It’s been said that there are times when just being good enough is sufficient – but that’s just never the case around here at Applied Interactive. We take our work seriously and “good enough” is… well… it just isn’t. In our minds, it’s always worth that bit of extra effort to achieve the best possible results. This is just one of the many reasons we excel at creating quality traffic and actionable leads for our clients.
Case in point; our e-newsletter management services have (even if we do say so ourselves) been producing some pretty amazing results!
“Open” and “Click” Rates
As part of our 2014 year-end wrap up, we analyzed our newsletter distribution statistics and found that the “open” rates (the percentage of recipients who actually opened the email) and the “click” rates (the percentage that clicked a link in the email) we achieved for our clients were simply astronomical compared to established industry averages.
The average open rate for an email campaign in this industry is 13.9%, but Applied Interactive’s average of 23.9% nearly doubles that figure. (The high-water mark for the year was seeing one of our clients achieve a mind-blowing 40.3% open rate for a newsletter.) Peeling back another layer, Applied Interactive’s click rate across all of our clients’ campaigns was 4.0%. Again, this virtually doubles the industry average of 2.2%.
How are we able to attain – and sustain – this level of performance? Well, as the cliché goes, “If it was easy, everyone would be doing it!”
What It Takes
Without doubt, the most crucial element to any successful marketing campaign – regardless of the media type selected – is an in-depth understanding of your client’s industries and customer base, including demographic and psychographic profiles of their distribution lists. Without this understanding, it simply isn’t possible to craft messages that get read and, most critically, convert those readers into customers.
From the outset, we took the time to develop a scalable, reproducible method for doing things that substantially increased performance, and now we stick to it like glue – because it works.
That’s not to say we aren’t open to change when indicated. In fact, we proactively seek opportunities for change. We constantly research. We constantly refine. We constantly “A/B” (and quite often “C”) test everything to determine what works best, adjusting our protocol based on that foundational understanding. Then, we go back to the beginning and do it all over again; just to make sure we haven’t missed a step. It’s a never-ending cycle.
Successful campaigns begin with employing a series of techniques (these are most definitely not simple “tricks”!) that maximize reader engagement.
The Elements of Successful Engagement (Part I – The List)
If your distribution list contains invalid email addresses and spam catchers, then you shouldn’t send out a single thing until that issue is fully rectified. Your distribution list should be pristine, containing nothing but the valid email addresses of subscribers who have opted in to your list. Anything short of that is not only legally classified as spam, but will run you the very real risk of having your domain blacklisted by Google because you broke the law. (See CAN-SPAM below.)
The Elements of Successful Engagement (Part II – The Subject Line)
An attention-grabbing subject line definitely has a huge impact on open rates, but choosing an effective line is almost never as easy as it sounds. An audience may find the subject compelling because it teases a topic that is of interest to them, is trending, relatively new and popular, or is somewhat controversial, perhaps even polarizing in nature. Using any of these approaches will substantially increase the likelihood a recipient will be converted into a reader.
Regardless of style, the subject line is clearly the first point of contact and can make or break an email campaign. If your subject line doesn’t grab the reader, then you might consider killing the campaign; you could end up with more unsubscribes and SEO-killing spam reports than you ever imagined possible.
The Elements of Successful Engagement (Part III – The Content)
You have succeeded in having your readers open your email and now comes your only opportunity to engage them. If the recipient doesn’t instantly see something to interest them in the email, they’re gone. On the other hand, when the content is compelling, then the click rate increases accordingly. Pay attention to what your audience wants to know. Become their reliable source for expert information.
The Elements of Successful Engagement (Part IV – The Delivery)
You have managed to come up with a series of irresistible subject lines and a deep reservoir of content those on your mailing list are sure to eagerly consume. All you have to do now is put it out there.
Before you do something you will later come to regret, it’s time to learn about CAN-SPAM, and understand that your internet-based communications and marketing efforts will live or die by its specific rules. Believe it or not, the way in which your email newsletters are delivered can make a huge difference in how – or even if – they are received.
Getting it wrong has serious repercussions. You will not only get flooded with unsubscribe requests and spam complaints, but your domain could very well be flagged – and you could be severely penalized – for ignoring a law you may not have known existed.
There is certainly no shortage of companies willing to create and distribute newsletters and similar email campaigns on your behalf. However, you would do well to choose wisely since not all are created equal. The fact is, we are much better than most in our industry, and we have the hard numbers to prove it.
Bottom Line: It is imperative that you understand as much as possible about how your subscribers will receive, read, and react to your email campaign. Not doing so is tantamount to throwing away your hard-earned money.