Choosing a subject line

In our last blog post, we explained that your email delivery rates might be reduced if your list members report your emails as ‘spam’. A feature of Simplelists is that we enable the members of your list to engage easily in private group discussion with one another. So, it’s important that your emails get opened and that your members don’t mark them as spam before doing so, whether accidentally or not.

Spam Folder Listing

One way to ensure that list members open your email and are sure that it is from a recognised, trustworthy source, is to make sure you have a good email subject line.

Top tips for writing a good subject line

Short is sweet. It is worth bearing in mind that the average email client can display between 38 and 47 characters in a subject line. A study carried out by Return Path in 2006 found that “click through rates for subject lines with 49 or fewer characters were 75% higher than those with 50 or more”. So, brevity is probably best.

Resonate with your readers. Content-related subject lines that ‘hit home’ with your readers will work better than something more general. You could consider using a teaser: ‘This month: Is it worth buying organic?’ might be more tempting that ‘August newsletter’.

Avoid spam ‘trigger words’. Email clients generally have inbuilt mail filters to automatically file messages in the spam folder. Words like ‘video, trial, sample, mortgage’ are examples of potentially problematic choices. You can study lists of spam words and you can also use websites like EmailSpamTest to test the likelihood of your email being filed as spam.

Avoid repetition and add a dash of intrigue. It’s always a good habit to avoid repeating a subject line you used before, even it worked really well previously. Give people a reason to open the email by focusing on something that ‘whets their appetite’. Use something memorable or funny to catch their eye.

Personalise and localise. There is always an element of ‘what’s in it for me’ when ruthlessly scanning an inbox full of messages. A study carried out by Experian in 2013 found that personalising emails by using words like ‘you’ and ‘your’ in subject lines may help to boost open rates. Mentioning a place can also help to focus people’s attention.

Finally, make it clear who you are in the ‘From’ line. With Simplelists, you can send your email from your own email account , directly to the list address. Check that your name/company name is displayed clearly so that your members will immediately remember who you are and why they subscribed to the list in the first place.

Spam management and delivery rates

It’s becoming more common for people to report emails as spam, even if they signed up to a list in the first place. If enough emails are reported as spam, delivery rates can be reduced and in the worst case scenario email addresses can be blacklisted and emails won’t get through at all.

Management of email addresses that have marked an email as spam is critical in keeping delivery rates high and preventing email lists from being blacklisted. You’ll be happy to know that Simplelists fully manages spam reporting for you, ensuring that your emails continue to get through.

spam email

What happens when someone hits ‘report spam’?

When a list member marks an email as spam their email provider creates a ‘feedback loop’, which automatically notifies Simplelists. We receive reports from email providers such as Gmail, Yahoo mail, Hotmail and a number of Internet Service Providers.

We use this information to automatically remove the email addresses of people who reported emails as spam from your list(s). This prevents them from receiving further emails from the list and from repeatedly marking emails as spam.

By taking this action Simplelists keeps your ‘marked as spam’ rate low and helps ensure that the delivery rate of your emails is as high as possible. It also helps to keep your list up to date with those people who really want to receive your message.

Emails accidentally marked as spam?

Occasionally people can accidentally mark emails as spam – if this is the case they can always subscribe to your list again in order to receive emails.

Ideally you want accidental marking as spam to be kept to a minimum – here are a few tips on how to achieve this:

Keep your branding consistent. If you have set up a list and people have subscribed to it, try to remove anything that could cause confusion, such as: changing the name of the list; using a different name from your company or organisation name; adding members to a new list with a different name; using an acronym rather than the full company name. Ideally, your branding should be recognisable every time so that your members can look at your email and immediately remember why they subscribed.

Ensure subscribers are clear about what they signed up for in the first place. If they’re not getting what they thought they opted-in to, or there is a long delay between subscribing to the list and receiving the first email, they may have lost interest or even forgotten that they originally subscribed.

For a more in-depth look into using subject lines that will help prevent emails being marked as spam please see this post.

It can be worth noting that marking as spam can be an invaluable source of information about your members’ behaviours and preferences. If a particular list is producing a lot of complaints, it is worth investigating further.

Creating The Perfect Landing Page.

If you’re using Simplelists for email marketing campaigns then the email you send will probably contain a link to a webpage so that readers can go to your website. It’s really important to get this landing page right – here are some tips…

Landing Page

1) Don’t Just Link To Your Home Page

This is pretty obvious but is something that people get wrong far too much! The landing page should be specific to the email that you’ve sent – visitors will be looking for information related to the email and if they land on a general home page then you’ll lose them.

2) Use A Concise Headline

The headline will be the first thing that visitors see when they click through. It should be close to the top of the page and large enough to be obvious and also be concise and catchy. It should also inform people that they have landed on the correct page by matching the content of your email.

3) Include A Striking Image

Pictures create an impression quickly, add colour and style to your page and encourage people to read the content. The main image should be high up the page so that people don’t need to scroll to see it and should be relevant to the page content. Remember to include ‘alt tags’ for your images so that sight-impaired people’s screen-readers will pick up on them.

4) … Or Video

If the main content of your landing page is video based then there is no need to include a picture as well – that would just serve to distract. It can be a good idea to include a brief introduction to the video – just a couple of sentences to encourage people to click play. A written summary of the video can be a good idea too as some people will prefer to read/scan rather than watch video.

5) Think About Colours

Think about the image that you’re trying to portray and match your colours to this. It can be a good idea to look into colour psychology when you’re doing this. People associate different feelings with different colours, for example blues are associated with trust, wisdom, confidence and stability while reds are associated with energy, strength, passion and desire. Also consider colour contrasts – avoid those colour schemes that make people’s eyes bleed!

6) Use Sub-Headings To Break-Up Long Text

People are more likely to scan than read online, so breaking your text into bite-sized chunks with clear headings is a good idea. Not many will read a long block of continuous text.

7) Include An Obvious Call To Action

Decide what you’d like visitors to do… maybe you want visitors to view your special offers, subscribe to your service or buy a product. Whatever action you’d like people to take, make it clear and easy for them.

8) Remember To Optimise The Page

Give the page a relevant Page Title Tag, URL and Meta Description. This will help search engines and can also improve click through rates from emails as people can see that the link has a trustworthy address.

9) Make The Page Mobile Friendly

Ideally the landing page can be viewed on all kinds of devices, from widescreens, to laptops, to tablets and smart-phones. A responsive page is best but if this is not possible at least make sure that the page works on phones and tablets. This is especially important if you want visitors to fill in a form or make an online purchase.

Insert a Member’s Name into Emails

Simplelists has a feature which allows you to insert members’ names into the group emails that you send. We’ll jump straight in and tell you how to do it and then discuss why it’s useful and when it is important to include a person’s name.

Name Tag

How To Add Names To Your Emails

1) First you need to activate this feature for your Simplelists account – just send an email to support@simplelists.com requesting to ‘activate the insert names feature’ and we’ll activate the feature for your account. You can also tell us your preferred default option which is used if the member’s name is missing from their details in your address book – for example ‘Member’ or ‘Customer’ could be chosen as a default.

2) Simply add $FIRSTNAME to your email where you want the members first name to appear and $SURNAME where you want their last name to appear.

That’s all there is to it – each member will receive a personalised version of the email that includes they’re own name.

Here’s an example:

Hi $FIRSTNAME,

As a valued customer we are giving you a 10% discount code for…

What if a member’s name is missing from their details?

Don’t worry – if a member’s name is missing from your address book and you have let us know your preference for a default it will revert to the default setting in place of their name.

In the example above the email that would be received would read:

Hi Member,

As a valued customer we are giving you a 10% discount code for…

When To Use The ‘Insert Name’ Feature

Personalisation of emails is becoming increasingly important for email marketing.

Mail clients like Gmail are now showing the first 15-20 words of emails in the inbox before emails are opened. This means that, at a glance, people can see whether an email addresses them in person or not. If you don’t include a person’s name in your email and they don’t instantly recognise you as the sender it’s quite likely that they simply won’t open your email.

Stats from 2012 show that emails with personalised subject lines were opened 22.2% more frequently than those without (email marketing stats) – this is likely to be even higher now.

For these reasons, we’d recommend that you use the ‘insert name’ feature in all email marketing emails and in any email where you think that the person receiving it might not instantly recognise the sender.

 

Channel Customers To Buy Direct From Your Website Instead Of From eBay or Amazon

Large shopping websites like eBay and Amazon can be a great way for retailers to get new customers – in fact many online businesses take almost all of their orders through websites like eBay or Amazon, even if they have their own website. But it’s not all a bed of roses – there are several downsides for retailers that use large online stores. Find out how to drive existing customers from large shopping websites directly to your website…

Highway Sign - Your Website

The Big Advantage

The reason that these super-sites are so useful to retailers is that they increase the visibility of products that would otherwise never be found online. For lots of small online retailers, eBay and Amazon get their products sold while their own websites are lost in obscurity on Google’s search results, never to be found.

Disadvantages

The number one disadvantage of selling on large shopping sites is the cost imposed by the site: a seller can expect to pay in the region of 20% in fees to eBay by the time they include Paypal fees and Seller Fees. With Amazon the costs are even higher – more like 25%!

eBay sellers are effectively tied to using Paypal and this can come with problems. For example, Paypal regularly holds a merchants balance for several days, preventing them from withdrawing funds while they carry out routine checks. This can occur at short notice and could be a real hassle for small businesses if their cash-flow is stopped when employees’ wages are due.

eBay and Amazon show many different sellers’ products alongside each other – this can be a bad thing for sellers that have a regular customers who keep on coming back as they may end up buying a competitor’s product instead.

The Solution

So, if you are an online retailer, it can make sense to use eBay and Amazon to get new customers but then to channel returning customers to your own website. But it’s against the terms and conditions of these shopping sites to advertise or even mention your own website – if you do that you could end up getting banned from the site altogether.

However, there is nothing to stop you from emailing your customers independently and including details of your own website in the email. When a customer makes a purchase via Paypal or credit card they’ll almost always include an email address. The customer will be expecting to receive emails from you since they have just bought something from you – this can be a good time to convert a new customer to a returning customer. It is also an excellent opportunity to direct that customer to your own website… add them to your email list right away!

Methods

Here are some methods that can be used when trying to channel customers to your website.

Offer the same products at a slightly cheaper price on your website than you do at the large shopping sites – without the expensive fees you’ll still increase your profit. Advertise these products in your email newsletter.

Offer some products exclusively on your website – people will be more likely to browse your website if they know that there are products that they can’t get anywhere else. Include the details in your emails to customers.

Provide special offers exclusively on your website an let your customers know via email.

You have probably noticed that these methods generally involve some incentive for your customers to change their regular shopping behavior. If you do this regularly their first stop will be your own website rather than a shopping site like eBay or Amazon.