Email Marketing – Do your homework!

I Do Not Need a 4 A.M. Wake-up Call.

I’ve been getting more and more Email marketing from large companies lately.  I won’t call it spam since I have done business with each of them at some point, even though it has been a while with some of them.

I’m a bit perplexed at the delivery schedule of a few of them as they seem to be following suggestions from the pre-spam era and are sending in the middle of the night.  I have two problems with this.  First, like a lot of people,  I get my mail on a Smart Phone when not at my desk. In my case a Palm Treo 750.  Why is that a problem you ask…because whenever I get new Email, my phone it lights up and announces in a rather loud voice “You have new mail in your in box.”  Of course I could just turn it off, but being the paranoid parent of two daughters that do not live with me, I’d rather leave the phone turned on.  Besides, you never know when Terry Francona might call seeking advice for an upcoming game.  The second problem is that most mornings I have so much junk in my mailbox I really don’t have either the time or the desire to even skim their Email to see if it is of interest to me or not.

Read the Email Marketing Studies.

There are countless resources on the web to teach you everything you need to know about Email marketing.  Studies have shown that consumers are getting an average of 35 Emails a day and business recipients an average of 100.  With that much Email for your subscribers to wade through, you need to make sure yours gets to them at the best possible time.  Opinions vary regarding what day of the week or hour of the day is best.  However, in general most agree that if you are sending B2B Email, send marketing pieces so they arrive around 11 A.M. or 4 P.M., and on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday.  If you are sending B2C marketing Email, then weekends are your best bet for higher open rates and Email should arrive around 9 P.M. or 11 P.M.

If you have the ability to do so, recent studies have shown a much higher engagement rate can be achieved if you get mail to your subscribers on the same day of the week and time of the day that they subscribed.

Is Your Email Message Readable?

After your recipient gets the message, can they read it?  The Email Experience Council reported that 21% of Emails they reviewed appeared completely blank when images were turned off.  Guess what?  That also means that people like me that get mail on a Smart Phone, will not see your much labored over, beautiful marketing piece either.  If your system allows, create a message that sends both a text and HTML formatted version at the same time.  This allows the readers device and software to decide.  Otherwise, create two separate lists and allow your subscribers an option to choose one or the other.  When using HTML, keep code to a minimum as spam filters tend to choke on it.

Personalized Email Campaigns.

If your process allows, you should definitely consider personalizing some aspect of your Email marketing.  However, the statistics show that personalizing the subject line and nothing else will actually decrease your open and click-through rates by about a percent.  One study showed that by just including the company name in the subject line increased the open rate 30-60%.

Test, Test and Test Again.

No matter what I say, or any of the stats studies say, this should only be used as a starting point.  You MUST do extensive A/B testing.  Test everything.  Then, test it again.  Carve out two groups from your mailing list, around 5% for each should be sufficient.  Send each a different variation of your marketing message to each and measure the results.

CAN-SPAM

All I can say here, become very familiar with the rules, and follow them.

[UPDATE:  Is it revenge, or just a GIGANTIC coincidence?  The night I posted this I had eight pieces of marketing Email arive in my mailbox.]

UPDATE:  This wasn’t the end of it, please read part two: Email Marketing Update

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