A Survival Guide for Big Email Senders

Whether your list has gotten too big to manage or you’re an experienced marketer looking to increase your email marketing’s ROI, the email experts at iContact developed these seven helpful tips to help your business survive and thrive!

1. Think Ahead: Grow an Engaged Subscriber List

Our first survival tip is to think ahead. In the same way that you need to think ahead when you are evading lions, tigers, and bears in the wild, you need to think ahead with your list growth strategy. So how do you think ahead and not get bit? By getting permission and setting expectations. The definition of spam is literally “unsolicited commercial (or bulk) email.” That means if someone didn’t give your specific organization consent to send that bulk mail to their email address, you are sending spam. So, if you’re not using opted-in lists, you’ll be out of compliance with your email provider and possibly the law — you sure wouldn’t want to send spam to anyone in Canada these days. Once you have permission, you will get the highest audience engagement and inbox placement if you are upfront with subscribers about the frequency and type of content you are sending.

While you might grab some revenue from a list that didn’t give consent, the risk is high spam complaints, high bounces due to inactive addresses, and, worst of all, spam traps. Spam traps are email addresses created solely to catch marketers that use purchased and harvested lists, and they can get your business in some hot water that won’t be fixed by switching email providers. Now that even enterprise-level businesses are moving more toward centralized cloud-based providers like Office365, sending to a non-opted-in list can very much torpedo your entire email program.

2. Build A Content Shelter: Create Responsive Email Templates

You aren’t going to survive in the wild without a shelter to protect you from the elements. Shelters also provide peace of mind and comfort in a dire situation. Similarly, responsive templates give you peace of mind that no matter what device a person uses to read your email, it will always look consistent and eye-catching.

Responsive email templates resize to fit any type of device, helping you spend less time customizing your HTML and more time crafting visually appealing, relevant content. Mississippi Gift Company recently moved to iContact Pro and partnered with Strategic Advisor Kate Ronan to implement mobile-responsive email templates and drip campaigns to cultivate prospects into long-term customers.

3. Take Inventory: Integrate Email Initiatives with Your Other Channels

When your plane crashes in the Arctic tundra, one of the first things you will do is take inventory of what you have to boost your chances of surviving — you take the free peanuts, use seat belts for rope, raid the mini-bar, and cut out some seat cushions for pillows. All of these things set you up for a higher chance of success (or at least make you more comfortable). In the same way, you should take an inventory of all of your successful content outside of email, and consider modeling your email content after your other successful channels. Badass Beard Care doubled its sales by transforming its successful social media content into custom email templates using the iContact Design Team and developing successful re-engagement and drip campaigns.

4. Stay Healthy: Start Split-Testing

Staying healthy is key when you are trying to survive. Keep wounds covered, stay warm, and make sure your toilet paper isn’t from a plant with three leaves. Survival is a process of trial and error and adapting to your environment. Split-testing is the same; it enables you to experiment with your campaign elements and refine them based on customer engagement.

If you’re considering making big changes to your email marketing campaigns, there’s no better strategy than split-testing. Evaluating the open and click rates by changing subject lines, copy, colors, or other brand elements enables you to constantly refine your campaign based on your audience’s preferences. Strategic Advisors can coach you through the entire split-testing process and help you continually refine and optimize your campaign.

5. Communication Is Key: Utilize Segmentation and Drip Campaigns

If you are fortunate enough to have a buddy after your plane crash in the Arctic, communication is key to survival. Your true self comes out in a life-or-death situation, and you have to know each other’s needs to prevent your friend from becoming your demise. In email marketing, the better you know your customers and their needs, the happier they will be to read and engage with your content.

Spiritline Cruises, in tandem with iContact Strategic Advisor Rebecca Malamud, recently developed a flow chart that allowed them to reach guests with personalized, targeted emails in a set time period, before they came to the Charleston Marina. Segmenting your audience before you send enables you to send more targeted, personalized messages with less risk of bounces or spam complaints.

“As most people know, customer support in most companies can be a nightmare. Luckily for us, Rebecca has gone above and beyond our expectations. Her help in setting up our workflows has been an essential part of our email marketing strategy.”
Ian Harris, Director of Sales and Marketing, Spiritline Cruises

6. Clean Up: Monitor Deliverability Rates and Perform List Hygiene

You know what happens when you leave your dinner scraps on the ground in the wild? You become something else’s dinner. Improper management of your email list will not get you eaten by bears, but it will have equivalent damage to your deliverability.

Regularly sending messages to old or outdated email addresses negatively impacts your reputation and campaigns. Even worse, it could lead you into a dreaded spam trap, which is never good for your sending reputation. Here are five not-so-secret ways to refresh your contact list and make sure your emails hit the inbox every time. If you want a more in-depth look at deliverability, be sure to check out our webinar recording: “Don’t Be a Deliverability Dud: Tips to Conquer the Inbox.”

iContact’s Premier Services offers clients a deliverability “Report Card” that grades your overall sending based on open rate, hard bounce rate, SUTOR score, and complaint rate. This algorithm delivers a comprehensive, objective assessment of your email marketing, enabling you and your Strategic Advisor to work together on areas that need improvement. Here is what Alexandra de Valle had to say about her experience:

“iContact’s Report Card is exactly what we needed to hone in on the specific issues of our newsletter. It has been very insightful in helping us create a new plan of action to improve certain areas of our newsletter.”
ALEXANDRA DEL VALLE, MARKETING MANAGER, FEMWELL GROUP HEALTH, INC.

7. Know Your Tools: Evaluate Advanced Email Metrics and Data Integrations

In a survival situation, your tools are only as useful as your knowledge of them. A compass is only useful if you have a destination in mind; a bow is only as useful as your archery skills. In email marketing, there are always newer tools, deeper metrics, and better tricks. Your Strategic Advisor’s job is to be up to date on all of them to help you choose the path to success.

iContact integrates with Google Analytics, Salesforce, Zapier, and many other platforms. Your Strategic Advisor can suggest which integrations your business needs, as well as coach you through the more advanced email metrics (CTOR, Lifecycles, Platform Engagement, SUTOR Score) and reporting. A comprehensive picture of your data empowers you to make more tactical decisions with the content you deliver. Here is what Erica found when she integrated Big R’s iContact account with Google Analytics:

“We track progress using iContact’s reporting dashboards and with Google Analytics, and according to the latest numbers, the lifestyle blog emails now account for eight percent of Big R’s overall site traffic.”
ERICA SICKMEYER, DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS, FIDELITAS DEVELOPMENT

Whether you are a high-volume email Cub Scout or an Eagle Scout, here are the various iContact Premier Services that will help you survive. Trust your sending to an email provider who has a personal, human relationship with you!

Premier Services Helps Beginners:

✓ Move beyond newsletters with monthly or quarterly content creation plans

✓ Get familiar with more advanced tools such as split-testing

✓ Integrate email initiatives with other channels, e.g., social media

✓ Design custom templates with iContact Design Services

✓ Develop a social media content strategy

✓ Analyze customer demographics and behavior

✓ Perform basic search engine optimization

Premier Services Helps Experienced Email Marketers:

✓ Dive deeper into email analytics and move beyond open and click rates

✓ Optimize their opt-in process to ensure lead quality and improve deliverability

✓ Design drip campaigns that automatically send emails based on customer actions

✓ Ensure their email hits the inbox with deliverability consulting

✓ Segment, target, and personalize emails

LOVE OUR TIPS? They were developed by these expert iContact email deliverability specialists who regularly work with high-volume Premier Services clients.

Ashley Bloomquist, an iContact Deliverability Strategic Advisor, provides special expertise on deliverability challenges and strategy, and she works one-on-one with clients to improve inbox placement. Throughout her three years at iContact, she has helped clients improve subscriber engagement through template customization, content variations, list management, and more.

Brendan Matthews, iContact Manager of Deliverability, never met an inbox he couldn’t improve. With his eight years of experience in B2C sales, email marketing strategy, and deliverability, Brendan helps customers improve engagement and increase revenue. He recently developed a 90-day “Bootcamp” experience that yielded triple-digit percentage increases in engagement for inbox-challenged accounts. If you like acronyms, he’s your guy — CAN-SPAM, CASL, DKIM, and DMARC are some of the things he is passionate about when it comes to working with clients.

About iContact

iContact is the leading provider of email marketing solutions and services. This article originally appeared on iContact’s blog. For more information, visit us at www.icontact.com.