Uncategorized Archives - Fundamental Marketing

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Sep 27

It’s not about the size of your list, it’s how engaged it is.

It's all in the list... If you do nothing else, grow a big list... If you don't have a big list, you can't make money.

I am sure we have all heard the talk about the need to have a huge list.  I mean look anywhere online and you see all the "experts" talking about building your list.  We all want a massive mailing list of prospects and customer wanting to do business with us.  I'm guilty there as well.  

The truth of the matter is that it's not the size of your list that matters, it's how engaged that list is. 

In working with over 5,000 small businesses, I see this obsession with having a large email list. There is a sense of pride they carry with the size of the email list. That obsession with list size 9 times out of 10 though is to the detriment of the business. You may be asking yourself, what’s the problem with a large list?

Let me explain. I was on the phone with a prospective client with some email deliverability challenges who claimed they had a list of 95,000 and they were starting to notice a dip in email opens. So, we dug into that list. It turns out that the 95,000-person list wasn't 95,000 when you excluded the opt-outs and bounces. That brought their list down to about 58,000. That nearly shocked my prospect when they realized that was their actual number.

But it didn't stop there, when we dove deeper into the list and looked at engagement, we found that over 20,000 contacts have not engaged with their content in over a year. Now that 95,000 list is actually down to about 38,000 contacts. Needless to say, there as a bit of shock at that point. After the shock wore off, they responded ”well at least I have 38,000 potentially good contacts to market to”.

Here in lies the problem, 20,000 unengaged contacts that are being marketed to that have zero interest in your marketing. Now if you have done any research on email deliverability, you know that engagement does play a role in email deliverability, and that lack of engagement was a hinderance to this client landing their messages in the inbox and not in the spam folder. But wait...there's more.

But, I didn’t stop there! As it turned out, this list has never been cleaned and the potential client has relied on their Email Service Provider (ESP) to manage the list. They thought what many small businesses owners think- my ESP controls deliverability. They thought that all bounces were handled (and a good amount were) and that’s all they had to worry about. Here now lies the bigger problem: not knowing they had to pay attention to list hygiene and email deliverability, how to do it and what to look for!

The fact for them, as with most every client I’ve been speaking too recently, is there’s a very high likelihood that a major portion of that list (38,000) is dirty - I mean toxic! It is that toxicity that is causing their email deliverability rates and inbox placement (yes there is a difference) to steadily decline.

So how do beat poor deliverability?

It’s said that the easiest way to beat poor deliverability and ensure that your messages actually reach the inbox is to remove people from your list that haven't been opening reading or licking your emails. But, list cleaning by itself isn't enough even though we all wished it was that simple.

To help you in the fight to reach the inbox and avoid having an unengaged list, here are 6 strategies to help you reach the inbox and avoid the spam or promotions folder beside the obvious of cleaning your email list regularly.

Ask Permission To Market - Beyond Can-Spam, CASL, and GDPR laws governing the sending of email, your subscribers see their inbox as a private place. You must consider the perspective of the customer.

Set Proper Expectations - Clarifying what you are sending and how often one is likely to receive an email. As you look at your email frequency, it is important to note that 49% of email subscribers opt-out because they receive too many emails!

Avoid Deception - Stay away from using unethical practices such as deceptive headlines and hiding the unsubscribe link. you may bypass the spam filter, but you will diminish your credibility.

Segment Your List - Segmented email marketing campaigns get almost 15% more email opens and nearly 60% more clicks compared to non-segmented campaigns. You can create customer segmentation by interests and behavior with the emails (creating a dialogue with your prospects rather than a monologue) as well as segment by engagement and yes there are tools that will enable you to do that automatically.

Let Contacts Unsubscribe - Do not hide your Unsubscribe link, remember it's not about the size of your list, it is about how engaged it is. Let contacts that want to go away just go. Making it hard for them to go will only hurt you and your sender reputation as they will only delete future emails or mark them as spam, both if which have a negative effect on email deliverability!

Regularly Scrub your List - Dormant email accounts (emails that are not logged into) can turn toxic extremely quickly. ISP's convert dormant accounts to spam traps at varying rates anywhere from 60 to 180 days. If you ever wondered how a clean list can have a spam trap and turn bad, that's how. At the very least, you should be scrubbing your list bi-annually. I have other clients that scrub every three months and some that segment their lists based on engagement and scrub the unengaged monthly and immediately remove any bad contacts from their lists.

If your emails don't actually make it to the user’s inbox, they are useless. You have to take a proactive approach to the deliverability of your emails, you must pay attention to the basic fundamentals of email deliverability and those are to maintain a clean and engaged list, not just a big list.

If you would like to dive into your email hygiene and deliverability, schedule a free consultation and assessment here.

Sep 11

Two Reasons To Focus On Email Deliverability

There are 2 major reasons you should care about your email deliverability.

Unfortunately, there’s a big myth out there that leads many to believe that their Email Service provider (like Infusionsoft or ActiveCampaign) is responsible for their email deliverability problems.

Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth, which may leave you scratching your head wondering what's all the hoopla when it comes to email deliverability.

Whether you’re unsure how deliverability impacts your success, or if you’re just not convinced it’s that big of a deal, I wanted to help bring clarity to the sometimes-mysterious topic.

Two Reasons To Focus On Email Deliverability

Here’s two big reasons why email deliverability should definitely be on your radar:

Reason #1: You actually want people to read your emails.

I know, this one is kind of a no brainer. Of course you want people to read your emails! But, there’s a whole lot that has to occur to make that happen. A big part of getting eyes on your emails has to do with email deliverability.  Meaning, getting the email to their primary inbox.

Unless you pay careful attention to the things that impact your deliverability, and yes there are many, the basic goal of getting people to read your emails becomes extremely challenging to say the least.

So what are several factors that affect whether or not you have good email deliverability?

  • Your email reputation.

Every email sender has an email reputation or sender score This score is generated by Internet Service Providers like Comcast and Cox, and mailbox providers like Gmail and Yahoo. The score is determined by a number of factors, like your email volume (how many emails you send), your complaint rates, your bounce rates (and ESP's like Infusionsoft and ActiveCampaign do NOT catch every bounce), how often you land in the spam folder, how many dormant (inactive/old addresses) you have, and many more.

If your reputation score is low, that could prevent your emails from landing in the inbox.

Fortunately, there are ways you can prevent hitting the spam or promotions folder, but it takes work!

Setting clear expectations about what you will be sending to your subscribers and sticking to it, sending email with content relevant to your subscribers (give them what they want), and only marketing to those that have requested it from you directly (not buying email lists or using JV lists) is a real good start. Respect your subscribers’ inbox as if it was your own is essential to keeping your deliverability strong. Remember, you can't sell anything to people who do not read your content!

Two tools to look at to help manage your email reputation are Sender Score from Return Path and MXtoolbox. Now just using these won't solve your problems with deliverability, but they will give you a good idea of problems that are occurring.

Reason #2: Nobody wants to be labeled a “spammer.”

I don’t recall anyone waking up in the morning and saying

“You know what I want to do today???
I want to send spammy emails.”

Unfortunately, many people send spam or engage in spammy behaviors without even knowing they are doing it.

So why is not sending spammy emails so important? If people indicate your messages are spam, that can certainly cause your deliverability to take a dip. When that happens, any future emails you send to other subscribers at the same email inbox provider (such as gmail or yahoo) will have an increased chance of ending up in the spam folder as well.

If you’re not sure if you’re sending spam, the following would be a pretty good indicator.

You send email content that doesn’t align with what your subscribers expect to receive from you. (completely going against what we said earlier)

The majority of your email content is too promotional. (People want to be led to a decision, not have promos sent to them every day over the course of 3 weeks)

Here are two tips to help you avoid sending spammy messages.

Provide value

Stick to the expectations you set when they requested information from you on opt-in

But Evan, I send regular, relevant content to my subscribers?

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, it's not your fault someone thinks your email is spam. People may realize that what you offer isn't what they need, or they came to the decision that just they just don't want to receive your emails anymore. We think they would just hit the unsubscribe that you have purposely buried or hidden in the bottom of the email, but sometimes they don't realize it is there and flag emails as spam to prevent your emails from clogging your inbox. They don't do it maliciously to harm you, they just do what they need to do to make sure they receive relevant content in their inbox.

Because of this it is important to ensure that the unsubscribe button is easy to find in your email (that means stop burying the unsubscribe link). You may also consider including some copy that tells people that if they no longer wish to receive your emails, they should unsubscribe from your and make it easy for them to do so.

One of our favorite strategies is the campaign kill button.  It stops the current campaign but, keeps them on your regular list thereby, helping to both track engagement and segment at the same time.  Building on Fundamentals, on the thank you page of the kill button, invite them to engage in a different product or service.

Remember, it is not the size of your list, it is how engaged it is. Get the unengaged out, keeping them will only hurt your deliverability.

For people who do want to receive your emails, ask them to add your “From Address” to their contact list. You can even go as far as directing them to add you to their contact list on your thank page. Or, you can even ask them to drag your email from the promotions tab to primary tab in gmail. Being added to a contact list and doing these other steps helps improve your email reputation score, which in turn means more of your emails will get routed to the inbox instead of the spam folder. This is commonly known as whitelisting your email. 

Attaining High Email Deliverability

Email deliverability needs to be a key focus of any marketing plan! It takes focus and diligence, it is not set it and forget it and your ESP won't deal with it for you.

To borrow an idea from Zig Ziglar, ”People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing, that’s why we recommend it daily.”

What we say is, “Your email list doesn’t stay clean and engaged, that’s why we recommend cleaning it monthly.” Not as eloquent but has the same meaning.

Make email deliverability a focus in your business!

If you need help with your email deliverability, schedule a no obligation consultation here