email statistics

5 Reasons Email Marketers Should Give Thanks

By Justin Premick

Thanksgiving DinnerAs our US-based users get ready for Thanksgiving, it’s easy to find yourself jumping to thoughts of the holiday while working on your campaigns.

So let’s have a little fun in the spirit of the season.

I was thinking recently about what I was thankful for, and when my mind turned to work, a question occurred to me:

What Should Email Marketers Be Thankful For?

A few things I came up with:

Affordability

Not everyone has the cash to spend on radio, TV and print ads. (This is doubly true if you’re just starting a business, or taking a struggling one and rebuilding it.)

Email gives us a powerful, yet relatively inexpensive, means of marketing our products and services.

Tracking

No other marketing channel lets us track our results as extensively and quickly as email does.

From open rates (which are still useful, even if they’re not perfect), to clickthroughs, to conversions, we can use email statistics to see what works, what doesn’t, and what we should do to increase the response to our campaigns.

Reputation and Relevancy Rule

Used to be, content filtering was a really big deal. And a lot of people were lured into the trap of obfuscating words like “F.R.EE” to try and get around those filters. (PS – if you’re still doing this, stop. Please. Learn why here.)

Nowadays, effective email marketing involves building a reputation for sending timely, relevant, useful information to subscribers. (Permission still matters, too, but it won’t save you if you’re sending junk.)

The moral here? Send subscribers what they want, when they want, and you don’t need to micro-manage your content to get your email delivered. That’s a lot to be thankful for.

You Don’t Have to Be an Artist to Create Good-Looking Campaigns

Still like hand-coding your messages? Go for it. I don’t envy you.

For the less design-inclined, HTML email templates make it easy to spice up your newsletters with a splash of color and imagery, helping to build your brand as subscribers associate your emails with your website.

That’s not to say hiring an email designer to create a custom design for you isn’t ever a good idea; it absolutely can be. But it’s not critical for every business, and it’s not always in the budget.

There’s No Shortage of Useful Advice

And not just on our site, either (though in our humble opinion you’ll get a lot out of subscribing to this blog and sitting in on one of our webinars :))

Organizations like MarketingSherpa and MEC Labs feed us a steady diet of case studies and benchmarks to show us what works and what doesn’t.

And blogs like no man is an iland and BeRelevant give us plenty to think about as we evaluate our own email marketing campaigns.

Point is, if there’s something you want to know about email marketing, you can rest assured that there are people out here willing and ready to help. All you have to do is ask.

So What Are You Thankful For?

How has email marketing helped you this year? Share your experiences on the blog!

What Do 73.9% of Email Newsletters Have in Common?

By Justin Premick

Nearly three quarters of all broadcasts sent from AWeber last month share a common basic characteristic. It?s not subject line personalization (although many email marketing campaigns do indeed use this).

Can You Get More Readers By Displaying Your Subscriber Count?

By Marc Kline

Just because someone else does something, doesn’t mean you should, does it?

Maybe not, but from infancy all the way through adulthood, we take cues from others on what is worth our attention.

Now with just a few clicks, you can add a subscriber count chicklet to your AWeber opt-in form that shows your website visitors how many others are benefiting from you email newsletter.

Subscriber Count Chicklet

This social proof might not make everyone want to jump on the bandwagon, but when subscribers are considering why they would want to give up some more time and inbox space to get your email, things like links to a privacy policy and subscriber counts may prove to be the tipping point.

Showing your subscriber can help you to boost conversions on your sign up forms. Give it a shot!

  Learn How to Add a Subscriber Count Chicklet to Your Form

Track Clickthroughs Using Your Own Domain

By Justin Premick

If you’re anything like me (like just about all email marketers, really), you want to know how effective your emails are at getting subscribers to open and read, click through to your site, and make purchases.

On the other hand, you may be concerned that your tracking links are getting fewer clicks than a link straight to your own domain would, because:

  • Links that go to a tracking domain, instead of to your own website directly, may cause some subscribers to not trust a link that doesn’t point straight your website, causing them to not click through.
  • If your readers are aware of (and sensitive to) the fact that their response is being measured, they may be less likely to click through.

So how do you get the best of both worlds? How do you track response while maintaining trust?

In this short video, I’ll show you how you can do just that with one feature of our new Email Web Analytics tools.

The Trouble With Old-School Click Tracking

Traditionally, tracking clicks involved a trade-off: you gain insight into what your subscribers are most interested in, and what they respond to, but your links point to a tracking site, which after recording the click, redirects the subscriber to your site.

For email marketers who send plain text messages, this is particularly noticeable, since you can’t link up text or images in a plain text email — you have to put the URL out there for all your readers to see.

If you weren’t comfortable doing that, you either didn’t track clickthroughs, or you did it using your website tracking software (which, while useful for getting aggregate information, didn’t allow you to do much with the data to target groups of subscribers).

It’s time to leave old-school click tracking behind. There’s a better way.

Track Clickthroughs Using Your Own Domain

You don’t want to send subscribers to a third-party site.

But giving up the tracking and segmentation opportunities that click tracking offers isn’t an option — not if you’re serious about creating relevant, focused campaigns.

While we were developing the new Email Web Analytics tools to track sales, page views and other subscriber activity, it occurred to us:

By tracking subscriber activity using some JavaScript that you place directly on your website, you eliminate the need for a tracking domain in your emails!

So we built own-domain click tracking into the new tools.

RSS Subscribers: See how it works in the short video on our blog.

This is just one of the benefits of using the Email Web Analytics tools we recently released.

All new users (since May 20th) can get started at the Reports > Settings page of their accounts, and older users can get started when they upgrade to Email Web Analytics.

You Can Use This With Your Plain Text Emails (HTML Ones, Too!)

One of the more interesting pieces of feedback we got when we initially released the Email Web Analytics tools was that it wasn’t obvious to our users who send plain text emails, that these tools would be of any use to them.

Apparently we made it sound like the benefits of these advanced segmenting and targeting tools were reserved for those who send HTML messages.

I want to point out right now: that’s not at all accurate. (And sorry if I made it sound that way before!)

You can use own-domain click tracking, along with the rest of the Email Web Analytics tools, with plain text emails too! It’s not just for HTML emails.

Hope that clears things up a bit :)

How to Start Tracking Clicks on Your Own Domain

Email Newsletter Open Rates: April 2008

By Justin Premick

Think you know the best day and time to send your email newsletter?

Ever wonder if your fellow email marketers are all sending at the same time you do?

Convinced your open rate is too low (or amazingly high)?

Some recent statistics pulled from all AWeber users may help you answer these questions:

What Kind of Open Rates Are People Getting?

If you’re sending HTML emails, you probably use your open rate to help gauge your success.

Even though it’s not a perfect measure of whether people are actually opening and reading your emails, it’s useful as a relative measure:

If it goes up over a short period of time, more people are probably reading
If it falls over a short period of time, it’s almost certain fewer people are reading.

Plus, all other things being equal, it can give you some motivation (if your open rates are lower than other senders’) or satisfaction (if your rates are higher).

So, here goes…

Average Open Rate Last Month: 13.6%

When Is/Was The Best Day To Send?

You’ll often hear (at least, I often hear) that Tuesday is the optimal day to send, because on Monday people are catching up from the weekend, and that on Tuesday morning you’ll have their undivided attention before they jump into their work for the upcoming week.

Do the numbers back up that theory? Let’s see.

The breakdown of open rates by day of the week:

Monday
13.67%
Tuesday
13.21%
Wednesday
14.07%
Thursday
14.52%
Friday
13.25%
Saturday
12.09%
Sunday
13.26%

Last month, Tuesday was actually the second-worst day to send, at least if you’re measuring by open rates.

(While we’re breaking assumptions, I should point out this, too: the hour of the day that got the best open rate was not 8-9AM, or 9-10AM, but in fact 2-3PM Eastern Time — email newsletters sent during that hour last month enjoyed a 19.1% open rate.)

Does This Mean I Should Switch My Campaigns To Thursdays?

In a word: No.

Don’t break with your readers’ expectations just to try to follow the latest day of the week stats. You might actually reduce your open rate by doing so.

In both March and February, Thursday newsletters got the 3rd-worst opens vs. the rest of the week.

I hesitated a little to publish these stats, because I’m concerned that people might flock to sending their newsletters at the day or time that happened to get the best results lately.

Please, don’t drastically change your sending times/days just because you see that the average last month, or any month, happened to be higher on a different day or time.

Yes, you might eventually be able to shift your sending schedule, or split test some broadcasts, but if you up and move everything, you may throw off subscribers who are used to hearing from you at the usual time.

“It’s So Busy, Nobody Goes There Anymore”

To get at the other reason for not shifting your sending based on these stats, let’s paraphrase Yogi Berra (see above).

If everyone switches their sending schedule to send on say, Thursday, then recipients will start getting a ton of email that day, and start paying less attention to each individual email.

One possible reason for Thursday’s success last month may be that it wasn’t as popular as say, Tuesday or Wednesday for sending email:

Percentage of Newsletters Sent by Day
Monday
16.0%
Tuesday
17.7%
Wednesday
16.9%
Thursday
16.6%
Friday
15.2%
Saturday
8.8%
Sunday
8.8%

Those higher-volume days mean more emails in readers’ inboxes, which might contribute to reduced open rates. Following that reasoning, some people may look at the low weekend volume (more email newsletters were sent on Tuesdays than on Saturdays and Sundays combined) and see an opportunity to get their audiences’ undivided attention.

My main point in showing these is to point out that our assumptions about what works are often quite wrong, and that you ultimately have to test for yourself to see what best suits your audience.

Some Inspiration… And Some Help

Are you getting better open rates than this?

If so, GREAT! Give yourself a pat on the back…

…but don’t get complacent. Open rates aren’t the be-all, end-all of email metrics. They don’t guarantee that people are reading your emails, only that they have images turned on and that they probably saw your email for at least a moment.

Plus, there’s always room for improvement, right?

Some ideas that can help you raise your open rates:

Ask people to add you to their address books. Some email programs will display images from senders who are in the recipient’s contact list.
If you are putting pictures in your emails, use the ALT text for those images to pique readers’ interest in what the picture is, so that they enable images. Or, just directly ask readers to turn on images!
Add a picture of yourself to your emails, near/next to your signature. People like seeing your smiling face, and if they see it in one of your emails, they may be more likely to turn on images to see it again later.

What statistics/benchmarks would you like to see and/or learn more about?

Share your requests below or email me your suggestions or drop me a line on Twitter!

Maximize Signup Conversions by Asking for Less

By Marc Kline

Does your form ask for just the information you need to build and engage a list of subscribers, or does it go above and beyond that?

As MarketSherpa has pointed out, “above and beyond” in this case may lead to signup conversion rates and information quality that fall below your expectations.

In the latest Chart of the Week, they illustrate why name and email should typically be all the information we ask for in our email newsletter sign up forms. Take a look:

Marketing Sherpa Chart Thumbnail

Name and email are the two fields most likely to be provided accurately, and still, even these fields are “fibbed” sometimes (e.g. 32% of respondents to their survey said they didn’t always provide an accurate email address).

That’s one of a few good reasons to use confirmed opt-in for all of your campaigns. The fact that respondents were generally less willing to give other information accurately (and presumably *at all* in some cases) is a convincing reason to ask for only what you need from your website visitors.

Alas, sometimes less means more! I couldn’t resist :) .

Other Tips on Building Subscriber Lists:

For an overview of how to boost your website visitor to email subscriber conversions, join our Education Team for the next free, live seminar on this topic.