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Answers to your most common email questions

Emma Mathews, Services Manager here at Emma, works alongside her team to help our customers get better results as fast as possible. That means everything from giving smart strategic advice to designing show-stopping campaigns to implementing custom integrations – whatever you need, the Services Team has your back. Here are a few of the most common questions she hears on the job (our Emma FAQ, if you will), along with some of the wisdom she regularly dishes out as one of our in-house email experts.

That's Emma!

What are the best ways to grow my list?

First of all, list growth is absolutely key to email marketing success. Your list will churn 20-30% per year on average, and an effective list growth strategy will ensure your brand and content continue to reach engaged subscribers.

When a Services Specialist starts working with an Emma client, they will look for these things right off the bat:

• Is there a signup form on their website?
• Can I find the signup form in under 15 seconds?
• Does the form pop off the page?
• Is there a proper lead magnet to incentivize new subscribers?

Website visitors are rarely going to your site to sign up for your email list, so as an email marketer, it’s your job to make sure your form stands out and immediately pulls them in. A website visit can end in moments, but an email subscription keeps your brand top of mind and connected with a person indefinitely.

Another thing: The best way to grow your list is to give them a chance to sign up at every point of contact they have with your brand – and if you really want to make a great impression, be sure your welcome email is specific to the place they signed up (e.g. Guestbook, website homepage, an event, a content piece, Facebook, etc.).

2. How often should I be sending?

Ahh, the cadence question… one of my personal favorites! If you want the short, generic answer, then I’d say that if you’re just starting out, you should be sending at least once a month and no more than once a week.

But let’s talk about what really matters: value. People open emails because they expect them to add value to their lives, so if you’re unsure of the value you’ll provide in an email you want to send, don’t send it. Don’t send irrelevant content just to maintain a consistent cadence. You’re only going to lose subscribers’ trust and interest that way.

3. What can I do to improve my open rates?

Without going down the rabbit hole of delivery and inbox placement (I’d need a whole post to dive into those topics!), there are 6 things that affect open rates.

From name. When it comes to open rates, your from name could arguably be the most important element of your email. Think about it: Typically, you open emails based on who it is from. For instance, you’ll always open an email from your best friend before an email from a local shop (unless they’re giving away free pizza or something). Use a sender name that’s recognizable to your subscribers and one they would expect to hear from.

Sender address. As long as you’re using a supported domain (not @yahoo, @gmail, @aol, etc.), I would say that this factor is the least important on the list. But if you aren’t using a supported domain, you need to start – now. Until you do, it’s likely your emails will get trapped in the dreaded spam folder.

Subject line and preheader text. It may take some time to hone in on what hooks your subscribers best. There are TONS of articles out there about how to write effective subject lines, but at the end of the day, if you haven’t tested it with your audience, you won’t know what works for your brand.

Relevancy of previous mailings. If you’ve been sending irrelevant emails, it may take some time for current subscribers to get back on board with regularly opening what you send them. Focus on growing your list and sending value-driven emails to see a faster boost.

Send time. Unlike Twitter, where if you blink you’ll miss something in your feed, emails have staying power. So I’m not a huge fan of getting bogged down by send times. They’re definitely something worth testing, but a send time is not going to drastically change your open rates. What will, you ask? Sending relevant content your subscribers don’t want to miss. They’ll open it regardless of when you send.

Stop sending to inactive contacts. For a very quick boost, suppress the segment of your contacts who are chronically inactive. You’re only hurting your open rates – and potentially your inbox placement – by sending to these contacts. Also, putting inactive subscribers on pause from receiving emails may be just the trick you need to get them to open your re-engagement email later down the road.

3. We have A LOT of content that we have to share in our emails. What can I do to make sure they don't look so overwhelming?

One of my favorite things to help clients with is the type of content they are sending. My number one rule is to always send “thank you content.” Send the type of content that will actually add value to your subscribers’ lives – not just the content that you want to send. As far as making the content not look so overwhelming, here are a few key tips:

White space. Even if you have a ton of content, it’s better to let it breathe. Don’t jam it all together in a wall of text that will stop readers in their tracks.

Bold headlines. Be sure your content is broken up into sections. That way, the 80% of people who are only scanning your email can quickly find the things that interest them.

Link it out. Email is not meant to be a vehicle for long-form content. Tease your content in an email, then draw subscribers back to a landing page with a big, tappable CTA button.

List it out. People LOVE lists. Break down your content into a quick list rather than long paragraphs so your emails are easier to digest.

4. We want to do more email marketing, but we don't have a ton of time/resources. I know automation can help, but where should I start?

(Shameless plug alert) Start with our Services Team! You can work with a Services Specialist once or on a recurring basis to help you do your best email marketing yet and take some work off of your plate. Shoot us an email to learn more about what we have to offer.