Nothing says “Happy New Year” like a list of resolutions for the coming twelve months. Here at Hagopian Ink, many of our conversations with clients center around what goals they have for email marketing in 2019.
How can we be more effective? More engaging? What changes should we make to increase open rates, click rates, and conversions? What should we just stop doing?
What’s the key to hitting (or exceeding) that $44 ROI that so many industry experts have lauded as the reason to double-down on email as a primary and profitable marketing channel?
Experience has given us a long list of answers to these questions — but we decided to go a step further by collaborating with our Women of Email group of experts. What follows are the email marketing resolutions for 2019 and beyond. May they help you and your marketing team turn your email program into a sales-driving powerhouse.
Resolution 1: Respect Your Subscribers
Email marketing is a core channel for many brands — but we cannot forget that subscribers are people first, not just email addresses. Let’s make 2019 the year subscribers get the respect they deserve with thoughtful messages, timed and crafted appropriately.
“The average person receives 90 emails per day. What is your brand doing to deliver value, ease, or just a bit of excitement to inboxes?” – Christina Hagopian
Respect their inbox and stop pretending they only receive mail from you and you alone. Sending too many emails, way too often is a no, no — particularly for sale emails (last chance, don’t forget, final hours, final minutes, final seconds – you know who you are!) Consolidate your messages and trust you do not need to beat down your subscribers every day to click. Or better yet, provide them options with a preference center to control how often they hear from you. And be sure to send from an email address they can reply to. The noreply@ and donotreply@ addresses have to end. Email marketing is a dialogue, not a soliloquy.
Resolution 2: Strive to Send Concise, Clear Emails
It’s an email, not a novel, remember? Keep your emails short, sweet and focused on a specific call to action. It’s ok to scroll, but nobody wants to scroll THAT much, especially on mobile. Don’t force too many promotional messages into one email. It’s a promo, not a Bible.
Resolution 3: Focus on “Mobile First”
We’ve written before about the importance of “mobile-first” emails, but let’s take a moment to revisit the facts:
More than half of all emails are opened on a mobile device
Mobile users check their email 3x more often
Average smartphone conversion rates are up 64% compared to desktop conversion rates
70% of consumers IMMEDIATELY delete emails that don’t render well on a mobile device!
If that’s not enough incentive to adopt a mobile-first email marketing design strategy, we don’t know what is.
Resolution 4: Stop Buying Lists
It’s tempting to want to shortcut the process of growing a list organically with a quick purchase. But in 2019, it’s time to admit that purchased lists DON’T WORK (plus, you violate GDPR laws, and hinder your IP reputation and deliverability using them).
Good email address lists aren’t for sale and people on a purchased or rented list don’t actually know you. The key to hitting that email marketing ROI benchmark is to build a relationship with prospects and customers that are truly interested in what your brand has to offer — and that comes with offering content that is of value — whether that’s a special offer, a personalized message, or even just a bit of joy.
Otherwise, you’re just throwing pennies into a fountain — and hoping your wish will come true.
Resolution 5: Lose the Passive-Aggression
Have you ever seen an email signup offer with a discount, but in order to dismiss the offer a passive-aggressive CTA appears along the lines of “No, thanks, I’d rather pay full price.”
Sometimes, clicking on this link is the only way to dismiss the window.
While this tactic may seem clever (and somewhat innocuous), it’s also one of the primary “mortal sins” and #emailmarketingfails that we recommend brands actively avoid in 2019.
Everyone is tired of it, and there are better ways to communicate. Ask yourself this question: are you more likely to buy from someone that spreads love and cheer? Or from someone who misleads you or patronizes? Let’s all put our creative energy into crafting emails that add value, not alarm.
Resolution 6: Focus on Personalized, Relevant Content
With an average increase of 20% in sales, it’s no wonder that 74% of marketers use targeted personalization to boost customer engagement.
What we’re wondering is why aren’t the other 26% doing the same?
When I received this email with my personalized initials, it certainly gained my attention (and scored even higher points for an animation.)
How did they do that?!
With personalization software. It shows a brand who cares about the details.
Be that brand!
Here’s another great example of personalization done right with DSW feeding a real time weather forecast with matching shoe recommendations based on your city and zip code:
Relevance and personalization are about to become table-stakes in the email marketing game. Make 2019 the year that your brand wins.
Resolution 7: Clean Your List and Let Non-Responders Go
You know who you are. You are holding on to a portion of your list of non-responders, “because they may buy SOMEDAY!” and you email them for eternity, never letting them go. There is a definite issue in this department — especially for subscribers who have been categorized as “inactive” that needs to end.
If you are sending message after message and you have inactive users who are not opening or clicking, you need to segment them out of your master list. Not only will this improve your overall deliverability, but it will help you craft messages specifically tailored to reengage. Forming a win-back or re-engagement strategy is a always good idea. But overdoing it is not.
Our suggestion is to cap the number, frequency, and time span of “re-engage” or “win-back” emails to three in a series. That way, you’ll actually win back the people worth winning — and start to remove those that are truly gone forever.
Resolution 8: Easy on the Emojis
We all know emojis lift subject line open rates, but a new alarming trend we’ve seen among brands is to use them in EVERY email and/or include an excessive number of emojis in each subject line. This may grab attention and boost open rates in the short term, but annoy in the long term. Subscribers aren’t loving this trend… and what’s more, emoji-overload has the added side effect of conveying a level of immaturity that most self-respecting brands work very hard to avoid.
Resolution 9: Don’t Make It a Chore to Unsubscribe
Nobody wants to lose subscribers, but making the process of unsubscribing a giant pain isn’t going to win you customers or boost conversion rates.
Among the top complaints in this category:
- Sending an “unsubscribe confirmation” email to someone who just unsubscribed (why?!)
- Forcing a login to unsubscribe
- Requiring a user to enter/reenter their email address to unsubscribe (pre-populate, please)
You know how that song goes –
‘Cause I can’t make you love me if you don’t
You can’t make your heart feel something it won’t
The bottom line here is this: if someone really wants to unsubscribe, make it easy for them— lest they get even more frustrated and mark your email as SPAM.
Resolution 10: Give Without Asking
Most email marketing is focused on generating leads, sales, revenue, ROI… It’s all about what the business wants to accomplish — with the wants/needs of the recipients relegated to casual afterthought.
And that’s not how things work in the “real world.”
When someone gives your brand their email address, they’re giving you permission to share something of value — a special offer, an exclusive discount, a great idea, an invitation, or perhaps even just a good laugh. If you want to stay in their inbox, you must behave like the friend who’s always welcome at their front door — not the annoying door-to-door sales guy they want to avoid.
So make sure to weave in a “giving” strategy to your email marketing plan for 2019. Spread the joy and the cheer all year long.
If an email does not spark joy, delete it
— James Hamblin (@jameshamblin) January 7, 2019
No doubt this list just scratches the surface of what’s possible for optimizing email marketing in the coming year, but it’s a great start. What are YOUR “resolutions” or goals for the coming year?
Hagopian Ink specializes in building creative campaigns that drive results. So let’s get started!