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In an earlier blog post, Top 3 Email Tips to Engage Your Stakeholders, we lay out some simple tips on crafting targeted email messages, effectively conveying your message and eliciting responses from your audience. Once you have identified the reason your audience should read your message, worked on a clear and personable communication style, and provided an interactive process for your audience to respond to your information, it is time to consider how to make your email marketing strategy work even better.

Creating powerful and engaging messages for your subscription list will help you attract and retain subscribers, but where do you go from there? Here are three tips on how to ensure your emails reach their optimal target.

1) Save Your Emails from the Spam Filter

A study on commercial email subscriptions revealed that over 20% of permission-based email does not reach the inboxes of intended subscribers. So, how do you keep your emails out of your audience’s spam filters?

Let Your Audience Control Email Frequency

Some users would like a daily reminder of what is going on with your communications, while others may prefer a weekly overview or emails containing information limited to specific topics. Provide the reader with the option to select from daily updates to weekly digests when they sign up for your subscription. Allow them to decide how often they receive messages and they will be less likely to mark your message as spam in the future.

Make Your Message So Good, Your Readers Will Miss It When It’s Gone

Following our tips on creating messages that are compelling, entertaining, personalized and interactive will help you build email communication that your audience looks forward to as a source of value and timely, relevant information. Work to continually improve your content and achieve the reputation of a trusted source, and your audience will let you know when they are not receiving your subscription. Gaining this type of feedback from your readers enables you to respond to any deliverability issues.

Work with a Partner that Provides High Deliverability

Email deliverability is much more complex than many people realize. If you’re sending your email out with an in-house solution, you have to manage all the technical aspects of different email formats, spam filters, and Internet Service Provider (ISP) relationships to ensure they remain healthy, while measuring the deliverability rate of your emails. That’s a lot of work! If you feel that time and effort would be better focused on other aspects of your communications, put a trusted email marketing partner to work! GovDelivery is just one example of a partner that can coordinate your subscriptions, and we offer a 98% delivery rate and the peace of mind that someone with email marketing experience is getting your email to the inbox of your readers.

2) Test Your Email Format

Do you know if you get more opens and click-throughs with plain text or HTML emails? Plain text and HTML emails each have pros and cons. Plain text emails look more like the emails your readers might receive from a friend, and all email programs will display these messages in a consistent way. HTML messages allow formatting like colored text, images and links, and support advanced design features like columns and headers. You may get more clicks and opens with one version versus the other, so be sure you try and continually test both to gauge what your subscribers prefer.

3) Try New Methods to Build Your List

“How do I build my list?” may be the holy grail of email marketing because it is not immediately clear what successful subscription lists are doing right. You need to hone in on what makes your target reader hand over their email address to a subscription list. Here are a few options to consider:

Use an Overlay

Using an overlay, which darkens your website and highlights a small box for email sign-ups can help double or triple sign-ups to your email list.

The Department of Interior recently launched an overlay and saw dramatic results. They were able to increase their email sign-ups from 80 to 90 sign-ups per day to over 300!

Department of Interior Web Overlay

To find out what works best for your organization, try testing an overlay form for a month and see what results you receive versus your typical sign-up placement.

The New Trend: Use a Prominent Sign-up Box

If you don’t want to use a pop-up form or an overlay, you can try placing your sign-up box in the top or middle of your website’s screen where even mobile visitors will see it immediately. This way, you can ask for email sign-ups in a way that can’t be missed. Your reader has the opportunity to sign up easily if interested or continue to the rest of your content without disruption. Best of all, this method also successfully generates two to three times the number of email sign-ups as a less-prominent sign-up form.

The City of Cerritos is a great example, with a prominent sign-up box on their homepage. The graphics and visual also helps emphasize the call to action to sign up for updates.

City of Cerritos home page

Provide Social Proof and Incentives

There are two key things to include in your sign-up box. First and foremost, ask for the reader’s email address. Second and almost as importantly, provide social proof for why they should subscribe and continue to subscribe to your messages. An automated calculation based on the number of subscribers will help make your case: “Join over 20,000 in-the-know citizens.”

As a bonus, include a short message or a direct incentive to convince the reader why they should sign up. The message might promise “Weekly tips,” “Daily news” or “Personalized links,” while some subscription lists offer an incentive in the form of a PDF e-book, brochure or paper to first-time subscribers. For example, the CDC offered a zombie comic book, while FEMA provided a list of citizen preparedness tips.

Government organizations looking to connect with their citizens via email marketing and subscription lists are already on the right track by providing timely and relevant information, enabling interaction and conversation between readers and the organization, and defining an official yet approachable internet persona. By following these tips for even more effective email marketing, you can leverage your carefully crafted messages to reach a broader audience and produce a bigger impact.