5 Questions to Ask Your Email Marketing Team

email When you consider that more than 144 billion emails get sent every day, it’s not hard to imagine that many people’s “reading” ritual sounds something like this:

Click, delete. Click, delete. Delete, read, delete, read later, delete, delete, delete.

That’s fine if the emails in question are coming from Nigerian princes and U.K. lottery officials but when they’re the emails you’ve sent to your subscriber list, that’s a sound you don’t want to hear.

To avoid that unpleasant scenario, you need an effective email strategy that ensures your messages are going to the right people, that they’re worth reading and that they generate enough business to warrant the time and effort. Whether that strategy is managed in-house or through an outside agency, here are five questions to ask your team:

What are you doing to build our subscriber list?

Obviously, you won’t accomplish much without a decent subscriber list. From your practice website to social media sites, all of your digital touchpoints should include an easy way to opt-in to your email program. If you hold office or other in-person events, someone should be collecting email addresses that can be added to the system later.

What are you doing to improve deliverability?

Mail servers are getting smarter about spam all the time. According to the folks at ExactTarget, common triggers include subject lines that are written in ALL CAPS, feature multiple exclamation points (!!!) or include the words Free or Special Offer. A double opt-in system that asks new subscribers to confirm their interest can also boost deliverability although some marketers believe it adds unnecessary complexity. Yours should be able to explain why they use the system they do.

Are subscribers opening (and reading) our emails?

Email is not about leisure reading; it’s about getting information quickly. The best campaigns forgo flashy graphics and other tricks in favor of getting to the point, offering multiple ways to follow up (phone, directions, web address, etc.) and providing a clear call-to-action. And with more than 40% of Americans now opening their email on phones, your messages need to be optimized for both the desktop and mobile environments.

Are we providing value to our subscribers?

According to eMarketer, 56% of U.S. email subscribers unsubscribe to a business email list because they felt the content was no longer relevant. Others say they do so because they get too many emails, find the messages boring or repetitive or prefer to get their information through other means. Read your own messages with an objective eye and if any of the above apply, it may be time for a rewrite.

Are you testing the effectiveness of your efforts?

It’s easy enough to determine open rates and click rates for your email program but that barely scratches the surface. Your team should also be continuously testing various message elements — subject line, call to action, number of links, etc. — not just to see what works best but also as a way to gather valuable subscriber information. “The primary goal for email marketing should first be learning something new about your customer,” says Jen Longtin, director of marketing for RealSelf’s doctor community. “With knowledge, comes results.”

Will focusing on the above steps guarantee that you won’t lose subscribers? Of course not — and we’ll look at that scenario in a subsequent post — but in the battle against the Delete button, they can be a doctor’s best friend.


About Rob Lovitt

Rob Lovitt is a longtime writer and editor who believes every good business has a great story to tell. He has written for dozens of magazines and websites, including NBCnews.com, Expedia.com and the inflight magazines of Alaska, Horizon and Frontier airlines.