At this time of year, when you hear someone talking about a list, thoughts immediately go to a holiday shopping list. Among email marketers, however, the word “list” brings to mind a subscriber list. And, just as shoppers cross off items from their holiday lists, email marketers should do the same with certain older subscribers on their lists.
You obviously don’t want to delete all old subscribers, as some of these might actually be your most loyal customers. One way to find out if these older subscribers are still interested in receiving emails is to conduct a test.
Segment your list, check it twice
Segment your list into two groups, older and newer subscribers. Compare the bounce rates and unsubscribes (as well as opens and clicks) of the two groups. Subscribers on the old list who appear active (comparable to actives on the new list) are keepers. Those with high bounce and unsub rates or low activity are possible candidates for deletion.
But don’t be over-eager in your desire to cleanse your list. Before removing such subscribers, try a re-engagement campaign to see if you can salvage some of them. If not, go ahead and remove them.
Why should you remove these older subscribers? It’s industry best practice, and for plenty of reasons:
- Inactives – Subscribers with no activity in the past six months or so are poor prospects and more likely to file complaints (which could lead to being blacklisted by an ISP). The length of time deemed as inactive can vary depending on how frequently you send emails. Inactives are dead wood; they are costing you money to email them, and producing no ROI.
- Spam traps – Some ISPs use old email addresses as spam traps designed to identify companies using old lists – and designate them as spammers. Don’t fall for the trap!
Tips for list maintenance:
- Follow the bouncing email address - Hard bounces are email addresses that are permanently undeliverable (bloFolcked or invalid email addresses) and should be deleted from your list. You can keep soft bounces (such as a full mailbox) on your list, but keep an eye on them.
- Check for typos – An email address @gmial.com probably should be @gmail.com. Correct such errors instead of removing the subscriber altogether.
- Just de-dupe it – Remove any duplicate email addresses.
- Be on the alert for alias emails – Remove “role-based” email addresses such as team@, webmaster@, sales@, help@, support@, admin@, etc.
- Opt for opt-ins only - Banish email addresses of people who did not opt in to receive your email communications.
- Be careful out there – Be smart when building your list; do so organically.
Breaking up is hard to do, but it’s all about deliverability. The last thing you want is for your company’s emails to be blocked by an ISP. That’s why domain reputation is so important. And why sometimes you’ve got to cut your losses and move on.
So when you think about your email list, think quality, not quantity. Scrub your list until it’s squeaky clean. Follow the best practices outlined above, and you’ll be considered an email marketer who’s nice, not naughty.
Statistics are the bread and butter of email marketing. That’s the beauty of the email channel – you can obtain real-time results quickly and easily. Let’s take a look at a few of the most common statistics and how they can help you hone your email marketing strategy.
All opens are not created equal. What you want to focus on is unique opens, considered the industry benchmark. Unique opens, as opposed to total opens, counts only one open for each email address. The median unique open rate in the U.S. last year was 16.5 percent.
While you might be interested in industry averages, more important are the unique open rates for your particular industry – and, more specifically, for your own company. Do certain days of the week or times of day have higher open rates? Does length or type of subject line impact your open rate. Test… then retest.
It’s not only important to know how many people opened your email, it’s also key to know what devices they used to open them. If your audience is heavily mobile, you’ll want to make sure your emails are optimized for mobile devices.
Opens are one thing, but it’s the click-through rate (CTR) that most email marketers obsess over. The CTR is calculated by dividing the number of click-throughs by the number of email messages delivered. The resulting percentage is your click-through rate. In 2012, the median CTR in the U.S. was 2.2 percent.
Click-to-open rate (CTOR)
The CTOR – also referred to as the “effective rate” – measures the relevancy and context of an email. To get the CTOR, divide the number of unique clicks by the number of unique opens. If you want a percentage, multiply that figure by 100. The CTOR shows you how many openers clicked on the email itself.
The reason this metric is also called the “effective rate” is because it reveals the effectiveness of your email content.
Subscriber statistics can tell you a lot about your list. A subscriber stat you can’t overlook is unsubscribes. A high unsub rate can mean several things, including:
- You’re sending too many emails
- Your email content is not relevant
If your unsub rate is less than 2 percent, you’re within industry norms. If it’s higher than that, take a look at your frequency and content. And if you notice a spike in unsubscribes following deployment of an email, take a close look at that email to see what might have caused the mass exit.
Other important subscriber statistics include activity (or lack thereof). Sure, you want to see how many actives you have on your list. But equally important – if not more so – are the inactives.
It’s best practice to remove inactives from your list, as leaving them on your list can impact deliverability. You may want to start with subscribers who have never opened or clicked an email. Many email marketers segment inactives by length of inactivity, such as 24 months, 12 months, six months.
If you’re reluctant to simple delete your inactives, you can create a re-engagement campaign to determine which subscribers truly want to remain on your list. In any case, if you ignore this statistic, you do so at your own peril.
You don’t have to be an analytics whiz to interpret email statistics. You do, however, need to be consistent in your regular review of statistics. Deploy, analyze, apply. Wash, rinse, repeat.
Each email you send is a learning experience. Find out what worked, what didn’t, and apply to upcoming campaigns. Add a dash of diligence and a pinch of patience. It’s the recipe for email marketing success.
Image: Lindsey Turner
Read post Comments Off.
While there’s no magic crystal ball to predict exactly what’s in store for email marketing in 2014, we can make some educated guesses based on current trends.
Email marketers are great at marketing products and services (either their own or a client’s), but not so great when it comes to marketing their own email newsletters. Think of your e-newsletter as a product or a value-added freebie. Then market it accordingly.
It’s rather amusing that, in today’s current marketing landscape, email marketing is often referred to as “old-fashioned” when compared with other channels, such as social media marketing or SMS. (Does that mean direct mail is a dinosaur?)
Call it what you want, email still kicks social media’s proverbial butt in overall marketing success. Following are five reasons why.
If you want to have a ho-ho-ho holiday season instead of a ho-hum one, you’ll want to do some A/B email testing before the holidays hit.
The areas outlined below for testing are not necessarily new; it’s how you approach the testing, in terms of holiday shopping, that’s key.
Like it or not, the pre-holiday email season is already upon us.
Don’t wait until it’s the full-blown holiday season to prepare.
Now’s the time to take steps to ensure that your emails will reach the inbox… engage your audience… and achieve greater results.
This year, eMarketer estimates that B2C ecommerce sales will grow 18.3 percent to $1.298 trillion worldwide, with Asia-Pacific surpassing North America to become the world’s No. 1 market. The region will see sales increase by more than 30 percent to over $433 billion. And, according to a GartnerG2 forecast, Asia/Pacific fourth-quarter online sales will grow 53.4 percent to about $2.46 billion.
No matter where your online business is located, the holidays represent a significant chunk of overall sales. And email marketing is a critical component for driving online sales. With that in mind, let’s take a look at three prevailing email trends for the upcoming holiday season. Like it or not, the holiday marketing seems to start earlier and earlier every year, so the holiday season will be here sooner than you realize.
Smart local businesses know they need to be where their customers are in order to be heard. Gone are the days of simply running a newspaper ad or buying a spot in drive-time radio.
Today’s customers are on the job… on the go… and on their smartphones. It’s a known fact that many employees check non-business emails during the workday.
Email marketing isn’t the domain of just national chains and big-box retailers. It’s a cost-effective marketing channel, which is why local businesses need to up their email marketing game.
Here are several examples of how local businesses are using email to grow sales…
Automated emails are not only designed to make your job as an email marketer easier, they help you keep engaged with your prospects and customers on a regular basis. They enable you to send timely responses to inquiries, acknowledge certain actions of customers and subscribers, and show them you understand their needs and interests.
Here are a few do’s and don’ts of email automation.