This is the latest in a series of practical columns on “digital marketing made simple” by Constant Contact’s Ron Cates.
No matter how great your email marketing campaigns are, it is highly unlikely that every recipient opens your emails. In fact, the average open rate on commercial email, according to most studies, is 20% or less. A 30% open rate is generally considered to be quite good.
Does this mean that 70% or more of the emails you send are ineffective?
Not at all.
Keeps you top of mind
Being noticed by even a small percentage of your audience has great value.
The average American receives more than 6,500 marketing impressions per day. Even if your service is amazing and your products fantastic, there are a lot of things competing for the attention of your customers and prospects.
Your customers may love you – but they also may forget about you. Permission-based email prevents this by keeping you top of mind on an ongoing, regular basis.
Email works – even when unopened!
Header info is key
In most email clients or services – Outlook, Gmail and the like – recipients see both the “from line” and the subject line. In many cases, this is all they need to take action and buy from you. Why? Because good from lines and good subject lines tell them everything they need to know.
That bears repeating. Good from lines and attention-getting subject lines tell them everything they need to know.
When my favorite local tennis store sends me an email with the subject line, “Sale this Weekend: 20% Off All Shoes,” I excitedly plan a visit. I know who it’s from, due to the from line, and the subject line entices me to visit.
The ‘from line’
The from line typically has two components: your name and your email address. Some email clients display both, some just one or the other.
It’s important that both, on their own, clearly identify who an email is from. An email from an address with a real person’s name in it, whether the recipient knows the person or not, gets opened more than those from something generic like list@, or news@.
And if you send email using the “from name” ABC Travel Company, but your email address is email@example.com and that’s all they see, you’ll create identity confusion.
Subject line smarts
The subject line is trickier.
First, it needs to be short. Between 30 and 40 characters, or less, including spaces, is ideal.
Second, the subject line needs to tell the reader exactly what’s in the email. That way, whether they open it or not, they’re still prompted to take action.
If you’re still not convinced that people take action based on reading the subject line alone, that is without opening the email itself, think about the extremely concise forms of communication that are so popular today. Twitter allows 140 characters maximum, and texting uses abbreviations that find me scratching my head at times.
To gauge the impact of your email campaigns, look at the spike in sales and traffic over the 14 days after your send. That’s your most telling statistic.
It’s also more meaningful than email open rates. Open rates are useful, but merely as a way of making apples-to-apples comparisons to judge the effect of different subject lines, time and day sent, etc.
Digital marketing expert Ron Cates, director of new market development for Constant Contact, is a popular presenter on the topics of social media and email marketing.