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Three Reasons Why That Email Campaign Fell Flat

The headline is fierce, the graphics eye catching and the copy just might rival Hemingway's distinctive clarity of style. The list has been finely honed and the campaign timed to coincide with that amazing event <fill in the blank.> But, WAH-WAH, cue the crickets. Bueller? Bueller?

There are few things more frustrating as a marketer than launching an email campaign that just falls flat. And not just a little flat, but a BIG flat – as in utter disaster. Average open rates can range anywhere from 17% to 25% (depending upon industry and company size) and click-through-rates (CTRs) hover at around 2.5%, so anytime you have numbers that don’t meet the mark, it’s time to ask why. It’s time for the dreaded analysis. Because you had an awesome list and a pretty good email (you think so anyway), so what the heck happened? What went wrong?

Listen, lots of things can go not-quite-right and not meet expectations. But we have found that it’s usually one of the following three reasons.

1. Timing – Did your email go out on Friday at 5pm? Are you sending that email right before a long weekend? Isn’t school starting this week? Is it end of the month for most of your prospect? You get the gist. While the work week is much more preferable than the weekend, most studies are showing that – in general - there isn’t a day preferable to another. But that’s in general. Take a good long look at your history and the peaks and valleys and map to that. In terms of time of day, 10AM (in your prospect’s time zone) seems to be the clear winner. Open rates go downhill fast after that.

2. Subject Line – Ok, so let’s say you did indeed send the email out right at 10am. But maybe it’s your subject line. Most people know to avoid words like "free" in their subject lines because they trigger spam filters. But don’t forget the more common words that are associated with sales, like “help,” “percent off,” or “reminder.” These words don’t always trigger a spam filter, but many subscribers will ignore them. Other winning tips: Keep your subject line to 50 characters or fewer and avoid ALL CAPS or exclamation marks. Subject lines framed as questions perform better, too.

3. Subject Line – Part Two. Emails tend to start with high open rates, but these decrease over time. Keep your content fresh, and don’t repeat the same subject line for each campaign. If subscribers can’t tell what’s in your email from the subject line, they probably won’t open your campaign.

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