If you are like most marketers, your goal is to nurture a responsive, permission-based list of engaged, motivated subscribers that are eager to hear from you.
But how do you achieve this goal?
Before you can reap the rewards of a successful mailing list, you must first establish and meet subscriber expectations.
The best way to do this is to think of your subscribers as relationships.
If you consistently engage with them and meet their expectations, the relationships will grow over time. However, if you don’t make the effort, they will wither. How do (most) people deal with this “disengagement” in real-life? They break the connection. The same holds true with email marketing. Failure to nurture subscriber relationships will undoubtedly lead to unsubscribes and spam complaints.
Let’s talk about the most important subscriber expectations and how to address them.
Permission is the subscriber’s consent to receive emails from you. Here are a couple of things to note about email permission:
Permission is NEVER optional
Always begin a new subscriber relationship by asking for expressed opt-in permission before any mailings. Permission is always necessary and never optional. Lack of permission is one of the reasons why email marketing companies like GetResponse forbid the use of purchased, rented or leased lists. You simply can’t validate permission from such lists.
Permission must be expressed
Always acquire expressed permission from your subscribers. An “expressed permission” must be provided by the user himself, i.e. when he fills out a subscription web form on your website, requests information by email, or gives you permission in person.
Permission is not permanent
Obtaining permission is not a one-time effort. It can be withdrawn by the subscriber at any time. That’s why with each email you send, you need to nurture and strengthen the relationships and keeping earning that permission.
Go Confirmed Opt-In
I recommend that you always choose the double opt-in (“confirmed opt-in”) subscription model, which means that, upon sign up, an email confirmation is instantly sent to the subscriber and they have to click on the link to confirm their intention to subscribe before being added to your list..This is proof that the subscriber has given permission to receive emails from you. Some marketers claim that this “extra step” can have a negative impact on results . However, we ran a study that proved that confirmed opt-in actually increases results, and decreases spam complaints, bounces, and unsubscribes.
Tell your subscribers upfront how often they’ll be getting an email from you, then stick to the plan.
According to one report, 73% of subscribers who opted out cited too frequent mailings as the reason they unsubscribed.
On the other hand, if you don’t send emails for a long time, it may also have a detrimental effect. It’s like what would happen if you lost touch with your friends in real life. The relationships would probably deteriorate. The same holds true for your subscribers. Emailing them after a long delay may result in lower results and higher unsubscribes, bounces, and spam complaints. Why? You “disengaged”!
Once you commit to an email frequency that’s right for you, your business and your subscribers, stick to it. If you have a daily newsletter, send it every day.
Being consistent with email frequency helps set subscriber expectations and create anticipation of your next message. This build-up can actually be very positive for your results, as your subscribers will be more focused and engaged when they receive your newsletters and campaigns.
What’s the secret to McDonald’s success?
Travel the world and no matter which McDonald’s you walk into, you know exactly what you’ll get and what the experience will be like.
It’s all about consistency.
Email marketing is no different.
Let’s talk about what you can do to maintain consistency in your emails and how it will helpfoster relationships with your subscribers.
Make your From field and Subject line consistent.
The From field and Subject line are the first things your subscribers see when they receive your mailings. It’s important that you maintain consistency there, because your subscribers will pay more attention to messages that they recognize and that follow the same format.
Ideally, you should try to use the same From field for all messages. Not only will this make it easy for subscriber to identify your emails, but it’s great for email deliverability as well. Why? Over time, many of your subscribers should add your email address to their contacts/address book (in fact, it’s a great idea to ask your subscribers to do this). This increases your deliverability because ISPs prioritize messages from senders that are on recipient contact lists. If you keep the same From field, you’ll retain this deliverability perk over the entire lifecycle of your subscriber relationships.
When it comes to the Subject line, you should try to keep the format and “flow” similar for every email you send, so that subscribers can recognize you quickly. It’s probably not a great idea to have the same Subject line recycled over and over again, but you do want to create a sense of consistency in branding style and content. For example, you could vary the Subject line topic, then add your newsletter title at the beginning or the end, i.e. “[Sun Holidays Newsletter]”. Composing “Killer Subject Lines” is probably a topic worth a blog post on its own. For now, when in doubt, test (A/B split-tests are great for that).
Add branding information at the top of your messages.
When you look at the top of any corporate letterhead, 10 times out of 10 you’ll notice the corporate brand, logo and perhaps the contact information.
Do the same thing with your email messages. Regardless of whether it’s your company name, logo or even your personal name and title for branding purposes, place it right on top of each and every message.
Here’s a quick example:
Ensure consistency of your message content.
Just like with the From field and Subject line, consistency is key when it comes to the body text of the emails you send. You want to maintain uniform branding, formatting and layout, so that, over time, your subscribers become familiar with the placement and flow of the information they want from you.
An HTML email template is a great way to ensure consistency across all type of email messages. For example, newsletters are sent with some frequency and can be content heavy, so it’s important to keep the appearance consistent and the layout familiar. At GetResponse, you can choose from 300+ newsletter templates to maintain consistency, but do it with style and creativity.
Keep the purpose of your emails consistent.
Imagine that you signed up for a newsletter with tips on how to find the perfect real estate for your life plans. You receive a few newsletters, but then suddenly “something changes”. You get email after email aggressively soliciting you to buy a $49 real-estate ebook. Would you be upset? Would you unsubscribe or even mark the email as spam? I know I would. After all, it’s not what you signed up for. It’s plain rude!
Be consistent when it comes to the types of information you’ll be delivering. Tell your subscribers upfront what they can expect of you, and when, then deliver (or better yet, over-deliver) what you said you were going to deliver. Simply put, stick to your promise!
Set up and maintain permission, frequency and consistency and you’ll not only meet subscribers’ expectations, but you’ll build long-term, mutually beneficial relationships.