Aug 18, 2015
Email marketing is a great way to cultivate an existing relationship or communicate with new prospects. With email marketing, you are given a direct line of communication to your subscriber, which is why you need to let them know that they can trust you, your brand, and your messaging. To achieve that, here is your own personal playbook!
Your audience must perceive your information as valuable. As with any other form of digital marketing, content is king. You need to give your audience a reason to embrace your message. If you can, make sure you segment your lists based on user behavior and/or interests. If your message is tailored to your user, you are delivering content that is worth reading. Good, relevant content will strengthen your relationship with your audience.
An easy way to alienate your audience is by sending emails too frequently. Email fatigue occurs when a user believes the amount of emails being sent is too high. Although you might be delivering a lot of appropriate messages, they can begin to lose their weight and importance. Email fatigue can also result in high unsubscribe or opt out rates as well as a decline in open rates. It is best to not flood your users’ inboxes. Instead, steadily deliver relevant content without overwhelming them.
With the rise of smart phones, tablets, and other devices, you need to optimize your emails to render well on different sized screens. Email marketing researchers at Litmus saw mobile open rates at 49% in 2014. Look into building your emails to be responsive or create a mobile version to send. In doing this, you’re making it easier for your subscribers to absorb the content.
The best way to improve your sends is to know where you are succeeding and where you are falling short. Good metrics to review are your click-through and click-to-open rates. These help inform you as to whether your content is driving your subscribers to act. Start measuring your digital conversions by focusing on your call to action (CTA.) And remember, a passive sell won’t cut it. Trade in the “Click here for tickets” link for a stand out “Buy Tickets” button. Make it simple and clear to the subscriber what the next step is.
Now that your emails are relevant, frequent (but not too frequent), look good on a device, and have a clear call to action, it’s time to focus on how to achieve good open rates. The easiest way to optimize for open rates is to focus on your subject lines and preheaders.
Subject lines are your first pass at convincing a subscriber to open your email. There are numerous articles on how to write an effective subject line but as with anything else in digital marketing, trends are always changing. To optimize for open rates, you should be consistently testing.
Preheaders are the text you see above emails. These lines of text serve as preview text in an inbox. Preheaders assist the subject line in driving open rates. When designing, try to ensure they are not too much of a focus, because once the email has been opened, you should be relying on your content to pull your subscriber’s attention.
Try A/B split testing your emails, trying out different subject lines and/or preheaders within the same email. As you monitor your results, you might discover that certain styles work better for achieving different strategic goals. Posing a question in your subject line could lead to better digital conversions! But again, it is based on your audience and its specific views and wants.
It’s very easy to overdesign an email. Background images, gradients, animated gifs, custom fonts...if there are too many elements in an email, it is easy for a subscriber to feel overwhelmed and glance over your messaging. Your design should support your message. It is best to focus on content hierarchy and a clean structure, as well as text and images that create an emotional pull. And as mentioned before, don’t forget about your CTA! Make sure it stands out so you can drive digital conversions.
As stated above, it’s hard to measure your success and shortcomings if you are not actively checking how your emails are performing. Check up on the open rates. Are they low? Refer to #5 above! Are your open rates high but your click-through rates low? Make sure you are adhering to #4 above, and play around with different colors to emphasize CTAs. Continue to test and evolve your email strategy based upon your performance metrics.
Lastly, remember the golden rule of pleasing your subscribers: What works this week, might not work the next! Keep testing, experimenting, researching, and improving to make sure you are on the right track.