Emailing Marketing, Part II: 4 Tips to Win the Battle of the Inbox

So, the evidence continues to pile up that email marketing is not dying, but rather, a strong and healthy channel for any business — especially healthcare providers — hoping to turn curious consumers into actual customers and clients. How strong? According to the most recent Email Marketing Census from Econsultancy:

  • On average, companies in the census now attribute almost one-quarter (23%) of their total sales to email marketing, up from 18% in 2013
  • Email marketing was ranked as the best channel in terms of ROI, with more than two-thirds (68%) of companies rating the channel as ‘good’ or ‘excellent.’ That was up 3% from the year before and tops every other digital marketing channel
  • The most widely used techniques to create email marketing campaigns include creating relevant and compelling content (80%), personalizing messages (72%) and segmenting email lists (61%)

All of which, of course, is moot if your emails don’t make it into people’s inboxes in the first place, which probably happens more than you think. In fact, according to an analysis by Return Path, more than one in five (22%) of all commercial emails — legitimate, non-spam emails — never reach that prime real estate.

Don’t want to become another statistic? Bombarded with messages, email inboxes are a battlefield where every marketing message has to fight just to be seen. The following 4 strategies can help:

Make it easy to subscribe: Before you can even consider squeezing into people’s inboxes, they have to decide they want to hear from you. Make sure your sign-up box is prominent on your website and keep it simple. The fewer details you ask for (an email address, perhaps a name), the better the take-up rate. (You can always ask for more information once they’ve gotten to know you better.)

Avoid spammy signals: Email Service Providers (ESPs) maintain sophisticated systems designed to identify emails as spam. Be recognizable (your From address should clearly identify you), be cautious when buying lists (which can have lots of inactive, filter-triggering addresses) and be sure to ask potential subscribers to opt-in, which will confirm their interest in receiving your messages and keep the spam-bots at bay.

Manage your list: You don’t have to do it yourself but someone needs to ensure that your list isn’t full of inactive accounts. When messages can’t be delivered, they “bounce” and a high bounce rate is a big red flag. (This is another reason to send a follow-up welcome message to new subscribers: if that message bounces — maybe they mistyped their contact info — pull their address immediately.)

Make it easy to unsubscribe: Forgoing an unsubscribe button may sound like a good idea but it’s anything but. Simply put, if you let someone opt out, you lose that one subscriber; if you don’t, they’ll reach for the “this is spam” button instead. If enough people do the latter, you’re likely to be labeled a spammer and lose a whole lot more.

Ultimately, it all boils down to deliverability. According to the folks at Return Path, businesses that maintain good email practices should be able to achieve deliverability rates of 90–96%. Anything less and you not only damage your reputation with Internet Service Providers (ISPs) who are under competitive pressure to combat the rising tide of spam but also with users who may never get the chance to see your messages as a result.

Considering that 79% of U.S. consumers check their email every day via desktop (73% do so via mobile), they’re not the only ones who stand to miss out.

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.

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