CoBiz Magazine: Three ways to botch an email campaign

Original article appeared in ColoradoBiz Magazine

An estimated 93 billion marketing emails are sent each day and yet only 22 percent of them are opened. To ensure your precious communications or promotions miss the mark, follow these tips to be deleted with the kind of speed that would put Usain Bolt to shame.

1. Buy a list and blast it with as many emails as you can.

Ignore everything you read about bad lists and their potential damage to your sender reputation. Purchase—better yet, rent—the biggest list you can find. Then? Batch and blast, baby. Personalization and relevancy are so 2005.

Reality check: Personalization and relevancy are actually increasingly important aspects of your email campaigns. Study after study shows a significant lift in engagement—some as much as 170 percent—yet only 30 percent of marketers personalize their email content.

Easy wins: Stick to organic list growth practices. Want to gain more subscribers? Offer value-added content such as reports, white papers or infographics in exchange for an email address.

As you are building your list and sending emails, track data to use for segmentation and personalization. Demographics are a good place to start. But take a look at your analytics, too. Do individuals open and act on your email on different days or at different times? Can you offer relevant content based on location or past purchases?

Once you have actionable subscriber data, start to segment your list and find ways to personalize your emails’ content. Be sure to A/B test your tactics and continue to improve your efforts by gathering more data with surveys and robust email preference centers.

2. Use all caps, special characters and lots of exclamation points in your subject line.

The more pizzazz in your subject line, the better. And symbols are the best way to communicate any important information. Go a step further by using catchy words and phrases—Rolex, foreign investment account—or Re: and Fwd: to increase opens.

Reality check: When was the last time you opened a spammy looking email? Probably half past never. Internet service providers (ISPs) know that and are increasingly focused on individual inbox experiences. This means that a person’s specific actions—opens, deletes, moving items to folders, reporting emails as spam—are being combined with other ISP data to determine sender reputation and future deliverability.

Easy wins: Give your subscribers reasons to engage with your email to continue to land in their inboxes. Keep your subject lines short and relevant. A maximum of 50 characters will display on most mobile devices. Use the 100-140 characters of preheader text, as well, to entice readers.

Pay attention to engagement statistics, too. Consider pulling your inactive subscribers into their own list and running a reengagement campaign with the best offer you can muster. No luck? Remove them and move on. If you are still focused on building a high quality, organic list, a more engaged subscriber will take their place soon enough.

3. Design an email with desktop-only readers in mind.

No one reads their email on a phone, so don’t waste your time with responsive design and touchable call-to-action buttons. It’s also best to assume that your entire audience uses the same email client that you do—Yahoo, of course—so sending a test email to yourself should suffice for quality assurance.

Reality check: With an estimated 66 percent of emails being opened on a mobile device and 70 percent of smartphone users saying that they immediately delete emails that don’t render properly, if you aren’t paying attention to the way your emails look on phones and tablets, your campaigns (and brand and ROI) are suffering.

Easy wins: Find and use a responsive template for your campaigns. Sites such as ThemeForest or Stamplia offer these for as little as $15. Do you code your own emails or have an email developer? There are responsive email design tutorials online, too.

But don’t stop there. Once you have a template that should look good across clients, platforms and devices, test it to make sure that it does.

Remember, email is almost 40 times better at acquiring new customers than Facebook and Twitter and 68 percent of companies rank it as the best channel for ROI, so it’s well worth your time and effort to slow down and do it right.