Are you still struggling with your broadcast email newsletter? As anyone who knows me knows, I am a strong believer in the power of email. Aside from face-to-face it is the most powerful tool you have–even more-so than the telephone! Your website is like any store in your local mall. People can stop by, take a look, maybe buy, maybe not. You have very little control. With email, you are more like that creepy Amazon service that lets drivers inside your home! Think about it. With an opt-in email newsletter, your customers and prospects have given you explicit permission (and never add names to your list without permission) to come into their email inbox. But there are some tricks to making sure you get the biggest bang for your buck.
Getting your mail into the inbox of your clients is critical. With so many scammers and phishers out there today, email clients are getting very strict; so you want to make sure your email is being delivered. The best way is to never send it yourself from your computer–use a service. One email with even ten bcc names will be flagged for SPAM. The cost of a service like Mail Chimp, AWeber, Constant Contact, etc. is well worth the cost–which may indeed be zero! But once you have that, here are fifteen tips I have learned over the years! Yes, this one is kind of long, but there’s some good stuff–I promise!
- Avoid the Spam Filter
But just because you use a service, doesn’t mean you don’t need to worry about spam. Spam filters generally “rank” each email by a number of different criteria, and, if that email rates above a certain level (such as 10 spam points), then it is flagged as spam and deleted. To make sure your emails don’t get flagged as spam — and deleted before they even get to your clients –avoid using words such as ‘Free’, “$$$’,’Save’, ‘Discount’, etc. in both the subject line and the content of your email. Really, any excessive punctuation will trigger a spam filter–and it makes you look like you are still in high school. Emojis…nope!
- Maximize Click-Thru Rates
Both web pages and emails contain a lot of text and graphics, and this sometimes makes it harder to get your subscribers to perform a certain task, such as clicking on a link to see your special offers. Numerous research papers show that the majority of Internet users respond better to a plain, bold, blue text link — such as this — as opposed to a banner or button. So, if you’re going to include links in your emails, make sure they are bold, blue and underlined. This will mean that more subscribers click through, meaning more sales for you. Also, be sure the link is relevant to the destination. If you are talking about Mexico–they better be headed to a page about Mexico.
- Personalize It
If you were standing in a crowded mall, which of these would get your attention: “HEY!” or “HEY JOHN” (assuming your name is John). The power of personalization can and should be used in your emails. In-fact, by simply starting your email with “Hi [subscriber-name]” instead of the boring “Hi there”, you can increase both your reading and click-thru rates by up to 650%. Why? Put simply, it’s because your subscribers feel like they already have a relationship with you as you’ve addressed them by their first name. Paint a picture for them using what you know. Imagine an email delivered to a client when you know their critical information. You could address them by their names, reference their hometown, their prior vacation, and their pet. “Hi Mary…it’s almost Summer in Miami and the heat will be here before you know it. I remember how much you loved Maine two years ago and I wanted to let you know that there are some terrific deals to Vermont this year if you are thinking about a getaway. Oh, and we have also partnered with Pampered Pet Resort for discounted boarding for our clients–Fifi will love it there. If you have a chance, give me a call and we can plan.” Think about that! You have a CMS—use it.
- One-Click Unsubscribe
If you want to grow your mailing list, then there are 2 things that you absolutelymust have: a double opt-in process (see #5), and a quick way to unsubscribe. In some countries, it’s actually mandatory by law that every email has an unsubscribe link in it. The unsubscribe link should take the recipient directly to a page where they are then removed — courteously –from your mailing list…immediately. Do not send them to another page asking if they are sure. Maybe on the unsubscribe page, have an optional form asking why they left. And let them go!
- Double Opt-In
Don’t get accused of spamming –always, and I meanalways use a double opt-in confirmation process. Double opt-in means that after an email address is entered into your database, the subscriber should then receive a “confirmation” email asking them to verify they really do intend to join the list. This will prevent you from entering all those names your got in the fishbowl drawing you held last week. Your list will be smaller, but it will be much stronger. And remember, 3 great clients that spend are a lot better than a dozen who shop.
- Tuesday and Wednesday = Increased Response
Studies conducted by online research analysts have shown that the best days to perform a mail-out to your list are Tuesday and Wednesday, as this is when people are more receptive to communication. This means that they are more likely to read your content and click on links, meaning more sales. On Mondays, everyone is still recovering from a hectic weekend. On Thursday and Friday, people are already too busy looking forward to the weekend. I’ve actually experimented with this and received the best results by sending out emails at around 2-3pm (EST) on a Wednesday–go figure. Your results will vary–do testing. Several years ago, I did a split broadcast and sent the same message to my database–20% on each day of the week. The open rates were astounding. Monday (23%), Tuesday (72%), Wednesday (76%), Thursday (48%) and Friday (42%).
- Use The Autoresponders
Make use of the autoresponders provided by your email service. An autoresponder is an email that is scheduled to be sent at a certain time interval after someone subscribes to your mailing list. Autoresponders are a great way to automatically follow up with your subscribers or provide them with more information on your agency. For example, after they confirm their subscription, send them an email telling them what to expect–a monthly/weekly email. Also let them know that since they are new to the email newsletter you want to send them some information about the agency and will be sending 4 special emails over the next two weeks to introduce your agency. Start off with your agency history, your bio, your specialties, and client testimonials. This lets them know you are there, and what is happening. Autoresponders help your subscribers build trust in both your agency and your brand, and this can help make it easier when trying to close sales in the future. But be sure you are honest. If you say you are sending a monthly email, send a monthly email or have a solid reason why you are sending more!
- Be Consistent
If you’re running a newsletter or frequent email publication, make sure you keep the look and feel consistent from issue to issue. By keeping the look and feel consistent, you help to maintain and strengthen your brand and your image to your subscribers, which again will make it easier to close sales when you need to. Create a template for your newsletter and whenever you need to create a new broadcast, use that template as the basis for the next one.
- On Time, Every Time
More consistency. When sending an email to your subscribers, always make sure that it’s sent on the same day, at the same time. For example, every other Wednesday at 3pm. Your subscribers will come to “expect” your email like Pavlov’s dogs. They will want to read your content and are generally more receptive to any special offers or promotions you may include.
- The Half-Second Subject Line
When your email arrives in your subscriber’s inbox, you generally have about half a second to catch their attention with the subject line of your email. After this, they will either delete your email or ignore it. In your subject line, try and specify a benefit that the subscriber can expect by reading your email. For example, instead of using ‘Billy Bob’s Travel Newsletter Issue #1’, use “10 Tricks For An Upgrade From Billy Bob’s Travel.”
- Free Stuff
Free is overused these days, especially on the Internet. However, if you’re looking to grow your subscriber list, then create or source a product of value to your visitors (Passport application, packing checklist, etc.) and offer it to them for free when they sign-up for to receive your newsletter. Send them the freebie 1 hour after they subscribe as part of your autoresponder. For my single parent clients I have a package of travel forms including a packing list, permission forms for the non-traveling parent, passport forms and safety tips all in a PDF that is sent out. They may not use it, but it is perceived as something of v
- Mind the Pane
Most email clients will show a preview of an email when it’s selected in the inbox. Always have some interesting content at the very top of your email, as this is the part that will show in the preview window of your subscriber’s email program. If it’s interesting enough, then your subscriber will open your email and continue reading.
- Test, Test, Test!
When creating marketing emails, try using different anchor text for your links. For example, use the same URL but use “Jamaican Getaway” at one point, and “Get Away to Jamaica” at another. Look at the results and adjust as needed. This also applies to images and their positioning. Now, when you need to send marketing emails in the future, you know that you will be sending the right mix of content and images that will attract the most click-thrus, and ultimately the most sales. Use the A-B testing features offered by all of the major email providers
- Send Your Clients To School
Add value to your website, build trust in your visitors, establish your credibility and collect more subscriptions to your mailing list by setting up asecond listwith an email-based learning course. To do this, simply create a new and separate opt-in list and handle it with a series of autoresponders each containing unique content. Then, schedule the first one to be sent after 24 hours, the second after 48 hours, etc. This would work ideally for a first-time traveler. If you are comfortable with video, they could be videos. Yes, they can access them on your YouTube channel, but this puts them right in front of their face!
- Always Sign Off
Always include a signature at the bottom of your emails, as it’s one of the easiest ways to attract more traffic to your website. This signature should include your personal details and your company details. And while I have no statistics to back it up, put in a scan of your handwritten signature–it adds another element of personalization for your client!
Fifteen is a lot of suggestions—implement a few of them and see how they do for you.
All the best-
PS: 👆👆👆 see what I did there?