You know what I don't like? Putting a lot of work into something, and getting nothing out of it. Just last night, the Pinterest-inspired cookies I spent 60 minutes and $10 creating came out tasting like styrofoam. But it's nice to know I'm not the only one unimpressed with the fruits of my work. We all experience disappointing returns on effort all the time – in relationships, in expensive products we buy and don't love, and unfortunately, sometimes in our marketing.
But as they say, every failure is an opportunity to learn.
Actually, I just Googled it and don't see anyone taking credit for that quote. So, I guess I'm the one who says it.
Regardless, throwing a pity party when an initiative flops instead of looking for indicators of opportunity is not smart. And you're smart, so I want to talk about how we can translate bad metrics into a better strategy. Specifically, in email marketing.
Of all the mediums available for a business to communicate with its audience, email takes first place in terms of value. The collateral is cheap to create, the execution is either free or low-cost, and the opportunities for testing are endless.
According to Harvard Business Review, email marketing costs 100 times less than direct mail. Yowza! On top of that, HubSpot found in a study of the same data set that direct mail yields an average $27 return per dollar spend, while email yields $26,000.
With numbers like this in mind, it's no surprise smart marketers are big fans of email for promotional and relationship building purposes. Email marketing is not necessarily a new concept, and you may already have even dabbled in it yourself.
But not every campaign is a success. It's horribly frustrating to spend hours strategizing and executing, only to have it perform poorly. Have you experienced this? I know I have. Fortunately, there are a simple set of considerations which can improve even the lowest performing email.
So in the spirit of harnessing disappointment as a stepping stone to learning, let's take a look at standard email metrics, and discuss what to do when they're lower than my spirits after biting into last night's pathetic excuse for a cookie.
Your open rate is low. Like, final round of Limbo low
You put the time and energy into creating a visually appealing and verbally intriguing email. Your copy is unique, your images are eye grabbing, and people would be crazy to not redeem that killer offer you're promoting.
Unfortunately, your subscribers will never know any of these things. Either everyone's sitting on a beach with no Wifi, or your email is simply not doing its job. Either way, it's not getting opened.
- What to do
There are two main reasons open rates tend to sag. The first potential explanation is an unengaging subject line which doesn't motivate people to read more. Next time, try testing two distinct subjects with a different message, and see which one gets more opens. Then, replicate that style moving forward.
A second reasons people tend to not open emails is one you can probably relate to – we get flooded with them every day. Some are for work, some are marketing updates we've subscribed to, and some are spam offering us the opportunity to win a million dollars. With so many messages coming our way, sometimes it's easier to simply delete all the non-essentials.
But your email doesn't have to fall into that category! Go back to testing, and send two emails at different times of the day. The next day, check your analytics to see what time garnered the highest open rate. You'll likely be surprised by how much impact this can have.
What next? You guessed it: keep sending emails at that optimized time.
Your unsubscribes are through the roof
Now that we've started talking about beaches, I'm going to stick with the nautical theme. Let's be frank: having someone unsubscribe from your email list is about as pleasant as getting slapped across the face with a salmon.
OK, but seriously, a sudden spike in email unsubscribers is never the best part of a marketer's day. It's hard not to take it personally when that message you created specifically for your audience was apparently so off the mark, it prompted them to remove themselves from your list. But don't cue up "I can't live if living is without you" just yet.
- What to do
We've all opened an email we clearly signed up for, thought "I did NOT sign up for this", and hit the unsubscribe button. To avoid having your subscribers take this action, look at the type of content you're sending them.
As you acquire email contacts, pay attention to what is prompting them to subscribe and what type of content they tend to respond to. Segment your list accordingly and send relevant messages to relevant people. No more blind email blasts, please. If you can master the art of providing value at a valuable time, you'll hold on to a healthy list.
Your click-throughs are less than stellar
This situation is definitely a bummer. We invest time and resources into creating what we think of as a pretty awesome offer, but our readers beg to differ. They're not clicking through from the email to your landing page, and therefore you're driving a pitiful amount of conversions.
- What to do
Whenever someone opens your email, a distinct window of opportunity opens up as well. That window is five seconds long.
And no, I'm not talking about the food five second rule. Although I have been known to apply that one on a daily basis as well.
In email marketing, I like to think of the first five seconds someone spends looking at our email as an audition process. If they don't see something engaging within that time, you won't make the cut. They'll exit out of your message and go on with their day - never to return!
Create a more captivating email by utilizing personable copy, including relevant images, simplifying your messaging, and (this one is big) providing a clear call to action. No one will redeem your 25% off offer if you don't give them a painfully easy process to do so.
Your click-to-conversion rate is bad. So bad, you'd laugh if you weren't busy weeping
People are opening your email, and they're clicking on your offer. They love you, they really love you!
Until they get to your site, and the bounce rate hits 90% How frustrating! Fortunately, there's generally a simple reasoning behind this phenomenon.
- What to do
Succeeding in convincing recipients to click on your emails offer constitutes winning half the battle. But if they get to that landing page and it's not true to the email call to action, or it's not optimized for their experience, your hard work is a moot point. They'll be either annoyed or confused, and they definitely won't convert.
Think about it from your personal experience: what causes you to leave a page? Usually, it's either: 1) not what you were looking for, 2) too confusing to navigate, or 3) filled with distracting features which pull you away.
The smart marketer knows that in terms of metrics, clicks are great but actual conversions are where it's at. Earn them by driving people to landing pages optimized for their experience and centered around the subject matter of your email. Keep it simple!
Are your spirits lifting? Hopefully, and if you put the effort in, your metrics will follow suit. Use poor performance as an opportunity to grow, and start researching what is and isn't contributing to your email marketing success.
If you're looking for me, I'll be working on round two of Chewy Lemon Snowdrops.
PS. Wondering how much you're actually getting out of emails? Check out this nifty Email ROI calculator from Entrepreneur
Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/44921934@N00/5310038972