How to Re-engage Inactive Email Subscribers
There is an old maxim in marketing: It’s less expensive to generate business from existing customers than it is to land new ones.
This has certainly proven itself in education subscription businesses such as magazines and software licensing, where renewals are far more profitable than new subscribers. And if you know your acquisition cost per customer, reactivating dormant customers is likely to be more cost-effective than acquiring new ones.
- 60 percent of the subscribers on an average email list are inactive, or haven’t opened, clicked or engaged with emails in six or more months.
- The longer a subscriber has been on your list, the less responsive they become.
- 69 percent of email users unsubscribe from a list because they receive emails too frequently.
- More than half of all emails are opened on mobile devices. If your emails aren’t optimized for mobile, you’ll likely have a higher percentage of dormant subscribers.
Keep Your Email List Healthy
The first line of defense against email dormancy is to not lose subscribers’ interest in the first place. One way you can keep them engaged is by segmenting your list and tailoring information and offers to smaller groups or individuals. Delivering exactly the kind of information each subscriber is interested in can help ensure that your emails get opened and read. A regular review of response metrics will help you focus your messages on the information that matters most to different audience members.
Another smart strategy is to scrub your list periodically. List hygiene is important to the health of your business. It may seem counterproductive to reduce your list size, but there are benefits to doing so. No matter how much effort you make to engage subscribers, there will be those that never engage due to inactive email addresses or other circumstances. Removing these subscribers will help improve response rates and spam scores, demonstrating your compliance with the CAN-SPAM Act. Decreasing the size of your list or list segments also can help you reward your most loyal customers and prospects with tightly focused information or offers based on their unique needs.
If you do see engagement starting to fall, often the simplest request can reactivate a subscriber’s interest. Send a request to update their email information or preferences, or send a short survey to determine why they’ve stopped responding and what you can do to better serve them.
Some companies that sell directly to end-users have had good luck with “miss you” or “come back” messages. When you see that someone has been ignoring your messages, acknowledge it and offer an incentive to stay, such as a discount on a product or program.
Just be sure your messages aren’t purely promotional. Also be cautious about frequency. Almost two-thirds of email subscribers leave a list because they receive too many messages. Strike a balance. A good rule of thumb is to make your emails 90 percent informational and less than 10 percent promotional. Demonstrating that your purpose is to share helpful information with respected colleagues is important to building subscriber loyalty. Give your subscribers what they want when they want it, and they’ll reward you with lasting engagement.
10 Tips for Creating Eye-Catching Emails
Most companies use email to stay connected to their customers and prospects throughout the education marketing cycle. Some do it well; others don’t.
We all recognize the hallmarks of a “bad” email when we see them:
- Trying to communicate too many messages in a single email
- Focusing solely on self-promotion
- Using too many images
- Including too much text
- Not branding emails appropriately, thus creating an ambiguous sender
- Not optimizing messages for mobile viewing
What do all of these email “don’ts” have in common? Poor planning and design.
10 Email Template Design Tips
Good design is essential to email marketing success. When the reader opens your message, you want the email to capture their attention — in a good way. Once engaged, the design should guide readers to instinctively click through the call to action (CTA).
All major email clients and marketing automation software offer drag-and-drop email templates. No matter what program you use to design your templates, follow these best practices to ensure your emails stand out.
- Brand your email template. Make sure your company logo has a presence “above the fold.” Adopted from newspapers, this term refers to the first screen a reader sees before scrolling to read more.
- Use plenty of white space to help focus the reader on your core message.
- Place your CTA above the fold as well. If a reader has to scroll to find the CTA, this diminishes the response. Better yet, include two or three CTAs in each message that all lead to the same action.
- Keep your copy clear and concise. It should be immediately clear what the purpose of your outreach is whether readers choose to skim the email or read the entire message.
- Images are important to overall design, but plan for filters to block them out. Prepare for this by adding alt text that appears when an image isn’t available. Also be aware that too many images may trigger spam filters.
- More and more educators are keeping up with emails on their smartphones and tablets. Keep small screens in mind when designing, and make sure the template is responsive on mobile devices.
- Create your most important messages in HTML and text. This ensures that readers can see and understand your message even when filters block images out.
- Test email formats against one another to see which garners the most positive response. Then use that format consistently to create easily recognizable messages.
- Personalize your emails. You may be able to do this on a granular level through personalized URLs (PURLS) that customize messages with a reader’s name, geographic location, custom images and more. You also can add a personal touch simply through your choice of pronouns. Use “you” and “your” to seem as though you’re addressing the reader directly.
For more email marketing tips, download Agile's Email Marketing Best Practices guide.
ESSA Update: Staying Relevant and Competitive in a Changing Market – Part 2
This is the second installment of an article based on a webinar presented May 18, 2016 by Jenny House of RedRock Reports and Steven Rowley of Acumen Partners. Read Part 1, here. The new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) will have a profound impact on how federal education funds will be distributed. Its specific impact on federal Title funds is detailed below.
Title IV, Part A
One of the most important ESSA funding changes is the creation of a new Title fund: Title IV, Part A for Student Support and Academic Enrichment. Although the fund is new, the money itself isn’t. The federal government collapsed and consolidated 49 small programs to create this nearly $1.7 billion fund. Title IV, Part A is of particular importance to education vendors because there is flexibility in how these funds can be spent.
2016 Teacher Spending Survey
Agile and SheerID partnered again for our third-annual Teacher Spending Survey. Compiled from the responses of more than 500 PreK-12 teachers across the U.S., our 2016 survey gives education marketers an insightful look into teacher spending habits. The results are in: Teachers still have tremendous purchasing power. Marketers just need to know how to tap into it.
Teacher Spending Remains Stable
Our survey revealed that teachers spent an average of $487 out-of-pocket to purchase items for their classrooms during the 2015 – 2016 school year — only a slight $3 decrease since last year. The number of teachers who spent $200 or more increased 6% over the previous year to 77%. A majority of the money teachers spent went toward purchasing classroom supplies and instructional materials.
Email Marketing Earns Respect
When researching how to spend those personal dollars, teachers looked to a variety of resources. Email, however, has become a highly valued source for product and program information; 66% of respondents trust email communication for information about classroom-related items. It trails behind word-of-mouth only as teachers’ most-valued information source.
When it comes time to make purchases, digital channels also prevail. More educators made classroom purchases online than in actual stores, with most making those purchases on computers, followed by tablets and smartphones.
Discounts Lead to Loyalty
Marketers can use that valuable email platform to reach teachers in the education marketplace. Even during the summer months, 81% of teachers checked email at least weekly, with some even visiting their inboxes as frequently as every day.
Email also is a great way to offer exclusive teacher discounts, which educators appreciate. An overwhelming 84% of respondents said they are more loyal to brands that offer teacher discounts. But that discount must be worthwhile: 74% said discounts need to be 20% or more to be considered worthwhile.
Many thanks to our partner SheerID and to our respondents for making the 2016 Teacher Spending Survey another success.
ESSA Update: Staying Relevant and Competitive in a Changing Market – Part 1
This article is based on a webinar presented May 18, 2016 by Jenny House of RedRock Reports and Steven Rowley of Acumen Partners. In it they shared their insight on the likely impact of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), specifically regarding changes to federal school funding and the ramifications for education companies.
The implications of ESSA are still evolving due to the profound changes in accountability at the federal, state and local levels. Central to ESSA are massive changes in how funds will be allocated to districts. The federal government will transfer accountability and funding back to the states, essential removing themselves from funding and accountability roles.
With this shift, companies must begin to look to every state as each will be designing its own unique accountability program. Once those are established, districts will work collaboratively with states to determine spending and accountability plans.
Despite these changes, there is something that remains the same: The federal government will continue to be in charge of allocating funds that have been approved by Congress. However, now it will be up to each state to provide a plan for how that money will be spent. The state plans will be evaluated through a peer-review process, and the federal government will appropriate the money based on the quality of each plan.
It’s important to know that nothing is set in stone, and that the outlook is constantly shifting as details of the transition from No Child Left Behind (NCLB) to ESSA emerge. It is safe to describe the new federal role as “light guidance” as it helps states develop their tools.