8 Questions You Should Be Asking About Your Email Subscribers
I stopped in a small, local antique shop the other day. When the owner held out a spiral bound notebook & asked if I would like to write down my name & email address so I can be notified of a coming sale. How many “forms” like this one had I filled out online in the secure a discount, past month, let alone year, to get news, learn more about a product? Yet the simple gesture stopped me in my tracks because it was so rare — a face-to-face interaction between an email marketer & a subscriber.
Marketing automation software has changed the game& worked wonders on our ability to stay in touch with a global customer depend on ways that are more timely, engaging, and consistent than ever before.
Yet it is also made it easy for us to begin thinking of our subscribers more as data merge fields than as real people.
Email marketing has changed the conversations
When we have a B2C encounter face-to-face, it is simple to get a conversation going. Before I was handed that notebook, the owner had asked me how I’d heard about the store, if I would be there before, and what I was looking for. It was easy & pleasant to answer the questions as I browsed.
But email is different. While few people could straight up ignore questions being asked of them in person, try sending audiences a survey with same inquiries & you might expect anywhere between a 5 – 15 % response rate — not exactly a great representation of your group.
Furthermore, consciously/not, people have a tendency to lie on surveys. Reacting to false that feedback can send marketers down an entirely wrong path.
Data bridge the gap
But beyond speed & scope, email automation has another advantage over in-person interactions — data. Data tells the story that people cannot or will not tell themselves. It tells us who our subscribers are, what they need, and how we could serve them. However before you could get those answers, you have to ask the right questions. Here are 8 questions you should be asking about your email subscribers & answering with data.
- What’re their names?
It’s much easier to get someone to fill out a single email field than it’s to ask for more information. Yet it is worthwhile to test asking for at least a first name at sign-up. Personalized emails draw the eye & deliver six-times higher transaction rates.
- Do they know what they signed up for?
It could be tempting to use a contest or other workaround to gather subscribers. But more than likely, you will see massive disengagement once you start to send emails. Worse yet, if your subscribers do not understand what they signed up for, they may flag you as spam hurting your plans overall. No matter how you sign up subscribers, send an auto-responder immediately afterward. This gives unwitting sign-ups the opportunity to opt out & begins to build a strong relationship with people who want to be there.
- Where did they find me?
Speaking of getting subscribers onto your list, it is critical that you understand the path your subscribers took to get to you — not just the page of your site they signed up on. How did they get to the page? Was it an organic search, a referral link, social media? What pages did they click on before signing up? Following your users’ paths could help you answer the next question …
- What is their problem?
Most consumers do not come to product site looking to make a purchase, they come looking for a method. The distinction is important because the former assumes that consumers want what you are selling while the latter defines that they should be convinced. Mapping your subscribers’ journey to your sign-up page as well as closely monitoring the engagement behaviors will help you understand what challenges they have so you could convince them your product/service is the solution.
- Where’re they reading your email?
By the end of next year, 81% of email users are expected to access their accounts on mobile. These numbers could vary based on who your audience is and when they’re opening your emails so it is important to check your data, optimize for all screens, test for a variety of devices before sending.
- When are they reading your email?
You could do a Google search turning up any number of data points about the best days & times to send an email. But the truth is, the time to send email is when your subscribers are reading it. If your subscribers tend to be in the same industry/geographic area, there may be times that are uniquely suited to their needs.
Teachers, for instance, may check email very early in the morning before students arrive then not again tills later in the day. Office workers may be bombarded with a full inbox on Mondays, and emails sent on that day could get lost. Testing is key. Think about your audiences then test different days & times to see what works.
- Can they see my email?
If you are not asking this question, you might be spending hours designing a beautiful HTML email that few people could see. Check your HTML emails for accessibility by adding alt text to your images & using both button & text links. Mix styles up on occasion — while most subscribers report that they choose HTML emails, plain text actually gets higher open rates.
Clean your lists. If a group of subscribers on your list is repeatedly unresponsive, continuing to email them can cause some email providers to start marking your emails as spam for all subscribers. Regularly check who is not opening & segment that group of your main list into a reengagement list.
- What would they do if I …
This is the most important question you could ask about your email subscribers, and it is the one that data answers best. Testing — different segments, subject lines, frequency, send date, content, and so on — is the key to any successful long-term email strategy. So do not be afraid to ask those big what ifs, take a chance, then let the data tell the story.