Admit it. It hurts.
You send another carefully crafted email to your list.
And no one cares. The few who open your emails don’t reply or click on your links.
Your motivation to keep up a regular emailing schedule dwindles with the consistently uninspiring results.
Perhaps email marketing is just not working. Perhaps email marketing is dead.
However, according to statistics, it’s still 40 times more efficient than marketing on social media.
For some people email marketing is very much alive!
These are people whose messages are always a welcome surprise, however busy your inbox is. You absolutely LOVE to read and respond to them.
The best part is – you can become one of those people. Someone who people look forward to speaking with. You can elevate your messages from meaningless marketing drivel into something people love to receive and read.
Let me show you how.
The Uncanny Valley of Personal Communication
Remember Wall-E, the cute little trash compactor robot from the 2008 Pixar movie? With the cute big eyes and those paddle hands?
Isn’t it curious that this boxy robot has no human features, and we still find it quite endearing?
Now brace yourself. Let’s look at another artificial creation, this time with more humane features. Feast your eyes upon the manifestation of your nightmares:
Not quite human. Not quite artificial. Creepy enough to make your skin crawl.
This area of repulsive response caused by a robot with appearance between a “barely human” and “fully human” entity is called the uncanny valley. (Wikipedia)
This is the major issue with most email marketing: it looks and sounds like a real person wrote it, but there’s something that just feels slightly off. It’s like something almost, but not quite human, is shouting a message at you.
It doesn’t feel like real communication.
We feel compelled to interact when a real person speaks to us. It is human nature, we’re built like that. But when it’s a slightly creepy almost-human is shouting a message at you, you haven’t the slightest urge to interact with it.
That’s why your inbox is littered with untouched emails.
Your Receiver is a Person, Not an Email Address
The easiest way to get out of the uncanny valley of emails is to stop treating your mailing list as a list of email addresses.
It IS a list of email addresses, right?
No. It's a list of people.
Every one of those email addresses has a person behind it. Every person with their own unique story, their own little victories and little tragedies. Every person with a lifetime of different experiences, secrets, and unfulfilled wished. Their lifetime of experiences culminated in them signing up to your mailing list.
Don’t mistake your mailing list as a target for content marketing, because it isn’t.
This may sound like a minor semantic distinction, but it leads to a massive difference in marketing philosophy. You market content to mailing lists, but you speak about interesting topics with people.
When you realize your list is full of people who have given you explicit permission to personally contact them, it changes everything.
From Email Marketing to a Personal Conversation
Here are five reasons your email opening rate may be tanking. Fix these mistakes and you’ll find your email conversations a lot less one sided.
1. You spend less than 5 seconds writing your subject line
The importance of your subject line is paramount. Next to the sender's name, it's the only reason people have to open your email. Here are some quick tips for writing great email subject lines:
Using clickbait or spammy words in a subject line most often will send your mail straight into the spam box. Some email providers automatically filters out emails with spammy headlines. Avoid using words like “Help, Reminder, Free Offer”.
Include your reader's name. This might require some extra grunt from your autoresponder, but it's well worth it. Our attention naturally spikes when we hear or see our name mentioned. Use it to your advantage.
Create a sense of urgency
Classic influence triggers work great in email headlines. Include deadlines like “today only” or “24-hour giveaway” to encourage your reader to act now.
Make the benefit clear
Why should people open your email? As with your article headlines, remember to include an alluring, yet clear, benefit to opening your emails.
- Good subject line: “Hey [FIRSTNAME], Join our free Facebook ads webinar in 2 days”
- Bad subject line: “Facebook advertising webinar”
- Good subject line: “[FIRSTNAME], I’m practically giving this away”
- Bad subject line: “Special offer! Only today!”
2. Your email list is one lump of addresses
Are you sending the same email to your whole list?
If one subscriber is your customer and another is still on the fence about purchasing, you can't speak to them the same way. If you try, you'll come across inconsistent or the way most marketers do: completely impersonal and salesy.
Instead, you should tailor different messages to different subscriber groups. Segmenting your list will allow you to be specific and personal with each subscriber. You’ll sound more natural and engaging, and people will feel like they’re being contacted by a real person.
Here are a few simple and useful ways to segment your list:
- Subscribers and customers
- People who open every email and people who rarely open your emails
- People interested in topic x
- People who subscribed at a certain time (during a product launch or webinar, or maybe a lunar eclipse)
BONUS: Using a lead generation plugin like Thrive Leads, you can even separate subscribers based on specific articles or web pages.
For example, if your blog is about the newest gadgets, your audience consists of people interested in technology and devices. You still shouldn’t send an email about iPhones to an Android user. Using Thrive Leads, you can separate your subscribers into people who like to read about iPhones and people who like to read about Android phones.
3. Your email is unexpected
Imagine you're about to purchase a pair of shoes from an online dealer. They're in your shopping cart, but for whatever reason you're pulled away from your computer and you forget about your shopping cart.
A few days later you receive an email about that particular pair of shoes, reminding of a low price offer. How likely are you to open that email?
119% more likely than if it appeared out of the blue, data says. (Epsilon, DMA)
Here’s a few ways to trigger your email sequences based on your visitor’s actions:
- Did your visitor subscribe to download your opt-in offer? Send them a follow-up series expanding on the topic, perhaps leading to an upsell.
- Did your visitor subscribe to attend your webinar? Send them a thank you note and ask them to attend your extended course on the topic.
- If you have a regular newsletter, send it on the same day every month or every few weeks, so your readers will know to expect it.
4. Your list management sucks
How many of your subscribers have recently interacted with your website?
How many have actually read your emails?
Do you have any idea of these statistics? You should.
If your emails are consistently ignored, it will trigger all sorts of spam detectors in ISP-land, which can dramatically reduce the delivery rate of your emails.
Try out this free email delivery test by Sendforensics to see how well your emails find their receivers.
To increase deliverability, you should:
- Always ask for permission before collecting emails. This one is a given, but it is worth hammering in.
- Before users sign up, make it clear what sort of emails they will be receiving.
- Periodically send emails to people who haven't interacted with your messages, asking if they want to continue being on your the list. Remove the ones who don't respond or show no interaction.
5. You haven’t tested what works
You know the saying – throw it on the wall and see what sticks? Well, if you always throw the same thing, how can you know what sticks and doesn’t stick?
At Thrive Themes, we recently tested sending our emails with images and without images.
Guess which one got a better clickthrough rate? Rather surprisingly, it’s the one without images.
The difference wasn’t huge, but it wasn’t marginal either. Getting more people to read your email without having to design images is just win for everyone.
You can never know what sort of email best works for your audience unless you test and test again. Among other things, you should test:
- Emails with and without images
- Writing in a professional tone and a friendly tone
- Send emails on different days of the week
- Send emails at different intervals (once a week, once a month)
If your list is big enough, you can test different things using just a small portion of your list at a time. A quick way to segment your list for testing is splitting people by their initials:
Testing group 1: Last names beginning with A-E
Testing group 2: Last names beginning with F-O
Testing group 3: Last names beginning with P-Z
Then send out test emails to one group at a time and compare results. Of course, if your list is only a few hundred people, you don’t need to segment for testing. Find out what group has the largest opening rate and build off of that.
Turn Your Email Into a Shining Beacon of Value
Needless to say, spamming is dead. Email marketing may be dead as well.
Providing value on a personal level uniquely to only your reader is something people will ALWAYS cherish.
Revise these pointers and you'll soon be providing value to a trusted group of subscribers, shooting your opening rates to the skies.
Remember that every campaign requires a directly connected landing page. That means you need to be able to create landing pages in minutes for every new campaign.