So you’ve planned an email marketing campaign, written the emails, and sent them out to your subscribers. The only problem: Nobody (or very little of your audience) is reading your emails. What gives? Should you just ditch your e-marketing efforts?
Before you throw in the towel, remember that email is still a valuable way for business leaders like you to communicate with customers. It’s just not as urgent for people to read or reply to emails as it used to be, especially when they get so many per day.
Your email list, content, and sending times may also need some improvement to entice more subscribers to open your emails. (Don’t worry; we’ve all made at least one of these e-marketing mistakes in the past. We’re just here to help you learn from them and send even better emails!)
Here are nine possible reasons why your customers aren’t reading your emails — and a few tips on how to change that.
Most people who have an email address will tell you they simply get too many emails. From subscriptions to appointment reminders to messages from loved ones, it’s easy for business emails to get lost in the clutter. Unread emails just add to the chaos, so customers might delete yours in an inbox-cleaning sweep without even checking to see who sent them all the promotion emails vying for their attention.
And in a survey of 500 people, 56% receive 25 to 49 emails a day, but 74% open and read 10 or fewer emails. That means these folks are getting 15 to 39 emails every day that they don’t even read, simply because of email fatigue.
People might only be missing your emails because you’re sending them to the wrong (or an infrequently checked) email address. About 62% of survey respondents have one they only use for promotional emails and sign-ups, which they’re not checking as often as a work or primary personal address. If your sales emails are going to a non-primary account that someone only checks occasionally, it will be more difficult for you to get them to open your email, much less read about the value that your business offers.
To make matters worse, Gmail recently started sorting emails into three categories: Primary, Social, and Promotions. This is helpful for customers who want to see at a glance which emails are more urgent than others, but it can be a struggle for businesses who end up in the Promotions folder; only 19% of Promotions-labeled emails get opened.
There’s a natural “churn” in email marketing, or people unsubscribing from your list for whatever reason. But letting your email list go stale can lead to high bounce rates (when emails aren’t delivered to their intended recipients).
If your bounce rate gets too high (anything over 2%), your customers’ servers may start marking your emails as spam, or “blacklisting” them. If that blacklisting happens, it’ll make it even harder to reach subscribers.
Customers are more trusting of business and sales emails that are linked to the company’s domain name (or website). For example, if you worked at Treefrog Marketing, you’d want to send a sales email from firstname.lastname@example.org, not email@example.com.
Sending from a generic Gmail, Yahoo, or Outlook account just makes you look less credible. But using a business email will make your communication appear more professional, improve brand awareness, and make your email stand out among the clutter. That means more people will read your emails — and it just takes minutes to set up a business email!
If you’re just sending email blasts to a large list, you might send content that’s relevant to one group but not so helpful to another group. But the right segmentation can help you improve open rates, engage readers, and increase revenue while making sure your content is relevant to each segment in your audience.
You can send the same general campaign to different segments while testing variations to see which version gets more opens and click-throughs. For example, your subject line could vary based on the segments’ engagement with your past emails. You could send an email with the subject line “We miss you!” to a less engaged segment, while sending an email with a “Thanks for your support!” subject line to a more engaged group.
Trying to figure out when you should send emails is one of the hardest parts of email marketing. It can vary not only by industry, but also by recipient preference, email fatigue, or just randomly clicking (or not clicking) on an email when they’d normally do otherwise.
While it’s not an exact science, general research suggests that the best sending time is during normal weekday business hours (9am to 5pm). That accounts for 53% of email opens. Sending emails over the week or outside of this time range might hurt your open rates, as most people take this time to unplug from work and relax with family and friends — not catch up on their emails.
If your subject line trails off the page (of a computer or phone, that is), your recipients can’t get the full idea of what your email contains. And if it doesn’t match up with the email’s main content, readers might think you’re manipulating them into clicking on emails with misleading subject lines.
Try to limit your subject line to nine words, or 60 characters. That’s about where desktop inboxes cut off the subject line. For a better mobile experience, you’ll want to cut the subject line down even more — to 30 or 40 characters. And double-check that your subject line is relevant to the rest of the content and adds context to what the recipient can expect if they open the email.
About 65% of survey respondents trust other forms of communication more than email, thanks to the prevalence of spam. And even if your business and communications are credible, up to 43% of users will mark emails as spam if they don’t recognize your name or your company’s name.
Not letting people opt out of your emails, having low engagement, and writing misleading subject lines can all land your emails in the spam folder. And if your emails keep going to the junk folder, recipients will either unsubscribe from emails they decide are irrelevant, or they’ll never (or seldom) check that folder in the first place.
Are you focusing too much on how great your business is? Or writing emails that sound nothing like your brand’s other content? While you should tell recipients about your business and why working with you is a great decision, you don’t want to send them an email that’s all about you. Instead, you can put the recipient first by thanking them for subscribing, explaining the benefits they’ll enjoy when they work with you, and so on.
Also, make sure the tone of every email is consistent with your website, social media, and blogs. Because you often lead people from your email to a page on your website, the overall feel should be similar between your marketing materials for the best user experience. This is especially true for your welcome email, since it sets the tone for the rest of the campaign (and gets an 86% higher open rate on average than other newsletters).
By following these tips — and avoiding the pitfalls that cause customers to ignore emails — you can start to break through the inbox clutter and get better open rates. And with more engaged subscribers reading your helpful relevant content, they’ll get to know you better and be more likely to turn to your business when they’re ready to buy.
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Treefrog Marketing is an agency in Lafayette, Indiana focused on small business. We specialize in strategic marketing and advertising, graphic design, web design, social media, SEO, and more. For more information, please visit our website. You can also connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.