Last week, I bought some flowers. In the process I signed up to the company’s email newsletter. From here things went awry.

I’m not sure how many birthdays, anniversaries, mother’s days they thought I was preparing for, but every day for the next month I received more flower ideas. And more ideas.

While unsubscribing, I thought about how mastering this core aspect of content marketing is so tricky – that fine line between being informative and annoying.

So here are four quick tips to avoid the ‘unsubscribe’.

  1. Keep it simple

Emails containing 75-100 words elicit the best response rate.

When the productivity app Boomerang mined their own data, they found that writing emails between 50-125 words garnered response rates above 50%. Get any longer, and things start to drop. By the time you reach 500 words, the response rates have lowered significantly.

But the message here isn’t ‘No long content’. Rather, try not to dilute your key message. You need to have a clear idea of what you want to achieve from your email – and stick with it.

There was a time when companies sent out monthly newsletters packed full of content. Those days are gone. People don’t have time to scroll through which of the 10 articles interests them. They want a single idea – one article, one promo mailer, one infographic.

How to keep emails focused

To be clear, long content is fine, especially if it’s insightful. But don’t fill an email with it.

As an example, if you have an interesting article, email the catchy headline then link through to your blog. It’s win-win. People read your content and you’ve guided them to your website.

  1. Create a content mix

Only two fifths of marketers send welcome emails.

Among many things, this stat from the Content Marketing Institute shows the need to diversify your emails. You can’t just send endless promo mailers. If that is all you do, you’re effectively spamming.

Mix it up. Starting with a welcome email, then switch between promotional and informative. In my experience the right balance sees the majority coming from the informative angle.

How to mix up email content

There are so many options. Think promos, new product notices, competitions, discounts, samples, and loyalty programmes. Consider tips and tricks, videos, and infographics.

Planning is the challenge. One simple solution is to think about the time of year when the promotional emails will have the most impact, then work the informative content around that.

  1. Send emails weekly

47% of companies contact their subscribers 1-3 times a month.

This 2016 figure comes from the DMA and I would say the frequency is a little low. Sure, there is a balancing act. But it’s easy to become obsessed with scary statistics, such as 69% of people unsubscribe if they receive too many emails from businesses or non-profits.

You read that and you think you better not send too many. But people don’t mind receiving emails if they have something useful to say.

So really your email frequency is defined by your ability to create interesting, informative content. If that’s once a month, so be it. If it’s a couple of times a week, great.

How to get the frequency right

Weekly, informative emails are the overall aim. So if you don’t have time to create them, find an expert who does. There are plenty of excellent content marketing writers and designers out there who can build you a varied email marketing campaign.

It really is worth it. The DMA estimate a thirty-fold return on money spent on email marketing. 

  1. Don’t ignore your database

Email databases degrade by 20% or more each year.

As this research by HubSpot shows, ongoing list building is vital. But it’s also often ignored.

A company does a big push for emails, say via banner ads, then sits back. They forget that over time people unsubscribe or hit the spam button.

An email database is your owned audience. But it only has value if you constantly add relevant names to it. It doesn’t matter how frequent, how focused, or how varied your content is, if it’s not reaching your audience.

How to keep your email database up-to-date

Firstly, make sure your website has a pop-up form to collect emails. Some companies claim that up to 70% of their emails come from this form of data collection.

You can also gather names for your email list through digital ads, focus groups, exhibitions, and social media. Even simply having a sign-up form on the front desk works wonders for smaller businesses.

So, there you have it. Keep it simple, keep it varied, keep it frequent, and keep it updated.

Posted inContent Marketing Posted on
written by

Alex Ionides Managing Director, Silx