones too. So we wanted to share Levitt’s advice for creating campaigns that won’t get lost in the customer’s inbox.

Don’t be too perfect.
Levitt isn’t suggesting that you include typos or grammatical errors to make your emails more human. But you should allow your personality to shine through. “The best brands—much like the best people—have an identity, a voice, idiosyncrasies, and unpredictable quirks” he notes. We tend not to trust people who are buffed and polished to an unnaturally perfect degree—and the same is true of email campaigns.

Delight with small surprises.
Beneath an email offer, include a customer review, a blurb from a recent blog post or a link to a relevant article. “You might be surprised by all the clicks and social sharing that your little afterthought generates,” Levitt notes.

Make an impression with strong design.
Create a memorable banner-esque header that sets the tone for your campaigns. “Have a graphic designer help with typesetting and graphics,” he advises. “Do it once, and do it right. You’re going to get tons of use out of it.”

Err on the side of sending too frequently.
You should never send an email simply to send an email. On the other hand, don’t hold back relevant, useful, timely content because you’re worried it might be one message too many, he says.

The Point is relax and say what you mean. Email marketing is about developing a relationship with your subscriber—so communicate with that person as you would with a friend.

Email Marketing ABC's

A is for Auto responders
An auto response trigger is the criteria that is used to send an automated email. One example could be sending an email on a recipient’s birthday, or sending an email when a survey has been completed. You can also use these as follow up messages to send reminders, or post event surveys, and more!

B is for Bouncebacks
A Bounceback is an email that has not been able to make it to your recipient’s inbox due to an error. There are two types of bouncebacks. A hard bounce occurs when there is a permanent failure, and a soft bounce occurs when there is a temporary failure. This is where data cleansing becomes very important.

C is for Call to Action
Make sure you have a call to action. You need to make it clear to people what the email is for, and what you want them to do. Also consider all the people readying the emails on their smartphone and how to make the call to action stand out for them– make it big, bold and easy to click. It’s harder to click something with your thumb than a cursor.

D is for Design
This is a very important part of your message, but often overlooked. When designing your emails, choose your images carefully, layout your message in an easy-to-read way, keep your design consistent, and make good use of white space throughout all your messages.

E is for Engagement
If subscribers stay engaged and respond to your messages, they’ll remain on your list longer. To keep subscribers interested in your company, try some of these ideas.

F is for Frequency
Make people aware of how often they should expect to receive your email campaigns – either specify it on your website or subscription form. People are more comfortable receiving your emails when they know what to expect and how often they will arrive.  You may want to allow your subscribers to choose the frequency at which they receive your emails – for example, a daily digest, a weekly bulletin or a monthly summary, to give them control of what they receive and when.

G is for Growth
In order to grow your database, you need to bring in new subscribers and retain the ones you already have. Incorporating a subscription form into your email campaigns, that clearly explains the benefits of joining your mailing list, will encourage new people to subscribe. For existing subscribers, using the SmartMail Pro preference center allows current subscribers to update their information to ensure their details are current and accurate.

H is for Help
Help your subscribers out – they need to know how to interact with your messages. You should clearly explain how to subscribe, unsubscribe and contact you. For example, help your subscribers understand what they’ve subscribed to by explaining it the preheader text. And help your subscribers to unsubscribe – you don’t want them marking your emails as spam!

I is for Images
Images can make or break a campaign, and a good balance between images and text is ideal. Spammers have a tendency to hide all their spammy text by using images only. An interesting and well balanced campaign includes good images and good copy. Don’t forget to include the ‘alt text’ on your images to entice subscribers to download the images, giving them the full experience of your email.

J is for Junk
The junk folder is the last place you want your emails to end up. There are a number of reasons that determine if your email ends up here – the sender’s reputation, spam filters, or recipients marking emails as junk. Look out for more information about this in future posts.

K is for Key Words
It’s pays to avoid using words that are often associated with spam. We’ve got a great document that gives you a series of key words to stay away from right here.

L is for Life Cycle
Email attrition (Otherwise known as email life cycle) is where a proportion of a list is no longer usable due to the subscriber addresses being invalid. Addresses can become invalid for a number of reasons such as the subscriber changes jobs, or when a webmail address has been inactive for a long time. The attrition rates we see vary from list to list. We would expect the attrition on average to be about 15% per annum, but can be higher. For example we’d expect to see a higher bounce rate for first time deployment to a list that had no confirm or double opt in email.

M is for Manage
A well-managed list that is clean and up to date will have better deliverability rates. If you are sending relevant engaging emails to subscribers that want to receive it, your open rates will be higher as well. Remember to keep track of your reports after each send to optimize your campaigns.

N is for Never
There are a few things you need to avoid. For instance, never send unsolicited emails, never purchase lists or use a no-reply address. And never send your email without testing it!

O is for Optimize
With the increase in smartphone uptake in both business and consumer markets, now is the perfect time to optimize your emails for smartphone users. We wrote a post about Smartphone penetration recently – read it here. To optimize your campaign for mobile, you can make some simple changes like using bigger calls to action, single column designed emails, and make links isolated and clearly marked so that when people are scrolling they don’t accidently click on links.

P is for Permission
Asking subscribers to confirm their subscription ensures they’re aware they joined your mailing list. It also reduces complaints and helps improve your overall deliverability. For more of the legalities surrounding email opt ins, click here to read the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act 2007.

Q is for Questions
Email should be a two way street; give your subscribers the ability to provide feedback and ask questions by incorporating surveys, polls, questionnaires, forms in your email campaigns.

R is for Reporting
With the silly season almost upon us, now is a good chance to review the years email campaigns. Use your clickthrough rates to see what people were interested in, and your open rates to identify the best time to send your email campaigns. You can also use the comparison report feature in SmartMail Pro to compare a selection of your emails against one another.

S is for SmartShare
If you are looking for ways to increase the reach of your emails, the SmartShare tool in SmartMail Pro is a definitive must have for your email campaigns. Give your subscribers the ability to share your content with all of their friends across all their social networks.

T is for Test
Testing is the single most important step of email marketing!
It’s important to test across a variety of popular email platforms, particularly to Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo to make sure the email displays and functions correctly. Other things to keep an eye on are hyperlinks, merge fields, bookmarks, design, fonts… You can refer to our post on testing here or even download our email campaign testing checklist to help ensure you have everything covered off come deployment time.

U is for Unsubscribes
By not including an active unsubscribe function, not only will you get in trouble with the DIA, but you can also damage your brand. With so many people using social media these days, you don’t want to have to always be dealing with negative comments or unhappy subscribers – you want them to be happy with you and their experience with your communications; so make it easy for them to unsubscribe. Go here to make sure you comply with the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act 2007.

V is for Valid
Ensure you always have a valid from and reply email address that is manned by someone. This helps to give your brand a human voice and gives your subscribers an opportunity to engage directly with you.

W is for Weight Loss
Put your emails on a diet, and keep them short and sweet! No-one wants to, or has time to read a novel of an email – people read them on the go – keep it relevant, simple and succinct. How long is too long? Find out here

X is for Xmas
Before the Christmas carols start playing in all the stores, have your Christmas campaign strategy planned out well in advance. Give your brand a creative edge to help it stand out in the inbox; a funky fresh design, a punchy subject line, and that extra something that keeps your subscribers wanting more – we will give you the low down in upcoming blog posts.

Y is for Yawn
How often do you receive emails with such unappealing subject lines that you don’t bother to read them? If you are anything like us, this is probably a lot. And we, as much as you do, don’t want your emails to be a yawn.
The aim is for your campaign to be exciting, grabbing, punchy and engaging. A good subject line that grabs people is a great entree, and to follow, a main course of good content is ideal. For some examples of things to aim for, or avoid, check out our hall of shame and fame!

Z is for Zoom
Zoom might be a non-technical word to describe the speed of our servers, but they go pretty fast! So before you deploy your email, make sure you check it and test it thoroughly. You may also want to consider scheduling your email campaign to send at a later time to help prevent those ‘Oh no’! moments where you see something wrong once the email has been sent.

Are You Following the ABCs?

Review your email campaigns and make sure you are following the ABC’s!