One of the key factors to establishing effective communication with your audience hinges on your welcome email. If your audience is not engaging with your initial email and doesn’t find value in it, they are not likely to open your following touch points – and worse, could opt out of future communications. There are many lists of best practices for email optimization. However, this article points specifically to how you can optimize this very first and critical communication: The Welcome Email Touch Point. In “11 Ways to Optimize Your Welcome Email for New Subscribers” on business.com there are many strong points which we have also covered in past webinars.
We especially want to highlight 2 tips as we find them increasingly relevant:
Number 9: Make it Mobile Friendly. Creating email that opens on smartphones is imperative. 85% of people say that mobile devices are a central part of everyday life. – ExactTarget “2014 Mobile Behavior Report.” As soon as the user isn’t able to read the email, it is often ignored or deleted.
Number 11: Establish Trust. While this point seems obvious, it isn’t always top of mind or understood how best to establish trust and execute on it. In communicating with your audience the benefits of subscribing and defining expectations, they are able to understand and anticipate what to find in the next set of emails. We have found that indicating the frequency as well is very valuable in this first touch point. Gaining your audience’s trust will prove beneficial as you deploy second and third touch points.
When we speak with clients, we often get the question, how can I grow my email list. Different strategies work for different publishers. Much depends on your audience, the content they prefer and their engagement preferences. However, we recently found a study on the subject that we wanted to share…
The #1 Tactic for growing your email list is …
…Overlays. According the Email Marketing Benchmark Report study from Subscription Content, executives reported that overlays are among the best tactic for growing your email list organically. On page sign-up box and free downloads followed closely behind.
Through Hallmark’s Drag-and-Drop form builder, Dragon, we’ve worked with clients to support any of the top 5 models.
Read more and view the chart for other effective modes for growing your lists!
On those two fronts, we haven’t come across any reason to be worried. Subscribers are still getting accustomed to the Gmail tabs, and with the tabs not showing on mobile devices (and mobile opens nearing 50%), you’re not going to see your deliverability tank.
However, one new big player in the game of email deliverability is engagement. Major ISPs like Hotmail and Gmail are starting to look at engagement from a subscriber to determine if the email should start going into the spam folder. We can’t rely on the “Total Delivered” metric anymore, we have to start looking at opens, clicks and conversions.
Here are some tips we think may help with increasing your engagement and keeping your emails in the inbox.
You should let your subscribers know how often you’ll email them in an initial welcome series. If subscribers know when to expect emails from you, they’ll be less likely to hit spam. If you don’t incorporate a welcome series, discuss frequency on the subscription page. Once you disclose the frequency, stick to it. If you say you’ll email once a week and then you send three, your subscriber will most likely throw you into their spam folder.
Consider offering varied frequencies. Subscribers may not want to open a daily newsletter, but they’d be willing to open a weekly one instead of unsubscribing. Provide those options to your subscriber. If subscribers have the option to your sending frequency, they’ll be more likely to engage when they receive an email.
A list with a high amount of invalid email addresses is sure to cause some deliverability headache. You can protect this on the front end and clean on the back end.
On the front end: Protect your registration forms. If you have the option to block spam addresses, do so. It’s not worth it to gain a subscriber if your email will never get to them.
On the back end: Clean out hard bounces. Having a routine clean up will make sure that any email addresses which haven’t been going through are taken off your list before they become a spam trap.
Inactive subscribers are just as bad as invalid email addresses. While you may not want to go and do a full scrub of inactive subscribers, there are options to clean up your lists.
1. Determine inactivity. This will be different for each business – but most start with looking for subscribers who have been unengaged for six months. This means they haven’t opened or clicked a single send in that time.
2. Consider a reengagement campaign. Subscribers that haven’t engaged in over a year are most likely not going to start opening and clicking on your emails. But those subscribers who may have stopped opening only within the last few months may react to a dose of fresh content.
The biggest thing that is going to keep your subscribers engaged is relevant content. What is deemed relevant to a subscriber can be determined a couple ways.
1. Explicitly – Consider grouping your content into topics. These topics can be shown on preference or subscription pages so subscribers can decide content they want to consume. Articles, posts, whitepapers can all be associated with these topics ensuring that your subscribers are receiving the information that’s most relevant to them.
2. Less explicitly – A subscriber’s behavior says a lot about what they want to consume. If a subscriber consistently engages with articles or resources that are related in type or topic, they’re more likely to engage with that type of content in the next email.
It’s no longer safe to assume that if your email was delivered that it was delivered to the inbox, or that it will be next time. Keeping your subscriber engaged with relevant content, and keeping subscribers off the list if they’re unengaged will keep your deliverability up and your emails in the inbox.