In 2008 and 2010, I double-dog dared marketers to experiment with some little-used, out-of-the-box, perhaps even weird tactics. Some of those tactics are not so uncommon anymore, while others are just as rare as they ever were.
Since it’s been more than three years and email marketing is all about experimentation, I think we need some fresh dares. So here we go. I dare you — no, I double-dog dare you! — to:
Ask subscribers to reply to your emails. Since engagement metrics like opens and clicks are now a significant part of the deliverability equation, add replies to the mix by asking subscribers to reply with “win” in the subject line to enter a sweepstakes or something similar. Use the same functionality that allows you to process the opt-outs of subscribers who reply with “unsubscribe” in the subject line to do something positive and fun.
Reward consistent openers. To support your engagement metrics, reward subscribers who open each of your emails during Thanksgiving week with an extra-special triggered Cyber Monday offer, for instance. You could announce this program or make it a reward just for those subscribers already exhibiting this behavior and perhaps generate some word of mouth. This kind of campaign would also be a novel way to get subscribers to enable images more often or even permanently.
Share email revenue and conversion data with your ESP. Measuring the success of subject lines and email messaging based on opens and clicks can be misleading —after all, most marketers are trying to maximize revenue, not opens. Yet few marketers feed email revenue data back to their ESP so their partner can easily see how they’re really performing. It’s time to take the next step with your ESP and share email revenue data.
Do a month-long withhold study. Stop emailing some of your active subscribers for a month, then examine their online and offline behavior and compare it to that of your other subscribers. The difference is the lift or value that your email program is providing. While you’ll be sacrificing some short-term revenue, you’ll learn definitively how your emails are influencing purchases, while stripping out purchases that would have happened without your email program. That information can be vital to budgeting and other high-level decision-making.
Use extra-special characters in your subject lines. Special characters like hearts and stars in subject lines have become pretty well established over the past year or so. Take it to the next level and try mathematical alphanumeric symbols, as FootSmart did in this email (h/t @stylecampaign and @alexcwilliams).
Use a hashtag in a subject line. Some intrepid marketers have done this and reported fewer email opens and clicks, but more activity on Twitter. Find the right campaign and give this a try.
Incentivize opt-overs on your unsubscribe confirmation page. You may be losing a subscriber, but you could gain a fan, follower or catalog recipient. Promote your other channels on your opt-out confirmation page and throw in a sweetener to see if you can get an outgoing subscriber engaged via another channel.
Good luck! If you have already tried some of these dares, please share your experiences by commenting below.