3 Counterintuitive Tips to Boost Your Email Marketing

Sometimes we get stuck in the same email marketing ways and don’t necessarily take a step back to assess campaigns. We get focused on growing our lists as fast as possible and keep mailing large lists as much as we can. We never stop to second guess some of our practices and then we wonder why open rates are declining, inbox rates are poor, and revenue is dismal.

Below are three tips to boost your email marketing results. Some may seem counterintuitive, but give them some thought and you might be surprised by how your email marketing efforts start to shape up.

Unsubscribing is great

As email marketers, we should make it as easy as possible to allow our subscribers to unsubscribe. You’re not going to win over anybody by making them take 10 steps to unsubscribe.

Furthermore, we should be making uninterested folks unsubscribe. The more emails you send that are not opened or clicked, the more ISPs will identify you as a spammer. Plus, this is a great step in list hygiene: You’re not wasting resources emailing people who don’t want to hear from you.

Here are two easy things you can do to make unsubscribing as easy as possible:

1. Put a second unsubscribe link at the top of your emails. Subscribers won’t even need to scroll to unsubscribe.

2. When someone clicks the unsubscribe link, don’t make them log in or even enter their email address to unsubscribe. For one, entering an email address is reminiscent of subscribing and it makes people wary of unsubscribing. Secondly, it’s one more step the user must take to stop receiving your emails.

In summary, unsubscribing is great, and it should be easy and take as few steps as possible. Remember the alternative: Clicking “This is spam” is only one step, too.

Question double opt-ins

Years ago, email marketing was a volume play; the more addresses you had, the more money you made. Now, ISPs are wising up and focusing more on the quality of subscribers, not the quantity.

One of the best ways to keep quality subscribers is to make sure they really want your emails by having them double opt-in. This not only confirms legit email addresses, but it also immediately associates your brand with the subscriber’s email account. Confirmation emails reinforce email marketing to the user, which means that person won’t be as inclined to mark your message as spam in the future.

However, some companies may benefit from second guessing double opt-ins. After all, double opt-ins are harder on subscribers. They lead to lower list growth and lost addresses and generally require more tech resources to establish and maintain.

Perhaps you’re not seeing a high bounce rate with your single opt-ins, and double opt-ins only slow down growth. Or maybe you can’t afford supporting double opt-ins. Or perhaps your lists are so small that you just need to quickly boost your list sizes before worrying about increasing quality with double opt-ins.

In the end, make the decision that’s best for your company right now.

However, keep an eye on this strategy over time: You may need to rely on double opt-ins if list quality declines. If that happens, try not to think of double opt-ins as an extra step needed to subscribe. Think of it as vetting your subscribers to make sure they are serious about receiving your emails.

Drop the unengaged

It may be tempting to email everyone on your list—even the uninterested—with the hopes that they will eventually be ready to open or click your email. However, by most standards, contacts that have not opened an email in six months are considered unengaged and have a higher risk of complaining or being turned into a spam trap. Even if contacts legitimately sign up for your emails, their address can go bad over time.

ISPs have been monitoring email engagement for a while. The higher percentage of unengaged, the lower percentage of legit email delivery to the inbox in a timely manner—if at all.

What’s the best way to deal with this? Stop emailing the unengaged, or try to reengage them with win-back campaigns. Either way, make sure you have an ongoing strategy to deal with nonresponsive subscribers.

Hopefully you’ve noticed a recurring theme in this article: Practice good ongoing list hygiene. That starts with the sign-up and continues for the life of the subscriber. Effective list hygiene is no longer an optional practice. It’s a requirement for any legitimate email marketer. And most importantly—it’s never too late to start!

Eddie Howard is the senior product manager at Vocus.

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