You may think that an email marketing message is just a mild mannered guy, headed to work on a Tuesday to do his job. In reality, once he is out the door, things get more complicated than that. In order to actually arrive at the office, he has to live the life of an action hero.
Filters, SPAM reports, ISP regulations and federal laws are all obstacles as difficult to navigate as tricky car chases the typical action hero has to overcome. As a marketer, you have to clear the way for him to arrive safely. Your email marketing campaign’s success depends on maximising deliverability by focusing on some important factors.
Today’s sophisticated SPAM filters manage to trash the majority of unsolicited email marketing before it ever hits an inbox. In fact, 90% of emails sent today are considered spam. To ensure that your lead generation efforts generate maximum exposure, you have to take steps to clear the way for your outgoing messages.
Here are four challenges email messages need to overcome to arrive safely at their destination (save the day/get the girl – you know the drill).
1. Avoid Spam Buzzwords
Spam buzzwords are like your message taking a detour through a bad section of town. This is not the neighbourhood you want to sell in, so here is how you stay clear. Both the subject line and the body of your messages will be filtered by ISPs to check for spam trigger words. If you read the lists of words that trigger these filters, they are the language of the infomercial or the used-car salesman. You don’t want to sound like those guys anyway. Don’t use the following:
- Exclamation points (!!)
- All CAPITALS
- Promotional words – Cheap, Free and Bargain
- Symbols $$
And please don’t assert that people’s lives will end if they don’t act immediately. Use language that will directly speak to the audience you are targeting and your action hero should have no trouble keeping out of this bad neighbourhood. Some email service providers have spam checkers you can run your messages through like Content Detective and ContentChecker. Here are some more words to avoid:
- “As seen on”
- “Bulk email”
- “Click to remove”
- “This isn’t spam”
- “For a limited time”
Getting blacklisted for spamming has far worse implications for your marketing efforts than just failing to deliver the message. If you have been identified for sending spam messages, your ISP may blacklist the IP address from sending emails for up to 72 hours.
2. POW! Subject Lines Matter
The average inbox is filled with hundreds if not thousands of unread emails that failed to capture enough attention to make your targets click through. And these are the messages that got through the filters. So what does your action hero need to get through this challenge? Follow some important subject line tips and your marketing emails will have significantly higher open rates.
- Keep subject lines short, followed by powerful sub-headers. Aim to keep your subject line under 50 characters.
- Design subject lines with the audience in mind – what motivates them?
- Be careful with the capital letters – more is not better. Capitals are powerful, but they lose impact when in crowds and get you caught in SPAM filters.
- Speak to your audience in a casual, conversational tone which makes them feel like your peer not your target.
- Include numbers and lists in your subject lines to attract the curious clicker.
- Use humour occasionally, but with care – knowing your audience and what will tickle, not offend, is key here.
Remember, the customer is like you. Treat them as a friend. Entice them to open by making them comfortable, interested and entertained.
3. Just In Time: Delivery Timing Counts
We know that folks in London are different from those in California, but did you know that we read emails differently? Interesting research has revealed that email inboxes in time zones across the world have differing peak hours and that emails sent at specific hours have higher open rates than at others.
Successful email marketing will time messages to align with time zone inbox activity. Email messages that are sent to arrive during the top activity windows have been tracked to provide the best open rates. The best strategy is to send emails out in waves, based on regional time zones, but each zone has specific time slots that are better based on regional differences. For example, if you are sending business-to-business emails in the UK and Europe, your best time slot is 11am – 2pm local time zones and the best day of the week is Thursday.
In America, emails set Tuesday are significantly more successful than other days, but peak hours for email open rates vary by time-zone. The peak US Eastern Time Zone email activity is 6am – 11am. In the US Central Time Zone, open rates are not as consistently around working hours as on the East Coast, with peak hours from 6am – 10am and surprisingly midnight (12am). In the US Mountain Time Zone, peak email activity is 8am – 11am. In the US Pacific Time Zone, high activity is concentrated in the morning with peak hours at 8am – 10am.
4. Give Your Hero The Right Address
No action hero can save the day without knowing where he is going, and your email marketing campaign can’t be successful without having reliable email addresses, either. One of the most critical success factors for effective email marketing campaigns is delivering the right message to the right target.
These two factors rely on maintaining a fresh list of email addresses with correct job functions attached to them. Your hero needs to arrive at the showdown with the right tools and know whom he is facing. Your email marketing needs to be targeted to the right job titles, and correct email addresses guarantee that the intended recipient gets the message on time.
Reaching prospects with messages that will appeal to them at a time that they are ready to listen is the key to all effective marketing. These practices should help you achieve a higher level of email marketing success. Successful email deliverability depends on a combination of best practices, email authentication, and reputation. 90% of emails sent today are considered spam; utilise these principles to be part of the 10% that is targeted, relevant and accurate to ensure email marketing is smooth sailing and has to perform less like an action hero in order to more effectively achieve its goals.