Give them some love. Here are 5 simple tips to enhance the (email) lives of your subscribers.
1. Make them feel welcome
It’s going well. They’ve visited your website, they like your offering and they’ve signed up to receive your emails. Don’t make them wait until your next scheduled newsletter or promotional campaign! Grab their attention straight away with your welcome email.
A welcome email is one of the most common applications of a marketing automation rule, but it’s an opportunity often missed. Marketing automation rules are made up of 3 simple components: the trigger, the response and the timing. In the case of a welcoming a new subscriber the trigger is a new contact being added to your subscription list, the response is to automatically send your welcome email and the timing is to do it now, at least fairly quickly, before their interest begins to wane.
Welcome emails are a great opportunity to start developing the relationship with your new subscriber. First, since they haven’t received an email from you before (so they won’t yet recognise and trust your from-address), use your subject line to affirm yourself, your intention and your offering. Along with sender recognition, subject lines are a big factor in whether we open emails or not.
Second, other than to confirm subscription and welcome your new subscriber, have a clear goal and convey this with an equally clear call to action. You might want to incentivise a purchase or download – offering content in your welcome email which isn’t otherwise available on your website is a great tactic.
You can also use your welcome email to collect further profiling information about your subscriber. For example, asking for their birthday will give you the information you need to automate a personalised gift voucher when the time is right. Asking for this at the time of their initial subscription can appear a little intrusive, but provided you make it clear why this request will be of benefit to your subscriber, your welcome email is much more likely to receive a positive response.
2. Manage their Out of Office replies
This is a subtle one but it’s worth getting right. It’s likely that a proportion of your regular campaign deliveries will trigger ‘out of office’ replies from your subscribers. These will automatically be returned to the reply-to address that you include when you create and save your campaign. It’s important to make sure that you have an effective way of dealing with out of office and other automated replies.
First, a valid and functional reply-to address is a legal requirement of any marketing email so make sure yours is both. Second, make sure that your ESP (email service provider) is correctly set up to handle automated replies. If not your subscriber’s out of office reply miay be rejected and automatically bounced back to your subscriber as undeliverable. It doesn’t look good for your brand and isn’t the sort of irritation that you want to be bothering your subscribers with.
The quick fix is to ensure that any automated replies are forwarded on receipt back to the original sender. You’ll need to check the details of how your ESP is set up to handle replies (and bounces) and you may need to set up some filtering rules to recognise and process common automated responses.
Finally, make sure that you have a strategy for reviewing automated replies. Out of office messages are probably not too valuable but you may also be receiving automated requests to remove or redirect your future communications. It would be a shame to miss out on news that ‘Melanie Williams’ has moved on but ‘Jacqueline Rushby’ is her new replacement and keen to carry on receiving your messages.
3. Be kind to your mobile users
These days delivering a mobile friendly subscriber experience has moved from a nice-to-have to an essential. Benchmark results show that these days over half of emails are opened on a mobile device. Many routinely preview and screen their emails on their phone or tablet before deciding which they’ll return to when in from of their laptop or PC. Delivering an email campaign which makes your mobile audience pinch and zoom to read or respond is likely to result in frustration or worse, deletion.
It’s an easy fix. Mobile responsive design automatically adapts your email content to be optimised for the device it is being read on. You don’t need to know in advance what device this is and if screened first on a mobile it will automatically reorganise when it’s read later on a larger screen. Other than to use a responsive design template (or, if you’re creating HTML directly, to use a CSS coding approach) there’s not much else to do. However although mobile responsive design will automatically deal with the mechanics of mobile optimisation you may also want to consider how else you can enhance your message for mobile readers. Subtle changes in your use of layout, text and images can all add to an already mobile friendly experience, as can a large, clear call to action.
Finally, if you’re using links to redirect your readers through to your website, make sure that’s mobile responsive too so that their onward journey is equally amazing.
4. Talk to them as individuals
With email we lose lots of the communication clues that as humans we normally rely on in our everyday interactions. Without these it’s easy for our emails to lose or incorrectly convey our intended meaning or emotion. It’s worth taking a little time and some simple steps to minimise this effect. Personalisation is one of the areas where there are some quick and big wins.
When designing email campaigns it’s easy to forget that at the point of consumption email is essentially a one-to-one communication. It’s always a personal message from you, the sender, to a single subscriber, your reader. Even simple personalisation can go a long way to reinforcing the feeling of exclusiveness. This can be in the form of a personalised greeting to your subscriber (‘Hi Catherine’, or if your style is more formal, ‘Dear Miss Crowley’) or perhaps a personalised signature, from you as a real human being. Of course, the more personalisation you can include, the stronger the sense of relevance will be, and this in turn will encourage subscriber engagement and response. Content personalisation ranges from simple profile merging (automatically including relevant information into the body of your content), group targeted campaigns based on audience segmentation (for example to male and female subscribers) to more advanced techniques like Dynamic Content, where highly personalised content is automatically included based on specific subscriber preferences or interests. If you do decide to personalise your content beyond a simple greeting always ensure your personalisation is appropriate in terms of your relationship, accurate and of course relevant.
5. Mind your language
Another consideration is to review your language. Have a look at the following two messages. It’s essentially the same message in both and both show suitable levels of content and enthusiasm but notice how simply replacing words like ‘we’ and ‘our’ with ‘you’ and ‘your’, together with adding some customer value or benefit positioning can significantly change the sense of a personal, one-to-one connection. It’s a subtle change but one which can make a big difference in how your message is perceived.
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The first example is sometimes called ‘we-mail marketing’ and it’s an easy trap to fall into. After all, you’re proud of your brand and you’re in selling mode so it’s tempting to launch straight into how great your new products or services are. Stop, take a step back and reword your copy in terms of your customer and why your news is great news for them, not for you. Sales coaches will talk at length about customer-centric and value-based selling and whether you’re selling supercomputers or sausages it’s largely true. It might sound harsh but ultimately your readers don’t care about you, they care about themselves. My previous sales manager used to enthuse about the ‘so what?’ test. Whatever your message, ask and answer ‘so what?’ three successive times and you’ll get to the true benefit of your message.