When you land on a Fast Company story, you get the date, the headline, the subhead, a photo, a byline and—next to the byline—how long a read the article will be. I'm looking at one now titled, Before We Reinvent the Economy, We Must Reinvent Ourselves
, and it is listed as an "8 minute read." Surveys will often do this as well. "This will take you under 6 minutes to fill out."
In both cases, it does seem to boost engagement. Our schedule is so booked these days that knowing how long something takes helps us plan. The caveat here is to be honest. Say 5 minutes and grab 10, and readers won't be happy.
A report on the performance of 10 types of email campaigns from email marketing company Return Path, titled 2018 Email Marketing Lookbook, confirms that people do pay attention to emails asking for feedback. They generate a 19% read rate. Here are other takeaways from that report:
Take advantage of post-purchase messages. They have the highest read rate at 44% and the lowest delete-before-reading rate of 7%. That makes sense, given the order confirmations, receipts and shipping instructions included in those emails. They are also ripe for upsells or additional purchase pleas. EventBrite does something popular; after you've been confirmed an event, they put similar events on the bottom. Similarly, it's good to populate your thank-you/confirmation page with more offers.
Use account notices to engage. Account-related messages received a 30% read rate. These are sent to notify subscribers of a change or activity related to their account. "TripAdvisor sends online reviewers a monthly account update with a digest of stats related to their recent posts," writes Return Path. "The message is highly personalized and interactive [and thus] a solid tactic for keeping subscribers engaged with the brand and serving as a reminder to continue posting reviews."
Send win-back emails. On average, win-back emails saw a read rate of 20% and only a 12% deleted before reading rate—which means one out of five subscribers who were previously ignoring your messages may be inspired to re-engage with you. These campaigns are also helpful for identifying and removing inactive addresses from your list, and to prevent list hygiene issues from damaging your deliverability.
Make win-back calls. Diversified's Brian Cuthbert has his editors reach out by phone to five cancelled members each month to ask, "What can we do better?" and see if they will come back. "We've picked up 3% of cancelled members by doing this," he said. For win-back emails or direct mail, try offering something different. I just got a win-back email from the American Film Institute. I like them but their lowest membership tier has basically no advantages besides, "we will know that you like us." And nothing had changed.
When onboarding, be informational and succinct. Welcome emails have a read rate of 23% but also the lowest average inbox placement, at 84% and a high complaint rate. The takeaway here may be to clearly state the benefits for the person subscribing or joining and not to try to sell anything else or confuse them at this initial stage. So maybe asking for their birthday or providing a couple helpful links is the step-lightly way to go here.
Think benefits. While loyalty program messages do pull in a read rate of 21%,they are "tied for the most actively ignored message type" with a 12% deleted-before-reading rate. So make sure the benefit to the message stands out in the subject line.
Celebrate your content. Ironically, newsletters generate the lowest read rate in the survey, at 18%, and get few rescues from the spam folder. But these are mostly free newsletters. It is a good reminder, however, that even if people are paying for something, they still may need a highlighted and personalized delivery to read it.
Download the full report here
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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…