When you're running a mass email campaign, whether survey emails or marketing messages, it's a good idea to give your attention to every part of the process. You might have written a convincing marketing letter or designed the most informative survey questionnaire, but if it goes straight into the trash—or worse—the spam folder, it will count for nothing.
Here a few things you can do to slip your email through the spam filter and into your customer's inbox. A great presentation and an intriguing subject line maximize the chances that your customers will open it.
1. Get customer confirmation
One of the best email practices you can follow is to always use a double opt-in confirmation when getting your customer's email address. This shows that you respect their confidence in giving you personal information and reduces spam reports from customers who might have forgotten about signing up. It also protects you against spam bots and fake subscribers.
2. Make sure you're CAN-SPAM compliant
The CAN-SPAM act was passed in the USA in 2003 to regulate commercial email practices. Breaking it will see your email in the spam folder for sure. It might also lead to trouble with your email service provider, or even nasty fines. Follow these simple rules and you should be OK:
- Make it easy for recipients to unsubscribe
- When they do, promptly remove them from your mailing list
- Clearly indicate who you are
- Have clear subject lines
- Make it obvious when you send out an ad or marketing message
- Include your physical location
- Keep track of what others do on your behalf
Most of this is second nature for businesses. It's easy enough to follow the laws regarding emails. If you outsource your emailing, keep an eye on what your email marketing agency does, too.
Once your email has reached your customer's inbox, you want to entice them to open it. Here are some tips on how to make it look attractive, legitimate, and interesting.
Optimize for mobile users
If you're like me, you're never far from your smartphone. Most emails nowadays are opened on a mobile device. Movable Ink’s Q2 US Consumer Device Preference Report has the number at 68% as of 2014. That number is only going to grow. Prepare your best email practices for a mobile-dominated future. For the best of all worlds, use responsive email that adapts to the user platform so that your email looks good, no matter what device your customer is using to read it.
Segment your mailing list
Use information from your CRM, data mining, and social media to divide your customers into relevant categories. Some suggestions are age, location, and product usage, there will probably be others depending on your specific field. Once you have your customer demographics, you can send tailored emails that will work best for each part of your customer base.
For the highest open rate, test your email strategies. You can get information about the best time of day to send your emails.
Try out different subject lines and different content. If you have an international customer base, you can try sending out emails in your customer's native language.
Personalize your email
Do what you can to add a human touch to your email. If you have your customer's name, use it. It's important to have a good “From” address—that of a human being, not something general like email@example.com.
If you have a customer service rep who has a long-standing good relationship with this customer, so much the better.
It's a good idea to make your email stand out from the rest. Use your company colors and logo so customers instantly know who the email is from. (Mailchimp says including your brand name in the subject line significantly increases open rates: 17 out of 20 of their top-performing subject lines included a company name.)
Millennials might appreciate an emoji or two, if appropriate. Using HTML emails instead of text will provide the most visual appeal.
Have a snappy subject line
Spend some time crafting your subject line as you did writing your email. If your customers open your email, they will mostly likely at least glance at the contents.
Think about what you want to accomplish and be specific. Just keep in mind your customer's number one question, “What's in it for me?” For instance, “Double your leads in 2 weeks” is a better subject line than “Grow your business fast.”
The subject line should be short—the average computer email field only fits 50 characters; the average mobile device, 30. Some characters, such as $$$, 100% Free, and Act Now, are spam triggers. Some words are overused; some words are boring.
You'll only have your customer's attention for a few seconds, make it clear why they should open your email. It can be a good idea to stress how little of their time it will take, “Please complete this 5-minute survey.”
A good subject line engages the customer's curiosity or arouses their desire for a deal. For instance, if you're sending out a survey, your subject line could take the form of a question, “How was your stay at [Name] hotel?” You could aggravate your customer’s FOMO (fear of missing out), and stress that the email is time-sensitive, “[Your brand's] new 24HR December deals.”
With a little practice, the best email practices to increase your open rates will become second nature. That will give you the chance to showcase your great content, build your brand, and improve your relationship with your customers.