In your email marketing campaigns, each message you send should come with a facility allowing readers to unsubscribe from receiving any future emails. Even if you don’t add an unsubscribe link yourself (which is a bad idea), one will automatically be added.
However, have you ever wondered just how exactly that link works? And more importantly, what happens to people who have unsubscribed, and is there a way to get them back? If you have multiple lists, how do you ensure that they only get unsubscribed from a particular list and not every list in your account?
Enform’s Automailer naturally comes with this functionality (an unsubscribe tag) whether it’s in the HTML page, template, or plain text version. Upon sending your campaign to your subscribers, each reader receives a copy of your email, with the tag automatically replaced with a unique link for each subscriber.
Each link is unique to each person and each email marketing campaign, so it’s not just a matter of copying an old unsubscribe and pasting it into your next email.
A Look at What Happens When a Subscriber Clicks on the Unsubscribe Link
Upon clicking the unsubscribe link, the user is directed to our Automailer system, which records the click and automatically recognises the subscriber and his/her corresponding email list and campaign.
Enform’s Automailer instantly unsubscribes users from your email list, with no need for you to manually change any settings on the program. Your campaign report will now show that user as having unsubscribed from receiving future emails.
The Suppression List – Ways to Manage Multiple Lists and Not Lose Subscribers
The default unsubscribe setting on our Automailer automatically removes an address from all listings in the same account. This means that if the unsubscribed address were in your ‘customers’ list and ‘newsletter’ list, it would be removed from both. We’ve also made steps to ensure that you don’t accidentally import an unsubscribed email address back into your account. Addresses that have unsubscribed from your campaign are immediately added to your suppression list.
However a unique feature of Automailer allows you to change your unsubscribe setting for your lists; this is extremely useful if you want the unsubscribe link to only remove users from the specific list their emails came from but leave them on other lists in your account. A great feature that ensures you don’t lose subscribers by a blanket suppression across all lists.
Once Unsubscribed, is a User Blocked Forever?
Former subscribers can re-subscribe at any time through your subscribe forms; only you are prevented from reimporting an address once it’s in the suppression list.
How do you Keep Users from Unsubscribing from your Lists?
There’s no foolproof way of keeping your database of subscribers 100% intact, but what you can do is make a compelling case for subscribers to stay, right at the unsubscribe page.
Take for instance, the unsubscribe page of Lazada.com, a major e-commerce player in Asia. Upon clicking the unsubscribe link, you’re presented with different options to better control the mail you receive.
The options above are particularly useful for several subscribers annoyed with the flood of emails they’re getting, so giving them some kind of control over their messages increases the likelihood of them staying.
When was the last time you gave away your email address online? Was there any reluctance in handing it over?
Most internet users tend to protect their email addresses in fear of receiving too many promotional emails they’re not really interested in. Obviously, this is a problem for marketers who want to use email subscribers to grow their business.
But what if there was a way to beat this natural fear?
We believe the answer is social proof.
Social Proof in a Nutshell
Social proof is defined as a psychological phenomenon where people follow the actions of others in order to conform. In other words, it’s people doing things they see other people are doing.
The Wall Street Journal recently published a study aimed at understanding the effects of social proof in consumer behaviour. In it, researchers sought to find out whether social proof was a more powerful motivator than saving money or protecting the environment. They tested four different messages to convince respondents to use electric fans over air conditioning.
The first message told the customer they could save up to $54 a month on electricity.
The second message told the customer they could help save the environment by eliminating up to 262 pounds in greenhouse gases.
The third message tried to convince customers by reminding them saving energy was being social responsible.
The fourth message told customers that 77 percent of their neighbours were using fans to save energy.
As you may have guessed, the fourth message, the one that appealed to positive social proof, was most effective. In this instance, positive social proof proved to be more convincing than saving money, saving the environment, and being social responsible.
How do you use social proof in email marketing?
It’s doesn’t take much, to be honest; just use a simple reinterpretation of the examples by the study above.
1. Show proof of subscriber numbers
Showing the number of subscribers to your email list lets potential customers know that it’s common behaviour for other people to sign up, and more importantly, that it’s relatively safe. Simply adding a subscriber count mechanism to your opt-in forms allows you to tap into the desire of readers to do what others are doing, thus driving email subscribes.
You can also make your calls to action more relatable. Statements like, “Be part of a network of sales professionals 15,000 strong and growing receiving our weekly newsletter,” speaks to a reader’s impulse to join in on the action and see what he is missing out on.
2. Use testimonials from influential figures
If you’re lucky enough to have connections with influencers in your industry, then by all means, do everything you can to get a testimonial from them about your email list. These figures act as endorsers, reassuring readers that “Hey, you should sign up too!”
It’s one of the oldest tricks in the book. People want to look up to industry influencers because they want to achieve the same success.
How do you use social proof to increase email conversions?
With your email list already built thanks to social proof, you can then move to the next step: conversions. Fortunately, social proof can work here too, and again, all it takes is a little tweaking of the examples mentioned previously.
1. Show off your number of customers
Again, people want a sense of security knowing that other customers have already bought your product or paid for your service. When sending a product-related email encouraging people to purchase, include how many people have bought the same product or service and you’re bound to drive conversions.
The key here is to trigger a fear in missing out in an offer that others have signed up for or purchased. Part of it is curiosity, but a greater part of it is knowing that something, your product, must be worth paying for since many people have done so.
2. Highlight reviews
Reviews are perhaps the most influential factor in shaping a purchase decision, so you definitely want to leverage positive reviews of your products. Include positive, concise, but brief reviews of your products/services in newsletters, and you’re guaranteed to see an increase in conversions sooner or later.
Of course, all of these tips boil down to transparency. If you make things up just to leverage the advantages of social proof, you run the risk of things blowing up in your face, and your reputation forever tainted.
The bitter truth: The vast majority of email newsletters, promotional campaigns, and email blasts never make their way past the crowded in boxes of their recipients.
Those that did manage to get views did so thanks to how users evaluated email subject lines and sender information.
Successful emails reach users who are confident enough to open them, and the keys to this are clear, easily recognisable sender information, and concise, well-written subject lines. Both factors help users make informed decisions on whether or not to open or bypass an email message.
Web usability experts the Nielsen/Norman Group (NN/g) put together some guidelines on how to create effective subject lines that should increase the chances of your emails’ success with users.
- Incorporate content into subject lines
With the mad rush of information reducing web users’ internet attention spans, email subject lines should let users know the kind of content the newsletter contains. Users want to know what’s in a message right away through the headline, and while it may seem like a good idea to tease users into reading a message, this is not the case with emails.
The argument against being too direct with subject lines is that users might not open an email newsletter if they see the content in the subject line right away.
NN/g however, notes that it’s much better to keep users informed and allow them to make a decision instead of forcing them to open the message only for them to have no interest in it. Most users may not even bother doing this, deleting the message instead. The interaction cost is simply too high with no clear benefit to the user. fail
We at Enform agree with NN/g’s assertion that it’s much better to have some messages fail to be opened by some users, than risk penalizing them with opening messages they don’t like.
However, be aware that Junk mail and anti-SPAM filters look at subject lines very closely so go easy on the “killer sales” language.
- Place keywords into the subject line and limit it to 40 characters
For optimal viewing of subject lines, it’s best to stay within the character limits set by email programs. Because character limits vary between programs (not to mention they can change over time), it’s best to stay within the safe limit of 40 characters.
The most important content should be placed right at the beginning of the subject line to prevent it from being cut off. Keywords that carry the most information and are the most descriptive should take prime real estate. Avoid the common mistake below:
(Company Name) Newsletter: The Annual Clearance Sale is Here
The first 3 words in the subject line above could have been put to better use, replaced with more meatier keywords such as the discounts being offered in the sale, the date of the promotion, what products are on sale, and more.
- Avoid redundancies
We already mentioned how important it is to select the right keywords for the subject line, so by all means, don’t repeat things like the sender information in your subject line. While it’s important to let users know whom their newsletters are coming from, don’t waste valuable space repeating information that could’ve been replaced with something important.
Remember, you have less than 15 seconds to get the readers attention with your email or eDM message, make it count.
The most important point is that your eDM message is being seen by your targeted audience, correct?
If so, it needs to get there first before it can be seen.
Automailer Spam test is an effective content based Spam filter test tool, using a scoring system where messages are tagged as Spam only when they have enough Spam characteristics in total. A properly managed Automailer Spam test correctly identifies 90% – 95% of Spam.
If your message score’s a 5 in the Spam test, this means that there are 5 counts of Spam characteristics found in your message and you may risk facing deliverability issues, whilst scores of greater than 10 will frequently develop delivery issues. Enform advises that any eDM you intend to send out to your database will have a higher chance of successful delivery if the Spam count is less than 5, in comparison to an eDM that has a Spam count of 5 or more.
Spam Assassin is the largest open source Spam filtering engine and they have provided some basic rules to avoid deliverable issues and warnings. Below is an explanation of some of the more popular content-based filtering rules you might see, along with some suggestions on how to avoid them.
Please keep in mind that some of these filters go against the grain of best practice email marketing however, at least your message is more likely to get through. Note that these apply to both Subject line and message body but it’s important to remember that the Subject line is arguably the most important to get right :
- “Click here/ Click on the link below for details” – Avoid using this phrase as Spam tests triggers a warning when it sees this on the body of the email. Try and rephrase, instead use “read more” or “follow the link”.
- A WHOLE LINE (OR MORE) OF CAPS – Spam tests look for whole sentences that use CAPS, usually seen in the Subject line. Avoid using CAPS regardless as it is equivalent to shouting at your customers.
- $$$ sign – Do not use the ‘$’ symbol consecutively, Spam tests examine the body of the message for any phrases that contain ‘$$$’. Only use it when needed, for instance, when you quote the price of a product.
- “Free” or “FREE offer” – this is probably the most common word that sends Spam alerts. It can be difficult to avoid using this word if that is the message you would like to come across. Instead, use it in the body of the message and avoid using CAPS. DO NOT use ‘FREE’ in the subject line.
- Heavy use of images – Spam tests examine messages that are graphic heavy or contain strange images. As a rule of thumb, emails must not be composed of over 40% image coverage. Text on the other hand, must be at least 60% larger or more prominent than images. Read more.
- Messages sent on weekends are more likely to be identified as Spam than messages sent on weekdays.
It is sometimes difficult to ensure your eDM is clear of all content based filters. However, it is important to avoid having any of the above in the Subject line. This is the first thing people will see, if the subject line contains word such as “offer”, “free” or “special”, otherwise your message may be consequently regarded as Spam mail.
If it is necessary to use words or characters that are regarded as Spam characteristics, only include them within the body of the message and be mindful of the way you phrase an offer for a product or to notify customers of a special offer.
Enform Automailer has Spam and mail client test capability built in to help you check your message and ensure you get maximum audience engagement and conversion. Remember, too often we obsess over how our messages are seen by recipients, in reality, they are never perfect. However, no one will see them if they don’t even get through.
Always be wary of your intended audience and ensure you test your eDM before sending. Enform’s Automailer service can assist with targeted delivery of your eDMs by maintaining a thorough client database so you can ensure that your messages are being sent to the right people.
A new report by Return Path shows a steady shift happening in email, with 4 in 10 emails now being opened on a mobile device, signifying a 300 percent rise over the past 2 years alone.
Moreover, the report shows that the 38 percent of emails opened in the United States on mobile devices now eclipses the share of email opens done through a traditional browser-based webmail account (31 percent) and desktop-based email clients (also 31 percent).
Industry-related Emails Matter
The Return Path report also indicates that certain industries have a higher incidence of emails opened in mobile devices than others have. For instance, emails involving the retail, consumer product and real estate industries account for a 40 percent, 38 percent and 38 percent share of mobile-opened emails respectively.
On the other hand, 60 percent of banking-related emails were shown to be opened on desktop-based clients, seemingly suggesting that web users deem desktops as more conducive for productivity and security.
Apple iOS Devices Take Lion’s Share for Opens
As far as which mobile devices are used most for opening emails, Apple takes the top spot, accounting for 85 percent of all mobile opens. Not surprisingly, the iPhone is king in this arena, with 59 percent of opens happening on the device, and 26 percent on the iPad, the latter seeing an 8 percent rise compared to the last year.
In comparison, Android devices occupy a fairly low share of 14 percent, despite seeing a 3 percent increase compared to last year.
Emails Opened Across Multiple Devices
The study however, also shows that emails are still opened across multiple devices every day. In the United States, 79 percent use email on a desktop on a daily basis, while 73 percent check their emails daily on mobile devices. The latter figure surpasses the mobile email habits of other countries, with France and the UK both following at 62 percent, Germany at 60 percent, and Brazil and Australia both at 57 percent.
Click Activity Low on Mobile Devices
Despite the significant increase of mobile opens, click activity is still healthier on desktops. The study shows that mobile phones only account for 19.4 percent of clicks, while tablets account for 11.5 percent of clicks. Both pale in comparison to desktops, which account for 69.1 percent of clicks.
Enform believes that now more than ever is the best time to consider creating email newsletters specifically formatted for mobile devices. Even if mobile email click rates are currently low, we think that figure will eventually rise, just as email opens on mobiles have.
For many years, Restaurant.com enjoyed growing revenues bolstered by the ‘Batch-and-blast’ email strategy. Readership remained until 2011, when subscriber engagement fell down by as much as 35 percent. Even with the appeal of “certificates”—essentially digital versions of coupons—that can be exchanged for discounts across the restaurants under their system, the company’s generic emails failed in engaging customers.
Time for a Change
Restaurant.com shifted gears with its email campaign, overhauling its program in just 1 year. Instead of going with a “firing and forgetting” strategy, the company employed a sophisticated system that combines both automated and targeted emails.
The new strategy can be broken down into a 6-step process:
- Building internal support – First starting with home, Restaurant.com took measures to gain support from its investors, IT department, and creative team.
- Laying a Foundation – Restaurant.com had to change its database infrastructure to address new goals of their email campaign. Matching customer behaviour and interactions from the channels they came from, for instance, initially proved impossible, calling for a new system to be put in place. Likewise, a new eDM analytics system was set up because of this very reason.
- Rethinking the Marketing Strategy – One of the first things Restaurant.com did was to reduce the frequency of its emails, cutting the previous monthly volume of 22 emails in half. The focus should be on quality, not quantity. For example, A/B testing is a tool that tests the essential factors of email marketing significantly eliminating ‘trial and error’ resulting in emails that are both interactive and effective.
- Lifecycle-based Automated Emails – Restaurant.com. launched a new system of automated emails or “auto-responders” that reach out to customers they predicted were mostly likely make a purchase of certificates—these are subscribers with data showing they already made a purchase.
- Behaviour-specific Emails – Restaurant.com also formulated emails that perform specific actions, such as reminding subscribers of items abandoned in the shopping cart, encouraging them to participate in social media promotions, and more.
- Quality Control – Restaurant.com also made it a point to test every aspect of the campaign thoroughly before launching it. Different campaigns were tested, and each aspect scrutinised before making a database-wide change.
Implementing these solutions provided a higher ROI than using the batch and blast strategy that was previously used. Despite having attractive coupons on their eDM, their method lacked strategy.
Using an A/B testing tool, the user is able to target specific groups and identifies what engages their intended audience more effectively. Changes made by Restaurant.com to its email strategy have been nothing short of stellar. The conversion rate of the new emails over the old generic ones rose by 150 percent. Likewise, the company saw a 900 percent revenue increase for every 1000 emails sent (that’s $200). And both figures are for the automated emails alone.
The benefits when utilizing this type of testing system is the accuracy it is able to deliver making email campaigns more purposeful and less clumsy, eliminating the ‘firing and forgetting’ strategy.
Fortunately Enform Automailer has most of the elements talked about as standard features allowing for targeted, strategic eDM campaigns with effective ROI. Essentially, the main purpose of creating an eDM is to engage and interact which in turn generates results. So why waste the effort?
One of the most compelling reasons to engage in email marketing is the ability to measure almost everything about the online marketing method. From click-throughs, impressions, to redirects to your site, Automailer lets you test these factors in some way or another, significantly eliminating the problem of guesswork.
Automailer A/B testing is one of the relatively newer tools available to measure email marketing campaigns. And while it hasn’t quite picked up in popularity just yet, its capabilities increase your click-through rates by enhancing your email content.
Tested, Streamlined Content
A/B testing essentially allows marketers to find out which types or versions of emails get the most clicks from subscribers—think of it as using a focus group.
The benefits can prove invaluable if, for instance, you were to compare two types of content (say a video or image) and determine which version gets the most clicks. You could create two subject line tests and send them both to 50 percent of your email subscribers, with the winning email going to the remaining half of your list.
It’s a straightforward system that adds a huge level of safety and accuracy to your email marketing strategy, making the tool perfect for small businesses looking to run for cost effective campaigns.
It takes only a couple of minutes to set up an A/B content test. Our test client had no problems during the first run, and that’s without reading any documentation!
Our test client used 2 different subject lines to create the A/B test difference.
Results showed that Version B generated a massive 279% increase in open rate, in comparison to Version A. Clearly one subject line was more effective in prompting a reaction from the targeted audience. This also resulted in a higher click-through for a win-win.
Needless to say, our client was thrilled with the 279% improvement in open rate results, which were available to him via his Automailer Campaign Snapshot page, live. (Image shown below)
One problem with most A/B testing systems on the market today is that many of them are cumbersome programs with unnecessary features targeted towards corporate users, alienating other segments of the market in the process. Enform, however, offers the A/B testing feature on our Automailer that’s easy to use, even by amateurs.
For email marketers, spam filters are annoyingly efficient and at many times, overzealous at their job of separating relevant messages from junk. There’s much ado about creating email campaigns that get past these virtual gatekeepers, with techniques ranging from avoiding select keywords and phrases, when best to send emails and how best to describe the message subject. What many marketers fail to acknowledge however, is the text to image ratio in the message body.
Outlook’s Junk Filter can cause major issues for campaigns when it comes to message with images. Default settings on Outlook don’t resolve images which is not only an inconvenience but also increases the risk of your audience not getting your message. Outcome? Recipients simply delete the message.
Spam filters have gone beyond just detecting key words and phrases in emails, forcing spammers to insert their content in images. Filters in turn have been designed to be suspicious of image-heavy messages. As a rule of thumb, emails must not be composed of over 40% percent image coverage. Text on the other hand, must be at least 60% larger or more prominent than images.
Other particulars email marketers need to take note of when it comes to images in emails include the number of images in a message, which should not exceed three, the web host of these images, which must be credible and the layout of these images, which should not be touching. Large images are also a major trigger of spam filters, so make sure you make clever use of banners instead.
Finally, be careful when using image banners to fill the top of message headers. Send yourself a test and think of what your customer or recipient will see if images are disabled in their mail client.
- Does the message clearly show who is talking to them and what it’s about, despite the lost images?
- Is there sufficient content to encourage action like click-thru or further reading?
- Does it LOOK like Spam?
Also, remember that despite having standards, HTML code is an imperfect medium as it’s interpreted differently by different mail clients and browsers. Too often we imagine (and obsess) over how our message looks to the recipient in a perfect environment. Reality is that the environment they will use is rarely perfect so your message needs to be adaptable yet clear.
Take a look at the example below from Google. If anyone has the money and the smarts to do whatever it takes they have. Enform Automailer has Spam and mail client test capability built in to help you check this stuff and make sure you get maximum audience engagement and conversion.
With the rise of social media, it may seem that email marketing is taking the backseat, but a recent study says otherwise. According to a survey conducted by Emailvision in November 2011, online marketing professionals in the United States and Europe place much importance in customized and targeted email marketing campaigns. In fact, a surprising 68 percent of respondents said that targeted emails are very important, while 28 percent of those surveyed believe it’s important to some extent. Furthermore, 7 out of 10 respondents believe that email marketing still plays an integral role in their internet marketing strategy, especially over the last 2 years. However, a follow up survey in December 2011 indicated that only 1 out of every 5 people surveyed played an active role in customizing their own email marketing content in campaigns.
Another survey, this time done by Alterian in January of 2011, showed that 43 percent of marketers made use of email segmentation to customize messages according to audience. Forty-four (44) percent of those surveyed utilized some form of email blasting—28 percent of that number utilized basic personalization, while 18 percent relied on mass email blasts. Only 18 percent of respondents in the Alterian survey admitted to firing away emails with consideration of individual customer data.
The Alterian report’s findings on using data at the individual customer level for target email campaigns coincides with Emailvision Global Marketing Survey, which shows respondents wanting to do more with the customer data in their hands. In fact, 1 out of 10 surveyed global marketers expressed belief that they’ve exhausted their options for exploiting customer data. A surprising 46 percent admitted to feeling they could make use of their customer data more effectively. This was followed by 37 percent of respondents who said they could significantly make more use of their data effectively.
Source: Marketing Charts