Five Ways Email Marketing Can Boost Your Inbound Marketing

It can feel as if the digital world is always creating new opportunities to market your products and services, but some of the oldest methods are still the best. Take email, for example. Email has been around a lot longer than social media, but it’s still one of the most effective ways to acquire and retain customers for many brands. Here are five ways that you can boost your inbound marketing by using some smart email strategies:

  • Use automated campaigns: We’ll start with one of the clearest ways to make your email marketing more effective. Set up an autoresponder email service that runs automatically. Using ReachMail or a similar platform, you can make sure that your company never fails to acknowledge an email from a potential customer by having it send a predetermined response whenever you receive a message. NGO charity: water exercised this strategy to great effect in a campaign that automatically sent each donor an update on the project and showed them the people it was helping.
  • Pay attention to your copy: a lot of companies understand that it’s important to send emails, but many of them don’t pay enough attention to their content. You might be surprised to learn how many companies are run by people who can’t or don’t take the time to write well—but customers notice. That’s why successful email marketers like the ones at Buzzfeed make a point of jazzing up their copy with jokes, catchy phrases, and references that their target markets will enjoy. Join their mailing list, and you’re sure to see good examples whenever you open a message from them. Pro tip – use an A/B testing tool to see which version works best.
  • Offer incentives: marketing shouldn’t be a con, it should be an offer to exchange value. You’re not trying to trick people into giving you their time, attention or money—you’re providing them with something that they need, and they’re compensating you for it. Ramit Sethi offers some good advice on how to create meaningful incentives for your potential customers: make your free content better than your competitors paid content. Focus on giving your target market something they can use is an excellent way to boost your conversion rates and see them opt into your mailing list or subscribe to a paid service.
  • Reward your subscribers for referring others: incentives aren’t just necessary for acquiring new subscribers. You’ll also want to make sure that you’re growing your mailing list—and the best way to do that is through word of mouth. You can turn a customer into a recruiting asset by offering them further benefits for bringing in their families and friends. Since potential clients that have been referred are over 30% more likely to convert than those who haven’t, this is an area you can’t overlook.
  • Grab ‘em with your subject lines: ever open an email from an unfamiliar company with a subject line that includes phrases like “special offer” or “best product ever”? Yeah, me neither. If you want your emails to stand out from the deluge of spam that your customers receive every day, you have to be creative. It’s even better to be funny—check out this list of clever email marketing subject lines for some excellent ideas.

Email remains one of the most practical tools for you to grow your business—you just have to think outside the box a little. You can test these strategies for free with ReachMail,, and watch as your emails net you increasingly more customers.

What Can You Do With Gmail’s Promotions Tab?

By now, you’ve probably heard about the recent change that Gmail has begun to roll out called the “Promotions” tab. If you’re blissfully unaware, Google is now filtering users’ emails and automatically filing what they deem to be marketing-related away from the primary inbox and into a separate tab. What does this change mean for email marketers? Well, so far, the impact has been relatively minor, with reports of a drop in open rate of around 1-2%. While this may not seem like a huge amount, it can still ultimately affect your bottom line, and with the rollout still not complete, we could see these numbers rise.

The good news is, there are some things you can do to counteract this new feature and improve the chances of your emails effectively reaching the primary inboxes of your target audience. Here’s how.

First and foremost, don’t make it obvious that your emails are promotional in nature. Instead, focus on crafting messages that have a more personal feel. You can accomplish by applying the following guidelines:

  • Address each recipient by name
  • Format your messages more like traditional letters
  • Keep your messages short and to the point
  • Avoid using too many images
  • Limit links to just one or two

Not only do these things make the reader feel like they are being addressed individually rather than receiving a mass sales pitch, but Google tends to view these types of messages the same way, which means they’re less likely to be flagged as “promotional.”

Next, focus on the actual content of your emails. The ultimate goal isn’t just to avoid being relegated to the “promotions” folder, but to actually get your recipients to open and read your messages. This isn’t going to happen unless they feel as though doing so will be worth their while. Make sure you’re delivering content that is useful and valuable to your target audience. The more engaged your recipients are, the less likely your messages will be rerouted to the circular file.

Of course, you can’t expect people to open your emails if you’re not drawing them in with captivating and compelling subject lines. Think of these as the wrapping on a gift. You want your subject lines to catch the eye of your target audience and entice them into wanting to open up and see what’s inside.

You also have to know what words and phrases tend to trigger Gmail’s auto-filtering feature. For instance, research has shown that using words like “free,” especially when in combination with other common words, like “trial,” “sample,” or “quote” in your subject line can significantly increase the likelihood of your email being flagged. Your best bet? Grab a thesaurus and find a really good synonym.

Another simple way you can help your emails avoid ending up in the promotions tab is to simply reach out and talk to your customers. Many still haven’t received the new feature and those who have may not even be aware of the change. Others may not realize they can control their email options. Start by educating your audience about the new feature and then provide specific instructions on how they can ensure that they continue to receive your messages. (Provided you’re doing your job of delivering quality content, this part shouldn’t be that challenging because your audience will actually want to keep reading your emails.)

Another way you can take much of the guesswork out of making sure your emails end up where you want them to is by working with an email marketing service provider – preferably one that knows how to leverage technology to maximize deliverability. This includes things like automatic white-listing, identity authentication, spam analysis and ongoing monitoring, all of which can dramatically improve the chances of your emails making the cut the first time, every time.

Finally, it’s important to point out that while these tips are effective, they’re not foolproof. There’s really no magical formula for “beating the system,” so to speak. For this reason, you’ll also want to take appropriate measures so that if your emails do end up in the promotions tab, your audience will go looking for them. Some tricks of the trade include creating more time-sensitive offers and using a numbered sequence in your emails (i.e. part 1 of 4, etc.). Play on your readers’ fear of missing out.

So, whether you’ve already begun experiencing the backlash of this latest Gmail feature, or you’re trying to plan ahead, it’s never too early to start developing a strategy to help lessen the impact this change will have on your bottom line. The tips and tricks listed above should help position you for ongoing success in your future email marketing endeavors.  Finally, you can experiment at no extra cost by signing up with free email marketing provider ReachMail where you can get a free account for life!

How to Re-Engage a Dormant Subscriber List

You spend a lot of time and money crafting emails that are engaging to the average subscriber, and when engagement levels (open rates, click rates, etc…) start to trend down for the average subscriber, it’s up to you to re-engage before you lose them altogether. Since investing in acquisition of new customers is six to seven times costlier than re-activating past customers, there is a huge value in investing in re-activation campaigns.

Re-Engagement Infographic

Slideshare.net reports that, on average, 60 percent of subscribers to a list are “dead.” According to data from MarketingSherpa and EmailLabs, you will see a drop of between 20 and 25 percent in subscribers’ open rates within the first two months after signing up for an email list, and a 35 to 45 percent decrease two years later. MailChimp also reports that engagement tends to bottom out around the 100th campaign.

Why Subscribers Stop Engaging
One of the main causes of lack of engagement is frequency. There is a definite negative correlation between the frequency with which emails are sent and the level of reader engagement. In fact, 69 percent of American email users report having unsubscribed altogether from an email list because emails were sent too frequently.

Another culprit is the junk folder, or sending delays. Even small delays between sending and delivery can cause problems, especially if emails contain time-sensitive offers, like a flash sale. This can be caused by a number of things, like lower engagement than similar competitors whose communications the ISP may route through first. Problems can mount because of this; if open and clickthrough rates drop too low because of delays, ISPs may begin to route your emails directly to the junk folder. If you aren’t periodically checking on and cleansing your email lists of dead emails, you may even wind up blacklisted. ISPs monitor dead email addresses for sending, and often mark email senders to those addresses as spam, another way to get your email sent to the spam folder without your knowledge.

Subscribers also will stop reading if the content is bad or not useful. Of CIO’s top seven reasons people unsubscribe from email lists, quality of content represents four. Typically, the larger an email list is, the lower its open rates tend to be. This could be a result of companies being less able to tailor custom content to individual customers and/or customers having less of a personal relationship with the company.

Chances are your subscribers are opening your email on mobile devices. In fact, as of Q1 2015, 53 percent were. This can lead to a sharp drop in open rates if your emails are not optimized for mobile viewing.

Focusing On Deliverability
Definitions of spam aren’t as content-focused as they used to be. As ISPs are focusing more on how subscribers are responding to your emails, re-engaging inactive subscribers can improve your inbox placement. If the balance is off between your active and inactive subscribers, ISPs might start to think you’re a low-quality sender and relegate you to the junk folder—or worse, block you altogether.

Gmail in particular wants to see evidence that your recipients love, or at the very least, want your messages as a determining factor for whether you land in the spam folder. Generally speaking, ISPs and email providers such as Google, Microsoft, AOL and Comcast handle sender reputation at the individual level. Of the 95 percent of emails that are blocked and/or automatically routed to spam folders, 85 percent have it done on the basis of sender reputation. The idea is to give the individual user what he or she will find most relevant by reacting to his or her opening and clickthrough habits. Signs that are considered positive by algorithms include: moving a message out of the spam folder/marking as not spam, replying, adding the sender to an address book, reading/viewing or moving to another folder or tagging.

On the negative side, signs considered bad by algorithms include: deleting a message without opening or reading, marking as spam or moving to the junk folder, or reporting the email as a phishing attempt. Clicks are not tracked as a metric for reputation, as tracking what a user does within an email generally is considered to be a violation of privacy.

Defining Inactives
Taking it a step further, the majority of marketers will gauge inactives as anyone who has not responded, opened, clicked or acted on any email in the past six to twelve months. Inactives may be best defined as people whose email addresses are still active and valid, but who are not engaging in any way with your emails. The average list’s inactive rate is around 60 percent. This means that a list of 10,000 has only 4,000 true subscribers reading its posts. Considering the huge amount of time online marketers spend building their lists, having a majority of the list not responding after signing up is a huge loss in terms of engagement and revenue.

How to Re-Engage
There are multiple Do’s and Don’ts in the re-engagement process. Simply asking customers to update their email information can have surprising engagement results, where re-permission emails—where the sender attempted to get long inactive recipients into receiving emails again—were found to be ineffective. Those only had a 1.8 percent average read rate.

While the definition of an inactive subscriber will be unique to each company, ultimately you need to be able to define an inactive subscriber as someone who has not opened/clicked within a certain amount of time by analyzing your subscriber history. Use past data to determine the average amount of time between when subscribers sign up and when they stop engaging. Then strategize your re-engagement program around that window of time by having a strong call to action, removing non-responders and keeping subscribers engaged to prevent those inactive users.

You can also send a survey to current subscribers asking something as simple as what they think of your email campaigns and offering a small incentive can help to understand where things need to be shored up, but also to point out which customers have remained engaged over time, as they are your most likely responders. Don’t immediately, however, cull your list if you don’t see a good response to winback emails. Studies have found that 45 percent of people who receive a winback email will re-engage at some level with the brand, but only 24 percent of them actually read the winback email. The average time between receiving a winback email and re-engaging with a subsequent message from the sender was around 57 days.

Even in light of this information, the majority of inactive subscribers will stay that way. Having a clear idea of when you ought to disengage for good can save you problems in the future.