At the start of 2022 when everyone returned from their holiday breaks, I returned to work after 12 weeks of parental leave (thanks to ACM’s parental leave policy). When I switched on my computer for the first time in months, I was excited to get back to work, but less excited to wade through my email inbox. I know, I know, I work in digital communications, but it’s the truth, I was dreading opening and categorizing thousands of emails.
Here are my takeaways from this experience:
Email frequency and targeting
As I went through my inbox I sorted by the sender and I noticed that larger well-established organizations had sent me more than 50 emails in the time I had been gone, meaning they sent at least three to four emails a week. Now, the amount of emails you should be sending varies by organization for a variety of reasons, there isn’t a one size fits all recommendation on frequency — but a study from Benchmark Email suggests two-thirds of subscribers like to receive branded emails at least once a week. If you are barely sending one email a week or month, you may be leaving opportunities on the table.
I will say that organizations that inconsistently sent emails really stood out to me, and not in a good way. I was left wondering what happened to them and if they had shut their doors. Don’t leave your supporters hanging and wondering if you still exist — make sure to keep them updated on the great work you are doing! On the flip side, I couldn’t help but wonder why organizations were still sending emails to a subscriber who was not engaged for nearly three months. If you notice engagement dropping, take things like parental leave into consideration and try re-engagement tactics in a few months to reincorporate those who may have stepped away from their inbox.
Don’t recreate the wheel every email
You don’t need brand new asks for every email: it’s okay to repeat material. It’s highly likely that even if you’ve written about it several times, it’s the first time a large percentage of your readers have read about it — so don’t be afraid to repeat yourself. That doesn’t mean sending the same email over and over, but it does mean you can repackage material with a refreshed ask and added urgency to be able to resend multiple times.
Work hours aren’t the only send times
I noticed that the week preceding Christmas I only got emails from news organizations — which is great, I hope that means the organizations doing good work got a bit of a break to relax. However, if people are home they have more time to open your emails. You can schedule emails for evenings, weekends, and holidays — and you may get higher open rates since there is less competition at those times so your email may stand out more.
There are two things to remember when scheduling emails. First, ensure that you always have someone available to pause an email if there’s an emergency or other reason the email can no longer go out. Secondly, keep testing! Maybe Friday night at 8 PM works during the pandemic because people are home scrolling on their phone while they watch mindless TV, but wouldn’t work when they can go out to a happy hour or to the movies. Every list is different and every list has different times that will work best for them. Keep in mind that this can change so keep testing and adapting to find out what works for your list now and in the future.
I noticed a lot of organizations are starting their email subject lines with brackets. The brackets that really worked on me were [take action] and [BREAKING]. However, anything with “Sign” or “urgent” in the bracket didn’t seem to work on me, but that could be unique to me or I might not be the target audience for your organization. It’s important to find out what works for the folks you want to reach. I’m happy to see more organizations using brackets and branching out beyond [new post] and [free webinar]. It’s great to see folks keeping it fresh and trying new things to reach their audience. Not every tactic works for every organization, but the way you find out what works best for your audience is to keep experimenting and keep testing.
If you need help injecting new life into your email list, want to try out new things, but don’t have time to research and implement, or don’t know where to start let us help you. Book a free strategy call with our experts today to get started.