The Bosses dive deep into Email Marketing with tips and tricks to enhance your email engagement. Learn how to write subjects that stand out, increase open and click rates, and how to avoid the dreaded spam filter. Learn when to send emails, and how best to connect with your database like a #VOBOSS.
Quick Concepts from Today’s Episode:
Email marketing as an art, science, and practice is complicated.
Tracking your email data will help you develop your own best practices.
Think about what makes YOU open an email.
What can your email subject say to get people to actually open it?
It takes courage to write an email subject line. Don’t let this keep you from marketing.
Learn as much as you can about the people you are sending your email to.
Don’t clickbait your audience.
40 to 50 characters is a good email subject length
Great copywriting requires a comprehensive understanding of emotions.
Use subjects that are action-driven, such as questions or CTAs, for your subject lines.
Make sure that the body of your email is connected to the subject line.
Emojis can be effective in email subject lines!
AB test your subject lines and see which emails get the most opens and clicks.
The more robust your database is, the most accurate your A/B email tests will be.
If you put certain buzzwords, or all caps in your subjects, you may automatically go to spam, or even get blacklisted.
You may never know when your email has been marked as spam, and most likely will lose your contact as a result.
To make sure you maintain your list, you should include instructions on how to white-list your email address.
The more you engage with an audience, the less chance your email will end up in spam.
If you put too many links in your email, you may end up in spam.
Be succinct. Have one call to action per email.
If you give the audience too many decisions to make, they will make NONE.
When every word of your email is ‘important’, none are ‘important’.
Tuesdays, Thursdays, and then Wednesdays are statistically the best days to send marketing emails.
COVID may change the way and times people consume and open their email.
Sunday nights can also be good for sending email, because people plan their weeks ahead of time.
Referenced in this Episode
Direct links to things we brought up ++
Get a customized VO BOSS Blast for custom target-marketed emails.
Read Anne’s advice for long-term email marketing
Visit Pamela Muldoon’s Website
Recorded on ipDTL
BadAss Editing by Carl Bahner
>> It’s time to take your business to the next level, the BOSS level! These are the premier business owner strategies and successes being utilized by the industry’s top talent today. Rock your business like a BOSS, a VO BOSS. Now let’s welcome your host Anne Ganguzza.
Anne: Hey, hey everyone. Welcome to the VO BOSS podcast. I’m your host, Anne Ganguzza, with the email marketing content management maven special guest cohost.
Anne: So we’ve been talking in this content marketing series about basically what is content marketing and then who are you content marketing to, understanding your buyer, creating buyer personas, and then we started to touch upon email marketing. And I wanted to kind of continue on that path of discussing email marketing, because we could go on for many episodes about email marketing. We just touched the tip of the iceberg last time. But I think at this point, BOSSes are now saying okay, now so we know we have to send emails. But first of all, what do I say, and how do I connect? How do I connect with that database that I’ve built? And how do I improve, you know, people engaging with me and opening up that email and starting a conversation? So Pamela, I think you’re the master of this, doing this for so long. Tell us a little bit about some tips that you have that might help improve engagement when I sent an email to my client.
Pamela: And I just want to touch on something you said, we could do a few episodes, which I think we will. Because email marketing, I think to give ourselves, I think I’ve talked about this before, we need to give ourselves some grace on this stuff because email marketing as a topic and as an art, science and practice is a big one, right? There is a lot going on. And so you could be a student of email marketing for the rest of your life.
Anne: Keep in mind, BOSSes out there, this is why marketing departments are formed, and there is multiple people in them.
Pamela: It’s why I’m employed, Anne.
Anne: Yeah, it’s why, yeah, Pamela is employed full-time doing what she does, and email marketing is just a part of that. So know that, guys, it’s something that is I think worth your listening and educating and looking into, because it’s a big part of getting clients and a big part of our voiceover business today.
Pamela: It really is, and you know, we’ve talked about the importance of your database, and your database is your lifeblood basically of your business. We started I think in previous episode touch about the different ways to communicate, right, from promoting yourself, to the newsletter, to I think we even mentioned drip campaigns in the last one.
Anne: Yep, yep.
Pamela: These are all great styles of communication when it comes to email or types of email communication, but then we start to get and drill us down into, okay, that’s great, but how do I open the darn thing? How do I – [laughs]
Anne: Isn’t that the truth? I do know that my own email experience, right, again I always try to tell you guys out there to really take your own experience into account, and what makes you click to open the email?
Anne: I know for me, I get a ton of email on a day-to-day basis. Now you’ll notice though, Pam, that it has gotten easier. At least in Gmail, they have now, it’s built-in thing where you can automatically unsubscribe, or if you haven’t opened up ad email in so many days from this particular person, a pop-up window will actually show up and say, “do you want to unsubscribe? You haven’t read an email in so many days.” In some ways I feel like oh my God, that’s cleaning up my inbox. But yet in my own business, I’m thinking, oh my God, are people unsubscribing to my –
Pamela: Google is not helping you –
Anne: No, they’re not.
Pamela: – if you’re a business owner. [laughs]
Anne: I’m glad that you say that, because I’m a little frantic that Google has been doing that. Because I want people to still get my email. I don’t want them to unsubscribe. Let’s just start with when it comes into your inbox, that’s a few things that I see, and that’s who it’s from, and then I see like that subject line.
Pamela: The dreaded subject line, right?
Anne: Probably one of the most important things I think in terms of, what can you say on that subject line that gets people to open up?
Pamela: Yeah. This is where I’m going to use two words that’s common for those of us in marketing to use called best practices. And I’m going to share some best practices around some of this stuff, but I want to say that with a little bit of a, kind of an asterisk if you will, right, that best practices are there to help guide you as you get things kick started and feel more a little more what I call educated confidence around this stuff, but at the end of the day, it’s also tracking your own data that’s going to help you with your best practice. Right? So I cannot stress that enough. The reason I say this is because with every single one of these pieces or elements of tip, right, like subject line, or we’ll talk about day of week, time of day, things like that, there is a corresponding piece of data that goes with that. That’s what we as business owners don’t always, you know, connect the dots. Right? So what we see in our data will help us drive the decision whether our subject line worked or didn’t work, or we need to pivot or that type of thing. So we’ll kind of talk through some of this. Yeah. [laughs]
Anne: Yeah. There’s so many people, I can’t tell you, Pam, that ask me, okay, so what do I say? Like what do I write?
Anne: And like it’s almost like they want it to be like, I need the answer.
Pamela: The silver bullet subject line, I would be a billionaire if I could come up with it.
Anne: What subject do I put in there? What do I write? It’s almost like the rate question as well, what do I charge? I’m like well, you know, a lot of times we have guidelines and best practices, so it’s kind of the same thing, right?
Pamela: It really is.
Anne: These are best practices.
Anne: And guys, know that it takes courage sometimes to write a subject line, and – because I know it’s scary. We’re like, oh my God, I don’t want to write the wrong thing, but I don’t know what to write, so then what happens to most people out there is they write nothing, and then they don’t market. And so there is a certain amount of courage that you have to have in terms of subject, writing a subject line, and as Pamela, as you mentioned, I think it’s important that you take a good look at your database, your buyer personas, and understand and learn as much as you can about those people that you’re sending your mail out to.
Pamela: Yeah, and a rule of thumb with the subject line is, don’t bait and switch me, right?
Anne: Oh yeah.
Pamela: So make sure your subject line 100% coincides with what’s happening inside the email, right? That’s really important. We don’t want to bait click these people. We don’t want to –
Anne: Make sure people know what bait click means.
Pamela: Yeah, so basically when a headline or a subject line says something so sexy and intriguing, we have to click on it, and then you open it up, and you’re totally defeated or deflated because the information in the article or the email is not at all what the subject line was, but it got me to open it.
Anne: I hate when that happens. I feel like I’ve been duped.
Anne: And then it’s like, that’s not a good – I don’t think you want potential clients to feel like they’ve just been duped by you.
Anne: And that is – every time I click on an article even on the web, right, or you know in social media, and there will be a bait click title of an article, it’s very frustrating. And then I just have a negative feeling about that particular –
Pamela: You know what I’ve learned to do on social media, Anne, is I go to the comments first, before I open it, and the comments nine times out of 10, somebody said, don’t waste your time. This is what the article is. [laughs] Thank you so much. Right? And we also have this internal dialogue that goes on, right, of, I think it’s bait click, I think it’s a click bait, or you know.
Anne: So yeah, yeah.
Anne: So don’t put the subject line, don’t, you know, what is it like, “don’t hire me!” [laughs] Like when you intend to have people to hire me or something like that.
Pamela: Something really, yeah, that’s just doesn’t connect to the information. But some things to consider, like with subject line, you know, character length is a part of this process. You don’t want it to be too long, and you don’t want it to be too short. This is one of those areas where I’ll tell you today a best practice, and then in six months it could be different. [laughs] But right now currently kind of a sweet spot for character length is 40 to 50 characters. So that does mean spaces. 40 to 50 characters, succinct. Now again, this is a best practice, so that doesn’t mean there aren’t exceptions to every rule. Right? But when you want to get started or get out of your own head, right, just think, okay, I’ve got to get succinct. So the challenge with that, for any of you that have written a LinkedIn post versus a tweet, it’s kind of the same thing, right? It’s not easy to write a 40 to 50 character subject line that’s going to get somebody to open it. There is a reason copywriting is in itself a specialty.
Anne: Oh gosh, yes. I’ve such respect.
Anne: Such respect for people that can copyright. They’re worth their weight in gold.
Pamela: They truly are, because they’re able to take, you know, true copywriting speaks. Again I think we’ve talked about this numerous times, this is about emotion, right? Marketing is about emotion. So things to consider in those subject lines, make it action driven, right, is a great way to go. Get them to do something. And always think about them, right, making their life better in some way, improving them. The intent here is that the information you’re going to read in this email is going to make your life better, is going to improve your situation. So that’s one way to think about action driven. We’ve heard often questions are good, right? When you get asked a question, you automatically answer the question subconsciously when you read it, so questions are good. A lot of times I’ll say be careful with yes, no questions.
Anne: Right, you don’t want them to say no. [laughs]
Pamela: Right. Depending on where you want this to go, the answer could actually force them to not open it, versus open it.
Anne: Sure, absolutely. Make them think, right, make them think, and make them feel I believe that, you know, somewhere in the body of your message is going to be an answer or some other engagement to the conversation.
Pamela: Yeah, a really great example of this, so I recently wrote a blog post for my agency work that I do that had 107 statistics around customer experience. Now for me to pull out a statistic like that, and just put it into the subject line, right, is you know, 20% of buyer personas do X. It’s something that’s engaging. It makes you go hmm, that’s interesting. Really? But it also fulfills the promise in the email that yeah, you’re not only going to learn that, but you’re going to learn more.
Pamela: It’s kind of connecting the dots, connect a message to your subject line, is so important, it’s just how you write those characters. You know, practice and play around with this, because another great example is just being directive. It’s kind of funny. You tell people to do something, we tend to want to do it. Right? So things like “open this email before lunch.”
Anne: Yeah, right, okay! Or somebody might be defiant. But you’re right, I like that.
Pamela: And again, depending on your brand, defiant may work. I don’t know. [laughs]
Anne: I also want to mention that, guys, remember that this email, depending on where it’s coming from, if you’re emailing from Gmail let’s say, this is different thing. We’re emailing to a list. Right?
Anne: In that case you might be within an email service like MailChimp or ActiveCampaign or some other type of mail service. A lot of times built into the subject line, they have some best practices. For example, I know in ActiveCampaign, you can’t have special characters. You know, if you have too many exclamation marks in there or capital letters, they won’t let you have that. I know that emojis, Pamela, also want to speak to emojis, have also been in a lot of my emails lately, and they’ve been effective.
Pamela: It definitely can be. I mean, there is a couple of things I want to touch on there. With the emoji piece, part of it’s a personal preference if you feel comfortable going that route with your email and your marketing in general. But I think it also, and we can touch on this a little bit more in a few minutes, but A-B testing, right, I mean testing. This is where data become so critical, right? Like you can put, say, this email I want to try a subject line with an emoji, and then next time I send it, I want to try it as more directive or question, right, and see which one tends to be more successful. This is where your data can really be a godsend for you, in terms of just kind of testing new ideas.
Anne: Yes, and for those that are not familiar, the A-B testing can be built in again to those mail services. They can allow you to do A-B tests that’s built right into the process. When you’re sending the email out, it will ask if you want to do an A-B test and how you want to split that up and then give you data on that.
Pamela: And I do a lot of A-B tests. I don’t know if you want to go deeper on that, Anne. [laughs] I do a lot with my clients. The more robust your database, the more you have a true qualitative result. It’s like a poll. Right? I mean it’s, the more qualified people that take the survey, you’re going to have just better results, right? So obviously A-B testing 10 people is probably not going to be successful. It’s just not a good way to start. But as you grow your database, this is a really great option, and I can’t stress this enough, you only test one item of your email at a time. You don’t test subject line and your call to action at the same time. You only test one.
Anne: Great advice.
Pamela: And the A-B test is basically you take, let’s say you have 1000 names in your database. You take 500, and you send them the subject line with the emoji, and everything else is –
Anne: Is identical.
Pamela: Is identical. And then you take B and you send the other 500 the question mark subject line, but everything else is identical, like the message, the images, the CTA, everything. And then that’s how you get a true quantitative result.
Anne: And then again, I’m going to continue to remind you guys, that if you’re within one of these mail services, you’ll be able to get the information and the stats from the A-B test. You’ll be able to see how many people opened, how many people clicked, and then you’ll be able to learn more about your database, and that’s important. It’s like, again you’re building your buyer persona by doing A-B testing as well.
Pamela: You touched on the ESPs. Those email service providers are also guiding on the subject line, and I want to touch on that. And this, because sometimes we’re sending things one-on-one, right, or we’re sending it from our Gmail. What’s important about this is like capital letters, exclamation points, the word free –
Anne: Special characters.
Pamela: The word – any of those things, there are reasons those things are flagged. And that’s because when you’re sending – this is especially a challenge when you’re sending to large corporations, you’ll get flagged on their end, automatically go to spam, or even worse, get blacklisted.
Pamela: Which means you’ll never be able to send that domain [laughs] an email again.
Anne: Yes, I like that you brought that up. And by the way, if you get put into spam, if your email gets put into spam, there’s not a lot you can do in many of these email services. They can’t tell if you get put into spam, because that happens on the other server.
Anne: And so, you’re not going to know if your email lands into spam. And chances are that client that didn’t get the email, they’re not going to let you know that you went into spam unless you’re contacting them and say “hey, did you get my email,” and they say “no.” And then you’re like “oh, can you check your spam folder,” and then they mention to you, “oh yeah, it went into spam.”
Anne: So it’s very difficult for you to really understand if what you’re spending goes to spam, so there are these best practices, and really the more that you can learn about the people that you’re sending you email to, the better because you can avoid creating subject lines that will land your email into spam. Sometimes you just can’t help it. Sometimes it just happens. A lot of times, I’ll have a seemingly normal piece of email that I’ll try to send to someone, and they’ll be like “I never got it,” and all of sudden, “oh, it landed in my spam folder.”
Pamela: And that will happen every so often. I know, you know, we touched on, in a previous episode, like to welcome campaign. Often we’ll see, here is how I’m going to communicate with you is, please make sure your whitelist my email, and here’s how to do it. We’ll see those instructions in the welcome campaign quite often, and some people follow the instructions, and some don’t, but I mean again, to your point, Anne, it’s a one proactive measure we can take is a “hey, guess what?” [laughs]
Pamela: “This might go to spam,” and again if they’ve engaged with you, this is kind of – it’s interesting. The more they engage with you, the less chance that it’s going to end up in spam. So you want to make sure that you really, the more that you can write subject lines where they open and your open rate is connected to your subject line, and then you want to create content inside that email that gets them to click through when you’ve got those activities going on, that’s when you’re less likely to be put into the spam folder because the software recognizes on their end that’s somebody they want to converse with, if that makes sense.
Anne: Now Pamela, do you know, like in terms of in the body of your email – I know that, look, when I worked in education, we had processes that would scan and make sure that there were certain words in there, there weren’t certain things in there. I don’t know if you’re sending to, you know, your list, and you have let’s say free and exclamation in your body, if it can get flagged at all.
Pamela: You know, I’d steer away from some of those things as just a general rule, but one thing that most of these services do, again kind of across the board, is number of links. If you’ve put a ton of links in your email, that’s also in, I guess, this software world considered spammy. Right? And rule of thumb, I know this is going to be challenging for some folks, but rule of thumb is one CTA per email.
Anne: Yes, oh. Thank you for bringing that up, really. And I think in anything, like one call to action is, you just want to be very succinct as in your subject line, but you want to have one call to action. You don’t want to give your potential client like a billion things to do in an email. Just “click here,” or you know, “listen to my demo here,” and make it not “listen to all of my demos.” Just one call to action that tends to work a whole lot better, because it’s not mind-boggling.
Pamela: And here’s the psychology of it as well is if you give me too many decisions to make, guess what I do, I make none. I don’t do anything. So I’m feeling like it’s a sense of overwhelm. Again it’s all very subconscious. I think that’s one of the reasons I love email marketing and marketing in general is so much of this is just under the surface. Right? These are things that we’re doing very quickly, we’re processing quickly, but when I see five links, I’m like umm, I don’t, okay.
Anne: That’s too many.
Pamela: I don’t know which one is most important. I don’t even know. And then I end up not going anywhere. So then my click-through rate is poor, and eventually the conversion is probably zero on that one. So you know, just kind of focus in on one real true, strong CTA, and that’s the beauty of, you know, engaging on a consistent – we talked about consistency I think previously. When you are doing this consistently, then you can still get all of your CTAs within 12 months. [laughs]
Anne: Yes, absolutely, absolutely. It’s so interesting how marketing always seems to parallel like voiceover, good voiceover. For example like when we have too many links, we have too many things to do, and we don’t have – like when every word is important, none is important.
Anne: Just like if you have too many links in your email, too many calls to action, then none are important, and it just, it makes us, it’s either overwhelming or it’s just, I’m doing nothing because I don’t know what’s important.
Pamela: Exactly. Yeah, that’s really good point.
Anne: What about day of week? I know that for us for Blasts, we’re always Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. Those are the days we tend to send out. What about your experience?
Pamela: Yeah, and this is, and I’ve read numerous research studies on this. There’s a lot of different organizations that do research poll their numbers, and it’s pretty consistent across the board regardless of size of company. Tuesday is first, Thursday is second, Wednesday is third, but very, very close. Like it’s within a percentage point of each other for those three days. And of course think about this just from a logical perspective, and I’ll think about this from a B to B, Monday through Friday, even though we check emails on the weekends, we know this happens. Part of the reason is because Monday is just a bad day. They’re just getting to work, they have the weekend’s inbox sitting there, all that stuff. They’re just trying to get through their Monday morning. Friday, who wants to open an email on Friday? It’s time to go home. In today’s world, just leave the office and go into the other room, right? [laughs]
Anne: And I’ll tell you, even now –
Anne: – even with the pandemic, I’ll say that, I’ve been sending email to, you know, my Peeps for years.
Anne: And Friday just was never a good day. Because it’s Friday. It’s the weekend.
Pamela: You bring up a really good point, though with this current climate of the way we work, I would find it absolutely fascinating. I’ve had this discussion with other marketers is how Covid is really going to change some of these best practices. Because I don’t know about anyone else listening today, but I tend to pop in and out of my office even on the weekends now.
Anne: Yeah, yeah.
Pamela: It just, it feels different because I don’t get to spend my energy you know going places and engaging like – as we’re recording this, Anne, I’m supposed to be at a Def Leppard concert tonight.
Anne: Oh man.
Pamela: It was the Def Leppard, Motley Crue, Poison, Joan Jett concert. And my heart is breaking.
Anne: Of course it is.
Pamela: But I’ll probably do some work instead because [laughs] what’s a girl to do?
Anne: What’s a girl to do?
Pamela: Now I have to wait until July of 2021. But you know, that’s okay.
Anne: I’m going to say, for me, oh man. I’ll tell you what, I’m going to say for me though, on Fridays, I’m still trying to have some semblance of normalcy.
Anne: And so I don’t know, my feeling about Fridays is I’m not necessarily, I’m trying to – like I’m thinking about having my own at home, you know, happy hour.
Pamela: Of course.
Anne: Friday –
Pamela: I don’t know if Friday will ever get good day.
Pamela: I do want to stress though the importance of really again focusing on how your database works. There was a client that I worked with in my day world that it was a financial services client, and then we tried a few different day of the week A-B tests, right, and we landed on, believe it or not, Sunday night was the best time.
Anne: I’ve heard that.
Pamela: And the reason it was for this audience – now keeping in mind we knew the persona well. It was an independent financial advisor, small business owner just like us, right, for the most part. So what we learned about the audience was they use their Sunday nights to plan their week ahead, right? And as a general rule, and so of course that meant opening up their laptop, opening up their email, kind of checking what’s going on in their calendar, and boom, our email was sitting there, so they would open it. And for that particular client, right, it just was a great time. And they never would have thought that if they had not gone through this A-B test route of different days.
Anne: Sunday night for me also works well.
Anne: And Saturday mornings at 11:00 for some crazy reason works well for my audience.
Anne: And so I think, guys, it really is, there are, again these are best practices, but that doesn’t mean for your particular audience that they’re set in gold.
Pamela: I can totally see how Saturday would work for you especially if you have members of the audience that are similar to my lifestyle, right, where I’ve got full-time job. I finally get to spend some time building my voiceover business on a Saturday morning, right?
Pamela: Makes total sense. Yeah, I love that.
Anne: Wow! Gosh, we could go on forever, and again, this will deserve another episode, Pamela, of discussion –
Anne: – to talk even more about email, but it’s been a great episode. Thanks again for sharing all your wealth of wisdom and knowledge about this, and I want to give a great big shout-out to our sponsor, ipDTL. Again being able to come to you week after week with this amazing technology like Pamela and I are in the next room, although I wish we were.
Pamela: I know. Someday soon, Anne, someday soon.
Anne: Someday soon, I get to come visit you in Vegas, because I love Vegas, one of my favorite places.
Pamela: Yes. When it’s back up and running fully.
Anne: When it’s back up and running. And you can come visit me here in my new studio.
Anne: That will be awesome. But you guys can find out more at ipdtl.com. You guys have an amazing week, and we’ll see you next week.
Pamela: Bye now.
>> Join us next week for another edition of VO BOSS with your host, Anne Ganguzza, and take your business to the next level. Sign up for our mailing list at voboss.com and receive exclusive content, industry revolutionizing tips and strategies, and new ways to rock your business like a BOSS. Redistribution with permission. Coast-to-coast connectivity via ipDTL.