Email subject lines are crucial. Why? Because people do judge newsletters by their subjects. And here’s the bombshell: 30% of email recipients decide whether to open an email simply based on its subject line. And 69% of email recipients report email as spam based solely on the subject line. However, this blog is not about writing email subjects. Instead, I’ll focus on convincing, hands-on tips that will help you reach the point where your subscribers can’t help but open your newsletters.
Keep it short.
To quote Mark Twain, “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” Brevity is the key. A subject line should contain the most important information about your offer in just 25-50 words! Taking Mark Twain’s word for it, brevity in writing is a challenge. So the key here is to be expressive and to the point.
Avoid Phrases and don’t come on too strong.
“Sizzling Summer Sales” or “Winter Clearance Sales” are to the point and short enough. So what could possibly go wrong? They don’t have the element of surprise. So your subscriber has less incentive to open. And they are rather common, so you lose your brand’s scent. And in return — trust and recognizability of your subscribers. On the other hand, watch out for a subject like: “Hey, I’d like to sell you something” — I can guarantee it will land in the spam folder. The same will happen if you use ALL CAPS. So key takeaways are: don’t overuse words that may trigger spam. Stay focused, and be original. It will not only boost your open rate but also increase deliverability.
Make them feel extraordinary, but be careful about emojis.
The attitude of exclusivity is a powerful thing. By offering an exclusive benefit or giveaway, people get the sense of belonging. Belonging helps build loyalty, and in turn helps conversion. The right phrasing can embed the sense of exclusivity and show your subscribers that they are special to you. Using a custom field can help you achieve this effect. A targeted message can achieve a 54% response rate, according to Localytics. An emoji can help you enhance this effect, but be careful – a smiley, thumbs up, or heart don’t belong in some industry branches. Besides, think about your buyer persona – what would he or she think of the emoticon you’ve got in mind?
Create a sense of urgency.
Subject lines that embed the sense of compulsion and exclusivity can deliver an open rate 22% higher than regular notification emails. Pretty impressive. But how to apply it in casual email marketing practice? Think of using a deadline and action verbs in your subject lines. Your subject line can make a perfect call to action if you use language that inspires people to click. An action verb can help people visualize themselves acting on your offer.
Don’t forget the preheader or help text.
This is where you get to bring out more details regarding your offer. While a preheader isn’t technically part of your subject line, it does appear next to it — and it certainly deserves your attention. It provides recipients with a peek at the content inside your email, which email clients like the iPhone Mail app, Gmail, and Outlook will display alongside the subject line. In this post, we wrote about why a preheader is usually neglected. But it is important in the inbox. Point:
A preheader is like a subtitle – it guides, explains, helps the reader understand, and encourages. When you don’t set it up yourself, the email client automatically pulls text from the body of your email. This can look messy depending on your email content, and it’s also a wasted opportunity to engage your audience. Again, keep it brief: 100-150 characters is optimum.
The From field is your online identification.
Yes, we can’t talk enough about the from fields. And deliverability. A from field helps you legitimize the contact with your audience. And legitimization is a real challenge, as nearly one-third of marketers reported blacklisting and spam reports as their biggest challenge. As mentioned before, 30% of recipients decide whether to open a newsletter based on the preview. And your from field is an integral part of it. So a few takeaways for the long-term perspective are: be recognizable, appear trustworthy, and use a from field. Although these may not bring immediate results, they intensify trust and relationships over time.
Don’t forget A/B testing.
Although these tips are a great place to start, what works for some companies may not work as well for others. It’s all about figuring out what works best for your specific audience. That’s where A/B testing comes in. While it can be tempting to use your intuition to predict what subject line language will make people click on your emails, you should be A/B testing your subject lines constantly and tweaking wording according to your results. GetResponse allows you to conduct effective split tests, even when you’re a free trial user. Bear that in mind when making changes to your email subjects or from fields.
Now you know where to start when pondering the best subject line for your upcoming newsletter. Keep in mind that 69% of email recipients report email as spam based solely on the subject line (Convince & Convert). I hope this post will be your guideline or best-practice checklist. While we’re at it, share your thoughts – we’d like to know what worked for you? And how did it help you engage your audience?
In my previous blog we have discussed why email marketing will help you with your photography business. And the importance to keeping people engaged with the services you have to offer.
Today I’ll write about how you can start your Newsletter/Email campaign.
“Can you now start to see why you should rethink including email marketing in your overall strategy for getting new clients if you’re not already doing that?”
Even then, I know you might still have some reservations.
For example, I hear the same objection to email marketing as I do with blogging, which is “I’m not a writer, and I’m just not good with words.”
I can understand that, but the reality is you don’t need to be a writer. You just need to be able to communicate with people in a real and genuine way. Does the issue of not being a writer stop you from emailing your friends and family? Of course not, because the formal rules of writing simply don’t apply to emails.
In fact, the less formal and the more personable you are in your marketing emails, the better off you’ll be.
Still not convinced?
Ah, yes, that might all be true, but I don’t want to spam people with emails they don’t want!
Then send them emails they do want instead! So, for example, if all you do is send hyped-up sales messages that look like desperate pleas to get people to book right now, the chances are that it will be seen as spam, and your subscribers will unsubscribe.
On the other hand, if you send people information and content that will actually interest them or help them in some way, they’ll be more than happy to hear from you.
It’s All About Creating More Trust
As you can see, getting people to hire you is based on trust, and that level of trust is earned over time – it’s not something that just happens the first time someone visits your website.
While SEO and social media are great at attracting new visitors, they’re not so good at getting people to keep coming back for more.
That’s where your email marketing campaign comes into play – you can communicate with people over time to lead them back to your website or blog for multiple visits, each time increasing the trust factor until they’re ready and comfortable hiring you.
So how do you actually go about doing this stuff?
How can you create a simple email marketing campaign without driving yourself crazy in the process?
I’ll break it down into 7 easily manageable steps to make the overall process simple.
Here we go then…
#1: Choose An Email Marketing Provider
Step number 1 is to choose an email marketing provider. They can handle the administration of your email lists, take care of who subscribes or unsubscribes, and of course send out the actual emails to your subscribers.
Whatever you do, don’t try to handle this yourself!
If you try to save money by not using a third-party email service provider, I guarantee you’ll run into all kinds of problems and could even end up with your website domain being blacklisted by just about every service provider out there, meaning that you’ll lose the ability to get your emails delivered to your subscribers.
For the sake of a few bucks per month, it’s more than worth paying for a good email marketing company.
But who should you use?
We have numbers of service provider, say Mail Chimp, Benchmark, StayInTouch etc. I usually prefer StayInTouch as it much cost effective and the services are incredible awesome with good support.
#2: Create Your Email Lists
Having chosen your email service provider, the next step is to set up your first email list. The purpose of the list is simple – your subscribers will be attached to your list with their email address, name, and any other information you collect when they sign up.
Of course, you can have multiple lists if you like, and you can have the same people on more than one list, which can help to segment your audience, but you obviously need to start out with at least one list.
Just give your list a name and create it – that’s all there is to it at the moment, and I’ll talk about how to add people to your list in a few minutes.
Before you can do that, you need to create something your subscribers will want in exchange for giving you their email address. That’s what we call a lead magnet.
#3: Build Your Lead Magnet
Often called an “ethical bribe”, the job of the lead magnet is to give your audience a reason for them to sign up to your email list. Because someone’s email address can be considered a form of marketing currency, if you like, your lead magnet needs to be something they’ll find interesting and valuable.
Although the most common type of lead magnet is an eBook, there’s no rule that says it has to be that, and it can be almost anything.
Some examples include:
- An eBook (really nothing more than a simple PDF document) with tips and ideas…
- A video or series of educational or entertaining videos…
- Some type of course, delivered by email or through a membership portal…
- Coupons or special offers just for new subscribers…
Unfortunately, this is where so many people seem to hit a wall, but for all the wrong reasons!
It’s natural to imagine we have to give our new subscribers something really amazing, which helps of course, but the other assumption is that it has to be big, or look super-impressive, which can actually be counter-productive.
Going overboard to create an epic guide just isn’t necessary at this stage. If you think about it, your subscribers just want some quick answers to a few important questions, and they don’t have all the time in the world to go through a big book.
In some cases, a simple but comprehensive checklist or “cheat sheet” can suffice, although I’ve found that a short eBook of around 8 to 10 pages works very well.
The one thing your lead magnet should have is a call to action, preferably repeated several times throughout, to get your subscribers to take the next step toward working with you.
One question photographers seem to have here is, “where do I put the lead magnet and how do I send it to new subscribers?”
There are several options for this, the most common is to simply store it in a folder on your website. You can also use a cloud-storage option, such as Amazon S3, which is the method I recommend if your lead magnet is a video file or other large-sized asset.
Whichever option you choose, all you need to do to get your lead magnet into the hands of your new subscribers is to give them the URL where they can access it.
#4: Craft The Welcome Message
This is where the welcome message comes into play. This is a special email you create that’s attached specifically to your new list.
The welcome message is automatically sent to all of your new email subscribers as soon as they sign up, and this is how you will deliver your lead magnet to them.
The welcome message is also important because you can let your people know they’re in the right place, show them where and how to access your lead magnet, as well as laying the foundation for your future email marketing campaign by explaining what they can expect from you going forward.
Managing your subscribers’ expectations at this point can go a long way toward keeping them happy and reducing the unsubscribe rate in the future. For example, if you plan on sending an email each week, on a Tuesday, let them know that’s what they can expect, rather than hoping they’ll just pick it up as they go along.
#5: Create A Dedicated “Thank You” Page
Most people will stop at this point, assuming they’ve got everything covered, but there’s another important element you need to have in place that can really help cement the new relationship with your email subscriber.
Email service providers such as StayInTouch allow you to redirect your newly-subscribed contacts to a special page on your website as soon as they subscribe.
This is called the “thank you” page, and its purpose is exactly as the name suggests. This is a page you create on your website that sits outside the normal navigation and is designed to be ignored by the search engines. You don’t link to it from anywhere else on the site, so the only real way people can land on this page is by subscribing to your email list.
You can use this page to thank people for signing up, to reassure them that your lead magnet is on the way to them, and what they can expect to get from you going forward – essentially the same things you would include in the welcome message, except that you don’t provide the lead magnet download link on the thank you page.
However, you can take this a step further, by presenting a new subscriber special offer, or providing something of additional value. You might even have a low-cost product for sale. The idea here is to get your subscribers used to interacting with you, so that they’ll be more likely to follow your calls to action in your regular emails.
#6: Integrate Your Sign-Up Form
That still leaves the question of how to actually get people to sign up to your email list.
To do that, you’ll need to use a sign-up form, and most email service providers allow you to create those in their system and then deploy the HTML code on your website wherever you want to use it.
The main issue with most sign-up forms is they don’t look all that attractive, and you might need to alter the style of the form on your website by adding some custom CSS code in your style sheet. Alternatively, you can use one of the many opt-in plugins available to create better looking sign-up forms that integrate with your service provider.
This is really the only technical step in the whole process, but it’s not that hard to overcome, and you can always find someone to help install the sign-up forms if you don’t want to get involved with it.
#7: Send Regular Weekly Emails
Finally, you’ve got everything in place, and all that’s left is to send out your regular emails – I refrain from calling them newsletters because the last thing people really want is another business newsletter.
How often should you be in contact with the people on your list?
I recommend once a week, not the once per month option that most people seem to want to default to. A monthly email sounds attractive and perhaps less intrusive, which appeals to those who are scared of being seen as spamming their list, but the problem is people will be more likely to forget about you in between emails.
Once per week means you can send a couple of information-based emails each month, and one that tells them about an offer, event, or promotion you might be having. As long as most of your emails are packed with useful and interesting information, they will be well received, and you’ll be able to get away with the occasional sales-oriented email.
Another question I often hear about this has to do with which format to use – HTML or plain text emails.
My answer is almost always to use the HTML format so you can take advantage of the tracking system to monitor open rates and click through rates etc. but to only send text in those emails.
Yes, I would avoid using those pretty HTML templates that seem so tempting for the simple reason that a fancy template full of graphics will immediately make your email look like a business email and rob it of your personality. Think about it, you don’t usually use pretty templates with lots of graphics to email your friends and family, do you?
No, of course not.
The same goes for your clients and prospects.
Consider the fact that you’re in a people-based business where personal interaction is an important element. Your clients have to know, like, and trust you before they will hire you, so putting your email communication on a formal business footing is likely to be counter-productive in that situation.
Yes, there are businesses that can benefit from using a more formal style of email, but I don’t believe photography is one of them, so I recommend that you stick with simple text emails and an informal writing style, at least until you’ve gotten used to how all this works and you can experiment to test different formats for yourself.
I hope this will help you through your venture in Photography. Wishing you all the very best!!!
Having just returned from holiday made me think about the way travel companies, be it agencies or airlines, don’t take full advantage of the power of email. So, here are some email marketing tips travel companies can use to enhance revenues using the data they have at hand about their subscribers.
Travel companies’ major advantage
Travel companies are particularly fortunate in terms of gathering data, because it’s part of the nature of their business. Of course, being transparent with the customer is very important, so make sure you let them know what data you store and why. Generally, the types of data would be:
- Locations – both place of origin and destination
- Dates – of previous holidays and sometimes birthdays
- Budgets – based on previous purchase(s)
What goes around, comes around
Many people take their holidays around the same time every year, so make sure that you are part of that life-cycle. And next year when your customer wants to book again, they’ll book with you. How can you do that? Use that invaluable data with the marketing channel that gives the best ROI: email.
Tips that can make a difference in your email marketing
- Timing doesn’t mean time of the year: even though there are some definite times of the year when people travel, don’t ignore other opportunities. There’s never a bad time to email your subscribers, because people book holidays at different times of the year. Some even avoid peak months to avoid the crowds.
- Make me dream, before you want me to buy: I used to get lots of emails with discounts for different destinations, but I wasn’t in the mood to buy so I unsubscribed. Make your subscribers dream about the destination first. Get content from the web (or your own blog) on top attractions and culinary experiences, include pictures, videos, animated GIFs, whatever works for you. And then send them the email with the deal.
Advanced tip: use automation to send deals about the destination contacts clicked on, for added personalization.
- Entice subscribers to treat themselves: you know when they’ve last travelled, when holiday fever kicks in and you might even know their birthday. So use this data to remind them that they need a treat.
Advanced tip: include that data in the email for advanced personalization – ‘Dear Sarah, it’s been 8 months since you went to Spain. Do you remember the scrumptious tapas? Go on, treat yourself!’
- Recover the abandoned booking: cart/basket abandonment technology is not just for retailers! Travel companies can benefit greatly from it, as consumers sometimes get distracted during booking processes, particularly longer ones. Why not send them an email to nudge them into completing the purchase? The first 30 minutes can show the highest conversion.
- Come find us: some people prefer to come into the branch for help and advice. So make sure to always include the location of the nearest branch to them. As a fallback option if location data is not available for all contacts, insert a link to the website where they can find out themselves
- Celebrate their excitement by making yourself helpful:about a month before they travel, most people start researching for things to do during their holiday. Why not create an email to suggest the top ten attractions? This email might not bring you revenue right away, but it will make your brand stand out. So next time they want to book a holiday, they know they can count on your tips and advice, not just your great service and value.
Advanced tip: If you don’t have the resources to write that content, insert links from websites like TripAdvisor, or pull hashtags of popular activities from Twitter. You can use the same email to cross-sell other services, like car hire, for extra revenue.
7. Continue building that relationship – once they’ve gone on holiday, send customers an email with a discount on their birthday, newsletters with holidays in similar budgets, and nudge them after six months and a year after the holiday. That’s when they’ll be most likely to book again.
Customer acquisition and retention are the traditionally advertised benefits of email marketing.
Automation software such as stayintouch makes keeping in touch with customers at every stage of the buyers’ journey simple and cost-effective.
Yet, an often overlooked potential for email marketing is the ability to transform your list from passive readers to active brand promoters.
Brand ambassadors are born after the sale.
Sadly, many companies don’t take advantage of the full scale of possibilities inherent in email marketing.
They end relationships with customers after check out. The thank-you email or shipping confirmation signals the end of the journey. Other companies may continue to send monthly promotional emails to stay in the forefront of consumer consciousness, but still fails to develop the true potential of email marketing.
Forward-thinking businesses understand that to leverage the power of email properly, and convert your customers from purchasing to engaging, you need to consider the overall experience.
Branding, proper targeting, ethical email practices, relevant content, and effective re-marketing strategies will turn a static email list into a dynamic fan base happy to promote your business, unprompted, through word of mouth.
Statistically, you have 100 days to solidify customer opinion of your business. The countdown starts at initial awareness and means every communication you have with the customer vital.
The strategy begins with the opt-in.
The first few days are crucial for brand awareness. A perfected welcome email makes customers feel valued and comfortable.
Also, consider that 67% of first time customers who add items to a shopping cart will abandon it. Rather than viewing this as a negative data point, see this as an opportunity.
With an additional cost of revenue generated per click on an abandoned cart email, it is imperative to send one within 24 hours.
Abandoned cart emails that contain a discount code further increase the likelihood that the customer will return to complete the purchase and also establishes a baseline of trust. Once the purchase is made, the strategy to convert your new customer into a brand ambassador begins.
Every email sent to your list needs to succinctly communicate your business philosophy.
From welcome emails to renewal notices, tell customers how important their satisfaction is and how you intend to keep it that way.
Businesses who have crisp, clean, and clear tag lines, logos, and mission statements embedded in their email communications embed their brand into consumer consciousness.
By communicating your business philosophy, you are giving consumers the ammunition they need to promote your business. Brand promoters don’t just identify businesses by product offerings. They describe them with emotion.
This is why it is essential to communicate the emotional side of your business to the customer at every opportunity. They will likely share both their experience as a customer and your company’s mission statement with others.
Customers are not created equal. Not everyone has the potential to become a brand ambassador.
Using targeted emailing, analyze your list for purchasing behavior and look for repeat customers who have shared or forwarded your emails to others in the past. Repeat customers are the most likely to become promoters.
Another demographic to target is customers who have clicked on embedded social media links to share your emails, discount codes, or content. This indicates a high likelihood of them becoming a promoter.
Proper identification and targeting of this demographic with post-sale email marketing will encourage them to evolve from an occasional sharer of information into a full-time brand promoter. Once they have been identified, give those customers their own segmented list and be sure to send them VIP and loyalty emails as well as relevant content, discounts, and surveys.
Ethical Email Practices
The quickest way to get unsubscribes is to bombard customers with irrelevant or tricky emails.
Use open rate data from A/B testing to determine the best times and frequency to deploy email campaigns and make sure the content of your emails aligns to your subject line.
If customers feel tricked by catchy, but irrelevant subject lines, they will unsubscribe so they won’t hear from you in the future. The perfect welcome email will make your customers feel appreciated and comfortable at first contact.
To create brand promoters, consider inviting them to join a Premium Members where they receive special offers or are the first to know of upcoming events or sales.
Predictive marketing is another tool that works well to facilitate an emotional connection. Showing repeat customers similar items that they may enjoy, illustrates they can trust your judgement. You are showing them that you know them well enough to predict their tastes in product.
Continuing to provide customers with post-sale support and information through content is one of the best ways to create brand ambassadors.
Consider maintaining an active blog on your website and email them articles or videos that they may enjoy. This is especially effective if the content is related to past product purchases.
Sending them relevant, informative content is an excellent way to show customers your loyalty to them long after a purchase is completed.
Include a well-placed call-to-action in your emails encouraging them to share the information with friends. People respond well to clear directions. Tell them what you want.
If they forward your emails or share your content on social media, they have become unpaid marketing specialists for your company. To increase the likelihood of them sharing, offer a freebie, contest, or discount code if they do share.
The key to re-marketing customers is under-selling. Taking them back to step one of the buyer’s journey is impersonal and shows a lack of understanding or consideration on your part.
Instead of re-sending template emails from the beginning of the funnel, make sure your emails abide by the 80/20 rule allowing you to stay in their immediate consciousness while feeling special. You must appear to be genuinely thankful for their previous purchases, while subtly encouraging them to return often and buy more.
Whether you are corresponding with a first-time customer or repeat-buyer, no one likes a hard sell. Don’t focus your emails on the sale, focus instead on the relationship you have established with the customers. the 80/20 rule states that 80% of your email content should be about the customer and their needs. The remaining 20% can strategically place your products and services as a solution to their problems.
Effective re-marketing is intended to maintain trust and loyalty. When a company does what is best for the customer, they will come back for more.
Turning your email list into brand promoters isn’t difficult, but it does require strategy and thoughtfulness on your part. These customers are unique and deserve to be treated as such.
Establish a relationship with them early using ethical email practices. Continue to anticipate their needs and be responsive to their concerns at all times. Keep the purchase process simple and be genuinely thankful for their business. Most important of all, continue nurturing the relationship long after the sale is complete with well-timed, supportive content that is useful to them.
Following these simple rules will have customers singing your praises online and through word-of-mouth – and that’s the best marketing strategy of all.