September 2014 Featured Article
Selling the Click: Engaging Email Readers
While the subject line gets your email opened, it's the body that keeps your reader around. If it doesn't retain their attention, they'll delete your email, damaging your relationship.
You see, there is yet another factor in email marketing that determines your delivery privileges. It's a little less obvious than “open rates”, but equally important to your success.
That's why in this month's feature, I'm talking about the all-powerful buzzword “engagement” and how it can make or break your business.
You'll discover why email providers will revoke your privileges in a heartbeat, even with a good subject line…
How you can combat these practices in an honest way…
And why your content strategy is so vital to the success of your emails…
What is Engagement?
In the marketing world, engagement means how much your readership interacts with your communications. Essentially, how much they read, watch and care.
We've talked a lot about subject lines and how certain words can trigger “points” in spam. In addition to that, engagement is a huge factor in determining the effectiveness of your messages.
For example, if you launch a campaign and no one is opening your emails, that's not good. The more emails you send that aren't opened, the worse it gets.
This will cause email providers to flag you as “spam”, and you will be in a real bind. Everything you send from there on out will go straight to the spam folder, ruining your chances of connecting with your prospects.
So, how do you combat this? Well, first it's important to understand the metrics involved with engagement.
First is the open rate, which is the percentage of your emails being opened. This is almost exclusively determined by the effectiveness of your subject lines. Though, your overall relationship with your customer base affects this greatly, too.
If they know and trust you, they're more likely to open your emails, even if the subject line isn't good. A great position to be in as a marketer.
The next thing email service providers look for is the “shareability” of emails. Do they inspire your audience to forward them to their friends? Or are they just unsubscribing?
Creating compelling, actionable and relevant content can improve your chances here. Also, directly asking your audience to share your communications helps, too.
Finally, we have “click-through rates” – a somewhat unusual metric.
“Click-throughs” are the measurement of how many people click on links within the email. That is to say, it's not enough for your prospects to open the email and read it all the way through. They have to be interacting with it as well.
Surprising, right? Many marketers aren't aware of this, and they are shooting themselves in the foot without even knowing it.
The good news is, all it takes is approaching your emails in a different way to solve the problem. Getting you on the good side of email service providers everywhere.
Structure Your Emails Differently
When you send an email to friends and family, you typically say all there is to say within the email itself. There's no reason for any other action.
Unfortunately, as a marketer, you have to think a little differently. If you send an email without a link in it, you're potentially hurting yourself down the line. The email provider may believe your audience isn't engaged.
So, instead of having your emails “give away” everything, use the body of the email as a mini sales letter. Get your reader excited about what you're going to share with them, and have them click on a link to read the full story.
If you've ever received an email for my blog posts, you'll notice I use this strategy myself. I write a very short piece of copy using sales letter techniques (which you can find out more about in this month's Expertpreneur® Magazine), and link to the blog post at the end of it.
Here's an example of a shorter piece I did for a blog post in January:
“Subject: [Blog] If You Do This, Your Customers May Turn On You
Have you been thinking about ways to earn extra money?
Hoping to get more out of your business?
Well, if you make the wrong move… sell a bad product… or take advantage of your list…
You could lose everything you worked hard for.
Your customers will turn on you, and make sure everyone knows about it.
The truth is, you can earn a lot more money for the work you are already doing by tweaking just a few key elements…
And by becoming a champion for your clients.
Dedicated to Your Income Acceleration,
The Income Acceleration Coach
Founder, Expert Elevation and Expertpreneur® Academy”
There are a few things to point out here. First of all, each line is a sentence, or a thought. There are only eight total!
Each sentence leads into the next, building up the idea introduced in the headline. Wouldn't you want to make sure your customers aren't turning on you?
This way the reader gets excited about what you're sharing and wants to click on your link. Bumping up your engagement and getting more traffic to your website.
There are, of course, other ways to do this. You could start a compelling story, and make your prospects click on the link to hear how it ends. Google Adwords guru Perry Marshall is great with this technique.
Also, this strategy isn't limited to blog posts. You can certainly link to a pre-recorded event, a podcast, a video, you name it. Literally, any link counts as click-through. Even if it's to your social media pages.
As long as you continually encourage your audience to click on things in your email, you'll be good to go.
Tweak Your Results For Optimal Engagement
First, split testing works wonders. Instead of guessing whether your emails are doing their job, do an A/B test with small samples of your list and see which performs better. Then send the winning email to everyone.
Use your CRM software to track all of the different metrics to make that decision. If your email has a high open rate but low click-through rate, then you have to figure out what you can do better to get your prospects to click on links. It could mean improving your copy, or perhaps your content altogether.
Maybe your call-to-action isn't clear enough. If you want your prospect to do something, you have to ask directly. There's no other way around it!
Eventually, you'll come up with a formula for your emails that works consistently. That can become your “go-to” for a while.
However, remember: you always want to be testing, tweaking, and growing. Doing the same thing over and over, even if it's successful for a while, is not healthy for your business.
You have to stay aware and always evolve. That will keep you ahead of the competition.
Another great way to encourage engagement is by making your emails specific to holidays, birthdays, and other popular events.
Essentially, this is another way of deeply personalizing your emails. If an email feels generic and unfocused, people will ignore it. We receive too many emails a day to bother!
However, if yours mentions an important holiday, news event, or acknowledges your readers' birthday, they'll get pretty excited and want to read it! Not to mention reading even more emails that come from you.
In this same vain, another great thing you can do is segment your list. Any effective CRM software has this capability, and the more you take advantage of it, the better off you'll be.
For example, in my business I work with Expertpreneurs®, as you know. However, not all Expertpreneurs® are in the same place in their business.
You may just be starting out on your journey, you may have an established brick-and-mortar business and want to get online, or you may be very successful and just want to get better at systemizing things. Depending on which group you fall into, you require different tools and strategies.
A beginner wouldn't have much use for expert strategies, and vice-versa. By recognizing that, you can make sure your communications are specially tailored to the recipients.
Avoid the Spam Folder Forever
All of these strategies will take your communications further than ever. Your readers will be sure to receive all of your messages, they will be excited to open them, and feel compelled to click through to consume your content. Improving your engagement and improving your relationships.
You don't have to do a lot to make these changes either. Just follow the suggestions I've provided, and make sure you understand your market inside and out. Also be sure you are always providing value to your audience.
The extra effort up front will absolutely be worth the peace of mind you'll have, that your marketing strategies are reaching your audience, and inspiring them to become lifelong customers.