Why We Still Send Emails (And Why They Average +30% OR)

aub shares how dandelion branding averages a +30% OR

I love email. I’ve said it for years, and I’ll probably say it until I retire. A really good email marketing campaign is lovely to read and inspiring to create. Call me a nerd, I don’t care. I’ll take on an email project any day of the week. (Seriously, schedule a call if you have one for me 😉) 

Now, I’m super loyal to my storyteller’s heart, but I’ll be honest with you about the marketing world. It’s fickle. It chases the shiny new tactic – oftentimes forgetting our real goal: telling the story so people will listen. To that end, I hear a lot about how email isn’t relevant or interesting anymore from business owners and fellow marketers. It’s like the world has moved on, so we should too.

While I agree that the marketing world has changed and how we consume our stories has changed, I totally disagree on the email front. And I dare say my brands do too.

The email marketing campaigns we send for our own business and for our clients average over 30% open rate EVERY time. They entertain subscribers and they retain customers.

Note that I’m only talking about campaigns that are time-triggered in this article, not automated action-triggered emails. Our action-trigger automated sequence emails are opened at a much higher rate.

Why We Still Send Email Marketing Campaigns

Despite it not being the shiniest tactic in a marketing tool kit, email is intimate.

An email marketing campaign isn’t a public social message. People’s inboxes are secret, personal. It’s where they read their news, keep their to-do lists, communicate with loved ones and make their purchases.

When people offer their email, they’re giving a brand permission to be the first thing they see in the morning, entertainment during their break at work or while they’re on the toilet, or the last thing they see before bed.

They’re giving that brand a chance to earn their trust and hold their attention.

I know, I’m dramatic.

But this drama talks, because when a brand is thoughtful about emails – both the timing and the content – the business makes money.

The Bread and Butter of Email Marketing Campaigns: Timing and Content

Most brands we start working with fall into one of two categories:

  1. They say too much not often enough
  2. They say nothing too often

Some fall into both categories, and thusly have the most to gain from a targeted email strategy update. For me, this is the most fun part. Figuring out what to say and when (plus how often) to say it.

What to Say: The Content in an Email Marketing Campaign

The details are brand and audience specific of course. But when it comes to content, I always, literally always, reconnect with why we send emails (see above). People want to feel part of an ongoing story, part of history as it unfolds. As a species we are driven by knowledge sharing and legacy building.

Knowing that makes the actual content topic easy: just say what’s actually going on most of the time. And then, when we have the opportunity, we wrap them into the story too. That can be through an offer, a sale, asking for feedback, naming a product, being part of a local project – whatever.

Yes, you caught that. I said that offering a sale is bringing an audience into a brand story ← this is a gamechanging mindset.

Of course, we have the luxury to work with brands putting good into the world, so what they have going on IS truly interesting and lovely. That makes our job easier in some ways. But oftentimes it also means that they have a lot going on. How do we manage that? Timing. 

How Often to Say it: Email Campaign Timing

Okay, email timing is so underrated. I always joke that I know when America is awake because my inbox explodes.

PSA: please consider that when you schedule your email timing.

Timing has a lot to do with time of the day and day of the week, of course. And the timing is one way we boost open and click rates. We send on what other marketers call, ‘Off times.” An off time is basically any time that isn’t 9am EST.

We think about when our target audiences are doing other things than just starting their working day. Like when they’re eating lunch during the week or on the train ride home after work. We also think about when they’re most likely to make the decision to complete the CTA we’ve included in our emails.

The other side of timing is in how often an audience member hears from a brand. This is different per brand and there aren’t any hard and fast rules EXCEPT consistency. Every audience expects some level of consistency in the brands they subscribe to.

Our Expertise: Combining Timing and Content

Because we do so much strategy work around knowing a brand’s audience, we are pretty good at knowing what to send and when to send it in our email marketing campaigns.

Because we can set our own benchmarks and expect to see +30% open rates and +2% click rates on every email we send, we can quickly test and maneuver our way into great emails for a brand.

This is where our two main categories come in. 

For the “too much not often enough” category, we often see a brand that sends one email per month (or three) with very long updates. We always suggest increasing the frequency and decreasing the amount of content per update. Why? Data shows us that no one clicks a button at the end of a long email.

If a brand falls into the, “They say nothing too often” category, our advice is simple. Send consistent updates – even if (especially if) they’re small. Why? Audiences grow apathetic and they stop feeling inspired if they don’t hear from a brand for a month or more.

We always keep our eyes on data, of course – but we VERY consistently find that email timing and the right amount of valuable, digestible content always puts a brand into that email marketing campaign sweet spot!

Deliverability is Important, Use Your Story

I can’t let you go just yet – there’s one last important thing we need to cover: Deliverability. 

Deliverability is an indicator for how trusted a business domain is online. It’s how Google knows to place an email into the Inbox, Promotions, or SPAM folder. And how Outlook decides just not to receive an email at all. (Outlook is intense).

Falling deliverability rates can start a negative feedback cycle and it doesn’t take long for a brand’s emails to just not be delivered at all.

There’s no trick to staying in good standing. A domain needs positive engagement from email marketing campaign recipients – opens, clicks, replies – to remain in good standing with deliverability.

Remember how I said I’m true to my storyteller’s heart? We keep deliverability high the same way we keep subscribers engaged – by consistently sharing a good story. I say, “Don’t fret over deliverability if you’re offering real value to your customers.” 

By the way, an indicator for low deliverability is an open rate suddenly or consistently below 12%. If you’re there, email me right now. We’ll fix it together.
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