Email That Cares: Later Boosts Opens And Clicks By Showing Empathy

Later, an Instagram scheduler and marketing platform, has achieved what it calls a “crazy increase in engagement” by inserting a little empathy into its email program. 

This doesn’t mean writing touchy-feely copy. Rather, Later has reacted to hard data about shifts in consumer behavior during the pandemic, especially a spike in people opting out, said Naomi West, email marketing specialist at Later, speaking at Movable Ink’s digital (re) Think conference last week. 

Here’s the backstory.

As COVID-19 hit earlier this year, Later saw a huge rise in subscriptions to its twice-weekly email newsletter. The trouble, the company said, was that it saw "unsubscribe rates also increasing with every send.” West adds. She had to ask: “What is going on?”

What was occurring was email fatigue — “by definition, when the subscriber becomes overwhelmed with the frequency of emails,” West continued.  



There was a counterintuitive solution for this: Contrary to the dictates of many C-level execs to send more email, West’s team did the opposite. 

Later had been sending newsletters to its global audience twice a week, on Mondays and Thursdays. It reduced frequency to once a week. 

Among other things, it wanted to test whether “subscribers could breathe” with the clutter in their inboxes, West said.  

That wasn’t enough. The company also had to ask whether its current newsletter template was "able to be the pillar that we need for a once a week touching point?” West noted.  

Apparently not, so the firm decided to redesign the newsletter to provide more value.  “Putting our content twice a week didn’t allow us to personalize content in a way that would speak to different audiences,” West said, adding that reducing frequency allowed time to see how different audiences interacted with the approach.

The third pillar of this program was to segment and then test to make sure the results were “not a fluke,” West said. The newsletter team segmented content for its three main audience pillars: leads, free and paid. 

West conceded that this takes “work, effort, a lot of words.” But it has paid off. 

Later saw a 78% increase in the open rate for leads, 127% for free, and 43% for paid. In addition, there was a 94% uptick in the click rate for leads, 211% for free and 165% for paid.

Finally, there were conversions — specifically “lead to account signup conversion,” West explains. The firm saw a 75% boost in lead-to-account signup month-over-month. 

And how does West define empathy after all that? 

“It’s putting yourself in your users’ shoes, acknowledging external circumstance, looking at the data you have and making inferences that will provide value to your users without their explicitly asking for it,” West said.  




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