Question: What is meant by “good list hygiene” and why should you do it?
Answer: When referring to “good list hygiene,” we're actually asking you about the accuracy of your email addresses. Are they real addresses? Have they been updated? Are your prospects or customers still receiving communications at them? Good list hygiene, or the lack of it, has a number of implications.
It affects your organization's sender reputation. ISPs take notice if you are consistently sending to bad addresses or addresses on which people are not interacting with you. These have a direct impact on your organization's ability to deliver the email into your customer's inbox. No matter how good your email is, if it's not getting into the inbox, it's moot.
It also has financial implications. If you're currently paying a specific CPM rate and a percentage of your email is not being delivered, it will negatively affect your ROI.
The good news is there are steps you can take to ensure your list is clean and being kept up-to-date:
When first collecting addresses, you need to have a syntax validation in place and also send a triggered opt-in confirmation email to that address. This gives you an opportunity to reinforce the opt-in, confirm what the recipient can expect to receive from you and verify that the address is valid.
Because ISPs are increasingly measuring engagement—how many people read or click on your email—you need to develop a strategy that determines when to remove an inactive person from the database and create a process to do so. This not only keeps engagement high but also helps ensure your message is relevant to the recipient.
Current statistics indicate that more than 25% of email addresses churn each year. Due to this high percentage, no matter how clean your list is from the start, you will still need to have a process in place that manages your bounce-backs and removes them appropriately.
Michael Thompson is director, deliverability and ISP relations for ClickSquared (www.clicksquared.com), a provider of relationship marketing programs.
Question: How do you design an email so people will read to the very end?
Answer: Everyone is crunched for time and facing a bulging inbox. Marketers can respond to this challenge by being concise and compelling in their email marketing design. There are three ways to do this:
1) Design your email so the copy is on a single screen above the “fold.”
2) Take longer sections of copy and hyperlink to them on separate pages. Begin enough of a paragraph to hook the reader and then link to the rest of the story. People will be curious and click to read more. Separating copy visually into sections makes it easier to read.
3) Have a strong call to action in the email subject line that also shows up in the preview pane. In the content body, also include a hyperlink to the call to action.
Including three to five hyperlinks within the body of each email keeps the message concise and provides multiple tracking mechanisms to determine how engaged the audience really is.
Variety is the key to effective hyperlinks. No one wants to see the same message repeatedly, and the same is true for your hyperlinks. Mix them up: Try linking to different documents, Web sites, social media or other sources. Always work to make the links relevant to the message and make sure they are content-driven to spur qualified leads coming into your site. The most thoroughly read emails are those that are most compelling to your audience.
Carissa Newton is director of marketing at Delivra (www.delivra.com), a provider of email marketing software and services.
Question: How do you address both engaged and unengaged recipients with your email efforts?
Answer: Marketers that engage in segmentation often rely on recipients' self-reported profile data to determine the appropriate messaging tone. However, considering the engagement level of an individual email recipient—how much they've interacted with your email, offers, content and brand—provides additional insight on when, where and how to reach subscribers.
You will find that some subscribers are more engaged than others, often following the 80/20 rule: 80% of your email activity comes from 20% of your recipients. So, how do you address the majority within the content of your email? Before you can answer that, there are three things to consider:
1) The engagement definition. How you define your audience's engagement is as unique as your business itself. Metrics to consider might include open, click-to-open and conversion rates over a defined period of time—or any combination of those behaviors.
2) The customer life cycle. Leveraging knowledge about how your recipients interact with your brand and your products is an important part of addressing engagement. If the product or service is complicated and requires a lot of explanation or value proposition, length of subscription may play very heavily into the engagement equation versus a more simplified or easy-to-understand offering.
3) The dynamic capabilities of your email system. The ability to address multiple segments within your email comes down to the functionality of your sending system. Many systems will allow you to define varying segments within the context of an individual message, displaying the specific content for a recipient. If this functionality is not available, don't worry. You can accomplish the same effect, though it will require your production team to produce multiple versions of the message. That limits the amount of segmentation you do, but it's still better than not addressing it at all.
Leveraging a client's knowledge of your brand and their engagement with your programs can drive not only when you talk to an individual but what you talk to them about.
Kara Trivunovic is senior director of strategic services at StrongMail (www.strongmail.com), a provider of email marketing solutions. OTHER E-MAIL STORIES