Improving Email Open Rates

Email open rates are often the key metric used when discussing the effectiveness of an email campaign; you obviously need them to open your email before they can perform any result action(s). Without an open, there is no close; click, call, purchase, view, download etc.

So called ‘experts’ suggest a ‘GOOD OPEN RATE’ is somewhere between 15% & 25% for marketing emails; maybe higher for transactional emails. After a few recent ‘25% as a benchmark’ campaigns, I thought to dust of my ‘email marketing 101’ checklist as a means of getting more ‘bang for my buck’ (having been asked by your sales colleagues to ‘GET MORE LEADS’ :-))

However, a note of caution on open rates; it's not that email open rates are entirely useless as a statistic or metric; knowing what you've done AND how you’ve done it will no doubt impact how the campaigns are deemed to be a success or failure HOWEVER … I’ve tended to get the most success when using open rates as a means of comparing one email / campaign against another. As the above article points out, ‘don’t be discouraged if your email tracking software says that your email open rates are very low percentages. It's likely that they aren't as bad as it seems’.

Didn’t have the time or inclination to explain that today although, here’s a few simple, top tips to improve your / my open rates:

  1. CHECK you’re using the most appropriate "From" name and email address. While being reflecting the brand and being relevant to your offer, try to reference the appropriate team / department i.e. ‘sales’ related messages should come from sales@someone.com, a newsletter from news@someone.com or maybe, promotional updates from promotions@someone.com. TICK.

  2. REVIEW the Subject line; keep it short and sweet. Test it on friends or colleagues to get feedback. Don’t mislead - be straightforward, avoid vagaries. You may want to include your company or newsletter name. This certainly makes it easier when you reference back old emails or need to assess the effectiveness of past campaigns or, are hell bent on changing offers from season to season or, from month to month. A reminder of WHO YOU ARE helps (re) establish a certain level of trust between you and the email recipient PLUS, many email programs show only the subject line when viewed on a smartphone, so including the company name is important. TICK (though will try a few different ones as I continue to test & learn).

  3. PERSONALISATION. Where possible, include the recipient's first name and any other pertinent information; location etc

  4. Cut the Crap. Avoid typical spam words (FREE, ACT NOW etc), using plain language where possible – an email caught by a spam filter MAY never be read, so choose your wording wisely. TICK (first names being used).

  5. Copy Writing is a Skill. Try using an incentive to get the recipient to open the email. Imply scarcity to encourage immediate action however avoid putting a date directly into the subject line. It may become out-dated, more quickly that you think. HALF TICK - ALWAYS make some improvements here in the main body of the email(s).

  6. Vary your send times. Rather than 0900 / 1730, try some unconventional send times to see whether you get a boost in open rates; later in the evening or early morning rather than the typical ‘work times’. HALF TICK – will try a few different ones over the coming weeks.

  7. Don’t Bombard Your Audience. Find the right frequency of communications; separate your target list(s) into different groups that might warrant emails at varying frequencies. TICK.

  8. TEST and LEARN. Consider a series of A/B tests; trying different subject lines for example. Establish what works best for your specific situation / target audience. The trick is to be sure your email content and the offer can match your well-constructed subject line, personalization, and all of the front-end work. MASSIVE TICK. I could wax lyrical and often do about the ‘test & learn’ mantra set out in the AutoTrader decree (having worked there for more than three years). A great principle to live – and die – by.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Wanted Sense of Inclusion

Linkedin ask for my thoughts, via a survey. Insightful as I am, pleased to oblige. Part way through the survey, only to find out that - whatever I said and however I said it - my names not down and I'm not coming in.

Damn you Linkedin. 

Left wondering, what was that all about. 

linkedin survey.png

Social Influence 101

Influence; ability to drive action i.e. people responding to you sharing stuff.

In short, YOU say & share stuff about certain TOPICS through various CHANNELS, your AUDIENCE REACTS, you have INFLUENCE.

Think you get the picture.

While some companies / agencies try to gauge influence using a logarithmic scale, VALUE / REAL INFLUENCE is – as a blog post I read somewhere once suggested – is in the eye of the beholder. Yes, social influence & social capital gets talked about in and around the use of twitter, however while we still have offline media as well as its online counterpart, ‘the value’ lies in and how ‘the data’ (what’s being said) is interpreted / applied according to the likes, lovers and interests of the message receiver.

Imagine that you are trying to create a scoring system for the social influence for people in relation to a specific company. How would I go about using such a tool to solve this problem? Ah, the Datasift Query Builder tool – an excellent place to start. Using Query Builder, you can create a filter or set of filters that could be used to identify relevant conversation/content on Twitter. Though in a short space of time earlier today – started to build the query however without the API in place for me to run the query against / through, turned out to be somewhat of a fruitless exercise.

In ‘processing’ the results, I would have them scored them all on influence though, I haven’t got that far (yet).

I started to think through the algorithm, ranking engine and ‘secret sauce’ used to score such a thing - degrees of relationship between the sender / receiver, the context of engagement, the sentiment of commentary, the transient nature of the followers (average follower life) etc etc. Someone with 20,000 Twitter followers & lots of retweets as compared with someone with only 1,000 Twitter followers and a lot fewer retweets but consistent / more meaningful debate among their targeted community – how would they stack up against each other?

How that’s modelled through the Datasift Query Builder tool, need more time on it I guess.

The person must have an audience i.e. their messages have the potential to reach others although the potential reach of a message in a social network depends on several different factors; how many real “followers” (friends, fans, connections) a person has let alone when the message is posted. Back on task … perhaps I need to rule out bots / crappy twitter names as to distinguish ‘real followers’ though that’s not an easy thing to do.

Several social networks, such as Facebook and Google+ prioritize the display of posts for followers based on recent interaction between the follower and the post’s author. Suffering from ‘size anxiety’, some brands / people have opted to buy fake followers. While representing a definite NO NO in Social Media circles, how do I compensate for fakes in the secret sauce for calculating influence?

The more I read - the more words I now have to describe what I’m trying to model. “Influence”; an ability to amplify a message across social channels. For the purposes of social media marketing, influence might be defined as: the capacity to have an effect on the behaviour of someone in a way which results, directly or indirectly, in a business outcome. Not sure the second definition helps me much.

Back to the receiver … the posted message must resonate. The post must be on a topic of interest to the recipient. Is the author perceived as an authority on the topic regardless of what they’ve posted previously or does she otherwise have credibility due to a personal relationship with the recipient? Are the contents of the post timely? Something the recipient was thinking too? Is the message original? Is the message appreciated for its tone or style (use of humour, sarcasm, irony)? If the message resonates to any degree, then it will have succeeded in capturing a recipient’s attention? A message resonates if it provokes a recipient to interact with it. Typical social interactions include commenting on an update (comment, reply), endorsing an update (favourite), sharing an update (re-tweet), clicking on a shared link or maybe, playing a shared video.

Looking at Klout ‘scoring’ … your ‘True Reach’ is the number of people you influence. They filter out spam and bots and focus on the people who are acting on the content. When you post a message, these people tend to respond or share it. ‘Amplification’ is how much you influence people. When you post a message, how many people respond to it or spread it further? If people often act upon your content you have a high Amplification score. Last but not least, ‘Network Impact’ indicates the influence of the people in your True Reach. How often do top Influencers share and respond to your content? When they do so, they are increasing your Network score.

PeerIndex describes its sub-scores as … ‘Authority’; the measure of trust - calculating how much others rely on your recommendations and opinion in general and on particular topics. ‘Audience’; a normalised indication of your reach taking into account the relative size of your audience to the size of the audiences of others. In calculating your Audience Score, they do not simply use the number of people who follow you, but instead generate from the number of people who are impacted by your actions and are receptive to what you are saying. Lastly, ‘Activity Score’ is the measure of how much you do that is related to the topic communities you are part of. By being too active, your topic community members tend to get fatigued and may stop engaging with you; by taking a long hiatus on a particular topic, community members may not engage with a long absent member. Your Activity Score takes into account this behaviour.

Kred is composed of … two scores; ‘Influence’ is measured by assessing how frequently you are Retweeted, Replied, Mentioned and Followed on Twitter. If you connect your Facebook account to your Kred profile, you get Influence points when people interact with your content on your wall and the walls of others who have registered their Facebook account with Kred. Facebook interactions counted towards your Kred include Posts, Mentions, Likes, Shares and Event Invitations. Also ‘Outreach’ is measured on Twitter using your Retweets, Replies and Mentions of others. When your Facebook account is connected to your Kred profile, you get Outreach points for interactions on your own wall and the walls of others who have registered their Facebook account with Kred. Interactions counted towards Kred include Posts, Mentions, Comments and Likes. Your Outreach score is cumulative and always increases according the Kred website.

Though I’ve lost the source right now, a study from Georgia Tech challenges the notion that social media rewards those who talk too much about themselves. Instead, posting informational rather than self-expressive content contributed to the accumulation of followers. They put the case that tweeting what you had for breakfast is likely to cost you followers over time.

My breakfast breakdown is both interesting and important. I promise.

Complaining or expressing negative sentiment inhibits follower growth.

Expressing positive sentiment helps facilitate it.

Informational content beats overly personal content; simply broadcasting content is not the way to go.

Overuse of #hashtags turns would-be followers away.

Before I model all this out in a structured query on the datasift Query Builder, coffee is called for.

Then – taking it one step further – I may start gathering a list of market analysts or journalists also interested in said company.

THEN, extend the filter(s) to identify/classify Tweets from these guys / gals.

I love a challenge.

Linkedin Discoverability

If you're looking to increase your exposure on Linkedin and improve your discoverability on the worlds leading business networking platform, a few simple steps:

  1. Pick one job / position of employment at a time. Work on ONLY one at a time. I'd been using the same content for a number of years and thought, it was a good time - new year and all - to freshen things up.

  2. Be mindful that there is a WORD LIMIT on a Linkedin job role / description.

  3. Compile the new job profile OFFLINE. I think it's still easier to review / update in WORD say. (Is this a new product development opportunity for Linkedin? Embed a better editor maybe?)

  4. When you're ready to introduce it - showcasing your talents to the world - paste the new description into the appropriate section of your Linkedin Profile.

  5. Do ONLY ONE A DAY max. The reason being, your network will receive a new notification that your profile has changed, been updated or reworked in someway thus, drawing eyeballs to your profile.

  6. Also, in terms of general search appearances, your NEW PROFILE is now loaded with the most appropriate keywords to the industry / market in which you operate (or have operated).

  7. Be prepared for nods and winks around the office. NO, you suddenly haven't become better looking overnight. More that, the constant trickle of Linkedin profile updates seen in recent days can give the right / wrong impression - you're shaping up to leave the business.

  8. Though a read a piece on Linkedin recently from an ex-colleague about the correlation between the frequency of Linkedin profile updates, the increased propensity to 'connect' and the likelihood of them looking for a new role, stay focused on what YOU think is right for YOU.

Let me know what you think of such a cunning plan.  In terms of content / ideas / approach for what to put into each role description, I'll add the detail in further posts. Reminds me, I need to add a new photo.  Though its still work in progress, the profile behind the chart above: Gary Pine