Email marketing is a bit of an odd duck: As other marketing channels have seen a distinct rise and fall in the face of social media and new communications technologies, email marketing still remains effective. In fact, despite all of our new ways to communicate, people still retain the use of their email for daily use. Receiving invoices, communicating with customers, etc.; sure, other platforms have sprung up for these communications, but none are as ubiquitous as email. That said, email marketing has aged, and therefore it has changed. Getting your emails opened, then read, then obeyed, is no easy task. It was hard in the beginning, and it’s super hard now that everyone and their mother is used to receiving promotional emails. Let’s take a look at how your emails can be the exception to the rule in a “no open” world.
Give before you take: Many marketers have gotten a lot smarter about this now, but it wasn’t always the case, and there are still many who fall flat on their face when balancing their value. Think about the reasons you follow the accounts you do on twitter. Think about which emails you open when they slide into your inbox. They’re the ones that are important to you, not the ones that sell and annoy you the most. Your customers are just like you, so make sure you’re building trust and value through emails that really offer something, before you every ask for any action(s) in return.
Avoid subject line cliches: This is the most controversial piece of advice here. Most people these days are used to the types of subject line formulas that have traditionally performed well, and haven’t realized that their effectiveness is dying down. Consider simply summarizing your subject lines in a way that makes them sound like they’re from a genuine person. Companies now more than ever perform better when viewed as individuals or collectives of individuals rather than businesses.
Keep it short: How many of you have received emails from some marketer whose email list you opted which are pages long? How many of you read them to the end? How many of you send these types of emails yourself? If you want an email to be a sales letter, keep it short, visual, and enticing, then use a CTA to get people to click out of an email and onto one of your pages where you have more control. People are turned off when they expect a helpful message and are greeted with a 9 paragraph sales letter in email form.
Get feedback: One really can’t stress enough how valuable it is to hear back from your customers directly about how you’re doing and how they interact with your brand or your product. The assumptions you make may not be helping you at all, so it’s important that you reach out and invite feedback; you may just find that a slight tweak to your sales funnel could address something that is currently a huge conversion killer for your customers. This could take the form of either a personal email message or a survey.
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Have you been building email lists for more than six months? Then you’ve got some ‘dead’ subscribers on your list.
They’re not opening your emails. They’re not paying attention to you. Frankly, they don’t even remember who you are.
So now you’ve got two choices… …either remove them from your autoresponder… …or win them back.
I don’t advocate removing subscribers until you’ve done everything in your power to get them back in your fold, opening your emails and hopefully buying your offers. After all, getting subscribers isn’t all that easy. It takes either work, money or both.
So why not put a little effort into winning those subscribers back?
Done correctly, it can pay off BIG time. First, we’re going to start off by re-engaging them. If that doesn’t work, we’ll try winning them back. And finally, when they act on one of our emails, we’ll send them a welcome back email.
Let’s get started: How To Bring Your Email Subscribers Back From The DEAD
Your Re-Engagement Email Series
You decide when to initiate this series – after they haven’t opened an email from you in 30 days? 60? 90? 180?
It’s up to you.
For purposes of our example, we’ll use 30 days.
This email is subtle and doesn’t harp on the fact that they haven’t opened an email from you in over 30 days. And we’ll place something in the P.S. to encourage their re-engagement.
Subject Line: Knock, knock… [Hello… are you there?]
Did you know it’s been awhile since you opened or clicked on one of my emails?
I thought I’d better check in on you because you’ve sadly missed some really cool stuff in the last 30 days. It’s okay, I made you a list of what’s been happening…Check it out:
[Insert your bulleted list of blog posts, videos and so forth from the past 30 days. Make it ENTICING, with bullets that raise plenty of curiosity.]
I know with how busy you are. It’s hard to stay on top of things, but you subscribed to this newsletter to get the latest news and updates on… [Insert known benefits, desired end results, etc.] …so you will please forgive me if I give you the occasional “poke” just to make sure you haven’t somehow slipped through the cracks. :)
I don’t want to leave anyone behind, especially you.
Talk soon, [NAME]
P.S. I know that [problem, challenge, etc.] is something you and I struggle with, so as an added gift I thought you’d like to see my favorite [problem, challenge, etc.] resources of all time:
[LINK TO RESOURCES]
I think you’ll find #4 especially surprising – I know it did [benefit] for me.
What’s going on in this email?
You’re letting them know they are MISSING OUT. Then you go on to use some really enticing bullets that make them think, “Holy crap, I’ve missed some good stuff!”
You can add links to each item in your bullets, or add a single link to your blog, or… It’s up to you.
The goal here is to show them that they need to OPEN your emails or they will be missing out. In the P.S., we’re giving them another reason to click (freebie time!) and we’re enticing them even further with that last sentence.
Raise enough curiosity and they HAVE to click it.
[NOTE: I like to send the above email TWICE to those who did not open it the first time. Send it the first time, wait 12 to 48 hours (your choice) and then send it again to everyone who didn’t open it the first time.]
[Second NOTE: This brings up a good point… if you’re not sending out emails a second time to people who didn’t open your email the first time, you are, in my opinion, BLOWING IT.
People are busy. They don’t see the email the first time, or they don’t have time right then to look at it. 12 hours later, 24 hours later, that email is so far down in their inbox that they don’t even see it anymore.
So go ahead, send an email a second time if they don’t open it the first time. This tip alone can substantially increase your income – bank on it.]
Send this one about 2 days after the previous email but only if they didn’t open the previous email.
Subject Line: Wait… Did I goof?...
It’s me again and I gotta know… …is this your best email address?
It’s been over 30 days since you’ve opened or clicked on a link in one of my emails, and I’m starting to think that you’ve moved on... Or I’ve got the wrong address… Or maybe I goofed up…
I’ve created a BUNCH of awesomeness for you over the last month. In fact, I’ve been thinking about you nearly every day, and how you want to [insert reason they’re on list]
And I’ve been gathering the latest news, tips, breaking announcements, etc., for you, and now I feel bad... Because you haven’t seen any of it.
Either this isn’t your best email address, in which case, please take a second to update your contact info to the best and most current address… …you know, the one you actually check every day. :) [
LINK TO UPDATE CONTACT RECORD PAGE]
Or you’ve simply been too busy to notice what’s happened in the last 30 days… [
List of enticing bullets with links]
Talk soon, [NAME]
P.S. Do me a favor… please? Just click on at least one of these links above to show me you’re alive and that you still want to [insert goal] Thanks!
What’s going on in this email? Guilt. Lots of guilt, because we are thinking about them and their problem and we’ve done all this work to help them and they aren’t even opening our emails! 😉
Send this one about 2 days after the previous email but only if they didn’t open the previous email.
Subject Line: Are you….. stuck?
There are lots of things in this [industry/business/world] that can get us stuck…
So what has you stuck?
Tell me here: [LINK TO SURVEY] …so I know that I’m delivering the right kind of content to you.
Seriously, it’ll take less than 30 seconds and it will truly help me to help you.
It’s literally just one question (one!)… …and if you help me out, I’ll reward you with something cool on the other side.
So cool. So ULTRA COOL but I can’t tell you what it is, because it is ONLY for people smart enough to click the link and answer the question. People like you.
Here’s that link again: [LINK TO SURVEY]
Thanks in advance, [NAME]
What’s going on in this email? We’ve switched from guilt to a survey to encourage interaction.
Don’t get stressed about what question you’re going to ask. What’s important here is they engage, so please ask them something fun or interesting or both.
Keep it short and simple and easy. On the thank you page following the survey, you can give them a product discount (make it a SIGNIFICANT DISCOUNT) or anything else you like.
I like to give them a choice of 3-5 free reports. They are all on different topics, they all have great headlines, and the subscriber can only choose ONE.
This shows me what else they’re interested in, and puts them on a new mailing list for that topic.
Send this one about 2 days after the previous email but only if they didn’t open the previous email.
Subject line: I need your help…please
I’m burning the midnight oil to produce a new series for you, but I want to make sure I’m covering the topics that YOU are most interested in.
Will you go here and let me know if I’m on the right track?
[LINK TO SURVEY]
If you do, you’ll not only help shape the content I send you each week…
I’ll also have a little “thank you gift” waiting for you on the other side.
I’m hoping you will do it now while it’s fresh on your mind.
[LINK TO SURVEY]
It’ll take less than 30 seconds (literally!!) and I will be forever grateful.
Thanks much, [NAME]
What’s going on in this email? This is the second email in the survey campaign. As you can see it’s essentially the same offer, just positioned more as an “I need help” message than the first email.
<<<<<>>>>>All subscribers that haven’t clicked on a link through your entire Re-Engagement Series should be placed in the following Win-Back email series. <<<<<>>>>>
Your Win-Back Email Series At this point the re-engagement series has ended, so if your subscriber still hasn’t responded, then it’s time to turn up the heat.
This first email offers a “mystery gift” if they click on the link. You could also tell them what the gift is, if it’s perceived as being highly valuable and sought after.
Your “gift” can be anything… a video… a special report… a product… anything your prospect will see as valuable.
[NOTE: At this point you don’t want to simply offer a discount or a free trial offer, because it’s not seen as highly valuable. There should be no strings attached to the gift you’re offering, or it will lose its power.]
Also, you’ll want to setup a special page where you will deliver this gift.
Don’t send them to some random download page, it’s not personal enough. You want to acknowledge the fact that they took this step. Show them appreciation for re-engaging with you after being “gone” for so long.
When they arrive on the “free gift” page, make them feel loved and appreciated, like they were truly missed. It might sound cheesy but it really works.
NOTE: In the emails below, where ever it says “Click this link” or “click the link”, those words should be clickable.
Win-Back Email #1
Send this email about 3 days after the previous email (but only if they didn’t open the previous email.)
Subject Line: Whoops! …Was it something I said?
There’s just no easy way to say this… …so I’m going to just come right out with it…
I miss your smiling face, and I loved it when you clicked “open” on my emails.
But that hasn’t happened in a while, and I want you back…
So here’s what I’m willing to do… If you click on the link below:
This one --> LINK TO MYSTERY GIFT PAGE …
I’ll give you a mystery gift worth [INSERT RETAIL VALUE OF GIFT].
More importantly, by clicking on this link you’ll be telling me that you’re still alive and interested in receiving juicy news and hot tips from me. :) And just so you’re aware, I have setup my email system to automatically remove you if I don’t see any activity from your email account in the next few days.
I know that sounds a little harsh, but I just don’t want to send breaking [niche] news out to folks who aren’t reading or getting value from it.
So again… CLICK THIS LINK: LINK TO MYSTERY GIFT PAGE
Not only will you have a cool gift waiting for you on the other side… …you’ll also reactivate your subscription.
That means even more great stuff will be coming to you in the weeks and months to come.
See you on the other side, [NAME]
Win-Back Email #2
Send one day after the previous email – we’re picking up the pace.
Remember, the gift can be a mystery or you can specify what it is.
I’ve found that if it’s a truly high value gift, then telling them gets a better response than saying “mystery gift.” But of course, your results could vary.
(Hint: That means you might want to test it 😊)
Subject Line: Re: Claiming your “mystery gift”…
Did you get the email I sent yesterday about your “mystery gift?”
[LINK TO MYSTERY GIFT PAGE]
Here’s the deal… It’s been A WHILE since you’ve clicked on any of my emails (those are real tears, by the way.) Because I want to see if the email address I have for you is still a valid email address,
I’m attempting something a bit odd… …Bribery.
I’m offering you something extremely valuable for literally just clicking on this link: [LINK TO MYSTERY GIFT PAGE]
That’s it…just click the link! If this is still an active email address (and you’re still interested in [niche]) then I have every hope that you will click the link. If you’re no longer interested, just keep doing nothing and I’ll sadly send your gift to someone else.
But I hope that’s not the case… …because I kind of like having you around. 😊
So let’s stay together… …just click this link: CLICK HERE --> [LINK TO MYSTERY GIFT PAGE]
And I’ll happily see you on the other side. (I’m the one holding the great big gift wrapped package with your name on it!)
All the best, [NAME]
Win-Back Email #3
Send 1 Day After Previous Mail This is more of the same, but note how we’re starting to countdown to unsubscribe in the P.S.
Subject Line: Am I still welcome in your inbox?
I've noticed you haven't opened any of my emails in a while. This makes me wonder... Am I bothering you?
Are you not getting the value you expected? Or are you receiving too few messages? Or maybe too many?
Whatever it is, I hope you still want to hear from me…
If you want to keep receiving these updates, you need to click the link below:
LINK TO MYSTERY GIFT PAGE
It will lead you to a special mystery gift. No purchase, registration or anything like that required.
I hope you click it. 😊
All the best, [NAME]
P.S. If your account doesn’t register a click in the next 48 hours, I’m going to go ahead and unsubscribe you from this list. It’s not that I don’t want you here, but it’s been almost 6 weeks since you’ve shown any interest in the emails I’m sending you. Sooo…. The ball is in your court – click the link and I’ll happily see you on the other side.
Win-Back Email #4
Send 1 Days After Previous Mail We’re still offering the mystery bonus, but it’s no longer the emphasis of the email. At this point it’s all about “click or unsubscribe”.
Subject Line: oh-oh… Should we unsubscribe you?
I don’t want to keep bothering you with emails, but I don’t want to completely cut you off, either… CLICK THIS LINK to let me know you want to keep hearing from me… …or click the “unsubscribe” link at the bottom
No hard feelings, either way…I know that interests can change over time.
The last thing I want to do, though, is be another gal cluttering up your inbox, so if you don’t click on this link:
LINK TO MYSTERY GIFT PAGE …
I’ll assume you are no longer interested in hearing from me and remove you from our list.
(Selfishly, I hope you click the link.) T
alk soon, [NAME]
P.S. I almost forgot… If you do click the link you’ll find something pretty cool waiting for you on the other side. Just sayin’ 😊
Win-Back Email #5
Send 1 Day After Previous Mail This is the final email in this win-back series.
Subject Line: Is this goodbye?
Unfortunately, today is the day… I need you to confirm that you still want to receive emails from me by clicking this link: LINK TO MYSTERY GIFT PAGE
…or you will be removed from our mailing list in 24 hours. (Sorry if that comes off sound harsh, but I really only want to mail people who actually want to hear from me.)
Originally you subscribed to my newsletter because you wanted [insert known benefits and desired end results], but if that’s no longer the case I understand.
Interests change… Priorities change… People change…
If your interests and priorities have changed, no hard feelings. Just unsubscribe using the link at the bottom of this email and I won’t bug you anymore. But if you are still interested in [insert known benefits and desired end results] and I simply slipped through the cracks somehow, you need to TAKE ACTION TODAY.
It’s simple… Just CLICK HERE and your subscription will automatically be reactivated.
(There may also be a little gift waiting for you on the other side, but you’ll have to click to see what it is.) 😊
Talk soon (hopefully), [NAME]
Welcome Back Email
Send this mail when someone is re-engaged or won back.
Subject Line: Welcome back!
Thank you for updating your information…
I’m thrilled to have you as an active member again!
Here’s a link to some of the content you missed while you were on your “hiatus”:
[Insert bulleted list of most popular blog posts, reports, videos, infographics, etc from the past 30 days…]
…and here’s a “mystery gift” I want you to have to further welcome you back into the fold:
LINK TO MYSTERY GIFT PAGE
Finally, since email is less than perfect, make sure you’re also following us on Facebook and Twitter just to be sure you never miss out again:
LINK TO FACEBOOK PAGE LINK TO TWITTER PAGE
Again, it’s good to have you back. :)
Talk soon, [NAME]
A couple of last points about this series…
MODIFY it to suit your needs.
Your emails should reflect you, and your personality and that of your company and products, so don’t be afraid to modify these as you see fit.
We used 30 days as an example, but you can use this series anytime you like. Personally, I use a similar series after 60 days of someone not opening my emails. Despite what some marketers will tell you, there are no hard and fast rules of how to word an email.
I’ve given you a good start here, but again you should make these uniquely yours. Or just copy and paste and fill in the blanks – that should work, too.
One last thing – if you win back just 1000 subscribers a year with this series, and just 5% of those go on to make purchases totaling $100 each, that’s $5,000 a year.
Not bad for copying and pasting a handful of emails into your autoresponder.
Email is a major time sink. We’re talking multiple hours per day for many busy individuals, and as much as half their workdays can be spent on email for those among us with high rates of communication with clients, contacts, and colleagues.
What’s worse, people often feel like they’re being way more productive than they actually are as well when they’re working out of their inboxes. Sure, you might be wheeling and dealing on your keyboard, but the effective hours of solid work achieved when constantly checking email starts to get diminished quickly.
And even still worse than that is the fact that it’s a necessity. Regardless of where you are or what you do, email is a near universally expected communication tool and those you work with will expect you to consistently check and respond to any incoming messages.
So, how can you make your email time more productive and stop it from leaking into your day? Here are a few tips for getting started:
1) Because email is not a live messenger (though some people use it like one!), it is OK if responses are generally put off a few hours. For this reason, email productivity experts often recommend that you set 3 times throughout the day to check your email, and then stick to those times, never checking in between.
2) During your designated email check-in times, respond to every message you’ve received, right when you read it. Often, we read something, think “that’s going to take a bit to fully address!”, and then mentally note that we’ll get back to it later when we have more time. However, this forces you to read such emails twice instead of one time, and the procrastinating generally serves no helpful purpose. When you read an email, decide if it requires a response. If the answer is yes, write it then, on the spot.
3) Use shortcuts. Many email productivity add-ons (Boomerang is a popular one right now, by the way), allow you to setup shortcuts that will automatically fill in words or sentences when you begin typing a certain key sequence. If you have an opening greeting you always use, or other information that doesn’t make sense to save as a standard email signature, you can use these shortcuts to save you time. Got a long company name you have to type out constantly? Set a shortcut so that you can trigger it by just hitting two letters in a row that normally wouldn’t follow each other. You get the idea.
4) Turn off push notifications. Of course, we receive email on much more than just our PC’s these days, and the constant buzzing of a phone or dinging of an iPad can pull you out of what you’re working on and cause you to lose focus and time, even if you just check your lock screen to see who or what it was. Instead, put these items in do not disturb mode or at least turn off email client notifications when you’re in between your designated email checking times.
Stick to these, and you’ll be well on your way to shaving off minutes or even hours from your workday!
Email marketing is still as relevant today as it was 10 year ago, but, like most things, approaches have had to be evolved in order to remain effective. No place is this more true that with opening rates, in which marketers evaluate how often their email communications are opened and read.
Every email you send that doesn’t get read is a missed opportunity, and subject line tricks and formulas that may have worked a few years ago might not carry the same weight today. Much of this is due to the problem of volume inundation. The average email account today is spammed with anywhere between tens and hundreds of junk communications per day, on top of a varying volume of legitimate/wanted ones.
Along with this inundation, comes the fact that people have become desensitized to sensational headlines. Things that may have piqued interest in 2010 now just scream “scam!” or “yeah right, I don’t believe THAT!” to the average consumer.
What all of this means, in a nutshell, is that you’ve got to get creative in order to get opens these days. At the very least, you’ll need to invest in some longterm strategic thinking.
In fact, your plan for improving open rates should be occurring long before an actual email is sent or a subject line is read. The largest factor in any open is going to be the sender, so you need to make sure you have established trust with whoever you are mailing.
One of the first steps to this, and something I cannot stress enough, is using confirmed – also called “double” opt in. It forces people to see your name twice, and gets the recognition process started. The people you lose because they couldn’t be bothered to confirm their subscription were probably not great prospects to begin with.
Next, make your opt-in incentive excellent. I mean award-winning. Make it actually useful and give them something they’re not finding somewhere else. Most marketers in any given niche are giving away half-solutions or useless “5 steps” PDF’s – be the one person in your area who isn’t.
Next, and this is probably a step where the most dropoff in open rates occurs despite not getting much attention, is that you ensure that the quality of your email followups can compete with that of your first email/incentive. Especially your second and third email, really overdeliver and give people information they can’t live without. Really prove you’ve done your homework and have the answers they’re looking for.
I cannot stress this enough. People get hung up on writing the perfect subject line when the reality is that you could have the worst headlines in the game and still pull off stellar open rates if you’re a trusted sender whose advice is valued. By the same token, you could find your traditionally excellent subject line methods scoring low on open percentage because no one remembers who you are or thought that it became too obvious early on that you were more interested in selling to them than helping them.
Once you have this trust established, feel free to go crazy with your subject line split testing, but know that this step – the one email marketers spend probably the most time on – is insignificant in the grand scheme of things.
For years, people in the tech industry have been predicting (or lamenting) the death of email as a form of communication.
“Kids don’t use email anymore.” “There are better, faster and more effective ways to interact with other people, such as texting and social media.” “I know people who don’t even have an email address.”
These are some of the most common statements you hear regarding the death of email. (Perhaps it’s telling that I’ve been hearing these same statements for nearly a decade now.)
The Death of Email?
So what’s the real deal? Is email actually dead?
To answer this question, let me ask one of my own: When was the last time you checked your email account? This week? This morning? Just now?
The truth is that most people will go to their email every time their smart phone beeps, vibrates or otherwise indicates that a new email message has just landed in their inbox. It’s just a natural human response, kind of like when people used to answer their home telephones whenever it rang. It takes some time to de-program it.
More Popular than Ever
In reality, email is more popular than ever, especially among marketers. According to an April, 2015, study conducted by Yahoo! Labs and the University of Southern California – called “Evolution of Conversations in the Age of Email Overload”, most people are now receiving more emails in their inbox than ever before.
Part of that is businesses finally catching up with available marketing technology. While many small businesses have been collecting customers’ email addresses for years, it’s only been recently that many have finally figured out what to do with them.
People are more willing to give up their email address than they are, say, their mobile phone numbers. That’s because they know they can easily ignore or delete emails they don’t really want to see.
Too Many Emails
Today, most people receive more emails than they can conceivably read and respond to. Personally, I usually begin each working day by deleting about 80% to 90% of the emails in my inbox – mostly from marketers or others promoting something I’m not interested in.
Yet like me, most people won’t go to the trouble of unsubscribing from the source of all those emails out of fear that they might miss out on the one offer or email that they genuinely are interested in.
Ease of Email
It’s also easier than ever for people to keep up with their emails. Spam detectors have done an effective job of filtering out the truly irrelevant and unwanted emails. And now people can read their emails – or at least their subjects and who they are from – as a scroll on their smart phones, tablets and other mobile devices.
And because more emails today are being sent and received on mobile devices, they tend to be shorter. Perhaps this is why the average amount of time it takes for people to respond to emails sent from smart phones (28 minutes) is so much shorter than those sent from tablets (57 minutes) or from desktop computers or laptops (62 minutes,), according to the Yahoo!/USC study. Could that mean that emails and text messages are beginning to morph into the same thing?
The Myth of Young People and Email
As expected, older people tend to use emails more than younger people. But the difference may not be as big as many people might think.
During the course of the study, 53% of adults between 35 and 50 years old sent emails from their phones or tablets at least once, compared to only 49% of teenagers between13 and 19 and 48% of young adults between 20 and 35 years old. Older people (51+) sent the fewest emails via mobile devices, at 43%, according to the study.
So email is definitely not dead. It’s not even wounded. Eventually, however, it may eventually morph into something entirely different, in the way the telephone did.