Are you listening to your email replies?

Do you monitor your reply-to address?  Do you keep an eye on metrics to see how subscribers respond to your emails?  Do you take your subscribers’ feedback and comments into consideration before hitting the send button?

Listen to your email replies
To put it simply: is your email marketing program a two-way communication channel?

You create the email design, craft your message, and hit “send”.  Your recipients receive the message and hopefully act on your call-to-action.  Sounds like a push communication, doesn’t it?  This is a major misconception of email marketing. If done correctly, email marketing is a two-way channel.

You, the email marketer, should be monitoring your reply-to address, tweaking campaigns based on past responses, and taking your audience’s feedback and actions into account when planning your campaigns.

Monitor Your Reply-to Address

It may seem like a simple tip, but it goes such a long way: monitor your reply-to address.

(For those of you new to email marketing, your reply-to address is the email address to which your subscribers can send feedback.  It’s set up in your email marketing application specifically as the “reply-to address”, so it can be different from your “from” address.  By setting this up, it will automatically populate your subscribers’ “to” field when they hit “reply” to your message.)

People want to be heard, so when they send your company a message, they want to know someone is actually reading that message.  Make sure someone from your organization reads and replies back to every email, even if it’s a simple “thank you for your feedback” reply.  Here at WhatCounts we sometimes receive notes about a link not working or questions about an event we’re promoting.  By monitoring these emails, we’re able to help our customers with the information they need, and it shows them that we care.

Just today I received a message in my inbox from Chris Brogan and his company.  In the email he said:

One last point: sometimes, people reply to these mails and say, “I know you don’t read these, but…” EVERYTHING we do at Human Business Works is done by humans. Even if we send out email to a list (like I’m sending this to you), we still care that it’s coming to Amy and not “you all.” And if you hit reply, there’s a human on the other side. If you want a reply, we’ll reply. It’s how we do it.

He’s reassuring his audience that he and his coworkers read every response they receive.  It encourages people to respond, knowing a human will actually see their response and take their feedback into consideration or answer their questions.

Another great example is from a WhatCounts client, InternetSafety.com. One reason for their email marketing success is that they engage and interact with subscribers, elicit feedback, and make it an open communication channel.  When I spoke with InternetSafety’s email marketing manager before writing the case study, he said sometimes their customers even reply to their newsletter with technical support questions.  If they didn’t monitor their reply-to address, they’d miss those questions and possibly have unhappy customers (albeit, customers who don’t understand that there’s probably a better way to contact technical support, but nonetheless, they’re still getting helped).

Here’s an excerpt from a case study we did with them:

When first implementing the campaign, InternetSafety.com’s president set the standard to never use a “no-reply” email address.  It’s important to the company that they converse with customers through email marketing.  They often ask subscribers their opinions and concerns, and they make it a point to always respond.  Sometimes recipients will reply with a customer service question, so monitoring their reply-to address is essential to keeping customers happy.

Don’t Forget Your Campaign Metrics

In addition to monitoring your reply-to address, it’s also important to monitor your metrics.  After each send, take a look at how your subscribers responded to your message.  Did people open the email?  Did anyone click on the links, and if so, which links?  Did recipients share the email with their social networks?  How many people unsubscribed or reported your message as spam?  Plan future campaigns and sends around this data to better satisfy subscribers and exceed their expectations.

These are easy tips that will make a huge difference to your campaigns.  Your subscribers will feel appreciated and will keep coming back for more.  You will better retain customers, gain new ones, and build your email marketing program by simply listening to your audience.

Questions or comments?  Contact us today or leave a note below.  We’ll be sure to answer your question!

Amy Garland
Services Account Manager, WhatCounts

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