To start growing your email list, topic research is the first and most crucial step. Why, you ask?
Because everyone’s Ultimate Goal is to get content ranked on top of the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages), right?
To do that, we need to find a topic that can give us a good starting point. And spark interest in the reader.
Here are the steps you should undertake to be successful at this:
#1 Head over to the Topic Research platform of your choice
We use KWfinder because it’s user friendly and accurate.
This tool can help you find topics that haven’t been covered in-depth — but might have a huge potential.
First you need to search for something simple like “marketing” – one-word keywords are perfect.
Pick the location and language.
Select Find Keywords.
And here’s where you will see GOLD!
You’ll find all kinds of topics related to marketing:
Obviously ranking content on the keyword “marketing” will be tough – Keyword Difficulty is very high.
However, by clicking on KD – you can sort all the queries from the easiest to rank on Google.
This will highlight some very interesting keywords for you to use, like:
Online marketing service
Internet marketing secrets
The next step is to click on “Search Related Keyword” – and you’ll see the magic. 😲
Keep going through all related keywords until you see the one that makes most sense for your business. Remember, every topic you write about must help you sell your product.
#2 Find Topics
The Goal is to find the keyword with a Keyword Difficulty score of 40 or less.
If your site already has a high Domain Authority (more than 40), you will easily be able to rank articles with a Keyword Difficulty of 0-50.
In our example , writing an article about “internet marketing secrets” might be a superb idea.
Once you start clicking on “Search Related Keyword” you should be able to find queries that could get you plenty of organic traffic and at the same time has a low difficulty ranking on Google.
So to recap, after only five minutes of researching on KWfinder we found a topic that no one has covered in great depth and also has a huge potential to sell our services.
Once you’ve found a keyword that suits the requirements, you can feel confident that to reach the first page on Google will be possible with 1-5 backlinks!
Now let’s look at how you can transform this knowledge into action.
Creating the Best Content
After we have identified what we will write about, we need an in-depth understanding of the topic.
#1 Research the Competition
Find out who has already written something on the topic. You’ll want to collect the current top five articles about it. Be sure to read the posts carefully:
What do they all have in common?
How are they different?
How can we combine the best parts of each into one article?
#2 Create the Article
No grand advice here. Just sit down and write the content.
You may prefer to outsource it to a freelancer who writes well if you don’t have time to do it or if writing is not your forte.
To make sure the article ranks well on Google it must be optimized according to SEO guidelines.
One rule is to place your focus keyword (and repeat it) where necessary in your post. Otherwise, you’ve thrown your work out the window.
Here’s the 10-step procedure we use to rank any content on Google:
The H1 headline must start with and/or include the focus keyword (headline also has to be less than 70 characters).
Create your SEO title. It can be either the same or similar to your H1 headline. It must also include the focus keyword.
Use a clickbait keyword in the Headline – best, epic, awesome, deal of the year/month, etc.
Include an image in your post with the focus keyword as the alt-tag.
Drop your focus keyword in the first paragraph of the post.
Add 3-4 related keywords in the content. Try to find synonyms and terms related to the main keyword.
Make sure your focus keyword appears from 0.5% to 1% from the total content.
Make sure your focus keyword appears from 0.5% to 1% from the total content.
Also add a meta-description that includes your focus keyword.
Finally, use sub-headings that include your focus keyword.
Once you follow these rules and create a quality article (at least 1,500-2,000 words), your content will be ready to be published and to get backlinks.
#3 Get Backlinks
You need to secure backlinks to boost the rank of your content.
Essentially, Google views backlinks as votes. The more “votes” your content receives, the more important it is and thus it will rank higher on SERPs.
To make this happen, there are two killer link-building strategies that works 100% of the time.
Yes, these strategies are really that good.
Your goal will be to find pages that already link to posts that are not as good as yours. Then you need to email the site’s owner and ask if he or she would consider adding your content as an additional resource.
#4 Spy on Competitors and get their Backlinks
If your competition is a spot higher on the SERPs than you, they are probably doing something right with their link-building strategy (or something sketchy🤔).
You can use Linkody to find all your competitor’s backlinks. All you need to know is their website’s URL and Linkody will do the rest. This is how to proceed:
Find the URLs on Google.
Add them to Linkody.
Linkody will find all your competitor’s backlinks.
Reach out to the site saying that your tool would be a great addition to their resources.
Make sure you filter out the links that are from blogs (1), that your page doesn’t have (2), and are do-follow backlinks (3).
Then you can go through all the remaining websites (4) and reach out to them.
If you have managed to write an awesome post on the topic with keyword difficulty under 40 – all you need is 3-5 backlinks with Domain Authority above 30.
And your content will be on Google’s first page.
Next, you’re ready to work on using your content to produce leads you can use for email marketing, re-targeting or re-marketing. You choose. 😉
Leads & More Leads
Getting contact information from people who are interested in your service is costly and time-consuming.
But it doesn’t have to be like this anymore.
This process is now automated.
Once you have published an article and secured a couple backlinks, your post will be climbing the SERPs.
To launch your lead capturing machine, you’ll need to add a Lead Magnet. Most often this is a freebie in the form of eBook, consultation, etc.
This works by requiring people to provide their email to receive something valuable in return.
Before you design the the lead magnet, put yourself in the customer’s shoes:
The person has a problem or a need –Of course, they will use Google to seek out a solution.
They should then come across your article, which provides a solution to their problem/need.
For example, if your article is a list of “99 internet marketing secrets” – how do you create enough interest for the lead to leave you their contact information?
Offer an eBook with 150 internet marketing secrets
Or offer the chance for people to schedule a call with a professional to discuss these marketing secrets.
Find out what people experience at different stages according to the marketing funnel so that you know what could come next.
If you build your process around this and offer the site’s visitor a Lead Magnet they can’t refuse – they won’t hesitate to give you their email address.
Call to Action
A call to action is a small banner that appears in the selected location and handles this “email-for-a-freebie” transaction automatically.
You can choose many types of CTAs to generate leads. Here are few options you can incorporate depending on your specific business niche:
This CTA comes in handy when you want to isolate a user’s attention on one site’s section. If you have something valuable to offer, it can be effective.
Once the site’s visitor has decided to leave the page, there is almost nothing that could keep the person from leaving. However, if you have a high bounce rate on your lead capture page – consider an exit intent CTA to try one last time.
If your page is incredibly engaging and readers spend lots of time scrolling through the post, embedding the CTA is a natural option.
On the other hand, if you know that your readers usually get distracted quickly and spend little time on what they should be doing, you can consider a welcome mat CTA.
Note: There’s no silver-bullet CTA, so you should test them all, and hopefully, you will find one that works the best for your audience. Also, the top performers will change over time – so the secret here is to keep testing.
But don’t overthink it. 😉
In most cases, less is more, and 3 different CTAs is not a good idea, unless you want to annoy your site’s visitors…
How to Add Call to Action
There are ready-made services with easy integration, amazing tracking, and several segmenting features.
On WordPress and the biggest e-commerce platforms, you can use Mailmunch.
No matter which plugin you use, the integration usually is pretty fast and intuitive.
And when it’s done, you will have the ability to collect potential customers’ contact information without spending a penny.
Moreover, once you implement the CTA, you will have the final piece in place to ensure a steady flow of new leads month over month.
Pretty neat, huh?
Not to forget: Email Marketing Regulations
One important thing to add, is that GDPR requires you to clearly explain how you’ll use the person’s email and to obtain explicit consent to add them to your contact list.
Since you won’t be able to edit the call to action in some cases, a double opt-in is a recommended alternative. This way, you can confirm the person’s email and explain the type of communication for which their email will be used.
Now It’s Your Turn
Now you know the basics. Use this new knowledge wisely and offer something valuable to your potential customers.
Quickly, let’s recap:
Topic research is step number one – find a focus keyword with keyword difficulty score from 0 to 40.
Next, distribute the focus keyword and related keywords according to the 10-step guide mentioned in this post.
Then, seek out a few backlinks by reaching out to websites that mentioned inferior posts.
Finally, add a lead-magnet with a clear consent message and a CTA with an opt-in checkbox to collect addresses and grow your email list.
It is a never-ending game, but you are now ready to start playing. Go forth and conquer!
So you’re sick and tired of hearing about your beautiful emails landing in spam? We’re glad you checked in. If you’re responsible for your organization’s email campaigns, you’re probably constantly thinking about how to avoid spam filters, spam words, and always landing in the inbox.
It can be a stressful and tedious job, but once you take a step back you’ll see that there is a clear and easy way to stop email from going to the junk folder.
We get it – there’s nothing we hate more than seeing great email go to waste.
Almost 25% of email marketers now cite deliverability as one of their main barriers to effective marketing – an increase of 5% in two years, and yet only 6% of marketers are focusing on solving this issue.
There’s no point spending time crafting great content if your messages are never seen.
In this article, we’ll help you start off on the right foot and land your email to its intended destination. We’ll first help you understand what email spam is, what tactics you can employ to avoid the spam folder, what words and phrases to avoid, and finally how to run spam filter tests.
What is Email Spam and Junk Email?
Spam, or junk email, refers to malicious or unrequested email sent by “spammers” who want something from you, want to do something to you (e.g. attack your computer with a virus).
Of course there’s a difference between spam and spam folders, which is the repository of all things that email clients and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) consider spam. Not everything in the spam folder is malicious, and in fact a lot of it isn’t. That’s why it’s important to adhere to best practices to avoid being marked as spam yourself.
Malicious content has been all but removed by ISPs, who have strengthened their filters in the past few years. In the early 2000s, you were probably still dealing with nonsense in your inbox and it probably made you hate your inbox a little bit. Today though it’s unlikely that a true spam email will ever make it through to the inbox.
That said, it’s easier than ever for consumers to mark emails as spam through one-click buttons on clients like Gmail which will then store future email from this sender in the junk folder.
Email Deliverability Definitions
Spam filter definition
There are a lot of checks that happen when an email goes through the server. ISPs (such as Gmail, Yahoo, AOL) have put filters in place to protect spam or malicious email from landing in a recipients’ inbox.
One thing to keep in mind is that deliverability is different from delivery. The two sound very similar, but shouldn’t be confused.
Deliverability rate is calculated as how many emails are inboxed out of the total sent. Delivery rate actually includes all email accepted by the ISP, which includes email that lands in the spam folder.
You can have a 100% delivery rate, but if your deliverability rate is only 45%, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to communicate with your customers.
Soft bounce definition
A soft bounce is when an email is sent back to the sender, but only for temporary delivery issues. This can be because the user’s inbox is full, the server is down or the message is too big for the recipient’s inbox. GIFs are a great way of increasing engagement in your emails, but make sure they’re not too big!
Hard bounce definition
A hard bounce is when an email is sent back to the sender because it couldn’t be delivered for permanent reasons. It could be that the email address was typed incorrectly, or a fake one was entered because the subscriber was more interested in receiving the perk or offer for signing up than receiving your email.
This is why it’s always helpful to set up double opt-in.
How to get my emails delivered to the inbox instead of the spam folder
How to stop emails from going to the spam folder
There are several best practices and tips that you can follow to improve your reputation and deliverability. We created a free white paper that lists 34 factors that can impact your deliverability, but also highlighted the top tips to follow and adopt here:
✓ Use a custom domain email address that is linked to your website. You will then be able to setup DKIM & SPF, which will allow for email authentication by the recipient servers.
✓ Ensure your website is active and running. Sending email from an address that is linked to an inactive or blank website will make ISPs suspicious.
✗ Do not purchase, borrow or copy any third party contact lists. Not only do these types of lists typically contain many spam traps and poor quality email addresses, it is against our sending policy. Note: A spam trap is an email address that is not used for communication and it should never receive emails; if it does receive email, then it is automatically considered to be spam
✓ Develop good quality contact lists by collecting email addresses via an opt-in from your website. A double opt-in process is recommended to eliminate mis-typed or fake email addresses.
✓ Regularly update and clean your contact lists. Monitor your mailing results, and remove older non-engaging or blocked email addresses. Focus on the people who are most interested in your newsletters.
✗ Do not use ALL CAPITALIZED WORDS in your subject line or body.
✗ Avoid using spammy type words (‘Free’, ‘Sale’, ‘Cash’, ‘Limited Time Offer’, etc). (more on words to avoid below)
✓ Keep your subject line between 35 to 50 characters long. The longer your subject line, the more likely it will be flagged as spam.
✓ Send content that your subscribers have signed up for and are expecting. If you send non-relevant content, your subscribers may mark you as a spammer. And the more people that open your newsletters, the better your reputation
✓ Send your newsletters consistently.
Advice on how to send bulk email without spamming
Sending bulk email that consistently lands in the inbox unfortunately can be a pretty frustrating process, especially if you’re not staying on top of your lists, campaigns, and sending processes.
That’s what Mailjet is here for, to not only optimize our platform for world class deliverability, but also to arm our customers with the latest tips and best practices to ensure deliverability.
Monitor Your Contact Lists
We’ll begin where we often begin when it comes to email: your contact lists. The first place we look when a customer is having deliverability issues is their contact lists to determine (1) where these contacts came from, (2) if and how they are engaging with the content, and (3) whether the lists are being cleaned frequently.
If it hasn’t been stated enough – avoid buying lists or scraping the web for emails…at all costs. Not only will your deliverability suffer reducing the reach of your emails to legitimate audiences but in a world increasingly concerned about data privacy, and in fact governments that are cracking down on this heavily, the only best practice here is to build your list organically.
Next, pay attention to how your users are engaging with your content. What are their open rates, bounce rates, and blocks. Without consistent oversight, it’s easy to let the these numbers drift upwards and consequently see your deliverability drift downwards.
While some users who no longer want or need to receive your messages will unsubscribe, more often than not your subscribers will start ignoring your email, maybe even marking them as spam, or the inbox provider like Gmail and Outlook will start to filter out your messages on their users’ behalf.
As a result, the onus is on you to clean your lists and keep those open rates and deliverability rates moving up and to the right.
To do this, you can use Mailjet’s Segmentation feature to identify those users who haven’t opened your emails in a few months, or those who are marking it as spam.
Brands that keep their lists clean can actually see an increase in not only open rates but also total opens as a result of better deliverability.
Email Authentication with SPF, DKIM, DMARC
Trust and permission is at the center of a successful email marketing strategy which makes it one of the most powerful marketing channels.
As a result, to avoid the spam folder, you need to prove to inbox providers like Gmail, Yahoo, and Outlook – the gatekeepers to your audience – that you are, in fact….you. Think of inbox providers as bouncers at a bar, they only care about two things: (1) do you have identification, and (2) are you worthy of connecting with crowd inside.
In order to get passed the bouncer, you don’t need to slip a fake ID and a $20 bill, it’s a little more complex than that. Here are a few things to consider to authenticate your email, prove who you are, and get past the spam filters:
Sender Policy Framework (SPF) – is an email validation protocol designed to detect and block email spoofing by providing a mechanism to allow receiving mail exchangers to verify that incoming mail from a domain comes from an IP Address authorized by that domain’s administrators.
Domain Keys Identified Mail (DKIM) – an email authentication method designed to detect email spoofing. It is a way to sign and verify email messages at the message transfer agent (MTA) level using public and private keys. The public keys are published in DNS TXT records. DKIM authenticates the source and its contents.
Domain-Based Message Authentication Reporting and Conformance (DMARC) – an email-validation system designed to detect and prevent email spoofing. It is intended to combat certain techniques often used in phishing and email spam, such as emails with forged sender addresses that appear to originate from legitimate organizations.
To setup your SPF & DKIM records, you will need to copy the SPF & DKIM values from your Mailjet account to your DNS records for the domain you want to authenticate.
Over the past few years, we’ve seen ISPs become a bit smarter and have started to move away from more traditional spam alarms.
Today, ISPs learn from how we interact with the messages that arrive in our inbox, which helps them determine whether emails should go to the Spam folder or land safely in our inbox.
So what does this means for words you should (and should not) be including in subject lines, then? Well, words tend to be misleading, thus resulting in higher-than-normal user complaint rates. These complaints, along with poor interaction from recipients have a negative effect on the sender reputation and, ultimately, impact the deliverability of future messages.
Just imagine how many times you have received a subject line that includes the word “Free”. How many times has there actually been something that’s truly free in the email? Probably very few, which explains why now, when you read the word “Free” in your inbox, you generally just roll your eyes at a not-so-subtle attempt to get you to open a deceiving email.
And if people do open the email and then find that there’s actually nothing really free there, senders can expect a high rate of user complaints like spam reports and unsubscribes that will impact their future inbox placement.
If you are looking to avoid those words that will trigger spam filters, we’ve got you covered. Below are some common spam lingo to help protect you from using them yourself and being mistaken for a spammer, or worse, a phisher.
The word “invoice” is a phisher’s favorite – if you see this word in a subject line, there’s a chance they’re trying to bait you in. Make sure to check the sender address to verify the email’s validity. firstname.lastname@example.org is not the same as email@example.com. Scammers try to profit out of our carelessness.
PayPal, Visa/MasterCard or any bank name
Again a case where a legitimate name can be used for phishing.
Scammers often try to impersonate financial institutions by sending emails with the same color scheme and layout, redirecting to a mirrored site made to look almost exactly like the one it is spoofing.
As a consumer, follow the same steps above, verifying the sender address and domain name. As a marketer, use authentication tools DKIM and SPF to prevent spoofers from hurting your reputation.
Lottery, Free Gift, Prize
This is one you always see in your spam folder. Hundreds of thousands of emails are sent to people with a subject line claiming that they’ve just won a big prize or that they’ve been selected for a sweepstakes you’ve never entered before. You have to be very gullible to fall for that one, yet scammers still send these by the millions since they are quick and easy to send. If it’s too good to be true, then it is. When you craft your emails, don’t give your customers a chance to ask themselves this question and certainly don’t let the ISP ask this question.
Urgent, Desperate, Please Help
Variations of this “damsel in distress” scheme have made appearances over the years, where phishers pretend to be an affluent person from a far away country, who, being chased by wrongdoers, is forced to flee to a safe haven. For some reason they have chosen you as the sole trustee of all their money and they promise great rewards for helping them open an account with a specific bank so that they can transfer their funds. These spammers are the butt of many jokes, avoid these words to avoid being on the wrong end of the joke.
Casino/Free Spins/Deposit Bonus
Gambling spammers often send out campaigns that promise high return, free entry or double deposits. If it’s not a website you recognize, then straight to the spam folder it goes.
Here are some examples of specific words you want to be cautious of using:
How to prevent email from going to spam: Use spam checkers or spam filters testing
What is a Spam Checker or a Spam Filter Test?
Even if you follow all of the above best practices, inevitably you may have missed something, or even more likely is that there might be something going on that you could have never caught with the naked eye. In fact, 70% of emails show at least one spam-related issue that could impact deliverability.
That’s why it’s so important to run spam tests to check the potential of your email being delivered to both the ISP and the ultimate inbox.
Unlike your naked eye, or even your picky colleagues’ eye, a spam test reviews your email to determine whether different spam filters will flag it and keep it out of inboxes.The test looks at everything from the content of your email, subject lines, where you are sending it from, and your domains reputation. To use our bouncer analogy from before, it’s like showing up hours before the evening gets started to have your bouncer pre-approve you for access. It might not always work but it certainly gives you some assurances you didn’t have before.
How Do I Run A Spam Test?
If you’re using an Email Service Provider like Mailjet to send emails, then your best bet is something called a seed list. A seed list is a list of internal emails you can send a test email to, such as co-workers, family members or friends.
Ideally, you’ll want the email address to cover a range of email clients and devices, so you can check if it makes it through the different email spam filters.
Using Mailjet, before you send your email to the masses, you can send a test email that not only tests for spam filters (like Gmail spam filters) but also is a great way to test for email responsiveness in different clients. To best use seed lists though, there are many services designed just for this purpose such as Litmus, Email on Acid, and many more.
Each of these tools will provide you with a seed list of email addresses that you can cut and paste into your test email and send out to identify any issues with landing in the inbox. Spam testers will test for the following flags:
Email Server Reputation
Sender Email Address
Sender IP address
Email Server Configuration
Email Content and Subject Line
As examples, both Email on Acid and Litmus are email optimization tools which include a spam filter test. Using any spam tester, alongside Mailjet, you can test your emails using the following easy step-by-step process:
Create your email and of course first check for any red flags in the content, subject line, and contact list
Once you think you’re ready to send, click on Send a Test Email
In your Spam Testing tool, select Start a New Spam Test or Start Spam Test
Copy and Paste all of the seed contacts that Litmus generates into Mailjet
Send your test email
Go back to your Spam Test Tool to identify any spam warnings and understand how you can continue to optimize your campaign to ensure maximum deliverability.
These services will send your emails through all the major spam filters before sending to make sure that they pass the first test.
Then it will check your sender reputation by looking at your IP addresses and any domain names used in your email.
There are many known blacklists and if your reputation is at all compromised or flagged, you’ll get a notification before sending.Next it will verify that your email authentication, such as DKIM, DomainKeys, SenderID, and Sender Policy Framework, is set up properly.
Finally, some services even provide you with a spam score, so you can compare your campaigns against past campaigns and your colleagues campaigns. The root of all happiness? Quantifiable competition.
Avoid the Spam Folder with Mailjet
Mailjet is constantly looking for ways to optimize and improve the deliverability of our customers’ emails. We manage the reputation of each sender and provide authentication tools (SPF, DKIM, etc.) to help implement all of the above best practices. We also optimize sending frequencies (i.e. throttling) and HTML code.
Ultimately, Mailjet is designed to simplify the whole process of sending emails and ensuring deliverability, so that our customers can focus on sending great newsletters, transactional emails, or whatever other content you want your audience to engage with. But what does Mailjet actually do? Let dig into 5 key points:
1. Management and monitoring of the reputation to avoid the spam folder.
Mailjet allows you to watch and protect the global reputation you have as a sender. This is defined by the reputation of the URLs, the domains and the IP addresses that are used. The content of the messages can impact each of these elements.
A lot of indicators are provided on the Mailjet Dashboard, and you will have access to the reputation of your IPs and to the scoring SpamAssassin, which validates the major formats and filters.
We have also partnered with BriteVerify and 250ok to help manage deliverability and reputation stats – the more you know about what practices aren’t working, the more you can start to solve them.
2. Avoid the spam folder – Access to authentication tools: SPF, DKIM & Domain Keys
Authentication systems have a set of standards for most of the ISPs. These protocols guarantee and protect the identity of the senders as well as fight against phishing.
Therefore, it is often necessary to publish these certificates. If this is not done, the ISPs can consider the non-authenticated emails as suspicious and place them in the spam folder.
Mailjet implements and optimizes all major email authentication protocols that senders need including DKIM (DomainKey Identified Mail), SPF (Sender Protection Framework) and DomainKeys by default. This can also be personalized for free. If you require assistance in this process, please contact our support team.
3. Optimization of the sending pace (I.e. throttling)
ISPs use ‘throttling’ mechanisms to control the volume of data traveling over their networks. Some impose temporary or permanent volume restrictions.
The threshold is based on the number of connections between the sending server and the receiving server, the number of messages per connection, and the volume of messages over time.
If you attempt to open too many SMTP connections at the same time or send too many email messages within a short time, you are very likely to get errors such as:
‘server has exceeded the rate limit allowed’, or
‘too many connections from your IP’.
If this happens, the reputation of the IP addresses used can have a major effect on these limits. In order to guarantee optimization of the reputation, Mailjet will slow down and adapt the sending pace when needed.
By respecting this imposed variations, the messages are accepted, they do not bounce and get to the inboxes of the intended recipients.
4. Optimization of the HTML structure of the email
Mailjet’s drag-and-drop email builder, Passport, gives anyone the ability to get 100% optimized code from the header to the footer of the email. All HTML elements abide by standardized rules and guarantee an improved deliverability.
Note that when using this feature, no technical knowledge is required. Always remember that an incorrectly coded email can trigger some spam filters.
5. Statistics, Feedback Loops and the Relationship with the ISPs
Mailjet maintains highly accurate, real-time data to track every piece of feedback from audiences – including those who mark messages as spam, and emails that are blocked or bounce. Every complaint is traced and taken into account.
This is best illustrated when someone clicks on the button “report as spam” on any inbox client. Mailjet gets this information and stops sending to this email address.
The bounces and unsubscriptions are also automatically managed. This helps maintain high quality lists. Anyone who is persistent in sending undesired emails could get blacklisted at any moment.
You’ve probably already noticed it if you receive our newsletters or have been reading our content for a while, but here at Mailjet we’re addicted to emojis. Seriously, we love them. Which is why we’re so excited about being able to celebrate them today.
Fun fact: Did you know that the date for World Emoji Day (July 17th) was chosen because it is the date shown on the famous calendar emoji? There, something super hip for you to share with your friends during your next dinner.
In this post, we’ll take a closer look at whether emojis work in email subject lines or not. To find out, we tested different options in four countries. The results are summarized in an infographic below.
What are emojis?
Emojis (Japanese for ‘figurative characters‘) are Unicode pictograms used on digital communications.
They were developed in 1999 by Japanese interface designer Shigetaka Kurita, as part of NTT DoCoMo‘s i-mode mobile Internet platform. The ideograms became an instant hit, first in Japan and then all over the world.
Even though the names sound quite similar, emojis are different from emoticons. Emoticons were developed in 1982, are purely text-based and reproduce typographic facial expressions. Unlike emojis, emoticons have the advantage that all browsers and devices can easily display them (but… they’re not as pretty 😉).
One of the main issues when it comes to using emojis is in fact that not all browsers support them in the same way. Actually, they can vary considerably from one device, browser or email client to another.
Emojis on a Windows laptop (left) and on an Apple MacBook Air (right).
Emojis in Email Subject Lines
When it comes to our newsletters, here at Mailjet we love testing different ideas (and sharing the results with all of you). Over the years, we’ve tested swear words in our subject lines (albeit British slang – we’re not that rude), Schadenfreude, email fails and, of course, emojis.
Yeah, emojis are our favorite. Every July we get creative with our subject lines to find out whether emojis are still as impactful, and if they really work when it comes to driving email engagement and increasing open rates.
In 2016, we tested four different emojis, across four geographies (US, UK, France and Spain). Globally, the best performing emoji, was the ‘joy’ emoji 😂.
You can check the results for our Emojis in Email Subject Line Survey 2016 here.
In 2017, we decided to step it up and test eight emojis. We used the four emojis we tested in 2016, versus four other emojis, across five geographies (US, UK, France, Spain and Germany).
You can check the results for our Emojis in Email Subject Line Survey 2017 here.
This year for World Emoji Day, we’ve decided to test seven of the new emojis in our weekly newsletters.
Results: Emojis in Email Subject Lines
This time, we wanted to conduct a survey to identify which one of the new emojis worked best to generate engagement. So we tested them by adding seven of these new emojis to our subject lines. The results were, as always, interesting and quite insightful. In some cases, even a bit surprising.
Curious? See for yourself:
Now it’s your turn to test emojis
Curious to know which emojis work best for you? Do some A/B Testing on your own newsletters!
If you haven’t heard about A/B Testing or if you just vaguely remember the concept, here’s a quick recap: A/B testing is essentially an experiment where two or more variants of an email are shown to users at random, and statistical analysis is used to determine which variation performs better.
A/B tests allow you to find the best option for elements such as the sender name, subject, content, and design of your email. You can test several and then the most powerful version of the email will be sent to the rest of the list. The advantage is that it maximizes your chances of reaching your target and optimizes the results of your emailing campaign.
Have you performed a similar test? Are you celebrating #WorldEmojiDay? Or, perhaps you’re a superfan of using emojis, just like us. Share your experiences with us on Twitter.
If you are here, it means that you have made the wise decision to use email as part of your marketing strategy. That’s great, but how do you start?
There is a fundamental thing that you are missing, which is an email list to send your communications to.
In this post, we provide a practical guide to help you understand how to build an email list.
Are you ready to master the art of email list building? Here we go!
What is an email list?
An email list is a list of names, details and personal information of people who have given you consent to receive updates and offers from your business via email on a regular basis.
Why building and growing your email list
When built properly, email lists contain details about people who specifically gave you permission to send them updates and promotions from your business. This, therefore, means that they will be interested in receiving regular updates from you and in what you offer. They are a highly engaged audience.
What are the advantages of having a large email list
In general, people think that the more contacts in your list, the better it is for your business, as this will mean that you have a wider target reach.
So many fall into the trap of buying or acquiring contact lists.
This is not only an easy fix that is detrimental for your business, but it is also, since May 25th, against the new European Data Protection Regulation – GDPR, for friends. By building your contact lists in this way, you risk incurring into severe financial penalties.
Instead, you need to build your contact lists using the right strategy, which is by earning rather than buying permission to get in touch with people.
Yes, okay, the money is in the email list, we all know that. But do you think it would be more valuable for you to have a list of 100,000 contacts who don’t even open your emails of one of 2,000 subscribers who actually engage with your content? You already know the answer.
Now that we’ve established that purchasing contact lists is a big no-no, we can focus on why you should put effort into building, growing and nurturing your email list.
How to build an email list effectively?
Building your email list effectively, means that you allow people to decide that they want you to be in touch with them.
Forcing them to receive your communications is not good for either of you. For them, because they never opted-in to receive your communication and they don’t want them in your inbox.
Come on, think about it, don’t you get annoyed when you find yourself flooded with emails you don’t want to receive? Well, the same goes for them – yours is just another business.
For you, this means two things: bad stats and low deliverability. People won’t open or click your emails.
You will start getting hard bounces, and people will want to unsubscribe. You won’t allow them to unsubscribe not to lose contacts? BAD!
That’s just bad emailing practice, and again, not GDPR compliant (Fines, fines, fines, coming your way…). (Unwilling) subscribers will start reporting spam, and your deliverability and sender reputation will be impacted.
Purchasing contact lists is just a big, bad idea. But how do I do this, then – you may be wondering – if I ask my friends, relatives and other people I know for their email address, I won’t get nearly enough people to use to build a contact list.
Don’t fret, we are here to explain to you how to do this in the best possible way. And without having to ask your grandma and aunt for their email addresses.
How to grow your email list with the right strategy
The first step in building your email list properly is to create opt-in offers that people won’t think twice about. This is a critical step as not crafting the right offer means that you won’t obtain the desired outcome, and critically, it will not convert, regardless of the amount of traffic it gets.
Finding the right messaging and offer will take time and probably a few attempts. Once you find the best opt-in offers, you need to place them in front of people who could be interested in them.
Build and Grow your email list organically
Following email list building and growing best practices upholds your brand and sender reputation, ensures higher engagement and ultimately improves deliverability. To get people to sign up to your email and to give permission to be added to your contact list you can use a variety of channels.
Here are some examples for you:
Adding widgets to your website: You can place sign-up widgets in many places on your website, like on the homepage, on blog posts, on resource pages… And you can even decide to implement a pop-up page that comes up in front of visitors. They won’t be able to ignore it. 😏
Get social: Your business social media accounts are another great way of promoting your sign up offer. You can use CTAs on your profile page or use Ads for promotion.
Email signature: Maybe you hadn’t thought about this one, but your email signature is a great place where you can place a newsletter opt-in or where you can promote your most recent content. People with whom you have established a personal relationship through email exchange may be more interested in hearing from you regularly.
Other places that you can get people to opt in is through live events, partnerships and guest blogging opportunities, or even through existing relationships.
How to Optimize Your Email List Building Conversion Rate
One way to organically grow and build a healthy, permission based email list is on-site retargeting. It works by monitoring the behavior of your visitors in real-time on your site. When a visitor’s behavior indicates they might be looking towards the exit, an additional message can be displayed to them – usually in a pop-up overlay.
This exit-intent technology works by monitoring the movement of the mouse. When the system detects that a visitor is about to leave your site (by the movement of their mouse towards exiting the page or clicking bookmark links) a secondary message pops up to appeal to your visitors and engage with them further. Let’s see specifically how you can use this to maximise the number of visitors signing up for your newsletter.
Create an email list: Include a sign up offer in an exit-intent pop-up
There are several types of pop-ups that can be used to keep otherwise departing visitors engaged. But when it comes to list building, the most effective ones collect contact details. A well-timed and controlled sign up pop-up is a strong way to keep your prospects engaged at the right time and get them to opt-in to your email list.
Build your email list: Use YES-NO pop-ups in multi-page campaigns
The average website visitor prefers to click first and then fill in a form. You can take advantage of this and create multi-step on-site retargeting campaigns to increase your subscriptions. One approach is a simple YES-NO pop-up which appears before the subscription form.
How to build an email list: Personalize your message
Visitors are more likely to stay engaged with your business if the pop-up is relevant to their specific needs and interests. This means you’ll be able to organically increase your subscription rate by communicating the right message at the right time to each segment of your audience. For example, if a visitor shows a specific interest, the most relevant pop-up will appear.
For more advanced personalization, use Dynamic Text Replacement in your pop-ups to alter the text based on any variable you wish. This way, you can display highly targeted messages to individual visitors using only one pop-up.
Use nanobars to grow your email listJust like a less flashy on-site retargeting pop-up that appears on exit intent, a nanobar or notification bar, can be used to gather subscribers. Nanobars are also called “sticky bars” because they “stick” to the top or bottom of a website.
Nanobars are typically triggered based on engagement. If you feel your visitors find exit-intent pop-ups too intrusive, nanobars are a great alternative that can be adapted to fit your site’s user experience.
A/B test your messages to optimize your list building A/B testing gives you the power to test which on-site retargeting campaign generates more subscribers. You can learn what design and content elements should be changed, what should be removed and what should stay.
You can improve your subscription rate by eliminating your under performing pop-ups. This can boost your opt-in subscriptions by as much as 40%.
Build an email list: Promote a free giveaway
Your visitors are more likely to provide their email address if they receive something useful in return.
Your giveaway should be easily consumable content and helpful for your prospects. We’ve found the following giveaways usually work well: e-books, cheat sheets, checklists, case studies, webinars or video series.
As you can see, there are a variety of great on-site retargeting methods and tools available to engage your visitors and get them excited to opt in to your emailing list.
That being said, make sure to only email consumers about the information they signed up to receive. For example, if they sign-up to receive a freebie, it’s not cool to automatically add them to your newsletter list without asking them first.
A suggestion? Include a newsletter opt-in check box directly on your retargeting message or if you are capturing sales leads, be sure to remind your sales team to ask the prospect if they wish to sign up to the company newsletter before adding them to your organisation’s marketing list. Last but not least, always remember to have your data privacy link readily available on your main website.
How to Build an Email List from Scratch Fast
An email contact list is a huge asset for Marketers in terms of lead generation and customer retention. It is especially useful in gaining insight into how a customer base consumes and reacts to your brand over time.
However, despite its many benefits, list growth often gets a bad rap. Not only does it takes time to organically acquire new contacts, customers are opting out on a daily or weekly basis.
First of all, to build an engaged and profitable contact list, here are three rules of permission you should never forget:
Permission is earned, not bought
Promises are the currency of permission. You’ll only get people onto your email list by making a promise. And they’ll only stick around if you fulfill that promise. Here’s what does work:
Acquire contacts organically. Commit to never buying a list or tricking people into getting on your list. When contacts engage with you on their own terms, they’re far more likely to stay engaged and become customers.
Make a compelling promise. A great promise is what will get people on your list and position your new relationship with them. The more relevant and personal the promise is to your prospect’s life, the stronger the relationship and the better your chances of converting them into customers.
Put your promise in the right place. Go where your prospects are. If you have an active blog, place opt-in offers there. If there are popular websites in your niche, guest blog on those sites and point readers back to an opt-in offer. Advertising on social media is another excellent way to get your offers in front of people.
Permission is a journey, not an event
When a contact opts in, you’ve earned the lowest level of permission. The goal is to continue escalating the relationship to higher and higher levels of permission until, eventually, customers decide to buy whatever you want them to buy. Here’s are a few tips to help get started:
Build your permission ladder. What are the levels of permission on your list? How can you escalate relationships from opt-in to sale? Most email marketers haven’t clearly defined the steps they want subscribers to take between opt-in and conversion. This is an important place to start.
Segment your list by journey. Your subscribers are not all identical. Different customers are on different journeys and their motivations for engagement will vary. Define the different pathways to becoming a customer and segment your list accordingly to make sure your content is always anticipated, personal, and relevant.
Automate permission-building. The real power of email marketing lies in automation. Once you’ve built your permission ladder and segmented your list, make good use of autoresponders and other automation tools to put the process of escalating permission on auto pilot.
Permission is temporary, not permanent
The idea of losing permission is a scary thought. It’s the marketing equivalent of a breakup.
But the great thing about email marketing, as opposed to relationships, is that you’re able to see the warning signs long before you lose permission for good. To do this, you must pay attention to these three numbers:
Open rates measure how much subscribers anticipate receiving your emails. If your open rates start to drop, it’s a good sign that you’re not consistently delivering on your promise or the topic itself isn’t as interesting to your subscriber as it used to be.
Click rates measure how effective your content is at inspiring action. It’s nice when people read your email, but if they’re not taking the intended action, that’s a sign that you’re losing permission.
Unsubscribe rates track when you’ve finally lost permission for good. When someone unsubscribes from your list, it means they’ve gotten to the point where they’d like to formally revoke permission and never hear from you again. Marketers tend to focus on unsubscribe rates as the ultimate measure of when permission is lost. But the truth is, you probably lost permission far before your subscriber reached for that unsubscribe button.
Always ask customers to opt-in. Double opt-in, if possible
The purpose of asking customers to opt-in to your email marketing is two-fold; to protect your sender reputation and to ensure customers are engaged and receptive to your brand and content.
Some may argue that asking for opt-in results in a smaller contact list since customers have to perform this extra step. However, not asking for permission before sending puts you at risk of being marked as spam or worse, being blacklisted by an ISP – and obviously at risk of fines, since May 25th. Just one abuse complaint can lead to having both your Domain name and IP addresses blacklisted.
We, at Mailjet recommend using a double-opt in process. As an added layer to the standard opt-in, customers receive a triggered confirmation email that they have to click on to reconfirm their email address and subscription preference.
First you sign up
This ensures that the customer provides an active, accurate email address which helps avoiding spam traps and bounces – both of which ISPs look at very closely to judge the quality of your emails and decide whether or not you are allowed to enter through their pearly inbox gates.
Never buy email lists, no matter how tempting it may be
Yeah, we’ve said this already more than once, but… It may seem like a quick and easy way to a high ROI, but buying email lists is forbidden by ISPs.
Not only is there is no way for you to determine the quality of the customers on your purchased or rented list but, more importantly, these customers are unfamiliar with your brand and will be quick to penalize you for sending them an unsolicited message. You run the big risk of being blacklisted and/or marked as spam in a matter of seconds.
Start with good content
Engage customers by first presenting them with rich, relevant content through your blog, ebook or white papers. Provide these users with an option to subscribe to this content via email.
This indirect approach will ensure a higher list quality and sender reputation because customers who opt-in to receive your messages are already familiar with your brand and will be receptive to your contact and stay engaged.
Leverage other social channels to grow your list
Beyond awesome brand recognition and content, online sweepstakes may be an additional way to to grow your brand recognition and contact list but be careful, it has to be done correctly.
They need to absolutely know that the counterpart of submitting their email address for a prize or giveaway is that you are also asking them for their permission to add their email address to your contact list. This needs to be done with full transparency and an opt-in mechanism.
Create a landing page that highlight benefits of joining your contact list
It may seem a bit repetitive to you, but including a dedicated landing page on your website for those who subscribe to your emails can be beneficial.
This is because subscribers may want to learn more about how frequently they can expect to receive communications from you and what sort of content you will be sending out.
Email List best Practice #9 Use creative CTAs that draw attention to your gated content
Using creative CTAs is a great way to direct people (AKA possible leads) towards your gated content, and obtain their email address.
Asking people only for an email address does not qualify them as good leads, but if your goal is to build a contact list, this is the simplest possible way to slowly introduce people to your brand. You can then later on accumulate more information about the subscriber, as more interest is manifested on their side.
Just bear in mind, that you state clearly that by giving out their email address to receive that piece of content, subjects are also giving consent for you to send out to them your email marketing communications.
Extra Tip: Use Side Project Marketing To Your Advantage
According to Brian Clark, the golden rule of online marketing is this:“Give something valuable away in order to sell something related.”
If you feel like your content production, advertising and other practices are not really working enough to get you where you want to be, a side project may be the answer. It is a great way not only to grow your email subscriber base but also to grow brand awareness.
No, don’t worry, we haven’t gone completely nuts. Side projects are a product or service that is clearly not your business’ main offering, but is a related and free offer provided to your audience in exchange of their email address.
Still sounds scary to you, right? It may seem like a lot of work at first, but the reality is that it doesn’t have to be. It could be just a free version or free trial of your product. Or it could be something completely different.
For example, Crew, a company who matches companies with hand-picked freelancers, offers a number of different side projects to their customers, including things like a calculator to help people figure out the cost of an app they want develop, a collection of free stock photos, and a list of what they call ‘unicorn’ coffee shops to work from that have the ultimate combination of working perfection: good coffee, good wifi, and plenty of outlet plugs.
Yeah okay, now you’re panicking cause you don’t have the money, nor the time, nor the resources to do this. But bear in mind: your side marketing project doesn’t have to be something huge and great, it can be something easy and simple that people can benefit from, like a simple spreadsheet.
Build your email list with the right tool
Several things have to fall in line before a consumer is willing to share their email address. There has to be trust, a good incentive and it has to be easy to opt-in – each additional click means a drop off in sign ups.
As far as trust and good incentives go, consumers are looking for content that is specifically valuable and relevant to them. Personalized content drives a 20% increase in sales. You therefore need to pick the right email partner, which will allow you to create and customize subscription widgets according to your (and your audience’s) needs.
The subscription widget is a no-brainer when it comes to maximizing your website for lead generation. Visitors are already interested or engaging with your brand, and email is a great next touchpoint for sharing non-promotional, value-adding content. It’s a free resource and a low commitment way for your prospective clients to get to know your brand.
Mailjet’s subscription widget allows you to easily create opt-in forms, integrate them into your site(s) and automatically see your opt-ins added to your contact lists within your Mailjet account. All with little or no design and coding experience.
As consumers tend to prefer a personalised experience, the subscription widget also allow you to collect a variety of customer information up front (first name, last name, birthday, mailing address etc.). Fields can be marked as mandatory – to strike the right balance between requesting information and making it easy for your users to sign up.
All of the data is then automatically sorted and synced with your Mailjet contact list. Collecting this data at the beginning of your touch point with customers allows you to build deeper demographic testing over time.
Create as many subscription widgets as needed and test their performance across your sites. The subscription widget’s intuitive drag-and-drop editor allows customize your forms with a few clicks of the mouse. Edit the layout, text, image, and color scheme order to fit your brand’s visual aesthetic. When you’ve landed on a design you’d like to use, the tool will generate an HTML code to be copy and pasted into your website’s source code.