Email marketing isn’t dying, but it’s certainly becoming more challenging every year. Email open rates are declining, anti-spam laws are becoming more complicated and email service providers like Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo are making it harder and harder for marketing emails to get through to customers. In fact, you might not have heard of this yet, but some email service providers are now marking mail as spam, not because of customer spam complaints, but in response to the average open rate of the email sender.
If the sender has a low enough open rate, any email from the sender is regarded as junk. So having a high open rate is essential, not just for getting your emails read. It’s now the rite of passage for getting into your customers inbox! Let’s look at a few things you can start doing to make sure YOUR emails aren’t forever exiled into the spam bin without your customers ever being able to see them…
Use Double Opt-in Emails
For obvious reasons, a lot of marketers don’t like double opt-in emails. But using the double opt-in can be a good strategy for making sure that the people who sign up for your list actually read your emails. Many opt-in pages include thank you pages which instruct the user to go to their inbox and to confirm the opt-in before the free newsletter or the giveaway is sent to the customer. If your opt-in incentive is good, people will go to their inbox and comply with your opt-in confirmation.
This will make it more likely that they’ll get your emails AND that they’ll remember you when you email them in the future. If they don’t confirm the opt-in, you have to wonder whether they were really that interested in the first place and whether it will be worth keeping them on your list. Most email servers allow you to automatically delete anyone who hasn’t confirmed an opt-in within 48 hours, which will keep your list from being cluttered with “dead leads.”
Follow Up With a Phone Call
Instead of just asking for an email, ask for a phone number and offer a free recorded message to the people who opt-in to your email list. I know, sounds like a lot of work, but it can be done very inexpensively and it will really help you stand out amidst the companies who have gotten lazy and who depend only on email to build customer relationships.
We now have the technology which allows you to automate this process by sending the new subscriber a welcome message. The more forms of media (phone, direct mail, etc.) you use to connect with your customers, the more they’ll remember you and the more likely they’ll be to respond to your emails when they do get them.
Use Social Media
While you’re getting the customer’s email address, ask them to like your Facebook page or to follow you on Twitter. Once again, this will put your messages in front of them in more ways than just via email. The more types of media you use and the more contacts you make to your customers, the more likely they’ll be to remember you. Remember that email marketing isn’t the only game in town. It’s not even the best one. But when coupled with other follow up strategies, email can be a powerful way of turning your warm prospects into paying customers and for turning your past customers into loyal buyers.
Just try some of these methods and see how your response rates increase over the next 6 to 12 months. You’ll worry less about the declining open rates and start building a following which will help you get past the common limitations of email marketing.