Email marketing is that trusted friend that’s been around forever and will never let you down. You can always turn to it when you need some help. Plus, it gives you a whopping average ROI of 3,800%. That’s $38 for every $1 invested.
Today, we’re talking to Matthew Montoya, the partner enablement and training manager at Constant Contact. He has helped consult more than 13,000 businesses on email marketing best practices. Email has been around a long time, but Matthew describes current trends and what works today.
Some of the highlights of the show include:
- People who give you their email address are expressing interest in your business
- Quantify the value of your email list by multiplying the size of your list by the price point of the average they sell to get a dollar figure
- Biggest change in email marketing over the last seven years is mobile readership; 51% of business/non-profit emails will be opened on a mobile device
- People used to spend 35-40 seconds reading an email; now it’s 5 seconds
- Emails need to be succinct, make an impression, and include a call to action
- Think of an email not as a message, but an advertisement where people see the information, act on it, and go to your website or elsewhere to learn more
- Every contact matters and can produce money for your company
- The more targeting and testing you do, the better your responses
- HTML vs. Plain Text: Depends on your audience, but concise HTML emails usually generate higher, better responses
- Preview email messages to see how they display on different devices
- Know your audience to know what content they will find valuable and relevant
- Constant Contact’s Marketing Pillars: Segmentation, personalization, automation
- People look first at who sent an email, rather than the subject line; email should come “from” the brand
- Test subject lines to avoid repetition and make sure they grab readers’ attention
- Explore all marketing options across platforms – all work together to share a story
Eric: Hey, everybody. What’s up? Good morning, good afternoon, good evening, whenever you’re tuning in, thanks so much for doing so. Today, I want to talk about our good old pal, email marketing. Now, we use that analogy intentionally because isn’t that what email marketing is? It’s that trusted friend that’s been around forever, they’ll just never let you down, they always come through and to clutch. I always turn to them. It’s the friend you call up when you have to move into your new third-floor apartment and it happens to be the hottest day of the year. They’re the ones that are helping you shimmy up your sofa in that narrow stairwell, yelling, “Pivot. Pivot”
Or, maybe a little more relevant, according to the DMA, they’re the friend that delivers an average ROI of 3800%. Wowzers. Let that soak in for a second. For you math whizzes, That’s $38 for every dollar invested. Oh yes, and that is why email marketing is our most trusted old friend. That is the topic of today’s Actionable Marketing Podcast. I have a fantastic guest. His name is Matthew Montoya. He is the Partner Enablement and Training Manager at Constant Contact and this dude just straight up knows email. He’s helped consult over 13,000 businesses on email marketing best practices.
If you’re like me, you’re thinking, “Well, we’ve done something so long, email kind of feels stagnant. But he’s here to share with you the state of marketing today. What are the trends? What’s working with design? What isn’t? What’s working with deliverability? What’s working with email list segmentation and personalization? Subject line testing, analytics, the whole kit and caboodle. There’s so much to think about and he’s going to lay it all on the line for us.
My goal is when you’re done with this episode, you feel much more confident rolling into 2019 for your email best practices. All right, my name is Eric. I’m the Brand and Buzz Manager here at CoSchedule. I can’t wait to jump into my conversation with Matthew. Alright, let’s get amped.
Welcome, everyone, listeners. I’m excited for today’s show. We have Matthew Montoya, the Partner Enablement and Training Manager at Constant Contact. Welcome to the show, Matthew.
Matthew: Hey, thanks for having me, Eric. Really excited to be here.
Eric: This is great. I’m so excited about this episode, Matthew. I’m a bit of an email marketing nerd before I was the Manager of Brand and Buzz at CoSchedule. I had a previous life diving into email marketing and marketing automation. This is a topic that really hits home with me, so I’m excited to dive into this.
Matthew: I am, too. I love sharing this information. I’ve been with Constant Contact for seven years. I wouldn’t have described myself as an email marketing nerd before I worked at Constant Contact, but boy, it’s been an exciting ride. Email marketing in my time here has changed dramatically over the last seven years. What used to be a best practice has evolved and across social media channels, across any kind of digital marketing you’re going to do, are arguing. The rules changed. They have changed dramatically in email marketing.
Eric: Yeah, absolutely. People sometimes think that it might feel stagnant, but I know that is not the truth. Email marketing, email in general, has changed quite a bit. But before we dive in, again I want to walk in you. I’m calling you from chilly Fargo, North Dakota. I know you’re in Florida. We were talking before. Your air conditioner has killed on you. I hope you’re able to stay cool during our conversation today.
Matthew: Yeah. Depending on where you’re listeners are, I’m probably getting a stink-eye. Woe is me that I’m in 80 degrees in October. That’s fun when you’re outside. It’s not so great when you’re inside on a podcast.
Eric: No. Very, very true. Well, I’m excited for some hot conversation we’ve got here. Good transition, wasn’t it?
Eric: Alright, Matthew, before we jump in too much, I love for you to just take a moment, maybe tell our listeners about your journey and then maybe just a […] about Constant Contact, if you could.
Matthew: Yeah, sure. My marketing journey started—I hate to admit this—almost 20 years ago. I worked at a newspaper, Village Voice Media. It was Village Voice, probably most people know the name at least. Village Voice at that time had a collection of papers throughout the country and I worked at a paper in Nashville, that eventually led to promotions to a set of papers in Miami and Fort Lauderdale market.
Reading the writing on the wall—pun intended—I realized that print was not the healthiest industry for me to grow my career as a father of two and started to migrate into digital. Unfortunately, the recession hit and I found myself taking any job I could get and that job was at a non-profit. I’ll tell you, the non-profits in the world, they have a real challenge. It’s really hard to not only market a non-profit, but generally, non-profits don’t have a budget for a large staff or a lot of initiatives so it’s really scrappy.
One of the things we did was use Constant Contact. We bought Constant Contact, we did research with Constant Contact, I was a Constant Contact user for four years. Fortunately and maybe unfortunately for the non-profit, I enjoyed using the product so much that I inquired about jobs and I got hired seven years ago at Constant Contact. My journey there, oh boy, is literally a journey.
I primarily do public speaking and […] for Constant Contact and that’s led me across the country to now 47 states. In the seven years, I’ve taught over 12,000, 13,000 small businesses and nonprofits in person face-to-face. It’s been just exhilarating to help all of these organizations grow around email marketing and social media marketing too, at a lesser extent. Now, my job fortunately for my family, is to sit behind the mic most of the time at my sunny Florida home.
As far as Constant Contact, if you’re unfamiliar with Constant Contact, Constant Contact is a tool that helps you get your brand, your products, what you do and offer out in a professional format through marketing. But the real power of Constant Contact is one, is deliverability. A lot of small businesses, medium-sized businesses, and nonprofits, if they don’t use a bulk email marketing tool like Constant Contact, they may use Outlook or Gmail, tools like that. Unfortunately, the federal law says that you cannot do that, that you have to give people the ability to unsubscribe to a marketing email. Of course, Gmail, Hotmail, Outlook, those kinds of tools don’t offer that.
That’s the first thing Constant Contact offers, it’s just flat out the ability to have people unsubscribe. But the real value of a tool like Constant Contact is in the reporting. Knowing what emails people open and much more importantly, knowing what links they click on is really important, especially in today’s age. We’ll get into that I’m sure a little bit later, Eric. Knowing what people click on informs you into what they’re interested in and you can actually take that information, drill down, and do targeted marketing based on that information.
Eric: That’s good. I think the coolest part of what you just said was the fact that you helped over was it 12,000 or…? Yeah, I can’t imagine the good, bad, and the ugly. I think the beauty of that is, I knew you were the right person to come on this show because I’m sure you’ve gleaned so much from just observing what people are doing, what’s right and what’s wrong, what’s working and what’s not working, and I can’t wait to share that with our audience.
Where I want to start, Matthew, if we could is, where in the world is the state of email marketing today? Again, I feel one of the most tried and true, it brags, it still has the highest ROI when it comes to marketing efforts. It’s sort of like the holy grail of marketing. I think people, hopefully, if they don’t believe that, they should believe it because I, personally, think it’s the truth. But where we at today, Matthew? What has changed? How is the landscape changes? What was five years ago? What is now? Help our listeners understand what the email landscape looks like right now.
Matthew: There’s a little meat there to unpack. First, let me just start with why that ROI is so big. I think, if I can call it like it is, I have a general feeling, especially having been out in the field that email marketing may have—for lack of a better word—less sex appeal than social media and other kinds of marketing. I think when people think about email marketing, maybe they roll their eyes a little bit. But the reality is email marketing is different than other kinds of marketing in the email addresses themselves.
We think about it from a business perspective, a non-profit perspective, anybody that gives you their email address in the course of their doing business with you—that may be a purchase, that may be a phone call, that maybe just at a trade show where you’re trading cards—they’re giving you their email address, well, they’re showing you an interest in your business. They know the organization. They’re somewhat sold on the concept. They know what you do and they’re interested in perhaps doing business with you. Sometimes, that may be more overt. People actually do business with you.
Regardless, it’s not cold-calling in a sense of people are just getting marketing that they don’t want. They want the marketing and so each email address that an organization collects has this potential value stored up within it. In fact, I always encourage folks to actually quantify the value of their list by multiplying the size of their list times the price plan of the average thing they sell, do, offer, etc. What you’ll arrive at is a dollar figure.
Now, will everybody on that list convert? No, of course they won’t. But it’s important to have respect for the fact that these people are already somewhat sold or have been sold on what you do, so that you understand the best practices are really important to pull the full value out of that list. If we flip that over and we think, “Okay, these people know us, they know that they’re going to get email marketing from us.” It’s not a big surprise that the ROI is so good for email marketing because they are already either sold or they, at least like I said, have been sold on the concept.
The second piece, as far as the State of the Union, if you will, and this falls into my experience with so many meetings, so many small businesses and nonprofits, first of all, I met them in eight-hour courses. I got to really learn about each individual small business and medium-sized business that I met. The big change over the last seven years and especially accelerating over the last three to four years, is mobile readership.
That shouldn’t be a big surprise to your listeners. I’ll be willing to bet that they may be listening to this podcast on their smartphone, they’re certainly checking email on their smartphone, and if we think about it, there are so many popular apps out there. There’s always the latest and greatest game app or functionality app. But the one app most people don’t even think of as an app is email, and yet that’s probably the most used app on your phone is email because that’s where we’re doing business. We’re constantly checking that email app and yet no one actually thinks about it that way.
The penetration with mobile readership has now crossed the 50% mark. On average, 51% of a typical business or non-profit’s emails are going to be opened on a mobile device. The big C change is time. When I first started in this industry, the average time somebody spends on an email was somewhere north of 30-45 seconds. Thanks to mobile readership, that can be as low as five seconds.
Designing an email that can make an impression, have a strong call-to-action, get people to go to the website within a five-second window of time, requires somebody to really think carefully about how succinct their email is. You really want people to understand the concept, know what the value is, and do something really quickly because as soon as they click, the value changes, the time changes.
Now, because they make a commitment, because they clicked on a link in the email, you’re not buying more time because they made a mental commitment to learn more. I always tell small business, medium-sized business, think of an email not as a message. It’s not a form of communication as far as email marketing goes. It’s an advertisement for the message. It’s almost like a billboard. You want people to see the information, act on it—if we’re thinking of the billboard analogy, pull off the highway in the off-ramp—and go to the website to learn more.
On the website, you’re more likely to convert them. It doesn’t have to be a website if you don’t have a website. It can be a blog or social media, but we want them to go somewhere else, watch a video. We want them to go somewhere else because we’re going to spend more time with them and we’re going to more likely to convert them.
If I could wrap the whole State of the Union and distill it into that one thing, think about mobile readership first. If you design for mobile readership, you’re going to reach your PC/Mac readers. But if you design for PC/Mac first—and when I say that, long-form content, really lengthy, complex content—you’ll probably going to lose the mobile readership and likely, thanks to behavior, you’ll probably lose those PC/Mac readers.
Now one thing I want to get clear, just in case anybody is confused, is Constant Contact is mobile-responsive. Meaning that no matter what you do, the email will render well on a PC, Mac, or a mobile device. But if you really have lengthy text and it’s PC/Mac version, it’s going to get even longer when it stacks on top of each other on a mobile device. So, very long answer to a short question there, Eric, but it’s really important.
Eric: No. Some really good points there, but what I want all our listeners to remember, “Do not underestimate the sex appeal of email marketing.”
Matthew: Well, I think it’s really sexy. That whole idea of every contact matters, that every contact can produce real money for your business or for your nonprofit, is pretty key. Each person, because they show that interest, could produce revenue. We don’t do email marketing, we’re certainly not going to get revenue out of them, but if we don’t follow best practices, we likely won’t either.
Eric: I think something that our CEO Garrett Moon likes to say is, “It’s one of the last channels that you have as marketers, where you’re not dictated reaching your audience by a third party or an algorithm like you have with social. That’s why your email list and email marketing needs to be done so well and such good focus on there.”
Let’s get a little bit more granular with this, Matthew. Let’s start thinking about maybe even the faces of email starting with design. Do you use images? Do you do video? Do you do HTML versus text? Does it depend if you’re talking to B2C versus B2B? I feel as an email marketer, there’s a lot of options we have. At CoSchedule, we do a lot more text versus HTML-based stuff. Obviously, there are certain browsers that will render images and then there are certain ones that will show video. What are the trends? Maybe that’s where to start. I’m sure there’s some uniquenesses, depending on who you are and to who you’re talking to, but what are the trends telling us, I guess?
Matthew: Well, first of all, it’s really tricky for me in a format like this with a podcast to share data with folks because I can only share best practices. The tricky part with marketing in general, especially with email marketing, is the more targeted you can get and certainly, the more testing you do, the better your responses. Each of you listening today are different, and your organizations are different, and your customers and your subscribers and your community is different. For me to share generalities, I do feel a little worried about that because all of you are different. I can only talk high level, of course. But when it comes to content, there’s two frames of thought: HTML versus plain text. HTML would be feature-rich, meaning that there’s images, sometimes there’s video, it’s a little more eye-catching, and then plain text is literally just text.
Constant Contact’s take on it is if you’re stuck and you really don’t know which direction to go, go HTML. HTML generally will cause a higher response. For instance, according to an organization Content Lead, 82% of audiences will react more. Meaning, they’ll click more, they’ll actually respond more to emails with images. Something like video according to Wistia, video will get a 300% higher click-through rate than just an image or a hyperlink.
That falls into what we talked about at the very beginning, Eric, which is time. An image, the old saying goes and it’s so true with email marketing, “An image speaks a thousand words.” Well, if you have a limited window of time in front of your audience, that image becomes really key in conveying your message. A video speaks a thousand images. It’s not a big surprise that we at Constant Contact the emails that have content, HTML, get higher responses. That said, like I said, each audience is different, each organization is different.
Plain text is also been proven to get a higher response if the organization’s concept fits that model. I think your CEO, I think you said is a big believer in plain text, it’s not a big surprise because of whom you’re speaking to. We’ll go back to maybe a retail, or maybe even a B2B, if I don’t have a relationship that is in the frame of communicating deep content and complex concepts—the relationship we’ll use, we’ll use you, for example—the relationship you have there with your subscribers is probably deeper. They’ll probably relying on you for education more than mom and pop bakery.
Because each organization is different, I would encourage the audience, or if you’re going to undertake email marketing or if you are currently undertaking email marketing, test it. You can actually create two versions of your email; one that’s plain text, just informing your audience what the content is, and one with HTML, maybe cut your list in half and see if the response is different. I encourage them to test any kind of concept that way, especially if you’re on the fence and whether you should go HTML, that means with pictures and buttons and content like that, or plain text with just words and hyperlinks. Test it and see how your audience responds.
The last thing I’ll say is that, those that lean towards more on plain text, the problem with HTML is that people get a little too happy with it. The problem is, while a picture speaks a thousand words, if I put 18 pictures in my email, you’re overwhelming your audience in that short frame of time. Our research finds that emails that are succinct, three images or less not including your logo, about 20-25 lines of text, basically a paragraph, no more than three calls-to-action, tend to get a higher response than plain text and certainly, get a higher response than HTML emails with way more than that. Generally, when we look at performance, HTML can beat plain text if a succinct design is brought into play.
Eric: We’ll get back to our conversation with Matthew in just a couple of seconds. Before I do so, I’ve got two quick favors to ask of you. One, if you love this podcast, please give us a rating and review on iTunes. Take a little snapshot of that and email that to me at email@example.com. I’ve been saying this for weeks, but you know what? I’m going to hook you up with a very cool swag pack. Hope you do so. Secondly, if you are considering an email marketing platform or switching to one, may I highly recommend our friends at Constant Contact. They’ve been doing this for over 20 years. They’ll definitely committed to help you succeed and they know their stuff, as you can tell from listening to Matthew, and you can try it for free. Just go to coshedule.constantcontact.com. All right. Back to our conversation with Matthew.
When you do that, I think if we talk about HTML, you’re going to build some of that design in there, you have to worry about—you put all this energy and effort—what’s it going to look like once it hits the inbox? At least in my past history, sometimes what you think is going to look doesn’t always render the way it is. Probably it varies on every single email service provider that there is out there. Do you recommend something like a Litmus that will not only show you what it’s supposed to look like in mobile, but it will show you what it looks like on a desktop, whether they’re using on Outlook or they’re using Gmail, heaven forbid they’re still using a Yahoo, or whatever it is, whatever they might be using. What are your relative recommendation there if they decide to go with the HTML route?
Matthew: Sure. First of all, Constant Contact’s really basic. We take a step back. Constant Contact will give you a preview in both mobile and PC/tablet/Mac. But we also have an integration with Litmus where you can, if you decide to go up a level and what you pay Constant Contact, we’ll give you an integration with Litmus so you can actually see it in Constant Contact. Just in case anybody’s not familiar, Eric you actually said it really well, but Litmus will show you a preview across a wide variety of specific email clients and specific kinds of phones because they can change device, device, device.
That said, Constant Contact, as long as you are using our newest version—I don’t know who’s out there—but if you’ve been using Constant Contact for years, Constant Contact as software companies will do, iterate it into what we call a version three. If you are a small business or medium-sized business or non-profit who copies last week’s email to produce this week’s email, you may be continuously copying yourself into our older iteration.
The older iteration, because it was written back around 2009, will not sometimes render the way you wanted to. Now, if you use our newest version and you can certainly call Constant Contact if you’re confused—and again this is only for folks that have been using us of years—if you’re confused, you can call us and we tell you which version you’re in. All you have to do to get into the newer version is just create a brand new email and you’ll be on the new version. The new version renders really well across platforms.
Now, as far as Litmus, if you are using another company, which is fine, another email provider, that’s fine, or if you don’t want to upgrade in Constant Contact, you can purchase Litmus on your own. It’s really beautiful. It actually syncs with Constant Contact. I would just say, coming back to your original question, it’s a matter of how big your budget is. Litmus is a beautiful tool and I’ll go ahead and be transparent here, I use Litmus for marketing that I do. But that said, it comes at a pretty decent price point. If you add that on top of the other things you might be using and doing, it’s something to be conscious of especially for a small business or small non-profit.
Eric: Yeah, that’s a good point. Good feedback there. When we’re crafting our emails, we put all this effort into design, I think. One thing that maybe you touched on briefly is knowing your audience and knowing what content your audience is going to find valuable. I think that leads me to where email marketing really, really sings is when we’re being smart, when we’re segmenting, when we’re targeting, when we’re personalizing, at least that’s how we do things here. Can you respond to that, Matthew? I mean, has Constant Contact seen the difference in maybe click-through rates or even open rates or etc when you really are focusing your content the right way?
Matthew: I seem to always answer in long-form to simple questions. I’m sorry.
Eric: That’s all right.
Matthew: I’m going to have to do that again here because one reason we iterated into version three is to build upon three pillars of marketing concepts and our tool is now delivering that. Those three pillars are where the whole market is moving and that includes social media, web marketing, etc. Those three pillars are segmentation, personalization, and automation.
Automation kind of overlaps both. With segmentation, in case you don’t know what segmentation is anybody that’s listening, it’s taking a large list and breaking it up into smaller parts based on similar criteria. Now, that could be product affinity, that could be zip code, that could be gender, income level, whatever would make sense for your organization. The second pillar, which is personalization, is literally putting somebody’s personal information, and by that I mean their first name, their job title, their company name, something like that, within the email. The last piece is automating all of this, so basically setting the criteria of, “Oh when somebody shows an interest in X, I will deliver them Y automatically.” Our tool delivers on all of those fronts.
Now with segmentation, the first tricky thing for the average business, the average non-profit is the kind of feedback I often get is people will say, “I don’t know anything about my subscribers. I never thought to ask.” Well, I know, Eric, you had shared with me, you talked about list building. The first thing you can do as an organization is ask; ask online, ask in social media, ask in person, get the data you think you’ll need when you’re getting their email address. If we already have people on the list, then one thing you can do is, if you have been using Constant Contact or have been doing email marketing, look at your data. Look at what you sent versus what they clicked on and segment that way.
I’ll use that mom and pop bakery again, if I have three different pastries, then looking at what pastry—our three different pastries in a particular email—looking at which pastries people clicked on, I now know who’s more interested in donuts and who’s more interested in freshly baked bread. Segment that way.
The last piece within just getting your data in order is purposefully putting links in to ask that question. Strategically putting in, either subvertly or overtly, content to give you information about the subscribers. You could do it really quietly and have just those couple of different products and monitor what people click on or you can be really overt and say, “Hey, we’re trying to do a better job getting your information. Click here if you live in this zip code, click here if you live in this zip code, click here if you live in this zip code.” Constant Contact of course tracks who clicks what and you can easily migrate those people automatically into a newer existing list for targeted marketing later.
Segmentation also comes in Constant Contact via reporting. Constant Contact will report to you who clicked on what link over a given amount of time, or who open emails over a given amount of time, or who from which list clicked on a particular link over a given amount of time. We can also tell you who didn’t open an email, who didn’t click on links. Constant Contact will report the data, will pull it all together for you if you make segmentation decisions that way.
The last piece is automation, which is just automating all of this. Automating based on when somebody joins a list and tells you they’re interested in this particular product or this particular feature. You can automatically create or you can automatically send a series of emails about that particular subject matter. As we move into 2019, we’re going to double, triple down on some of those offerings and to really try to move the market towards that idea of, to get a response, your email must be relevant to your audience. To really pull the value out of the list, that content must be perceived as relevant.
I promised you this is going to be a long answer. The problem is that when I meet so many small businesses and non-profits and medium-sized businesses is that a lot of people worry about unsubscribes. That’s a decent worry. I understand that. But the reality is most people don’t unsubscribe. They just stop paying attention.
I’ll be willing to bet in your listener’s inbox right now and even in your inbox right now, Eric, there are emails from organizations that you have bought from, that you have donated to, that events you’ve attended. You have shown some interest or maybe even pulled out your credit card with these organizations, but you stopped paying attention.
The reason you stopped paying attention, the reason those emails became white noise in your inbox, is because they sent you, at some point, an email that was irrelevant to you. At some point, you opened the email and it was like, “Nope. Not today, Ford. I don’t need a car today,” and you stopped paying attention to it.
That’s the real danger is that when you fall out of mind when you’re not top of mind, when that need occurs, they’ve already forgotten you. They’re not even thinking about you. That email comes in and people just zip right past it. It’s really important for everybody, if there’s one huge takeaway today beyond just building a mobile-responsive and mobile-friendly email, it’s making sure your content within that email is relevant, it is relevant as possible, and the number one way to make an email relevant is to segment and target.
Eric: Awesome. It was lengthy, but it a great answer, Matthew. There’s a lot to absorb, a lot to think about with email marketing and I can not talk about subject lines. We know the importance and crafted this beautiful, you’ve segmented, but you got to find a way to hook them. You said you got five seconds but before you even have five seconds, you got to get them in with the subject line and this is extremely passionate for us at CoSchedule.
We’ve created the email subject line tester here at CoSchedule. It’s a free tool that we have for anyone as well if you are a CoSchedule user. It’s built into the product as well. We’ve looked at all of the studies, we’ve done tons of research to figure out, “What are these subject lines that are grabbing attention and getting those opens and getting those click-throughs?” It’s really full, you can score your subject line. If you haven’t checked it out, I recommend you do so. I don’t promote a lot of our stuff on the podcast, usually, but I think this is such a cool tool that we’ve built. I know Matthew must have some thoughts as well on subject lines. Are there any quick tips that you can give our listeners when you’re developing those as well?
Matthew: Absolutely. First of all, I think when it comes to the AB split test, you should talk about it. You should be proud of it because having worked with so many organizations, subject line is the one thing that generally, just befuddles everybody. I understand, having been in their seat building emails. When the time comes to write that subject line, all my creativity zap and I am just out of ideas. You should applaud yourself. That’s a great feature to offer and I encourage everybody to try it if you’re using CoSchedule.
Coming back to your question, the first thing I’d suggest to everybody is what you touched on there for a second, Eric. You’ve got a split second. I mean, no matter what content is in the email, if they don’t open the email it’s all for naught and of course, you’re not pulling the value out of your list in that situation. Thinking about yourself, decline is critical. But the reality is, most organizations are worried about the wrong thing to a certain extent. It’s the from name that drives the majority of your opens.
If you think about the inbox, if people are zipping through their inbox, they’re likely not reading subject line to subject line to subject line. They’re first looking at who sent it. If we put that in a working concept or wrap that into your life at your office—even if you are an entrepreneur you probably worked in an office at some point—you’re looking at which coworker, which boss who sent you the email and based on that person, you’re deciding, “Oh, this came from the CEO. I better open it. Oh, this came from one of my vendors. I can wait.”
Eric: Yeah, guilty of that big time.
Matthew: Everybody is. You only have so much time in your day. You’re first making decisions on that and the best practices around from name, it honestly comes to a difference between your organization type. Generally, the best practice from the from name, and what I mean by the from name is who is sending the email. Generally, the best practice is to have the email come from the brand. Most people probably know the brand more than the functionary that’s building the email, unless you are the brand. I’m speaking specifically to entrepreneurs, owner, operators, doctors, lawyers, people of that nature, they are the brand to their constituency, then the email should come from you.
Now, the old-school thinking was that an email coming from a person can get higher opens and the reality is it can. You build a relationship with people, we’re all human beings, all buying is relationship-based and emotional-based so it makes sense. The problem is is that if you have an email come from a person and that person isn’t the brand, if they happen to leave your organization, they can take brand equity with them. You have to be careful at who you invest in as the brand.
If you’re the CEO, odds are especially if you’re the entrepreneur or the owner/operator, you are the brand. You go, there’s no brand. If you’re a consultant, if you’re a doctor or a lawyer or et cetera, you are the brand. You leave there, there’s no brand. But generally, and especially anybody that’s on the fence on this particular thread that I’m on, it’s probably best to go with your company name or your organization name. That’s probably the more familiar name. Those of you that have an acronym, make sure that acronym is commonly understood by your audience.
That now leads to the subject line. With subject line, if you couldn’t tell already what my answer be, it’s test, test, test. If there’s one issue that I consistently see with subject lines is people fall into, I’m going to use the word, bad habits. It’s not a really bad habit. It’s just that they get creatively burnt out and they keep using either the same subject line week after week, month after month, or some slight variant of it, without ever questioning whether that is the right subject line model for their audience.
I encourage everybody to test their assumptions and consistently test their assumptions. You can’t use a better tool to test assumptions than something like CoSchedule’s Split Tester because you put in that same tried and true subject line you might always use or that model you always use and then put in something really different. That something really different might include emojis. Constant Contact supports emojis. We have an emoji picker right in our subject lines. Or personalize it. Personalization of your subject line can increase the response, sometimes up to 30% higher opens. Constant Contact, we’ll give you the ability to put personalization right from the subject line field. Or maybe write a subject line as a question. Use numbers to start off your subject line like ‘three tips’ or ‘seven ways.’ You could use some creativity like using a familiar song title, a famous political quote, a famous movie title. Something like that that would be recognizable to your audience.
The real thing you want to think about when you’re writing your subject line again, is to test your assumptions, and realize that the subject line is really meant not just to inform people but more to grab their attention. You’re zipping through your inbox within milliseconds something that looks a little different or that familiar in a sense like a pop culture reference, is going to get more eyeballs than it likely get more opens. But of course, if they don’t recognize the from name, they’re not even going to notice that.
Eric: That’s fantastic advice. I love it. I love that. Sometimes when we have these conversations and we’ll dive deep within a podcast, we’ll talk about maybe one marketing avenue—today, it’s email marketing—I think what we need to understand as marketers is really whether it’s a campaign we’re working on, or it’s an event we’re about to promote, or our product feature, or a new cake you’re releasing, whatever you’re business does, is that often these marketing efforts are orchestrated, and I think email is one of those things. Maybe you’re doing a billboard, maybe you’re doing some new content on your blog post. An email often is a component of that and I think making sure email can be orchestrated with your other marketing efforts is extremely important.
That’s why one of the things that we’ve done at CoSchedule is just in the past two months, three months, we announced some email integrations. Obviously, constant contact is one of those. That way, you as a marketer, you can see all the content that you’re creating, all the efforts you’re doing on and boom, email marketing is right there.
Matthew, is there any expertise or advice that how you should work in email with the rest of your campaigns, if you found out, is it driving them to a landing page? Really, you’re teasing them to the next step, which is typically any page. Maybe thinking too what that call-to-action is. Any final thoughts on that?
Matthew: Yeah, sure. First of all, my goodness I wish I had CoSchedule back when I was sitting behind the desk doing marketing. I think people are surprised because I work for an email marketing company, that I don’t suggest email marketing be the only marketing you do. Social certainly has a significant place in your web-based marketing, blogs–it all really works together. I’m a big advocate for sharing and I’m going to use the word story, not necessarily a story like a book story, but sharing the story of what it is you’re doing, sharing at the cross-platforms.
For instance, we’ll just use the context of what we’ve been talking about. I might talk about a particular best practice in email marketing and lead people to social to read more, or lead people to a video that I have on YouTube to learn more. On that video, I might suggest people join me on my blog to learn more about this particular subject matter, or to join my mailing list to learn more. In my social, I might talk about a subject matter and lead people to my website. Now, my website of course, I can lead them to social or email, kind of sharing bits and pieces of related content around that story is going to broaden the audience that’s receiving it.
Odds are, not everybody on your list is on your social, not everybody on your social is in your email, not everybody in your email is watching your video or visiting your site or reading your blog. Sharing pieces around makes sure you hit as many different kinds of people as possible and because not everybody, let’s say on your list is following social, well, it’s a really smart thing to drive them to social.
It’s funny because so many small businesses never think if they’re going to put a link in their email—and remember, links really key because we track that link; we tell you who clicked on it, telling you more information about your subscribers—they always think they must lead the link to their website. Occasionally, link to an article you wrote on Facebook, or link to your Twitter account, where people can have a conversation. You want to link that way occasionally, one, to increase your followers, but two, to get more interaction on that social media platform. It just increases your credibility. Kind of having a cohesive story is really a very smart way to do your marketing.
If I can come back to my fantasy of having a tool like CoSchedule when I was doing marketing for the non-profit and for the paper, it would have simplified my life because it’s crazy how fast technology has changed. I used to have to have three, four windows open or maybe a couple of browsers, and I was writing things down and using Excel to track all my various initiatives. Given that I was at the non-profit, one staffer of two, that was a real pain to have that complex storytelling component. The idea of having all of your marketing and all of your projects in one place is brilliant.
Eric: Well, thank you. That was an unpaid recommendation for CoSchedule. I appreciate that, Matthew.
Matthew: Everybody, that’s from the heart. I lost so much time. I’ll give you a quick story on that. When it comes to calendarizing—I think I may be making up a word—your business life, it can be easy to get lost in the weeds. When I was working for the non-profit, I came up with a great campaign, it was going to be the launch for an initiative, I was going to do at across different platforms and across different vehicles in marketing.
I launched it without realizing that there was a holiday really significant to my audience right in the middle of it. Had I just been able to take a step back and look at the big picture, I probably would have avoided that or had made haywood, that I may have even used that holiday in part of my marketing.
Instead, I saw a decrease in behavior because people weren’t paying attention. It’s really important to have that big picture. Anybody that’s listening, Eric hit the nail on the head. We’re not getting paid for promoting CoSchedule. It’s really a smart thing to do to be thinking big picture and don’t get lost in the weeds.
Eric: Great advice. I wish we could go for another 30 minutes, but there’s so many great rabbit holes to run down when it comes to email marketing. I thank you so much, Matthew, for coming on the show. This has been fantastic. I think again, it’s good to revisit these marketing channels and email marketing. Thank you for letting us know what things have changed, what things to focus on. I think all of us is a good reminder for it. I know you’ve got an air conditioning unit that needs to get fixed. It’s probably getting hot in there at the heat of the day, but thank you so much, Matthew, for your time. You’ve been a great guest.
Matthew: Oh, thank you. I would encourage anybody that’s interested in trying a free trial of Constant Contact, if you haven’t used it, or haven’t been using in a while, you can visit coschedule.constantcontact.com. Give it a try.
The last thing I’ll say is, I’m sorry I’ve eaten so much of your time. I love talking and training for a living. Constant Contact, what we’re most well-known for is our education support. Marketing is too important to do without some knowledge, and I’m so happy to share that knowledge with everybody today.
Eric: We definitely felt it, heard it, you’re a fantastic resource. If you’re listening, check out Constant Contact. I’ve got tons of great information on email marketing as well. And hey, we integrate. Yahoo!
All right, thank you so much, Matthew. Have a great, great afternoon.
Matthew: Thanks a lot, everybody. Thanks, Eric.