5 Best Practices For Increasing Email Program Response Rate and Driving Deeper Customer Engagement

Computers & TechnologyEmail

  • Author Laurissa Doonan
  • Published July 23, 2010
  • Word count 1,197

Today, most organizations recognize email marketing as one of the most cost-effective ways to reach and convert prospects and build a deeper relationship with customers to drive incremental sales. It is the top area of business investment for 2010 according to Strongmail's 2010 Marketing Trends report. Along with being the most effective way to communicate, it continues to be one of the most misunderstood marketing tools.

Lorel Marketing Group provides you with 5 best practices to help you to communicate in a customer-centric way and increase your email response!

  1. Increasing Response Rate with Shorter Subject Lines

All of us receive far too many emails on any given day, so it's hard for us to determine which emails to read and which ones to delete. It starts with the subject line and how relevant the content in the subject field is to your customer's needs. Studies show that subject lines shorter than 50 characters in length lead to increased open and click-through rates.

Subject line lengths were divided into zero to 49 characters and 50+ characters.

When analyzed, the zero-to-49-character subject lines had an open rate 12.5 percent higher than the 50+-character subject lines. Click-through rates for the zero-to-49-character group were 75 percent higher than the 50+ group. The zero-to-49 and 50+-character subject line length criteria was used primarily because the AOL email client, used by more than 25 million consumers, displays a maximum of 49 characters for email subject lines. As always, test different lengths of subject lines to determine what works best for your specific customers and subscribers.

  1. Increasing Response Rates with More Links

Include multiple links in your email to give your customers multiple ways to engage with you. Some people may only spend a few seconds skimming your email; they may only read the first paragraph or first section. They would not make it to the end of the email message and may choose to click on the links. And there are customers who will take the time to read the entire email

Studies show that increasing the number of hyperlinks in a message leads to increased open and click-through rates. Emails with 25 or more links had an open rate 12 percent higher than those containing fewer than 25 links and a click-through rate 29 percent higher than for e-mails with fewer than 25 links.

These results certainly support some long-held beliefs among email marketers. In general, email marketers should include as many hyperlinks as possible. The more links there are, the greater the chances that one or more will resonate with the recipient and motivate them to click through. And while 25 links may sound like a lot, best practices newsletters can easily reach 15-20 navigation and administrative links by themselves.

Though these findings are compelling, it is essential that email marketers conduct split tests across key variables to determine what works best for their specific customers and subscribers. Also, since a larger number of links is a way of providing a variety of choices to your subscribers, consider dynamic content as an alternative to many links. Building emails based on subscriber preference or behavior can achieve better results that lots of links by delivering only the information the subscriber is looking for. Again, testing is the best way to steer your marketing strategy.

  1. Increase Response Rate with Updated Privacy Policy

Always place a link to your privacy policy from email you send, which is best done in a standard footer area that also contains an opt-out and other regulatory information.

If you operate a website, you may already have a privacy policy describing how you collect information from visitors and what you intend to do with it. Since email marketing almost always leads to collection of personally identifying information ("PII"), a published privacy policy is a must even if you don't collect anything more than an email address on your website.

It's a very good idea to have your privacy policy reviewed and certified by an independent 3rd party, such as TRUSTe, to ensure you are clear in your promise to your web visitors and email subscribers.

  1. Increase Response Rate by Establishing Double Opt-in

While single opt-in tends to acquire more e-mail subscribers, there are a number of inherent problems that can be better handled through a secondary, double opt-in practice to confirm subscription. Here are several important reasons double opt-in is a better practice:

• Double opt-in prevents erroneous subscriptions. Often, simple misspellings of common user names or domain names may cause email messages to begin sending to a completely unintended address. Not only do you lose an interested subscriber, but you also gain a user who will most likely cry foul and complain of spam.

• Double opt-in prevents malicious subscriptions. A popular nuisance tactic in the Internet age is to subscribe someone who really ticked you off to as many mailing lists as possible, sending them a mountain of email. This creates a terrible headache for the victim and turns your newsletters into tools of harassment.

• Double opt-in provides an audit trail. Having double opt-in confirmation logs allows you to refute any spam complaints that may come up. Double opt-in is seen by mail administrators as the most privacy-conscious way of handling email subscriptions; in case of any corporate filtering, they will be more likely to white list your newsletters if confirmation logs are available.

And last, but certainly not least, confirmation logs protect against anti-spam legislation by providing evidence of solicitation.

  1. Increase Email Lists by Integrating Email Pre-Checked Opt-in Across All Customer Engagements and Forms

Using a pre-checked default in an opt-in checkbox within a general registration form is perhaps the most popular way to acquire new email subscribers. One perspective is pre-checking saves the registrant time in filling out the form and makes it more likely they will decide to subscribe to your email communications (thereby building an email list faster). The other perspective is people are likely to overlook this checkbox and unintentionally subscribe, potentially producing complaints and an unhappy customer. Of course, both perspectives can be correct - so, which approach is best?

Using an unchecked opt-in box is the best way to ensure "affirmative consent" while producing an email list of truly interested subscribers. Although your email list will likely be smaller and grow more slowly, the open-and-click rates are likely to be higher than a pre-checked opt-in. You will also establish trust with your customers by not assuming they wish to receive emails from you. Combining the unchecked opt-in with a double opt-in confirmation is the ultimate permission marketing strategy producing the most highly responsive email lists.

Given this, testing each method and comparing response and complaint rates with corresponding costs is a sensible approach. If you have a very low complaint rate from single opt-in and your response rates compare favorably with your ROI equation, then single opt-in may be right for your business.

Well-conceived email programs will deliver better results and sales for you. Email can be an effective and high-ROI tactic for you. It is always a good practice to review your email program and investigate if there are efficiencies and ideas that can be introduced to generate better results. Lorel Marketing Group can provide an email audit to help you identify your areas of opportunity.

Lorel is a brand engagement company in its 21st year in aiding the velocity and success of leading lifestyle and healthcare brands. We make a connection. We build consumer affinity. We improve ROI across every marketing channel. Our insights and abilities stem from decades of individual and collective experience working with dozens of the most respected, innovative brands. We're students of our clients and their customers, and operate with the philosophy of earnest collaboration. http://www.lorel.com

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