It can be quite easy to fall into the trap of looking for “best practice” and in the process trying to identify and avoid “typical mistakes”. However, at times, looking a little bit closer at those potential mistakes can be a good way to find hidden opportunities others might avoid, or at the very least, learn lessons without paying too much of a price.
The key is however to try to do these mistakes with curiosity, with a clear hypothesis. The aim is to learn how to better communicate with your target market, and potentially, identify new opportunities that might seem unthinkable if you were thinking strictly rational. Here we will try to present three of these hypothesis as potential experiments that you can do with your email marketing list.
“You get a higher response rate if you address your email list by name”
The common argument for this is that people are more likely to open an email, and to read it if you start the email with words like “Hi Sarah” or “Hi John”. The psychology behind it is that you are more likely to read and engage with content that appears to be addressed directly to you. However, is it ethical? And how does the list react long-term to this?
It might therefore be worth while to try to set up an experiment where half of your list is addressed personally and the other is not. Just make sure that every other element of the email is identical. Then, try to break the rules by writing an email that is entirely different than the personal one, making it clear that it is a group email, but still targeted to the person the email is going to. Then reflect on the results. Is it as obvious as many gurus like it to be?
“You get a higher response rate if you send a simple email!”
Many internet marketers believe that simple emails that look like they could have been written by a friend trying to be social work better than full on HTML emails that look the marketing part. A large part of this argument is based on the same premise as the previous point, you want to go below the barriers, and get potential customers to listen before they shut you down.
The argument against that might be simply that internet traffic is now going a lot faster than 10-20 years ago. Almost everyone is using broadband, and therefore the possibilities, and expectations are therefore higher. However, not everyone as equally savvy. So the question might be, is your readership hip, or lagging a little bit behind?
“You should only write your email list once a month to keep your list happy”
How often a list should be contacted is a very hot topic. The core of the argument is the fight between how often marketers want to make money, and how often customers want to be contacted. How do you solve that problem? For many companies it is simply solved with a monthly newsletter. Then most of the effort is put into making the newsletter as informative as possible. The argument is also that contacting your customers more often that than could be perceived as spam. Some testing indicated that this might be true.
However, is it necessarily true for you? The exact information demand that an audience feels varies a lot depending on the type of content you are providing, and which premises that your potential customers signed on. For instance, if you are providing advice in areas that are highly personal and urgent, providing a lot of timely fast information might be very appreciated. Your challenge here might be to first ask your audience how often they want to be contacted, and then test if they respond better when you try to follow their advice. (Notice, the final judge is always testing)
The above three hypotheses can be just the beginning for you if you really want to innovate your business. The core of it is to question “why” when something has to be done a certain way, then test if it is really so. You might find that the original way was better. If so you have tested theory to still be accurate. If you find something else, and few, if anyone else, of your competitors have discovered the same, you might have yourself an exclusive opportunity.