Posted April 15, 2008 10:47 am by with 26 comments

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By Michelle Greer.

Email marketing reportYou’ve created a company newsletter because it’s part of the “business plan”. Every month or so, you take a look at the deliverability and click-through rates. You know people actually open them. You also know your email marketing campaign needs work. It’s just not as exhilarating as building your Twitter following or creating that Colbert Fan Club on Ning.

Although email marketing isn’t often associated with Web 2.0, 3.0, or 12.0, people still actively open, read and act upon information from emails. According to a study done by MailerMailer, people open emails just as frequently as they did before the social web, and sometimes more often in certain industries.

How can you be sure that your emails aren’t just headed to the trash bin?

1.) Know Your Readers’ Hot Buttons
Using hot button search terms in the subject line of your email will improve open rates by 10%. Following open rates with subject lines over time is key.

2.) Keep Subject Lines Short and Sweet
Emails with subject lines that are 35 characters or less get opened almost 33% more often than those with more than 35 characters.

3.) Personalized Emails Make a Difference
Do readers really think you address each email personally with their name? It doesn’t matter. Including your readers’ first names at the top of your message is especially effective.

4.) Increase the Number of Links in an Email to Improve Click Rates
An utterly obvious but often overlooked solution. The more opportunities you give for readers to click through to your site, the more often they typically do. The report recommends having over 20 links in each email.

5.) Send More, Not Less Emails to Reduce Bounce Rates
What’s the sweet spot? Email campaigns that went out a few times a week had the lowest bounce rate at 2.02%. Emails sent less than once a month resulted in a bounce rate hike to 13.57%. Sending emails more frequently will result in less emails marked as spam, as well as a more up-to-date email list.

To see how to juice up your email campaigns while you aren’t updating your FriendFeed contacts, read MailerMailer’s report.

About Michelle Greer

Michelle Greer is an internet marketer/geek out of Austin, Texas. You can find her writings about ecommerce at and her social networking blog at

  • @Michelle: Not quite sure I agree with you. I delete as many spam emails as I used to before; if anything I delete them quicker nowadays so I can head back to Twitter/Facebook/Blogs. Granted, I’m not your usual audience, but people are getting more and more desensitized to email.

    Also, I’ve been introduced to a new generation of teenagers and kids who simply do not use email, preferring to communicate amongst themselves with IM and Microblogging …

  • Michelle –
    I think you raise a few good points – but I worry that email is quickly approaching the same position direct mail is in. For a direct mail marketer – a 1% response rate is a homerun. (I heard that in a S. Godin telecon the other day – no idea if it’s true, but the spirit of the idea is there.)

    We’ll be there soon enough with email. While email campaigns shouldn’t be ignored, we need to find new ways to interact with people that aren’t overloaded with noise. I hear from our customers all the time that we send them too much email (F500 execs).

    Email is broken.

  • There are teenagers who only use microblogging services and texting. There are people who get their information from Twitter and RSS.

    I used to run a highline online car dealership. Our customers were CEOs, business owners, engineers, and on and on. These people don’t use Twitter–these people use email. They also had money they were more than willing to give us for our services. Why would I not send them an email?

    This isn’t a forecast. If your customers don’t read email anymore, don’t send it to them. Just know that the majority of people legitimately still do.

    The problem with email is that it is often not relevant, hence “know your customers’ hot buttons.” Relevant information is still relevant information, regardless of where it comes from. There is email junk and now there is Twitter junk.

    Michelle Greer’s last blog post..Drink Beer, Buy Professional Photography Prints, Deliver a Beatdown to Cancer. Done.

  • What? More Email. If I had it my way email would never exist. There are some reason behind your post(madness) to which for marketing reasons you have some valid points. But we just need to find a better way to communicate our message to reach audiences to sell or promote our products.

    I think in the future it’s going to be a mashup of three online methods. First being video, second blog/social network and third a message(a tweet or email).

    I’m @waynesutton on twitter and I don’t like email.

  • I’m with Michelle. It appears commenters might be getting caught up in the title of this post and not the content.

    Social media may well be the future of marketing messages, but anyone that thinks email marketing is dead–now–is wishful thinking at best. Email continues to be important and therefore, if it’s how you reach YOUR customers, take heed of the study.

  • I agree – email is here for now and we need to use the tools available today. However, I think if we look at direct mail marketing, we see the future of email. The channel is overcrowded, full of junk, and most of it goes right in the rubbish bin unopened.

    Optimizing for a channel that already has a high signal:noise ratio seems to be a Pyrrhic strategy (high cost for low value).

    Tony’s last blog post..Two Active Ingredients for a Successful Community

  • Cant we do both?

  • Way to go Wayne !!!

    McDawg’s last blog post..‘Open Access Week’: Some Posts from the Blogosphere

  • I agree with much of what Michelle says. Emails are all about relevancy and opportunity. It’s important to remember that they call it a ‘marketing mix’ for good reasons.

    Avenues like twitter and ning can help to drive brand loyalty and interesting buzz, but they only reach a certain (small) percentage of potential and existing customers. Never forget that there is a specific market that social media attracts. Being excited about it is one thing (wayne!) but don’t forget that it has a limited appeal.

    Mediums like twitter have other short comings aside from appeal. They also have a limit on bandwidth. I can’t always convey value in 140 characters, sometimes images, convincing testimonies, or other avenues such as interactive flash will go further than a microburst of text.

    One quick note is that I think that “sending more” point in the article is somewhat dubious. If you send beyond what you have real valuable content for you will only generate more complaints. Sending just to have volume is a bad idea.

    Adam Covati’s last blog post..Email Marketing Is One of The Best Marketing Programs for Retailers

  • @AdamCovati Good point, let me change my view on email. I don’t like long emails, junk emails, emails that require more than 5 min. to reply.

    But I still stand on that it’s going to be a mashup of three methods for online marketing to be successful; video, blog/social network and a message(a tweet or email)

    Wayne Sutton’s last blog post..How to embrace social media in the newsroom with Kara Andrade

  • Andy Beal is right that some of us are “getting caught up in the title of this post and not the content.” But that’s because the title is misleading. A better title would be: How To Maximize Your Email Campaigns.

    I’m not suggesting that email campaigns are ineffective (although, I personally despise them). But haven’t they plateaued? Many of us are excited about social media because we see them as new ways to interact with clients and customers.

  • @J.Smith – I don’t think the title is misleading. If you’re spending your time on blogs and twitter, while your email campaigns suck, then the title is appropriate. The key is to read the title AND the post. 😉

    Maybe there’s a new opportunity in email. While others are focusing on social media, a smart email marketer can play in an empty playground. 😉

  • @jSmith If the title were “How to Maximize Your Email Campaigns”, you wouldn’t read it. You personally despise email campaigns, so I’m glad I chose that title.

    As I said in my previous comment, 1.) there is junk in email and there is tons of junk in Twitter. I’m sorry, I get so close to taking half the people in my Twitter feed off because they don’t know when to stop with every inane detail and/or plug. Good content is good content. Period. If it’s in an email and it’s good, I’ll read it. 2.) the vast majority of people still use email as their primary means for communications with other people online. Send them an email ABOUT social media, if that’s what you are passionate about. Just make sure it doesn’t suck.

    Michelle Greer’s last blog post..Drink Beer, Buy Professional Photography Prints, Deliver a Beatdown to Cancer. Done.

  • Hi Michelle, I agree with your post. In fact for a couple of months I have been receiving an email newsletter from a friend. It’s sent 1-2 times per week and has short articles and loads of links. I have found myself reading and clicking on the links and telling people about my friend and her business. As I was not thinking like a marketer but consumer I didn’t even stop to think that I had been viral marketing as a result of these emails. For those of us heavily involved in social media we forget that a large part of our market is not reading blogs, using Facebook or Twitter. While we may prefer these communication methods there are so many people who are still not on board. Ignoring email marketing leaves behind a lot of potential customers.

    Karen Swim’s last blog post..P is for Purpose

  • As Michelle and Andy point out, what works for one audience may not work for another. For the very large demographic that typically doesn’t adopt new technologies or tools quickly (e.g., blogs or twitter), email is still the killer app of the Internet. The twist these days is that people access email from their phones.

    If anything, people who use email to communicate will have to adopt to the new ways email is being consumed. But from what our data shows, email continues to be a very effective way to reach many markets.

  • The internet marketplace is huge, and user demoraphics vary enormously. The teenage market is one thing, but don’t discount the older generation that do still open mail, especially office folk.

    Spam is an irritation, and granted loads of mails never even get opened, but the tips outlined here will definitely enhance the presentation of your email message. This will greatly increase your chances of success.

  • Is there a white sheet to back up point 5?

    Seologia’s last blog post..Google no es tonto, vos sí

  • Correction: meant “white paper” :S

  • @Seologia – download the report from the last link in the post.

  • Pingback: Get off Twitter, Lay Off the Blogs, and Put Some Thought Back Into Your Email Campaigns | BlogOnExpo()

  • Michelle,

    Thanks for the post. Useful thoughts. Some points to make.

    First, email is much more established than Web 2.0 as marketing medium. Therefore it is much too early to say one is more effective than the other.

    True, with limited resources, managers may be better advised to stick to the tried and true.

    Companies don’t want to be left behind, so the risk of investing resources in emerging technology might be less than the potential cost of not investing. That’s the call that managers have to make.

    Whether or not building a Twitter following or creating fan clubs is more “exhilarating” than building an email campaign is a matter of opinion! I quite enjoy putting together HTML emails to run through MailChimp and then following the results.

    The bottom line is to use robust metrics to track campaign effectiveness. You don’t mention conversions for example.

    I’d generally agree with your points 1 through 3.

    Point 4 is self-evident but misplaced. Of course more links will result in more clicks. It is clicks per link that is the important measures.

    I am not sure about point 5. A more frequent emailer may have a more up to date mailing list, simply because recipients are updating their info more often. The frequency of emails is just one factor that contributes to bounce rates.

    Here’s a good summary discussion on Web 2.0 versus email.

    Roger’s last blog post..Friends for Sale?

  • A thought about point number 5. I’m not questioning the data, but from the perspective of someone who receives email the more often someone sends it the more likely I am to connect the source with spam.

    Maybe the email doesn’t bounce, but I stop listening very quickly. The senders of those emails have lost my trust and are unlikely to ever sell me anything.

    Maybe I’m a data point that doesn’t fit with the rest of the data points. I can only tell you how I view the daily emails.

    Steven Bradley’s last blog post..How Does $25,000 In Prizes Sound?

  • Regarding Point 5, all lists have inherent churn. Sending more frequently just means that you clean up the churn faster, which in turn means you have fewer bounces on a “per message” basis.

    You should send more frequently if your content warrants it and your audience expects it, not otherwise. There are plenty of cases where sending daily makes a lot of sense (e.g., daily prayers, news summaries, daily ski slope conditions, school homework notices, coupon aggregation sites). Recipients in these cases look forward to the messages each day.

    – Raj Khera, CEO, MailerMailer

  • I don’t know about the rest of you but I have left my email marketing campaign totally. I couldn’t run such a campaign knowing that I myself is quick to delete any email that I don’t know if it’s spam or not. If it looks spammy, chances are I delete it unless I know the sender’s email address. Yes there is still a number of people out there that do not know better which is why there is STILL spam email but I am trying to use other methods of marketing.


    Paul Baranda’s last blog post..Carmindy’s 5-Minute Face

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  • It’s all about the content. Is it relevant? If so, your web analytics will tell you where you should be spending your time. For a vast majority of businesses, email is an effective marketing tool – and will remain so for a long time. Certainly, the definition of “a long time” is changing as more people are using RSS feeds, social marketing and the like.

    Dan Spellman’s last blog post..Spreading The Word – Corporate Blogging