How to Create an Email Engagement Strategy that Actually Works (Without Being a Stalker)
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By Sam Green, Published September 15, 2014
You want your subscribers to engage with your emails. And they should – you offer truly useful content, your emails will HELP them. Or…will they? There is a fine line between being helpful and being a stalker, and in the realm of email engagement, that line is defined by three factors. To make sure your subscribers find you on the helpful side of the line, you must pay extra attention to these elements of your email engagement strategy:
Messaging: Simple, readable, and optimized
Targeting: Offer content that’s relevant to each subscriber
Timing: Send at the right time to each segment.
Once these factors are optimized and your email engagement strategy is actually working, you will find that email is an important part of your comprehensive customer experience strategy and that it is a great way to communicate, collect feedback, generate revenue from upsells, and increase retention (and decrease churn).
Customer Experience Strategy: the role of email messaging
Experiments have been conducted and case studies have been written about exact phrasing of your message, fonts to use, page placements, and other elements. To simplify, the bottom line is this:
Email Engagement – Simplify your messaging and CTAs, improve readability, and optimize for mobile.
In exploring the customer experience strategy of Whirlpool, it was discovered that simplifying their message and going from 4 calls to action to one, the appliance mega-manufacturer increased CTR by 42%! How much traffic would a 42% increase generate for you?
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Common UX best practices in designing websites and landing pages apply also to emails. Be sure to place your most important information in the top left corner, and your call to action in the bottom right (yet, still above the fold). Use large fonts and high-quality images.
And remember that 65% of all email messages are opened first on a mobile device, so optimize messages for the most popular devices to engage customers when they are on the go.
You don’t need to stalk your subscribers to make your emails usable. You just need to simplify and optimize.
Email Engagement – Targeting Your Customers
A critical element to offering helpful email content is to properly segment subscribers and offer relevant offers and content to each segment. You must do this carefully to make sure you are always viewed as helpful, not stalkerish.
eMarketer found that list segmentation is considered the most successful technique to engaging email subscribers. You can segment based on demographic information, purchase history, open or clickthrough rates, or anything that is relevant to your business.
By offering email content that is relevant to each subscriber (think: offering women who have purchased fashion magazines links to an article on your site with wardrobe advice from designers, or men who have purchased golf clubs videos on improving their swing), you will build your reputation as a trusted advisor (the stark opposite of a stalker) as well as increase your open and engagement rates.
With optimized messaging targeted to segmented lists, the third element that remains is timing your email messages.
Email Engagement – Timing Email to Work
The final critical element to your prosperous email engagement strategy is timing. Timing, however, is not a magic formula. There is no absolute right of time of day (or day of the week) to send drop email campaigns. The timing you select will be based on your segmentations and will require testing to perfect. But to avoid seeming stalkerish, you must find the formula that works for your subscribers that is not too frequent (and, at the same time, not too sporadic).
In a recent email benchmark study, myths were dispelled when it was discovered that the best time to send certain emails was between 8:00 PM and midnight, offering a 22% improvement in open rates. In another case study, only 15.6% of emails sent on Wednesdays were viewed, whereas Saturday’s messages were viewed 32.5%.
Does this mean that you should send all of your emails Saturday night? No…
It means you should test different patterns with different segmentations and let the results decide.
Customer Experience Strategy: Using email to improve yours
While email is only a part of your customer experience strategy, it is definitely a channel that cannot be ignored.
44% of email recipients made at least one purchase last year based on a promotional email.
Do 44% of your subscribers make purchases?
72% of B2B buyers are most likely to share useful content via email.
Are your emails being forwarded to colleagues and friends?
40% of B2B marketers rated the leads generated by email marketing as high quality.
How do your leads compare?
For every $1 spent, $44.25 is the average return on email marketing investment.
Do your returns measure up?
When done right, and email engagement strategy generates revenue, advances customer experience strategy, and simply works! Use these tips to be helpful and avoid coming off as a stalker and you, too, will see improved results from your emails.