Some people think email marketing has lost value with the rise of social media. Recent studies show it has better return on investment than social but businesses are still moving away from it. That’s good news for people who still use it. Less competition!
Today I’m going to discuss three factors that influence email marketing results. For this business, I’ve been testing email campaigns to Realtors using different subject lines, offers, content and timing. Let’s look at a few results.
Assumptions – I’m assuming tracking is in place. With anti-spam laws the way they are, it is dangerous and costly to just BCC a campaign from your email client. Using a third party service limits your liability and provides tracking.
Factor 1 – Subject Lines
This is what people see in their inbox. If it’s not catchy or specific, your open rates will suffer. Consider the following example:
I mailed two separate campaigns to the same list. My not so great subject line of “Free Marketing Evaluation – Our Gift to You” got a 2.5% open rate. That’s not very good, especially considering the alternate below it got a nearly 4% open rate. My next campaign to the same list got a 16.47% open rate. In email marketing that’s a home run! The subject line was “Worried About the Zillow/Trulia Merger?” The difference was three fold; it asked a question, it was timely to a recent industry change, it exposed a pain point.
Factor 2 – Design
With that success in the books, I decided to improve. In my haste to get the guide out, I threw together the email. This time I used a better designed template, a different list of my target market and the same subject line.
That home run from before just became a grand slam. The open rate improved to 20.22%! Was it the design? No. Design has no impact on the open rate because it’s not seen before the email is opened! It was the list. This was a new list that had never seen anything from me.
Factor 3 – Timing
At this point I was pretty pleased with myself. I had another never mailed to list of my target market and I was really hoping to make a big impact on this mailing. I had considered sending it out on a Saturday afternoon with a different subject line, but I didn’t want to tweak something I didn’t feel needed to be changed.
So I scheduled it to go out first thing Monday morning. The results were alarming! Even though this was an exact duplicate of the “home run” email campaign, the open rate was a disappointing 6.7%. This is still much better than the other campaigns I’d sent, but there was a huge drop off. Both the other campaigns were sent later in the week in the afternoon and evening.
Open rates are just one part of a successful email campaign. Optimizing your open rates improves your chances for branding, leads and sales. Like direct mail, the biggest challenge with email marketing is getting people to see your message. Test and retest your subject lines so you know what works with your target audience. Once you’ve found a successful strategy, build upon it.
Keep refining your email lists. Every campaign you send eliminates dead email addresses and people who don’t want your message. That means your stats will improve, but you have to keep sending mail.
Finally, timing is everything whether it’s social media posts or email. Once you find a good time, target your marketing around it.