Return Path recently released its Q3 Email Intelligence Report, and it dropped some news that may leave email marketers reeling. According to the report, marketers account for 70% of all spam complaints in the US. Before your inner consumer advocate starts bucking against its restraints, it’s important to note that, in fact, the majority of these emails are going to legitimate opted-in sources. It’s simply easier for subscribers to hit the spam complaint button than it is to unsubscribe.
Marketers, this means you need to start paying more attention to both your list and your email marketing program. While you may be adhering to CAN-SPAM, and doing your best to be a forthright marketer, your emails aren’t resonating with subscribers. That means engagement, brand perception, sender reputation, and ROI are all taking a hit. So, what can you do to try to reverse this backslide?
Starting with permission-based data is a good first step toward ensuring the quality of your subscriber file. This means clearly opting in all your email subscribers. Don’t rent or license data from unscrupulous sources. Either grow your list organically, or work with reputable vendors to rent or license data to speed up that growth.
Subscribers should clearly understand what happens when they opt-in to receive your emails. The majority of that onus falls on you, the marketer. Make yourself available to answer any questions a subscriber might ask. You can even let subscribers select the type of emails they want to receive (newsletters, promotions, whitepapers, etc.), as well as the frequency at which they receive those messages.
Analyze subscriber behavior. Track demographics, psychographics, and engagement behavior/preferences. This will help you better segment your list. Tailor messages to align with these segments. This improves the likelihood of your subscribers finding your email relevant and interesting. Segmentation isn’t a one-time exercise. Periodically review your segments and refresh your engagement data to ensure that you’re segmenting properly, and that your segments accurately reflect your most current subscriber data.
When you notice that a subscriber’s engagement is lagging, consider a win-back campaign. This is a tricky subject. There’s a fine line between persuading someone to come back into the fold of your email program, and sounding desperate or appearing intrusive. But, these campaigns can be very effective, and help you head off some of those spam complaints by being preemptive.
This is email marketing’s ultimate maxim. Keeping subscribers interested often involves a calculated mix of varying subject lines, calls to action, template design, sending frequency, and content. Measure and analyze the results of all your tests in order to maximize the performance that you see from your email marketing.
In the end, lazy marketing precludes many of the spam complaints reported by Return Path. With the average ROI of email ($40.56 for every dollar spent), it’s easy to fall into the batch and blast mentality. But that doesn’t mean it’s right. By following the above tips, along with other best practices like regularly running list hygiene, you can achieve better than average ROI from your email channel.