10 episodes

Answering one email marketing question in three minutes or less.

Win the Inbox Podcas‪t‬ Phil Hollows

    • Marketing

Answering one email marketing question in three minutes or less.

    Win the Inbox: Subject Lines Dos and Don’ts Part 3

    Win the Inbox: Subject Lines Dos and Don’ts Part 3

    How to Write Better Subject Lines for Better Open Rates
    As I’ve mentioned before in other Win the Inbox episodes, maintaining open rates is essential. But what if your open rate is stuck? Even if you’re around or beating industry averages, which are 20% or so, you know there are some lists that are absolutely crushing those numbers. How do they do it?
    Welcome to the third episode of Win the Inbox’s “Subject Line Series” – a five part exploration of the dos and don’ts of improving your open rate by crafting compelling email marketing subject lines. This is the final episode on subject line “Dos” – in part four I’ll cover the flip side: subject line “Don’ts.”
    Everything I cover is available at FeedBlitz.com/WinTheInbox for you to read in the transcript.
    Hi, I’m Phil Hollows, CEO of email service provider FeedBlitz.com, and the host of “Win the Inbox” where I cover one email marketing question in three minutes or less.
    The key to getting your emails opened is hooking the reader, and then giving them every reason to read more.
    Do be direct.
    Use simple, imperative verbs. Tell the reader what you want them to do. You can even ask them to open the email, such as: “Expires Sunday: Open for the best deal of the year”
    Do use the word “free” if it’s true, and the core point of the message. Like using CAPS LOCKs and emojis, “Free” is not an automatic trip to the spam folder. It’s safe to use, albeit sparingly.
    Talking of free, this is a great time to remind you to not be all sales, all the time. Mix your mailings up with ones that are about something other than the next deal you’re pitching, else you’ll quickly induce subscriber fatigue and your open rates will fall.
    Do recognize that people are lazy and greedy.
    We want the quick fix, we want it now, and we don’t want to pay for it. Use that that less than noble side of human psychology to get your emails read.
    Do use humor and the absurd to draw the reader in.
    “5 customer service lessons my dog taught me you can use today” – well ok, that I’ll read! “We're on the edge of our seats!” is a fun shopping cart abandonment topic. Obviously, be careful about your tone, your audience and your timing. Humor has its risks.
    Do dare to compare.
    Can you help your reader beat the industry leader? The clock? The tax man? Someone younger, richer, or smarter? Find a comparison that resonates with your audience and build a subject line around it.
    Do use authority.
    For example, if you’re a New York Times bestseller – or even referencing one – use that as proof. Bear in mind, though, that a lot of spam email uses fake calls to authority in their subject lines and copy, so make sure you’re being relevant, truthful and accurate.
    Do use different approaches for different kinds of emails.
    Emails intended to generate sales should have short, focused subject lines. For a newsletter, or similar content marketing, where you’re working to build trust, authority and educate, you can afford longer subject lines.
    Say you’re following up with people who registered for a webcast, but didn’t show. Send the “sorry we missed you” email as soon as the webcast wraps up, and you can cross-reference the attendee list. For those who did attend, “Next steps” is a great way to start your follow-up sequence, which you’re also going to send ASAP.
    Do combine multiple techniques in a single subject line.
    “Sorry we missed you” is ok. “Phil, here’s your webcast transcript” sent promptly combines personalization, timeliness, and states there’s something of value that can only be accessed by opening the email.
    Finally, remember that in most email ...

    • 3 min
    Win the Inbox: Subject Lines Dos and Don’ts Part 2

    Win the Inbox: Subject Lines Dos and Don’ts Part 2

    How to Write Better Subject Lines for Better Open Rates
    As I’ve mentioned before in other Win the Inbox episodes, maintaining open rates is essential. But what if your open rate is stuck? Even if you’re around or beating industry averages, which are 20% or so, you know there are some lists that are absolutely crushing those numbers. How do they do it?
    Welcome to the second episode of Win the Inbox’s “Subject Line Series” – a five part exploration of the dos and don’ts of improving your open rate by crafting compelling email marketing subjects lines.
    Why? Because the key to getting that all-important open is the subject line.
    The show transcript includes everything I cover here, and you can find it all at FeedBlitz.com/WinTheInbox
    Hi, I’m Phil Hollows, CEO of email service provider FeedBlitz.com, and this is “Win the Inbox” where I cover one email marketing question in about three minutes or less.
    Before I dive in, remember to make the email – and so the subject line – about the recipient, not about you. You need to connect with the reader, and then deliver what you promise in the email itself. A snappy subject line is worth nothing if the recipient feels disappointed once they open the email itself.
    So:
    Do be human.
    Sometimes an authentic “I need your help” or an earnest apology can work wonders. For example, one of my best mailings had the subject line of “Well, this is awkward” – which I sent ten minutes after accidentally mailing the entire company’s list with a test email which had the potential to be badly misinterpreted.
    Do emphasize time, deadlines and urgency.
    Fear of missing out can be extremely powerful, especially if you can get the reader to think that everyone else is getting in on the act. So talk about things that are available, starting or ending. Now, today, midnight or 8 o'clock.
    Add proof if you have it (fifty tickets already sold!). Finally, if you have genuine scarcity – only three left! – then use that, too. In the same vein, countdowns also work very well.
    Do make the reader feel special.
    Can they beat the rush, get advanced access, a privilege, a custom discount, be the first to know, or even the only? Subject lines like these are proven winners, especially when used with targeting to pick out your best customers.
    Do have fun!
    It’s important to be predictable – there’s a “Win the Inbox” episode about email timing, I’ll link to it in the show notes – but being predictable doesn’t mean being boring.
    One of my favorite client campaigns was a countdown for a sale. What made it fun was that each day the list owner put the number of days to go in a different language. Not only did that make me aware of the date, I found myself anticipating the next email – what language was going to be next? And to find out which language it was, I had to open the next email. Brilliant.
    Do use CAPS and emojis.
    They can help you stand out in a crowded inbox. They can also be wearing and make subject lines harder to read, so for most email marketers my advice is to use them sparingly. That way they have much greater IMPACT when you do use them. That said, emojis in particular can be powerful when used in pre-headers.
    Do use numbers – even if you hate math!
    Numbers, combined with lists and “how-tos” are classics, because they are short (the numeral “7” is one character, whereas the word “seven” is five), speak to growth goals and often to personal empowerment.
    For example: “9 common copywriting mistakes you can fix right now” is a great subject line. Remember, keeping subject lines short and sweet is essential, so using numerals instead of words is a great technique.
    And that’s a wrap for part two of the “Subject ...

    • 3 min
    Win the Inbox: Subject Lines Dos and Don’ts Part 1

    Win the Inbox: Subject Lines Dos and Don’ts Part 1

    How to Write Better Subject Lines for Better Open Rates
    As I’ve mentioned before in other Win the Inbox episodes, maintaining open rates is essential. But what if your open rate is stuck? Even if you’re around or beating industry averages, which are 20% or so, you know there are some lists that are absolutely crushing those numbers. How do they do it?
    The key to getting that all-important open is, of course, the subject line.
    But because there is so much to cover on subject lines alone, I can’t possibly get it all done in my promised three minutes or less. So to make it all work, the next FIVE Win the inbox episodes are devoted to subject line dos and don’ts, and that includes the subject line’s important companion, the preview, or preheader, text.
    So, welcome to this episode, part one of five of the “Subject Line Series” – and the first of three parts on the DOs of writing compelling subject lines that get your emails read.
    I’m Phil Hollows, CEO of email service provider FeedBlitz.com, and this is “Win the Inbox” where I cover one email marketing question in three minutes or less.
    Usually.
    Before I get into these “subject line hacks” I must make this point: None of these tips matter if you make the topic about you, and not the recipient. Once more for the people in the back: Make your subject line about the reader, and her needs. Start from there first.
    So the very first tip is this:
    Do connect with the reader.
    People are complicated, and what resonates will vary. But every one of us has fears, pain, desires, aspirations, our sense of self-worth – and our insecurities too. We all have the things that make us feel empowered, and the things we run away from.
    Positive, uplifting email subject lines that speak to growth and success work very well; but sometimes exciting the darker side of your audience can also be remarkably effective, especially if it’s a little out of character with the rest of your mailstream. Whatever you do, you have to pull the reader in, and quickly.
    Do be authentic.
    If the subject line doesn’t fit you, it won’t fit your audience.
    Do be relevant, and truthful.
    Don’t waste the trust you’ve built. You need sustained open rates time after time. A deceptive one-off may get you instant gratification, but won’t cut it in the long run.
    Do be brief.
    Only the first five words or so, or about 50 characters, can fit on a phone’s screen. It’s ok to go longer for other email apps, but it’s important to make your point early. Try to cut your subject line down to just one or two words – it’s a great exercise, and very effective if you can pull it off.
    Do ask rhetorical questions.
    It creates intrigue, stimulates thought, and stokes curiosity. But be sure to ask open ended, and not yes / no, questions, because if the reader mentally replies “no” then they’ll never open your mail.
    Do mention keywords that click with your list:
    Examples include store names, brands, hot industry topics, personalities, dates and holidays. For example, “Black Friday” is a great keyword to use. Add in “Walmart” or “Target”? Boom!
    If your keyword speaks both to those who are hopeful and those to who are fearful, so much the better. For example, for NFL fans, “Read Why Tom Brady’s Career Is Over” speaks to New England Patriots supporters’ fears, and everyone else’s not-so-secret hopes. As a subject line, it covers both sides of the emotional coin, no matter which team the subscriber supports. It’s a win.
    Do personalize, especially on transactional and targeted emails.
    Think beyond the recipient’s first name here. For example, if you’re selling oil changes, mention my car’s make and model year, and the last ...

    • 4 min
    Win the Inbox: Clean Up Your List, Avoid the Spam Folder

    Win the Inbox: Clean Up Your List, Avoid the Spam Folder

    Because size isn’t everything.
    Bigger is better, right? It’s always gratifying to see your mailing list grow.
    But if your open rate starts to suffer, you might find mailbox providers suddenly start putting your emails in the spam folder.
    That’s bad. You’re not inboxing any more. How do you fix that?
    If this is the issue, there’s exactly one way.
    Welcome to this episode of “Win the Inbox” where I, your host, Phil Hollows, CEO of email service provider FeedBlitz.com, answer one email marketing question in 3 minutes or less.
    The one solution to this type of inboxing problem – and the way to avoid it in the first place – is to raise your open rate significantly.
    That’s because mailbox providers use open rate as one of the factors to determine whether your email goes to the inbox, or into junk. Eventually, a consistently poor open rate will get your emails put into the spam folder. That, in turn, creates a vicious cycle. The more your emails land in junk, the less likely they are to be opened, reducing your open rate even further, and cementing your position in spam folder jail.
    To prevent this, you need to clean up your list, which means making it smaller.
    Maybe a lot smaller, if your list is old. Definitely a lot smaller if you have single digit open rates.
    And that’s OK. You’re shedding people who don’t open your emails anyway, and it might even save you some money by reducing your ESP’s bill.
    You need to get out of the junk folder, and to stay out, and this is what you have to do.
    If your open rate is below ten percent, you need to clean up as soon as possible. I also recommend cleaning lists up routinely, even if you’re reaching the inbox successfully already.
    To clean up your list, pick your criteria. You can remove anyone who hasn’t opened the last 30 emails you sent them, for example, or use a time-based option, such as anyone who’s been on the list for a year without opening. Just remove them, and be done.
    You could run a re-engagement campaign instead, where you send a series of emails to people meeting your cleanup criteria. It’s effort to do this, and in our experience, these campaigns do not yield great results. Still, it’s an option.
    But, and this is crucial, do not, do not ever, never, ask your readers to unsubscribe as your re-engagement call to action.
    Why?
    Firstly, because the people who do open those emails will in fact unsubscribe. You’re going to lose the very people you want to keep, and keep the people you want to lose.
    Secondly, your unsubscribe rate – and especially the unsubscribe rate as a percentage of opens – will skyrocket. ISPs, and ESPs like FeedBlitz, look at unsubscribe rates as a sign of list quality. A spike in unsubscribes is a black mark and further confirmation that your list belongs in junk. Your ESP might even take action against that list or your account.
    Again, the opposite of what you’re trying to do.
    In other words, always invite subscribers to stay. Never ask them to leave.
    A good open rate is critical to avoiding the spam folder. Pick quality over quantity, and clean your lists up.
    If you found this helpful, please like, share and subscribe. There’s more at FeedBlitz.com/WinTheInbox, where you can also ask me a question you’d like addressed in a future episode. I’m Phil Hollows, and I’ll see you next time.
    Get Win the Inbox updates straight to your inbox!
    Phil and the team are all around the interwebs. Keep up with Win the Inbox and FeedBlitz in these spaces:
    Facebook – LinkedIn – YouTube

    • 3 min
    Win the Inbox: Comparing Email Marketing and Facebook

    Win the Inbox: Comparing Email Marketing and Facebook

    If you’re obsessing about your Facebook page, you’re missing out.
    I know. It’s easy to focus on social media audiences. But their organic reach is terrible and declining, with single digit – or worse – engagement rates.
    What, then, is the secret to getting consistent and successful audience interaction?
    Comparing and integrating Facebook (and social media in general) with email marketing’s proven results is the topic for this episode of Win the Inbox.
    I’m your host, Phil Hollows, CEO of email service provider feedblitz.com, and “Win the Inbox” is where I answer one email marketing question in three minutes or less, to help you meet your personal and professional goals.
    Facebook’s organic reach is terrible – there’s a reason they’re always pushing you to buy ads. Only a few of your followers see each post, and engagement is poor, even when a “like” counts as a meaningful interaction.
    It’s the same everywhere. The signal to noise ratio is low, the engagement to audience ratio worse.
    But did you know that average open rates for email are over 20%? When was the last time a post on your social media platforms got that? (Don’t bother checking – the answer’s never).
    Email marketing works.
    It works because you have permission from the subscriber to deliver directly to their inbox; it’s the ultimate push medium.
    Emails aren’t lost in an auto-refreshing feed. They sit patiently in the inbox, ready to be opened, searched, indexed, reopened, clicked on. All the time. Any time.
    Emails contain rich content that’s unrestricted by social media platform rules.
    Think about it. Signing up is work; you know the drill. Everyone on your list is therefore that much more committed to start with, because they’ve invested effort in joining. Invested effort in giving you that permission I talked about earlier.
    Look around at the web sites you visit. They all have popups and lead magnets and subscription forms. They win your attention on social media, but how they keep it – and own it – is with email marketing.
    Copy them. They do it for a reason.
    Firstly, use social media to drive signups. Have a “join my list” call to action in every post, every video, every podcast, every page, every bio.
    Secondly, make clear the value in signing up. Offer incentives to join, such as a free download, an e-book, a coupon, or a monthly sweepstakes. Or give them privileged access to promotions, to events or to you and your work.
    Then? Use email to drive them back to your social media presence in a coherent, cohesive, cross-platform marketing strategy. For example, if you’re hosting an event on social media, the best way to drive traffic to it is with email marketing.
    By all means build your audience on social media. But make the most of it, with email marketing.
    If you liked this, please like, share and subscribe! There’s more at FeedBlitz.com/WinTheInbox, where you can also ask me a question you’d like to see addressed in a future episode. I’m Phil Hollows, and I’ll see you next time.
    Get Win the Inbox updates straight to your inbox!
    Phil and the team are all around the interwebs. Keep up with Win the Inbox and FeedBlitz in these spaces:
    Facebook – LinkedIn – YouTube

    • 3 min
    Win the Inbox: Why Should You Use Email Marketing?

    Win the Inbox: Why Should You Use Email Marketing?

    How email future-proofs your business.
    Why should you be using email marketing? Why, with Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and YouTube and influencers and Etsy, should you be using email to market and sell with? Is email marketing really the best use of your time, and can it really move your business forward?
    Yes.
    The number one reason you need to embrace email marketing is as simple as this: Your business’s future depends upon it.
    And that’s the topic of this episode of “Win the Inbox” where I, your host, Phil Hollows, CEO of email service provider feedblitz.com, answer one email marketing question in three minutes or less, to help you meet your personal and professional goals.
    There are basically three things that email marketing delivers.
    - Amazing engagement - Predictable Sales- Future-proofing your business
    While engagement and sales are two great reasons why you need to be using email marketing, the one I really want to talk about today is future-proofing your business.
    That’s right: email marketing future proofs your business.
    With email marketing, you own your list. Unlike, say, your Facebook fans, Instagram followers, YouTube subscribers or Etsy buyers. Those people are not yours. They belong to the platform, not you. You can’t get at them.
    Unless they’re on your email list.
    The platforms you’re building on are all advertising companies with interesting social, photo or search engines attached. Their business models work against what you think their purpose is, so you buy advertising from them. Organic platform performance will only get worse, because it’s not in their shareholders interest to make it better, and you’re the one holding the bag.
    Unless you have an email list.
    Platforms can change their algorithms. They can block you. They can go out of fashion. They can even fail. If you’re relying on Facebook or Instagram or Etsy to build your business, remember that you’re building your business on someone else’s digital land. Which they control, not you. What happens to your business when they change the rules to suit their business? Or traffic craters when Google changes the search algorithm again? Or you stop buying ad space from your retail outlet?
    If that traffic goes away, what can save your business?
    Your email list, that’s what.
    Because you can generate sales and run your marketing with your email list.
    Why? Because It’s your list. It’s algorithm independent. It’s platform independent. And since email lists are portable, you can use any of the many email marketing services that are out there, including FeedBlitz!
    Email marketing doesn’t have that risk. Email marketing is the only way to protect yourself and your business in the ever changing digital landscape. Platforms may come and go, but everyone has an email account.
    Don’t be a digital tenant on someone else’s app. Own your business. Own your lists.
    That’s why you need to embrace email marketing.
    Thank you for your attention. If you found this helpful, please like, share and subscribe, and head over to FeedBlitz.com/WinTheInbox for more. While you’re there, you can even ask me a question you’d like answered right here on Win the Inbox! I’ll see you next time.
    Get Win the Inbox updates straight to your inbox!
    Phil and the team are all around the interwebs. Keep up with Win the Inbox and FeedBlitz in these spaces:
    Facebook – LinkedIn – YouTube

    • 3 min

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