That's why I jumped at the chance to interview someone who knows something about email marketing. Dan Zarrella is someone who I've followed for years. He works for HubSpot and he knows his stuff. He's a freaking scientist, for crying out loud.
We talked about email marketing misconceptions, mixed martial arts, and the upcoming Science of Email Marketing webinar Dan is leading next week.
Ready? Alright. Here we go:
Justin: Let's start out with an underhand softball pitch: What's the biggest misconception marketers have about email marketing?
Dan Zarrella: The biggest mis-use of email marketing is when marketers simply blast the same messages out to their whole lists on some arbitrary “newsletter” schedule.
Sure, regularity is great, but you're deciding when to send to your contacts based on what you want, what you need, not based on what they want. Email marketing needs to evolve beyond this with better segmentation, personalization and responsiveness.
JW: I see that you're getting into mixed martial arts. If you're up to the challenge, give us an analogy between training to be an MMA fighter and email marketing. Hit me with your best shot!
DZ: You've got to do your homework. Each opponent (or contact in your database) is a different challenge, and you'd be silly to treat them all the same, just fighting (or emailing) the way you want to. You need to tailor your approach to the specific needs and challenges of each situation.
JW: Harvard Business Review recently ran an article stating that some larger organizations send upwards of 300 emails per year to the subscribers on their lists. The thought being, the more we can “engage” the audience, the better the response rate. In your research, have you discovered any trends in the most effective volume of emails?
DZ: Yes, generally when I look at email frequency, I find that the data rests squarely on the side of “more email.” Yeah, I know it sounds weird, but response rates and unsubscribe rates are such that the more email you send to your contacts, the better.
Obviously that email needs to be relevant, targeted and wanted, but that all comes down to the points I made in the first two questions.
JW: Do any of the major email marketing providers (e.g. MailChimp, aWeber, Constant Contact, etc.) seem to have an edge over the other?
DZ: One of the reasons I'm re-presenting my Science of Email presentation is because HubSpot just launched our own email service, so I'd be remiss not to mention that. Aside from us, I personally use and love MailChimp.
JW: If you were to write a perfect subject line, for any business or organization, what would it be and why?
DZ: It would address the recipients most pressing pain point with a solution that only the sender could offer. I want my emails to be selling water in the desert to my readers.
JW: Lastly, I've adopted the Hubspot/Zarrella call-to-action premise: Provide one, simple, clear call to action at the near-end of the email, usually in larger font than the rest of the text. I use it because it works. Are there any other standard “tricks” you use in your emails that people might not be aware of?
DZ: Lots of links! It's kind of funny, but right before you send your email, highlight a few more phrases and link them up to your main call-to-action. I find, both in the data and in practice that doing this tends to drive up click through rates.
Anything else you want our readers to know?
I'm super excited to be presenting all new data in my Science of Email Marketing webinar on June 13th. Last year tens of thousands of people registered (and I bet some of them were your competition). Register now and forever change the way you do email marketing.