Over the last 3 years, I’ve heard everyone and their dog tell me that email marketing is dead. Sure – it’s easy to make such claims when newer, sexier mediums like Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest are strutting around like the bee’s knees – but is email marketing really dead?
The answer, of course, is no. Email marketing is alive and well, and we have content marketing to thank for it!
Content marketing has revived email marketing by lowering spam complaint ratios, increasing engagement scores, and making friends with content-based spam filters.
Why Email Marketing?
To get the edge in business, you need to activate, retain and re-activate your customers – email is one of the best tools for all three of these!
Just think about it – you’ve paid advertising and marketing dollars to capture hundreds or even thousands of leads. If you’re like most companies, less than 10% of those leads have actually converted to sales. Are you just going to throw out the other 90%?
On the other hand, isn’t it worth staying in touch with the 10% who did convert? You can let them know that you care about them, say thank you, or tell them about your latest promotion.
Finally, probably half of that 10% who did convert will fall off and stop buying. Should we just forget about them? No. You have their email addresses so communicate with them.
Email marketing is inexpensive and effective – it makes your marketing dollars run farther. The details below reveal that email marketing is alive and well. Read them and feel confident about investing in your email marketing program.
Content Marketing Lowers Spam Complaint Ratios
Have you ever clicked “mark as spam” on an email message in your Gmail, Yahoo, or Hotmail account? What you might not know is that when you make that click, you are doing much more than just organizing your inbox.
Email providers like Gmail take every one of those clicks as an actual spam complaint. Over various time periods (a month, for example) they will take the total number of spam complaints generated by your emails and divide that number by the total number of emails you delivered.
The resulting number equals your spam complaint ratio.
For example, if you send 10,000 emails in a month and get 100 complaints, your ratio is 1%.
If that was your actual complaint ratio, you’d be in trouble. Like AWeber says here, a good complaint ratio is under 0.1% (less than 10 complaints on 10,000 messages).
Big deal, you say – what does all this mean? Well, if your complaint rate gets too high, Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, AOL, and many other email providers will start sending your messages straight to the junk folder or even block them all together.
Content marketing to the rescue!
Several aspects of your email campaign will affect complaint rates, but the biggest one is your content. Recipients will complain if the content in your emails is irrelevant or overly aggressive.
Most email marketers run into problems here because they send advertisements only. Do you love getting ads in your mailbox every day? I didn’t think so. None of us do.
But, do you love getting awesome content relevant to what you are interested in every day? You’re darn right you do.
By publishing high quality content on a daily or weekly basis and then communicating with that content via email to your audience, you can give existing and potential customers value. They will thank you for this value by not hitting the spam button and not unsubscribing (unsubscribe rates follow a similar theory to complaint rates).
In the end, your overall reputation as a sender will increase and the big email providers will gladly direct your messages to the inbox.
Content Marketing Increases Engagement Scores
In the old days, if you kept your spam complaints low, it was smooth sailing ahead. That used to be the only thing that major email providers looked for.
Today, however, techniques for tabulating sender reputations have advanced big time. A huge metric on the radar now is the engagement score.
Engagement scores tell us if recipients are interacting with your messages or not. For example, a recipient opens your email and clicks delete within 3 seconds. Your engagement score = crap.
On the flip side, if a recipient opens your email, reads it and scrolls down for 30 seconds, then clicks on the link in the email taking them to your website, then repeats this whole process later that day, your engagement score = awesome!
The exact formula for calculating engagement scores is not published and probably unique for each email provider. However, the impact and strategy here is pretty simple. Higher engagement scores equal better sender reputations which, in turn, means more of your messages go straight to the inbox.
If you’re company is engaged in content marketing, you have a much higher opportunity to achieve great engagement scores. This is because you are sending fresh, relevant content that your audience is actually interested in. They will be happy to read, scroll, and click on your messages all day!
Content Marketing Befriends Content-Based Spam Filters
There are two types of spam filters out there: Reputation-based filters and content-based filters.
Reputation-based filters deal with everything we talked about above. They look at the history of your sending efforts and determine if you are a good sender or not by the metrics (complaint rate and engagement score) that result from your sending history.
Content-based filters act in real-time. These filters assess the content of each email message coming into their system and, in a fraction of a second, decide whether to place that message in the inbox, the junk box, or block it all together.
Content-based filters are scanning the HTML structure and the text used in the message. They are looking for excessive use of words like “buy now”, “be your own boss”, and “make money online”. If they see just a small amount of text and the majority of it has spammy words weaved into it, there is a good chance they will block the message.
For a great list of spammy words to avoid, check out this list at HubSpot.
If you’re a smart marketer and actively engaged in content marketing, your messages will contain all kinds of great, compelling content that isn’t solely focused on making a hard, aggressive sale. This will give you a huge advantage when facing off with the content-based filters and, most likely, your messages will head straight for the inbox.
Remember, your competition wants you to think that email marketing is dead so they can hoard all the spoils for themselves! Don’t believe the hype. Embrace the concepts of content marketing and your email marketing campaigns will flourish.