As an email-based marketing firm you basically have one objective. To make sure those contacts stay contacts. They’re on your list for a reason, mainly the fact that you think that they might some sort of interest in what you are selling.
And if your team is doing its job right, this should be the case. You should have an email list built of subscribers or a group of target contacts that fit your client’s specifications.
So how do you keep them there? It is a known fact that email marketing is the easiest to screw up, with the potential of hurting the reputation of your company and whoever you’re serving.
There are a few things that can happen when you start to really annoy someone on your lists.
There is the first level, which is the most common. It’s not even quite annoyance, it’s just lack of interest. Your email gets deleted without being opened or even just sits in an inbox. All those man hours spent on crafting the words for the copy, then more hours spent on the design and the coding behind it. It’s just immediately sent to from a place of potential to the bottom of a trash can. Perfect. That’s why we do this right?
Of course not.
There is a solution to skirting the mouse and avoiding the dreaded deletion. You need to focus on why you are sending an email to this person.
That means you have to focus on the start. The first thing that someone sees, sometimes it’s the only thing they see. That is the subject line. Subject lines need to be crafted for the audience. They need to excite or educate almost immediately, or at least be the carrot held in front of your contact’s face.
If you want to learn more about creating arresting subject lines, ones that will stop a contact dead in their tracks, I wrote a post about this earlier in the week.
But if you don’t want to take the time to read through my carefully crafted advice, please just remember this: You are speaking to people. In fact, you are a person speaking to people. Think about why you are sending them the email, what put them on this list. If they are a subscriber, it’s because they’ve already expressed interest in what you’re selling. If they’re part of a pre-made list of contacts, it has something to do with the company they run and maybe the position they hold in their company.
Cater to that.
You’re often offering a delicacy in your email, something that the person you’re emailing already likes. So don’t make it sound like you’re offering broccoli to a picky three-year-old. They don’t need that much convincing, they just want you to be straight-forward in telling them what you have to offer.
That brings me to the next point and making sure you don’t end up in the next phase of annoyance: the unsubscribe button.
Scrolling Towards Unsubscribe
Before I get into that I need to go through some legality and history with you.
So back in the early 2000’s, email marketing was just getting its start and, quite frankly, everyone was sort of bad at it. Unsolicited emails flooded inboxes (though it was a trickle compared to today’s volume) and so complaints began to flood in as well.
This resulted in President George W. Bush signing the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003. This law did a number of things.
It first defined a commercial electronic mail message as – “any electronic mail message the primary purpose of which is the commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service (including content on an Internet website operated for a commercial purpose).”
It then defined a series of conditions that commercial agencies needed to follow in order to send these emails:
Alright, now for the good stuff. One of the main reasons people are unsubscribing from your emails is that they aren’t getting anything from it. Maybe they aren’t learning anything and they aren’t entertained by anything, so why would they stick around?
You should have something good to offer. At HiP, we promote high-quality content from our clients. Leads exchange some basic contact info for the content. There’s real value behind the initial copy.
You can have the best copywriters in the world, but if the content behind their initial copy is crap, well, you’re going to lose interest.
It’s sort of a game of promising. Every time someone hits a stage of your email marketing, they are believing a promise you made. This starts with them sorting through their inbox.
It’s a shame, but more likely than not, contacts are not excited about getting their emails. It would be like getting snail mail every day, but with just a handful of actually important and engaging mail. The rest is junk. That is the reality of the modern email inbox. People go in dreading that endless flood.
I had a job where I got between 500 and 1000 emails a day. I’ve actually had multiple like that. Who can handle that? Realistically, no one.
Studies have shown that the average person gets between 100 and 500 emails a day, but can only handle about 50.
So when someone starts believing your promises you better deliver. Because it’s more than just an email to them, it’s using up their precious time.
The first promise lies in your subject line. This is the ultimate promise. You have to keep it short, catchy and accurate. Oh, and experts say that people only look at the first three and last three words of a headline or subject line. So it should be somewhere close to about six to maybe ten words.
Another way to keep yourself out of the line of fire for the dreaded unsubscribe button is to make sure you’re keeping up with technology.
Did you know that ? Even as I sit here at my desk, with my email open on a different screen, I still will reach over and use the email on my phone on occasion. And it’s not just me, this is how so many of your fine-tuned emails are received. So if they are only crafted for a computer, then chances are you get the open, but you won’t be getting a click through.
There is one more stage of annoyance that I haven’t addressed yet. It’s the one action you never want your contact to take.
The Dreaded Spam Button
Now, depending on the temper of the contact, they might use the unsubscribe and the spam button interchangeably. But typically, contacts will only mark your email as spammy if you sound it.
How do you sound spammy? You use false subject lines that make contacts think their bank account is in danger or something like that. Or you overinflate the content you are promoting past its value (The Best Whitepaper Ever). Or you are doing ridiculous things, like writing all in caps or something equally as inane.
Another factor is frequency. Send too many emails in too short a window and people won’t be able to get to their spam button quickly enough.
Basically, you need to annoy a contact into wanting to tattle to their email provider about how annoying you are. And nobody wants that.