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Variety is the spice of email

Part three of four to building an effective engagement strategy

It's time to think just a bit more about effectively targeting your most and least engaged readers. If you missed parts one and two of this series, give them a read here and here. And today, we'll talk about new things you can try to reach a level of response you'll want to write home about.

Trying something different can be a bit unnerving, require a few rounds of testing and even a little research. Why would you want to take on something that sounds like, well, a lot of work? The answer is simple. Just like your mother always taught you, "Variety is the spice of life." The same goes for email. Mixing things up may reveal new strategies that work better than the old, as well as new things about your audience's behaviors and preferences.

Creating personalized emails

Creating personalized emails means much more than merging a name into the body of your emails. While it's nice to call someone by name, why not go a step further and get specific with the content as well? Targeting members based on location, interests and even something as simple as the weather in their region is a way to connect with them on a personal level. (Check out some of Emma's advanced personalization options here.) Marketing Sherpa reports that 64% of people they surveyed were willing to share personal preferences in return for a more personalized online shopping experience. The email addresses in your audience aren't just addresses. They're real people. You wouldn't carry on the exact same conversation with every person in your audience face-to-face, so why do it in email?

rainy day campaign
Special offers brighten up a rainy day.

Experimenting with subject lines

Another variable to test with your audience members is the length of your subject line. Return Path shows that click-through rates can be 75% higher in emails that have subject lines with 49 or fewer characters versus subject lines with 50 or more. Do you have better luck with super short subject lines? Have you done some testing with vague, quirky subject lines compared to content-specific lines? Picking two distinctly different subject lines to test may provide you with surprising answers for what your audience prefers. Feel free to test your intuition regarding subject lines here.

subject comparison
Test different subject lines to find out what works for your audience.

Determining sending frequency

Your sending frequency is another great variable to test. Email Stat Center reports that 54% of people who unsubscribe from permission-based emails do so because they're receiving emails too frequently. We've also mentioned how sending too infrequently can cause problems with bounces and keeping your list current. To determine how often your audience wants to receive your campaigns, you could ask in a survey format, allow them to choose during the signup process or do some testing. Experiment with sending frequency, and compare opens, clicks and opt-out rates to gauge your audience's engagement.

What works for one person's audience may not be the same thing that gets your list actively engaged. Don't be afraid to spice it up and see how your audience responds. There is no need to settle for mediocre response rates when a spiffed-up subject line or more personalized content is all that's standing in the way of stellar response rates.

Tell us what works for you, and join me for the final installment of the series, where I'll discuss comparing mailings and checking out how your results stack up.