In our recent holiday survey, we asked our email subscribers, Facebook fans and Twitter followers to weigh in on this question: Say that Santa has a magical elf who only answers North Pole mail dealing with email marketing questions. What would you ask him? We were thrilled to receive a bevy of survey responses — and some really solid questions for our magical elf. (Want to take a look at the survey responses? Visit this post.)
Now, allow me to put on the proverbial, if figurative, elf hat and answer four of the most common questions we received. Oh, and be on the lookout for even more blog posts of this sort. We're really excited to answer even more of your questions.
1. How do I continue to grow my email list with the "right" people?
Great question. Rather than asking how to grow your lists any ol' way, so many of you recognize the importance of gaining the right subscribers. That is, folks who want to hear from you and are engaged with your brand. First things first: make it easy to sign up. Post your signup form in easy-to-spot locations on your homepage, blog, Facebook page and relevant landing pages. And keep the process short 'n sweet. Folks may not hit submit if they've got to weed through 15 required form fields. Most importantly, be super clear about what you'll send, how often and what subscribers will get in return for signing up. Want an example? Take a look at this smart signup form by Social Fresh.
2. When's the best time of day or week to send an email campaign?
There's really no magic answer to the question of email sending times because it'll vary depending upon your audience's behavior — Do they read email at work or home? Have they signed up to receive your emails from their professional email address or personal address? — and depending upon your message — Are you sending an invitation that needs to go out prior to an event? Does your promotion have an expiration date?.
Of course, there's plenty of data on email sending times, if you're looking for it. A study by Pure360 suggests that people are receptive to marketing emails during the first hour of their workday. And the Email Experience Council reports that the most popular days for retailers to send emails are Tuesday, Thursday and Monday. (Want to see some more stats? Check out the Email Stat Center's section on email deployment times.)
Our recommendation? Go straight to the source. Create a survey and ask your audience how often they'd like to hear from you and when they're most apt to check their email. Then, test various sending times with different segments of your audience and see which times of day and week perform solidly over time.
At the end of the day (no pun intended), don't sweat your email's sending time. If you're writing compelling emails that speak to your audience, your subscribers will make time to open them, no matter what time they arrive.
3. Can recipients change their preference on how often they want to receive emails?
Yes! And this is a terrific way to increase audience engagement. When given a choice, folks will be more attentive when they receive your emails. We've created a help page to walk you through the steps of setting this up, and our support team is on hand to answer any questions you have along the way.
4. How do I keep my email from going in a recipient's spam folder?
It's the million dollar email marketing question! While it's easy to get upset when your emails don't land in your recipients' inboxes, spam filters are in place for a reason. They keep all of our inboxes much cleaner than they'd otherwise be by filtering out tons of junk mail everyday. Of course, you might worry that your email — which is quite lovely and isn't junk at all! — will end up in the dreaded spam folder. Here's something to remember: You can't please all of the spam filters all of the time, but you can certainly take steps to increase your email's deliverability. A few tips:
- Ask your recipients to add your "from address" to their address book or trusted sender list. This is still the number one way to reach their inboxes.
- Update your organization's SPF record and register Emma as an authorized sender on your behalf.
- Limit the amount of formatting changes in your email. It's a good idea to spruce up your headlines, customize your link colors and add images, but don't go overboard.
- For a broader discussion of sending reputation, plus more tips, take a look at Art's post.
Stay tuned for more answers to your burning questions, and if these have sparked any other ideas, please weigh in here!