Email marketing is a very cost-effective and measurable marketing strategy to market your organization, upcoming convention and overall membership. According to the Direct Marketing Association, every dollar spent on email marketing results in a $39.40 return on investment. But that’s easier said than done. To achieve those kinds of numbers, four challenges must be met: getting an email into a recipient’s inbox, getting the recipient to open your email, getting the recipient to act on your email, and keeping a recipient from opting out of your listserv. A recent study by Bluehornet surveyed more than 1,000 consumers across the United States to find out how they use email and what they think about email marketing. Their responses can help you understand how to avoid the pitfalls of this popular type of event promotion.
1. Get your email into inboxes successfully. To ensure your marketing emails arrive in the inboxes of your organization’s members or potential event attendees, you need to understand the reason why the subscriber or potential subscriber signed up for your organization’s email in the first place. Then, give them what they want and expect. You need to deliver relevant content that engages them. The Bluehornet study found the majority of email subscribers have two or more email addresses. The goal is to obtain the primary email addresses of recipients so your messages land in the ones they check the most. Watch your response rates and focus on engaged subscribers instead of continuing to send to non-openers. Have a call to action in the email that includes a value and directs the subscriber to a landing page.
2. Get recipients to open your email. To encourage recipients to open a message, you need to incorporate an eye-catching and enticing subject line that’s relevant to the subscriber, which greatly increases the chance a subscriber will open it. Using strategic words can make the difference between your email getting opened or trashed. Do not include a subject line that is misleading. You will lose credibility with the recipient and risk being reported as spam. Also, keep in mind that more than 70 percent of consumers use mobile devices to sort through email before reading them on a desktop computer. Format your emails for mobile devices so they don’t get deleted right away.
Emails can easily land in a person’s junk folder. Depending on each recipient’s email settings, there are numerous reasons a message can appear as junk. To avoid this, do not use all capital letters or special characters such as explanation points in the subject line. Also, emails with one large image or too many images and not enough text can end up in the junk folder. Finally, run your email through a spam test to be sure it hasn’t crossed over into the junk category.
3. Get recipients to act on your email. All email messages need to include a very clear call-to-action. If it doesn’t exist or is buried too far in the email, you will lose out on potential conversions. People tend to scan emails; you need to ensure your call to action is clear and prominent. Also, direct recipients to a page that coincides with the email, not to the home page of the website, unless there is specific content there. This does not mean you have to create a new landing page. For example, if you are promoting an upcoming convention, send them to convention information page. If it is within your budget, create a page that is specific to the email content. This will help increase the conversion rate.
When recipients see something share-worthy in an email, they will often post your email to their social networks. Include share-to-social links within your emails to extend your reach and maximize the ROI of your campaigns whenever appropriate.
4. Avoid the opt-out. Make sure your emails provide value and live up to the expectations you set when subscribers join your program. Use win-back programs to re-engage those who show waning interest or have become inactive. Relevance and frequency are the top opt-out reasons; give subscribers the ability to change their preferences. Forty percent of subscribers might stay on your list if given options, so implement an opt-down program or a preference on the frequency of emails a subscriber receives.
The best email marketing programs are strategic in nature first, then tactical. Create email programs with content that is relevant to the target audience. Relevance and frequency are still the top two reasons for unsubscribing. Relevant content should drive messaging to the recipient, and an email that is poorly designed for viewing on a mobile device causes a negative impression of your organization, so optimize your emails for mobile devices. You can retain subscribers if they are given options such as an opt-out program.