Best Practices for Creating Messages that Build A Following
Once you have your prospect’s email, it’s time to start building a relationship with them. They’ve given you permission to email them. Send them information that they’ll find valuable and start leveraging that relationship. Here are a few tips, suggestions, and best practices to consider.
Timing and Quantity
How often will you email your list and when will you email them? For example, you might think that Monday morning is a great time to email your list. If they’re all at work and not able to check their email, your message is going to be pushed to the bottom of their inbox. You might have better luck emailing at 5:30 in the evening.
Consider your audience’s lifestyle and send messages when you believe they’re most likely to be received and opened. You can also check your autoresponder analytics. For example, you can have Aweber send you stats that show you your open rate, clicks, bounces and so on.
The second thing to consider is how often you’re going to connect with your list. Experts recommend at least once a week. You want to make sure that your subscribers feel like being on your list is a perk. Sending them consistent value will help you achieve that.
Additionally, you want to make sure not to overwhelm them with so many messages that there’s no way to keep up. Two or three messages a week is really the maximum you want to send, unless you specifically created a daily message.
For example, Martha Beck sends a daily inspiration. If you choose to email daily, make sure your subscribers know what they’ll be getting and how often they’ll be getting it.
Mix it Up
It’s easy to fall into the trap of sending your list promotional messages. Unfortunately, this is a great way to lose subscribers. Mix it up. Consider using the 80/20 principle. 80 percent of your messages should be value driven. 20 percent can be promotional. That means that your value driven messages provide information, entertainment, and help your readers improve their lives and solve their problems.
Some people swear by long email messages. The longer the better. Others say that short and sweet messages perform better. Try both and see what your audience responds to. Test the timing of your message too. Do you get more opens and clicks on Fridays or Mondays?
Your Subject Line is Everything
The subject line is the first thing that your recipient will see. It needs to motivate your subscribers to click on it and open your message. Note that your recipient will also see who the email is from.
When you’re setting up your autoresponder and email system, make sure that the “From” is clear and recognizable. For example, if someone signs up for a Martha Beck email, it should say “Martha Beck” in the “from line.” Here’s a good example of an effective subject line and from line.
Strive to keep your subject line to 50 characters or less. It needs to fit on the screen, whether they’re checking email on their computer or on their smart phone.
Email is a personal communication. You want your messages to be conversational and friendly. Check your own inbox and read the messages that you receive from marketers. What do you like about them? Are they written like a personal letter just to you? What type of writing style do you think your audience will respond to?
For example, if you’re marketing to parents you might choose a friendly approach. If you’re marketing to accountants in their place of business, you might be a little more reserved.
Make it Easy to Read
Your email messages need to have a lot of white space. Use a font that’s easy to read online. Try Arial, Courier, or Calibri. Times New Roman is a common font as well. The font size should be at least 12 point and perhaps more.
Again, test the messages. Send yourself a message and see how well you can read it on your computer and your smart phone. Formatting like bold lettering and subheadings can help make the content easier to read.
Many autoresponders include templates that you can use. You can use them as is or customize them to suit your needs. Consider sending both an html and a text based version of your message so users can choose the format they prefer.
If you wish to brand your messages you can add the header from your blog or website or create a new header. The look and feel of your email messages can be important but it’s not as important as the quality of the content.
Segmentation and Analytics
If your autoresponder supports segmentation, use it. You can send personalized and specific messages to different demographics. You can also segment based on behaviour. For example if someone clicks on a link in your email message, you can follow up with them immediately and help them take the next step.
Analytics are another tool that you can use to provide information and email messages that your readers respond to. In addition to leveraging the information found in Google Analytics, your autoresponder dashboard provides you with an abundance of data.
Use it to learn what your audience responds to, when they open your messages, what subject lines and calls to action they click on. You can make changes to your email marketing strategy based on how your audience responds.
Email marketing requires a strategy and a plan. Determine your goals and then create a system of messages that support your goals. Because you’re only emailing your subscribers once or twice a week, it’s an easy enough process to create a month’s worth of messages in advance and to upload them. This gives you time to plan the next month’s content.
Your strategy will include your goals, your content topics for the month as well as any promotional offers, links, and sales material. You might even include your call to action in your monthly email content plan.
A Call to Action
Include a clear call to action. This is a statement that tells your readers what step they can take next. Your call to action depends largely on your monetization model and your goals. For example, if you want to drive traffic to your website you’d include a call to action that sends readers to your website. If you want to promote a product or a service, you’d include a call to action that sends readers to the sales page of the item you’re promoting.
Here’s a call to action in the Buzzplant.com email newsletter. Their goal, is to motivate readers to contact them and they do it in a personal and gentle way (no heavy sales pitch here).
Talking about a call to action leads to the next step we should address before we dive too much further into email marking. We’re talking about your goals and your monetization model. How do you plan to make money with email marketing?