Don’t let critics fool you. Email marketing is still a highly effective way to acquire new clients, increase sales, and grow your business – especially when you include personalization, quality content, and value-added material that is relevant to your audience.
What’s the secret? Unfortunately, there’s no silver bullet that can guarantee sales. However, here are five steps to improve email open rates and engagement.
1. Timing is everything
When is the best time to send an email? You have probably heard all sorts of answers. Many studies claim different days and times are best, but the truth is, every industry and customer base is unique. A business that provides B2B tech services will likely see their subscriber’s open emails at different times than subscribers of a clothing company.
With this in mind, it’s important to know when your subscribers check email. You can use email marketing services to test and analyze open and click-through rates. You can then determine the best time to send outbound automated emails.
2. Email subject lines play a critical role
In today’s digital world, an inbox full of unread messages is commonplace. People are inundated with information, to the tune of over 105 billion emails sent each day to be exact!
Can you imagine how many of those go unnoticed or unopened? This is why you must win over the recipient immediately. Otherwise, your emails will be pushed to the bottom as more flood the gates.
Create a compelling email subject line to stand out and offer immediate value for your subscriber. People are always asking themselves, “What’s in it for me?” This is your chance to get personal and show them.
How can you accomplish this?
- Use their first name or business name (depending on the type of list)
- Be creative and compelling to provoke curiosity
- Touch on pain points to entice action
- Hint to what they will find in the email
- Don’t reveal too much and keep it short
It may seem like a small factor, but email subject lines are the first thing someone sees in their inbox. So, use it to your advantage and establish a connection immediately.
3. Connect first, sell second
Once a subscriber has clicked to open your email, they’ll be looking for ways to connect with your brand. Don’t jump right in for a hard sell. It is generally a turn-off and a click to unsubscribe often follows.
Instead, this is an opportunity to engage on a personal level and build rapport. Consider your first email correspondence the beginning of a conversation. People want the companies they support to represent their values and ideals. With this in mind, the best way to build a relationship is on common ground. In the first email, don’t hestiate to share details about your business.
- Do you have a unique history? Share a brief backstory about how you started.
- Do you donate a percentage of profits to charity, or use eco-friendly materials in production? These are shared values people will rally behind.
- How can you remedy the issues they are facing? Don’t be afraid to offer friendly and applicable advice.
Send a few emails like this with a clear call-to-action in each messaging point. You can inspire engagement and get to know your subscriber’s personas by including polls and surveys, too! As you gather more information about your ideal customers, you can segment your email list based on this information and send automated emails to cater to each persona.
4. Don’t be afraid to ask for a reply
Another way to increase email engagement is to flat out ask for it. It seems like a no brainer, right? But most people forget this is the easiest way to gain a response. Also, it’s the perfect chance to get subscribers accustomed to engaging from the start. However, there is an art to the ask.
Here is a good example from Harpers Magazine:
May I send you a free copy? There is no obligation attached to my offer… Please let me know if you’ll accept my offer by January 31.
Notice the copy begins by asking permission to send more information. Trust is built by assuring the recipient there is no obligation upon acceptance. The CTA politely asks for a reply. Asking for a reply is a creative way to show subscribers they have the choice to opt-in. As a result, they will feel more empowered and less pressure to take action.
5. Send trigger emails
Trigger emails are automated messages based on certain behaviors or interactions with your website. This allows you to nurture leads and essentially guide visitors through the sales process before and after they become customers.
Here are a few types of trigger emails that are personalized and can make recipients feel uniquely valued:
- “Welcome” emails for new subscribers
- “Happy Birthday” emails
- “We miss you!” re-engagement emails
- Purchase confirmations and shipping updates
- Abandoned cart reminders
6. Bonus Tip: Don’t forget to make it personal
There’s a common theme among emails that solicit a response from subscribers. You’ve got to make it personal! People want to feel they are revered as individuals. They want to feel special. You can’t do that by mass emailing every contact on your list with generic offers.
Utilize these tips with a focus on email personalization. By taking advantage of data tracking and email automation, you can create a tailored experience for each subscriber that will increase engagement and email response rates.
Matt Shealy is the President of helping small businesses growtheir business on the web while facilitating the connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.
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