Sending an email newsletter is simple. Compose it, copy in your list and then hit the send button.
If only life were that simple. The ever evolving email marketing landscape has communicators struggling to overcome the same issues direct marketers have struggled with for decades.
Getting your email delivered into an inbox, opened and read is not a hit and miss affair ... it is a science where the combination of experience, technical comprehension and a good understanding of ‘the numbers’ create successful communication. And that’s all before you can start to construct the words, images and design that create good communications.
With all that trouble, why would you even bother with email as a marketing communication tool?
Well, quite simply, it works. It works in the same way that direct mail ‘works’ - there is a large wastage factor but the return on investment is positive.
Here’s three concepts that you need to know about:
Comparing open rates is not as important as you think ...
Clients frequently ask us the same question about email communications as they do about direct mail communications. “What is a good response rate?” And our answer is the same for email as it is for direct mail. “It depends on the audience, the message and the economics.”
It’s very easy for email marketers to get sidetracked by benchmarking their open rates to ‘industry standards’. But the cold, hard facts are that the industry standards don’t apply to you. You and your school are not ‘standard’. It’s another way of saying that you’ll be happy with ‘average’.
The parents at your school and community are different to other schools.
This usually means your potential parents and students are different to your competition. Your facilities are probably different. Most importantly, the educational experience you offer is (or should be) different.
So why should you compare yourself to other schools who are not like you? You shouldn’t!
Open counts do not determine success. Meeting the brief is your measure of success. That could be measured as enrolments, relationships, enquiries, staff engagement or ad hoc feedback.
When you measure open counts, the only benchmark is your previous open rate history with the same audience. The rate of change in your open rate when measured campaign against campaign is a far more important statistic than the actual open rate itself.
Keeping key content ‘above the fold’ ...
‘Above the fold’ is an old newspaper term for stories, headlines, photos and advertisements that were situated on the top half of the first page. When the paper was folded for news stand display, only the content ‘above the fold’ was visible.
The email equivalent is the preview pane in Outlook. Research has consistently shown that most Outlook users (69 percent of them) don’t truly open emails, they simply read them in their preview pane. As most email users use Outlook as their email client it makes sense to take this into account when composing your email.
Keep key information such as headlines and summaries up high and ‘above the fold’ to make sure your message gets read, even if it’s not opened. A good guide is to craft your email to no more than 650 pixels wide and to keep your ‘above the fold’ area to about 500 pixels high.
A closing thought on open rates ...
Comparing open rates against your own track record is valuable. Benchmarking against others may be useful. But have you ever thought of asking yourself how many people have opened some of your emails?
One marketing guru had an average newsletter open rate of 41.8 percent, but 64.9 percent of recipients had opened at least one of his last four newsletters.
That’s another 23.1 percent!
It’s easy to forget that it’s not always the same group of people opening your email newsletters each edition. A better way to think about your list is to consider how many are ‘active’ — and you’ll need to arrive at your own definition of what ‘active’ means for you.
Here are some more blogs on enewsletters which might be of interest to you.
If you’d like to review your enewsletter, download our resource booklet "Is your enewsletter delivering quality content?" or feel free to contact us for a complimentary phone consultation. We would love to assist.
This blog was written by Brad Entwistle
Brad Entwistle is founder and Managing Director of imageseven. For more than 25 years he has led the imageseven team on a crusade to lift schools’ brands and reveal the true value they deliver to students and their families. When he is not working with schools on their marketing strategy, Brad sits on the boards of two national not-for-profits and enjoys looking at antique maps.