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What can we learn from the top brands in respect to email marketing, and what do even the big boys get wrong? I subscribed to 50 of the Top 100 Internet Retailers’ email programs to find out – looking for trends, ideas, and common elements to pick up some helpful tips for anyone running an email marketing campaign.

Feel free to check out the first phase of the experiment, where I looked at the sign-up process and most common lifecycle emails. This second phase looks at a hotchpotch of new topics including Social Media integration, mix of messaging, remailing tactics, and the unsubscribing process.

Integration With Social Media – Connect Across Multiple Channels

As I mentioned in my previous blog installment, email is one the best avenues to tie in with other online marketing initiatives to leverage intuitive search intelligence.

Inviting active email subscribers, who already show an interest in your brand, to interact with you on social media, can be one of the least expensive ways to grow your social media numbers, as well as boost the overall quality of your fan base. For some social media platforms, like Facebook, the level of engagement with posts is directly correlated with how often your existing fans will see future postings, making social actions even more beneficial. With this in mind, I took a look at how well the example brands were including social media buttons in their emails. The following chart shows the percentage of brands that included links or social media buttons by profile…

Social-Media-Integration

Facebook and Twitter were the most popular, as expected; but I found it interesting that 3rd place went to Pinterest – one of the newer kids on the block.

It is also worth noting that I saw some great interaction in other online marketing forms.  Examples include:

  • Facebook ads (including retargeting based on items I abandoned in my shopping cart)
  • PPC display ads when browsing other sites
  • Ads delivered directly to my Gmail inbox

Types Of Messages – Keep Your Subscribers’ Attention

This is one topic that I was particularly interested in exploring during this experiment. I was already subscribed to the email sends of one of my favorite stores and initially, I loved getting the discount emails and was eager to use them before they expired. However, as time wore on and I received the same promotions on a near-daily basis, I came to realize that the same discounts ran pretty much the whole time. This negated the element of urgency for me and I tended to ignore their emails until I knew I was going to purchase something anyway. I became totally “switched off” to their brand.

At Wpromote, we strongly recommend incorporating a mix of messaging into your email marketing campaign, to entertain your subscribers and build brand loyalty, preventing the boredom that results in disengagement. Variety of content in the email sends promotes sharing for social media and SEO link building purposes, as well as establishing your company as an authority in its niche. So much of this content is already being created for other channels, so why not use it to its fullest potential? Blog posts, articles, and Infographics can all be incorporated into email sends to get the most from your existing online marketing efforts.

Therefore, I took a close look at the subject lines of every email each brand sent, to see the relative weight of transactional messaging – references to discounts, sales, and other offers.

Messaging

Remailing – A Simple & Effective Tactic To Boost Open Rates

If you’re tracking the performance of your current email campaign, you are aware that open rates are a key metric. Every Email Service Provider (ESP) should provide this data, but are businesses using it to their advantage?

Remailing is a super-simple tactic, where you can see who hasn’t opened your email, then strategically resend the same email to those people. You change the subject line, but the rest of the email remains the same. In our experience, this tactic can boost the open rates by up to 60% for that email send, with only minimal work involved.

I did not open my emails for one whole week in early November, then went back to see if I saw any evidence of remailing. Although many brands sent a series of similar emails, charting the progress of any offer for example, only one brand strategically resent an unopened email.

I was surprised at this result, as this is a simple and effective way to leverage the results from a single email design, but perhaps the sheer volume of emails sent in the run up to the holiday period discourages a brand from sending any additional emails. However, for those brands that did not send more than 2 emails a week, it is definitely a missed opportunity.

Unsubscribing – Don’t Say Goodbye Too Quickly

There are many reasons people may want to unsubscribe. Maybe they feel bombarded by too many emails, don’t find the content useful, or didn’t intend to sign up in the first place.

However, in an ideal world you want people to stay on your list. Step one to doing this is to send targeted, engaging emails. Step two is to address the other reasons they may want to unsubscribe and this can and should be done during the unsubscribe process by giving people options. Examples include allowing someone to modify frequency, narrow down areas of interest, or select only a certain type of email send, rather than giving them an all-or-nothing ultimatum.

Here are the results on how the unsubscribe process worked for the 50 brands I selected:

Unsubscribing

After-Unsubscribing

An interesting side note on unsubscribing was the number of brands (24%) that had a feedback form involved in the unsubscribe process. Even if you do offer customizable options to reduce frequency or update your interests, it never hurts to find out more about why that person wanted to stop receiving your emails. Here are some example options given across all of the brands that you might want to choose from for your own email marketing campaigns:

Unsubscribe-Reasons

That’s all for this post. Coming soon: the final blog post from this experiment, looking at some of the big picture stats, the golden rules for email marketing, and the blooper reel of what to avoid!

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