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How to make sure your emails are welcome in the reader’s inbox

February 10, 2016

Someone has made a positive decision to sign up to receive email communications from you.  At this point, they are interested in what you have to offer, and want to hear more.  So how do you make sure they are getting what they want, and that your emails continue to be welcome in their inbox?

Get the frequency right

The classic email marketer’s dilemma.  What frequency is appropriate for your particular target audience? Too little, and people won’t remember you when they want what you offer. Too much, and you can start to annoy people. Some businesses email daily; others as little as once a quarter.
There are no easy answers, because every campaign is different, and every list is different.  To give just a few examples:
If you use email as a business to business lead-nurturing tool, you will want to consider the nature and length of the typical business buying cycle, and create informative communications that land just often enough to keep people interested - but without intruding.  That could be once a fortnight, or maybe once a month – if your content is strong enough to make an impact and for people to remember you by.
If you market events, you could comfortably send emails that get more frequent as the date approaches, feeding new information on confirmed speakers and topics and building anticipation.
If you sell a consumer product such as low-priced fashion, you’ll probably find your audience is happy to receive emails several times a week, provided they are getting varied offers and promotions.  
Whatever you choose to do, remember you can change it.  Keep a close eye on your unsubscribe, open and click rates and adjust the frequency based on the patterns you see.

Give value

The value to the recipient will depend on what they have signed up for.  If you have promised offers, that’s relatively straightforward.  If you have promised news and information, that can get trickier.
Too many company newsletters still go out focusing on what the MD wants to say, not what readers want to read. The hard truth is that people are not interested in your business. They are interested in themselves.  And they have better things to do than read about your office move or new website.

What do people want to read?

Step into your customer’s shoes. Think what you would want to read if you were them.  Popular topics include how to tips; industry research; reviews; and short stories (not long case studies) about ways people have used your product or service, and what they have achieved with it. You can combine information with promotional messages – providing they are relevant to the reader.  A short reminder or announcement of a particular product or service is fine in a newsletter, as long as it isn’t the main content.
Think about the format, too. People scan when they read online. They will place a higher perceived value on something they can read easily. Think about clear headlines and subheadings, short paragraphs, bullet points.

Get closer to your reader

If you email everything to everyone, it’s inevitable that much of the content won’t hit the mark.  Send targeted information to smaller groups, and you have a far greater chance of being relevant to the reader and building the type of relationship that can lead to a sale.
There are many ways you can segment your list, including:
By demographics:

What groups are there within your customer base?  What motivates each one, what makes one group different from another?  Get to know your customers, and send messages that talk directly to the people in each group.
By buying history:  It often makes sense to send different messages to those who are already customers.
By expressed preferences:  If you run more than one list, let people choose what they want to receive, or how often they want to hear from you.
Watch your open, click through and unsubscribe data carefully, and you will begin to learn what works for your different audiences - and what doesn’t.

Pay attention to disengaged recipients

It’s not healthy for a list to have a high proportion of disengaged recipients. Not only do you lose goodwill, you can also seriously damage your reputation with ISPs – and that has serious consequences.  The ISPs now have complex algorithms for measuring how people respond to emails.  If you are not engaging people, you risk your emails going straight to spam, or even being blocked completely.
You can try proactive tactics to re-engage people; you can also reduce the frequency you email an individual with a message along the lines of: ”We’ve noticed you haven’t read an article for a while, so we’ve put you back to just a monthly correspondence.” Whatever approach you take, there has to come a point at which you stop sending.  That point will depend on the nature of what you offer and who your customers are.  
If you need further advice on making sure your emails are welcome in your customers’ inboxes, we’re here to help.  Please call us on 0161 817 2929 or email [email protected]

Posted by Joel Jarman

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