Despite the ongoing twin assaults from spam and social media platforms, email remains a crucial communication tool. Half the world’s population has email accounts, and 269 billion messages are sent every day, of which barely half are believed to be spam. A remarkable 86% of business people prefer to communicate via email, due to its immediacy and the permanent record it creates of discussions or agreements. This is particularly important when conducting negotiations, or when dealing with small print.
Email is a powerful and flexible tool when used correctly, and equally well-suited to order acknowledgments or complex negotiations. It doesn’t have the PR problems currently being experienced by social media, and it’s far less intrusive than telephone calls. From choosing a good email hosting company to sending messages at the right time, these ten tips will ensure email works for your business…
#1. Pick a dependable email hosting company.
You can’t afford for inboxes to be offline, or for a sender’s mail server to be associated with junk mail. A dependable email hosting service will offer webmail login and compatibility with software packages like Outlook. It’ll store inboxes and backup copies of sent messages on secure data servers, automatically duplicating mailboxes to prevent them from being lost or deleted.
#2. Segment customer databases.
Voted the most effective email strategy of 2017 by the DMA, segmentation involves sending messages only to relevant recipients. A good database relies on appropriate information harvesting and boosts engagement levels when used alongside a personalized greeting (‘Dear John’). Generic emails are a turn-off for any consumer, resulting in a significant rise in unsubscribe rates.
#3. Simplify removal from mailing lists.
Speaking of unsubscribing, enabling recipients to opt out of future mailing campaigns with a couple of clicks is almost as vital as good email hosting. If people can’t easily see how to unsubscribe (or if the opt-out process is difficult), they’ll flag messages as spam. Future mailshots might not reach intended targets, and rebuilding a sender’s reputation after spam reports is difficult.
#4. Match email addresses to website domains.
If companyname.com has a matching @companyname.com email address, every message ought to reinforce the brand. It’ll identify incoming emails as legitimate, which is crucial when responding to new inquiries or first-time customers, who might overlook a Gmail or Hotmail message. This also accentuates a brand’s professionalism more than third-party email provision.
#5. Choose address prefixes carefully.
Many recipients decide whether to read or delete an email based on just two factors: the sender’s name and the subject. Rather than adopting a sales@ or noreply@ address, firstname.lastname@example.org could increase open and click-through rates by up to 35%. It also builds a vital sense of personality, often lacking in online ventures where there’s no human interaction.
#6. Pick subject lines carefully.
The other part of the open/delete equation concerns a message’s title. Words like ‘free’ and ‘bargain’ arouse suspicion among inbox spam filters, meaning messages may not reach their intended recipients. Equally, lengthy subject lines rarely display properly and look unnecessarily messy. Research suggests a 65-character title is optimal, ideally making a clear statement or a compelling offer.
#7. Design for mobile.
In today’s culture, messages are mostly viewed on smartphones and tablets. It’s essential to ensure emails display equally well on iPhones and iMacs. Use compressed graphics to reduce download times, with placeholder captions in case an image doesn’t display. Beta-test messages on as many devices as possible to maximize legibility on all of them, and rely on universally recognized fonts like Arial.
#8. Send messages at optimal times.
Emails dispatched between 8 pm and midnight have the highest open rates, and Tuesdays achieve better read rates than other days. Automated software packages distribute emails at pre-selected times, as well as monitoring engagement levels for fine-tuning future campaigns. You don’t need to sit at your desk hitting ‘send’ at a precise moment to ensure emails go at the right time.
#9. Proofread emails several times before sending.
Spelling and grammatical errors suggest a lack of professionalism, so avoid them at all costs. Whenever possible, review draft messages the day after writing them, or ask a colleague to read the text out loud. A fresh perspective can identify inconsistencies or other issues. This is also helpful for clarifying ambiguities in a sales or marketing message.
#10. Use messages sparingly.
Finally, a note of caution. Over three-quarters of consumers unsubscribe from mailing lists if their inboxes are overflowing with communications. Send emails in response to customer actions or inquiries, or to promote genuinely noteworthy events like half price sales and new product launches. One or two emails per week should be the maximum any firm distributes to individual clients.
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