Email is Not Dead!

Email is an open platform which makes it a powerful, low-cost marketing channel. Internet users sent and received a daily average of 269 billion messages in 2017. The modern form of direct response marketing, email is one of the most effective inbound and outbound lead sources. Even with the increase in other channels of lead generation, email is still a strong way to upsell current customers and convert leads.

Marketing through email has recently grown more complex and businesses need to accommodate the changing dynamics. If your business has even the slightest potential to interact with customers located in an EU country, you must adhere to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The new rules affect how businesses seek, obtain, and save customers’ personal information. Consent must clearly be given through an action, not a lack of action, and customers must be fully informed regarding how their data will be used.

Mobile optimization is a must – reduce the size of images and alter the style of emails so the images are sized by screen instead of pixel; increase the size of your CTA buttons and links; be careful of streaming videos as they may bog down on mobile devices. Create emails that are visually appealing. Use a combination of vivid colors and white space to grab the reader’s attention. Provide interactive experiences – let readers hover over an image to reveal something else or use a dropdown menu. Allow users to advance content in a carousel or take an interactive quiz. Use a variety of designs and approaches to keep things interesting, not everything has to have pictures, and be purposeful in the timing and cadence of your campaigns.

As we look at the “what” of emails, we recognize that there are three parts to an effective email: a bold subject line that compels recipients to open the message; solid content; and a clear call to action to entice the reader to do something.

Emails are an effective way to communicate but only if recipients open and read the messages. The most important step is to convince consumers to open your email. As such, subject lines are a critical element of your email campaigns. 64% of people determine from the subject line whether or not to open an email.

Your subject line needs to compel the reader to open the email to learn more so keep it concise and use a mix of information and creativity. Try teasers, questions, emoticons, and attention-grabbing words that can help create effective subject lines. Know your buyer personas and write subject lines that communicate your organization’s ability to meet their needs or solve their problems.

Personalized subject lines have been shown to increase open rates by 26%. Lead with a personalized question – “Sarah, are you ready to move beyond your comfort zone?” or suggest a comparison of self with “put side by side” or “can you relate to” messages. Use subject lines that communicate urgency or scarcity, generate curiosity, or that include offers and promotions. Write “how to” leads that present an opportunity to learn something or highlight relevant, recent news. Minimalism is key for effective subject lines. Use simple, no nonsense verbiage whether it be humorous, attention-grabbing, or a numbers and lists, “top 5” type of thing,

Beware of formatting issues that can occur when you copy and paste from Word. Instead, use the formatting options within your email platform to maintain the integrity of your intended design. Use a readable font and avoid cutesy or overly fancy font that is difficult to decipher. Use text blocks or different formatting to make the message scannable. Use headlines to break up content and provide information about the following sections. Underline or color in blue the text for links.

Create copy that is direct and to-the-point. Use a conversational tone and avoid jargon or hard sells. Discuss the targeted problem and how your business can solve it for the consumer. Be aware of the danger of spam trigger words – avoid the urge to overload your messages with fluffy clichés or inflammatory statements. Keep the behavior (CTA) goal in mind, whether it is for the reader to click a link to your website for more information or click a button to purchase something and write concisely to bring the consumer to a conversion.

Center content around what the readers would enjoy or need, not the interests of the person creating the content. Utilize web or other analytics to understand which site content or pages do best and use that information in conjunction with your targeted message to guide your email content. Integrate personalization into your content. Sending the right message at the right time will increase your click through rate and thereby your conversions rate. Personalized subject lines lead to increased opening rates. Then take it beyond using a consumer’s first name in the subject line and utilize metrics regarding purchase history, location, and online behaviors to personalize content as well. This type of copy leads to greater engagement and increased click-through rates. It also helps you to establish a relationship with your customers.

Not all emails have to promote your business, products and services. Thank you, birthday, and holiday messages can all help build your relationships with customers. Seasonal content can help increase open rates but be ahead of the curve so your messages aren’t lost in a sea of holiday emails. Send welcome emails to new customers immediately after they visit, sign-up or purchase from you. Personalize the messages and reiterate the benefits recipients will receive through your newly built connection.

Interactive emails boost customer engagement. Give readers things to click on or include GIFs and videos (optimized, of course) to add entertainment value. Hubspot found that 43% of customers would like marketers to utilize more video content. Just be sure to invest the time and money necessary to promote professional quality videos that don’t simply entertain, but also compel readers to take action. MailChimp recommends a ratio of 80% text to 20% images to keep load time quick and to not frustrate readers who don’t download the images.

Encourage recipients to share information in your messages. Make it easy with a “share” button and make it compelling with a special discount code as a reward. If that sort of promotion is not in line with your organization’s way of doing business, you can simply ask readers to share your email if they found the content worthwhile. It is also good practice to include links to your website and social media profiles on emails for those consumers who want to learn more. 

All emails should include a CTA whether it is to click a link to visit your website or to purchase a product or service. Your CTAs are the greatest factor in determining whether or not you achieve the goal set for an email. Email versions of CTAs have a larger job than those on your website. They have to inspire consumers not only to do something next, but to leave their current platform in order to do it.

The goal of a CTA should be to clearly and specifically get the consumer to do something. Use honest and straightforward language. Avoid sarcasm and over-the-top messages that read like clickbait. Create CTAs that use concise language – the shorter the better. Use strong action verbs to compel readers to comply. “Save your seat.” vs. “Registration”. Include action words that provide clear instruction for what to do next. Word them to be “now-focused” giving a sense of urgency – time-sensitive or a limited inventory or opportunity.

Include exclusive offers for email customers only. Or, take it one step further and include a “members only” offer as this may encourage some people to sign up and commit to a business relationship. Combine the two and include both a guest offer and member offer so no one is left out or put off, but all do have the opportunity to take advantage of the “best” offer available.

Create eye-catching CTA buttons that are colorful with large, readable text. The psychology behind colors is certainly a consideration in marketing. Poor choices may negatively impact the performance of your email. It is essential for colors to be carefully selected to keep background things in the background and help important information stand out. Use one color consistently and only for your CTA buttons. Pick a color that stands out from the rest of the email content.

In regards to placement, located above the fold is ideal, near an attention-grabbing image but don’t be afraid to situate a CTA in multiple places within an email. That way scrolling isn’t necessary once the urge to click hits. Help the button stand out even more by using white space around it. It is always a good idea to test your buttons to make sure they work and send people where you want them to go. You should also test different CTAs (message, color, placement) to see which perform best.

Use automation software to create emails or series of emails that are triggered by time or behavior. Create different tracks for various segments of your target audience based on where they are in the marketing funnel or what responses you are receiving from them. Whether pushing a button to send or setting up auto messages, be aware of timing. Most people wouldn’t answer the phone at midnight and will raise an eyebrow at emails that come in at 11PM.  Morning and “after work” emails tend to perform well and it’s best to avoid Mondays so your message isn’t lost in a mass of weekend emails.

Beyond software that will automatically send messages, there is a new world of Artificial Intelligence (AI) that is changing the landscape of email. You can use machine learning to choose the best time to send emails and use AI tools that check subject lines, headlines, and content to predict a recipient’s response. This technology can also be used to personalize messages based on products or services the consumer previously viewed.

Monitor email performance and tweak underperforming messages. Try A/B testing (two versions) of subject lines, content, and CTAs to see which has the best performance for opens and click-throughs. Tracking performance data like clicks and open rates can help you understand which content your subscribers are responding to and which content they are ignoring. It also allows you to retarget or delete subscribers who never open your emails and focus on those consumers who are interacting with your brand.

A reminder on some basics. Proofread and edit all messages prior to sending them. Proper grammar is a must as is correct spelling. Test and optimize any landing pages that your emails provide links to and test all links and buttons in the emails to ensure there is no missing data or broken links. It is also a good idea to test messages on multiple devices to guarantee responsivity. And remember, per anti-spam laws, you must provide a link that readers can use to unsubscribe from receiving your emails.

The experts at Strategy Driven Marketing are ready to design top-notch marketing campaigns for your business. If you want to put life back into your email efforts and take full advantage of this powerful marketing channel, contact us today.