Best Practices That Will Help Make the Most of Your Email Lists
Despite the occasional proclamation to the contrary, email lists remain the most effective tool for customer and constituent communication for organizations of all sizes. Study after study show that no other electronic channel comes close to matching the reach and results that email provides. Here are a few best practices that will help you grow your lists and make the most of your email list communication.
Make it easy to subscribe and reduce unnecessary friction
"Only ask for the minimum amount of information that you need to get started in order to minimize friction and lower any perceived barriers."
Create easy paths for people to subscribe to your email lists through your website as well as other social channels as appropriate. Explain what your list is about, what type of messages the subscriber will receive and how often. Only ask for the minimum amount of information that you need to get started in order to minimize friction and lower any perceived barriers. Subscriber preferences and profiles are a great tool for customizing and targeting future communication, but including a lengthy questionnaire at signup will turn off potential subscribers by making the process seem like a huge time commitment. You can always ask your subscribers to complete their subscriber profiles at a later time.
Generate a clear value proposition and a sense of exclusivity
"Create a sense of exclusivity by offering something to your subscribers that they cannot get any other way or through any other channel."
Make it appealing to subscribe to your lists by providing something that subscribers desire. To make your value proposition even stronger, create a sense of exclusivity by offering something to your subscribers that they cannot get any other way or through any other channel. Common examples include special offers that are only available through your email list, or being the first to find out about a new product, service or event. It could even be exclusive gifts or giveaways that aren't available to non-subscribers. The bottom line is that email lists shouldn't just repeat what you are already communicating through your website and other social channels. By getting permission to send email to someone's inbox, you need to provide content that is actually worthy of this privilege.
Use responsive design to appeal to a rapidly growing mobile audience
"Make sure that your messages can adapt to screens of all sizes. If your email doesn't render properly or requires excessive scrolling on the devices that your subscribers prefer to use, that is a surefire way to lose them."
Ten years ago, people read their email almost exclusively on relatively large computer screens. These days, the majority of people read or at least scan their email on their phones with much smaller viewports. This makes responsive or fluid design more important than ever. Make sure that your messages are effective and can adapt to screens of all sizes. If your email doesn't render properly or requires excessive scrolling on the devices that your subscribers prefer to use, that is a surefire way to lose them. Thankfully, media queries are gaining more traction by the day, so it's now much easier to create a single message that works on almost any email client. However, keep in mind that smaller viewports also mean that you need to simplify your messages with shorter content and fewer and clearer calls to action.
Learn about your subscribers and target your communication
"After a short time has passed, ask your subscribers to complete their profile and preferences, but remember to offer an incentive or communicate the value in filling them out. Then use this data to provide each subscriber with the most relevant content."
Growing your email lists isn't just about acquisition. It's also about retention. Acquiring a hundred new subscribers is not very meaningful if you lose a hundred existing ones during the same time period. Are you keeping your word and only sending content that you promised during signup? Do your messages still have value, appeal and exclusivity? The best way to increase the relevance of your messages is to customize and target. This means sending the right content to the right subscriber at the right time based on each subscriber's unique interests. After a short time has passed, ask your subscribers to complete their profile and preferences, but remember to offer an incentive or communicate the value in filling them out. Then use this data to provide each subscriber with the most relevant content. The ability to carefully customize and tailor our messages is what truly sets email lists apart from other communication channels.
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