Think for a second about all the non-work related and personal emails you received in your inbox this morning. I am talking about all the newsletters you are subscribed to, the blogs you follow and the businesses whose lists you are on. Which ones of those emails did you click right open? Which ones did you delete straightaway?
Did you see any emails you know you’d want to read but just didn’t have the time for right now? You kept those because you wanted to have a look, perhaps later in the day. And how about the emails you clicked through quickly hoping to find anything of interest but either filing those away or deleting them. Any small business owner would relate to this scenario.
On a given day, I go through the exact process myself. And I know that I am not alone here. There are some people I can’t wait to hear from. I wish they sent emails more often as they have me totally hooked. But then there are many who are hit and miss. Yet I stay subscribed if at least half of their emails are relevant to me.
How can you, as a small business owner, make sure that your readers stay subscribed to your emails? That you’d get fantastic open rates and click throughs to die for. That your readers share your emails and newsletters and offers and bring even more people to your list?
You can do that by becoming highly effective email marketer. When I say email marketer, I don’t mean that you turn into a sleazy, slimy, snake-oil salesman type marketer. What I mean is that you learn the tried and tested, sound principles of email marketing that would take their email open rate through the roof.
What you need is to practice these 20 habits of highly effective email marketers.
Habit #1 They get their audience permission first
How do highly effective marketers get a hold of your email?
Do they ask other companies? Do they buy lists? How do they know you want to hear from you? Because you signed up to their list voluntarily. Most will actually have the double opt-in, meaning you have to confirm your email address before they send you anything just to make sure someone else didn’t enter your email without asking.
This goes without saying but always make sure you get the permission of people to send them emails. Meaning, they need to opt-in to your list. Do not add people to your list even if they are past customers or current ones. Direct them to the sign-up page so they can do so themselves.
Habit #2 They pay attention to what their audience wants
Smart marketers listen more than they talk. They make sure they do their homework before they send out any email campaigns.
They regularly use tools like Google alerts, conduct surveys, participate in online forums and keep an eye on their competitors’ sites to keep on top of the latest trends. And because they pay attention to the questions their audience is asking, they remain relevant.
Their emails are much more likely to be very well received.
Habit #3 They have a specific purpose
Intelligent marketers never start out writing an email without first determining its exact purpose.
Why are they sending this piece of communication in the first place? Is it to deepen their relationship with the people on the list? Is it to send them to a particular page? Is it to get them to share it and build word of mouth? Is it to make an offer?
Do the same. Be 100% clear on what you want to achieve before you start composing your message. Don’t send a message that is confusing – remember confused people don’t take any action.
Habit #4 They write to one specific person
You know why their messages are so effective? Because they write only to their Ideal reader.
They have taken the time to create ideal reader profile/s for their business. They know exactly who would be interested in hearing from them and also those who are not a good fit. Once you become this specific, the chance of your message resonating with the target audience goes through the roof.
If you write to no one in particular, you don’t get the attention of anyone. Write to your ideal audience and you can’t go wrong.
Habit #5 They address one person
Don’t start your email by saying Hi everyone or dear friends.
You don’t want to come across like you are writing a mass email. Yes, you are writing to a bunch of people on a list, and they also know that but they still want to feel like they are the only one you are writing to.
You can use the merge tags in your email management program to automatically populate first names if you have collected them but this seems to annoy some people as sometimes it makes it even more glaring that you are using code to fish out a name. Follow your gut on this one.
It can be hard to write an email to an individual when you know you are addressing a group of people. You can remedy that by picking one reader, ideally your most loyal, fierce supporter and write it to them only. This will also give you confidence in choosing your words.
Avoid using phrases like as you all know, or most of you would remember that ….
Habit #6 They stay consistent
When people sign up to your list, they are raising their hand to show they are interested in hearing from you. They are placing their trust in you. Don’t take advantage of that. Don’t send them content they didn’t ask for. Don’t email too much. Don’t send promotional emails all the time.
The trick is to find the right balance and stay consistent. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to publish every single day or publish on the same day of the week – always. Consistency means fulfilling the promise you made to them
Consistency can be of quality, frequency, tone, length, format and messaging. Remain consistent in your desire to be of service. Don’t send any email that doesn’t adhere to a set of expectations that you promised.
Habit #7 They craft subject lines begging to be clicked on
Don’t you just hate when you click open an email with an headline that gets you curious enough to find out that the content is completely unrelated to what was promised in the email? When the writer uses bait and switch – uses one thing to hook you and then totally shift gears?
You want to delete this email and unsubscribe there and then. You feel tricked and nobody likes that one bit. Smart marketers would never do that.
Always make sure to give your readers what you promise in the subject line. If you want to use ultra-casual email subject lines such as ‘hey’ or ‘I forgot to tell you …” or ‘have you ever felt this way?”, give them content that is personal because this is what they expect.
If you promise benefits or actionable tips in your subject line, then give them that. If you tell them that an offer is about to expire, then this is the information they expect and not a link to another offer.
Do write headlines that follow the 4U formula (Urgent, Unique, Ultra-specific and useful) but follow up on the promise for the continued trustworthy relationship. Avoid using spam trigger words to make sure your email actually arrives safely in the recipient’s inbox.
Habit # 8 They know how to create delectable email sequences
Remember the time when you signed up to a list to receive a welcome message and then – nada. You received another piece of communication from them in a few weeks and by that time you had completely forgotten who they were and why you subscribed in the first place.
Super effective marketers understand how important it is to get in touch with people on a regular basis as soon as they sign up to start deepening that relationship.
They don’t wait for the next blog post notification, fortnightly newsletter or the upcoming offer. They use autoresponders to send out a sequence of emails to every person from the time they sign up. This ensures that the person gets more exposure to their messaging in a timely fashion.
Habit #9 They hone their voice so it is unmistakeable
Just this morning I received three promotional emails, from different people, that sounded like they might have been written by the same person!!
Not good at all.
You want to be memorable in your emails. You want to sound like yourself. Your emails need to feel like they came from you, and they are so uniquely you that nobody else could write them.
Most people struggle with defining their voice so I am not necessarily saying that don’t email until you have perfected it. What I am saying is to keep practising. Journaling and free form writing are two good ways to hone your voice. Another method is to record your message and have it transcribed to get a true sense of your voice.
Smart marketers are not copycats. Their emails don’t sound like everybody else’s – like every other marketer on the planet. Don’t be one.
Habit #10 They write conversationally
Get into the habit of writing conversationally.
Imagine you are writing an email to a close friend, how would you write it? What sort of language would you use? Would you use contractions such as doesn’t instead of does not, or I’ll instead of I will. Would you use complex language to impress your friend or will it make you look like a douchebag?
Maybe you refer to something old or make an inside joke? You would definitely treat them as a trusted friend and won’t say anything that you can’t say to their face.
Great marketers do the same. They create intimacy. They write to you as if you are a dear friend and they cherish you for being a part of their life. Do the same for your readers and notice the difference in your open rates and overall loyalty.
Habit #11 They stay true to their brand
When you send out an email, what does it look like? I mean, really look like?
Many small business owners make this mistake – when they send out a newsletter, they don’t test their formatting beforehand and the result is something that looks weird and hard to read on your screen.
Sometimes you receive an email and click on it to land on a page which looks and feels totally different to the email. This happens when the sender didn’t bother to match the branding – the colours, logo, fonts, etc. – to the one in the email. The result is quite jarring.
If you are a one-person shop, you don’t have to send out a fancy looking newsletter with impressive visuals and graphics, either. On certain occasions, plain text email is known to perform even better. But whatever form you decide to go with, make sure your formatting is consistent and it stays on brand. Don’t write sentences longer than 60 characters and make sure the email displays well in different email clients.
Habit #12 They work hard on creating the right content
What is the right content?
The right content is content that helps your audience get closer to a goal. It helps them solve a problem they are interested in solving or fulfil a desire. It is the content you have promised them.
The right content is without fluff. It gets straight to the point. It is actionable and highly relevant to your audience’s needs, but most importantly, the right content precedes the sale.
It is the content that pre-sells your products and services. It keeps you top of mind. It builds your authority and positions you as the go-to expert in your field so your audience has no need to go to somebody else.
This is the number one reason why you click open every single email from your favourite bloggers. They know exactly what to create and send your way. Give generously. And your readers will be that much more receptive to acting on your call to action.
Habit #13 They won’t spam you
Your favourite email markets would never, ever spam you.
And by spamming I mean, they won’t bombard you with irrelevant affiliate offers all the time. And this happens quite a lot. You get on somebody’s list and not only they start hitting you with hard sales messages but every other message is a pitch to promote somebody else’s product and service. This happens quite a lot in the Internet marketing industry but also prevalent in others.
Another thing is to send something your audience did not opt in for. If they got on your list expecting to see time management and productivity tips, don’t start sending them advice on healthy living or finding a soul mate.
Remember, don’t send affiliate offers all the time, and only send emails relevant to what they asked for in the first place.
Habit #14 They build a relationship with their readers first
You may have heard that money is in the list. Actually, truth be told, money is in the relationship you have with your list.
Smart marketers build a solid relationship with their audience before they ever ask for anything, before they sell anything. This forms the backbone for all their efforts. They give tons of value. They tell stories. They build trust. They create loyalty so there is no need to go anywhere. They believe they have to earn the right to promote. The effort they put in earning this right gives them tremendous ROI.
Habit #15 They have a clear call to action
Have you received one of those newsletters where you are given so much information you end up scrolling down and deleting it?
Or how about those emails where the writer asks to you to forward this to someone who would benefit from this, and tweet it, and like it on Facebook, and share it on Google+ and pin it and so on …
Smart marketers never ask too much of their readers. They always have one goal for a certain piece of communication in mind. If it is a link to a blog post, then they will ask you to go read it on the blog. If they are making an offer, it is to go to the sales page. If it is a survey, this is a clear call to action. It is never 7 calls to action in one email. They know that giving too many choices will only confuse and overwhelm people and they will end up making none.
More about that in the next habit.
Habit #16 They know how to create irresistible offers
Because they know what you want, they create super useful offers that have people salivating.
They know what to offer, at what price and do a great job of explaining what is in the box. They pair their offer with persuasion techniques to make them even more deadly.
Habit #17 They understand human psychology
They understand the difference between what people say they will buy and what they actually buy.
They know they need to sell what they want and then give them what they need. They understand human behaviours. They paint pictures of what it would be like to own their product or service. They use principles of genuine scarcity and urgency.
Habit #18 They are lifelong learners
High charismatic email marketers know their stuff. But they are most likely not born this way. What separates the amateurs from true professionals are those who put in hours perfecting their skills.
They spend insane amounts of time practise writing headlines, creating content that strikes the right chord, staying on top of industry trends and capitalizing on them and perfecting their offers.
They are methodical and hard working. They know nobody becomes a professional in a day and that one must continue to work if they have to become highly effective.
Habit #19 They look at what works – and what doesn’t
Smart email marketers are like detectives. They are always on their case. Measuring, analysing and tweaking. They will go through their analytics to see what worked before and what didn’t. They experiment and try out new stuff.
They do split testing, they see which calls to action perform better. They know that while nothing can be perfect but they can continue to improve and bring even better results for their content marketing efforts.
Habit #20 They treat their audience right
The most amazing email marketers are those who truly care about their readers.
They don’t think of their emails as a way to wiggle their way to their audience pocket, but rather to their heart and soul. After all, all buying decisions are made on emotions first and justified by reasoning later.
What can you do to make your audience feel simply amazing? How can you give them unexpected treats? How can you surprise them? What could you do differently that would make you stand out from the rest of the crowd and help become memorable instead of drowning in the sea of competition?
Don’t forget to have a little bit of fun. How could you put a smile on their face, inspire them to take an action today? How would you make your audience feel like a million bucks?
So there you have it. These are the top twenty habits of highly effective email marketers. What would you add to this list?