While email marketing may be considered “old school” given the flourishing rise of social media and various digital paid media options, this channel is still incredibly relevant and effective. Compared to its counterparts, email has many advantages: It’s delivered directly to your customers digital mailbox, it can be highly personalized, and its considerably cheaper than many other marketing tactics. What’s more, by the year 2020, email will be used by 3 billion people - that’s almost half of the world’s population. Additionally, email’s ROI is massive. For every $1 spent, you can expect to an average return of $38.
However, before we start crunching our open and click-through rates, it is important to recognize that highly effective emails are only achieved if best practices are being implemented. Here are some of the most effective practices you should be considering and implementing while aiming to reach your audience and grow your business.
DEFINE THE GOAL
Defining the goal of the email will help influence all other aspects from subject line, to imagery, to call-to-action, and beyond. This is an absolutely critical step. For instance, if your goal is to drive website traffic; develop an intriguing subject line followed by a compelling call-to-action. Then, use the email as a tactic to drive traffic to a landing page on your website.
KEEP MOBILE USERS TOP OF MIND
Did you know that 54% of all email opens now happen on a mobile device? That said, over half of your readers will see your message on a small screen. Responsive design is one of the best ways to help ensure that the mobile users in your target audience are getting an optimum experience when reading your emails.
CONTENT & ORGANIZATION IS IMPERATIVE
Spend time creating and improving your subject line - For most people, deciding whether to open an email that lands in their inbox is largely determined by the sender’s name and the subject line. Your subject line should be concise (we recommend between 6-10 words) and as descriptive as possible. A colorful subject line will set the stage for your first line and should entice subscribers to open the email.
Connect the subject line to the first line of the email - Now that your enticing subject line has readers opening your email the first line of the email should follow with a message that's clearly related to the subject line. Remember, too, the number of lines that will appear will vary depending on your email platform
Be clear, concise, and conversational. If your message is fuzzy, disorganized, or indirect, nobody will take the time to figure it out. Therein lies one of the great strengths of email: it’s a direct conversation with the recipient. Consider the next few points:
- Have a clear sense of purpose. Your reader is busy and if they don't understand the email’s message quickly, they won't wait long before they hit 'delete'.
- Make your email concise. The optimal length of an email has been much debated. But according to Boomerang’s data, emails between 50 and 125 words had the best response rates at just above 50%.
- Sound conversational versus resorting to the hard sell. Believe in your message but don’t undermine your brand by being too assertive or making demands of your reader. You wouldn’t do this in everyday verbal communication, so don’t do it here either.
Adding images can really help to bring your email to life and make a lasting impression on your reader. However, they can also have the opposite effect as well. A couple of common mistakes include using images that stray from you brand, not sizing the images correctly, using too many images, or using the wrong final type.
To start, research what types of images are getting the most engagement on social media and adding them to your next campaign.
CREATE RELEVANT AND POINTED CALLS TO ACTION
Every email needs a call-to-action. Is yours relevant? To create an impactful CTA, it should contain short, specific, and clear directions that guide the subscriber to perform an action (such as making a purchase, downloading an eBook, or RSVP’ing for an event).
Also, the buttons should be visually enticing drawing the eye of the reader, especially those viewing your email on a smartphone. Make the button size noticeable and use a color that causes the CTA to pop.
SEGMENT YOUR CONTACTS
Most marketers are grouping subscribers into specific segments. Whether you’ve split your list by location, consumption history/buying habits and frequency, gender identification, age, etc, segmentation is worth your time. Take this stat for instance: segmented and targeted emails generate 58% of all revenue, according to research from DMA. By segmenting your lists, you are then able to send more personalized and relevant content to your prospects and customers.
TIME IT RIGHT
Timing your emails correctly is highly important, and one of the best email marketing tactics you have to work with. There's no singular best send time that fits all businesses, but here are some basic guidelines.
Open rates are highest mid-morning with right around 10:00 a.m. being the optimal time to send. While competing studies vie for which week day is best to send, we recommend scheduling on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. Avoid Mondays (stressed customers are uninterested in reading an email that has no bearing on their busy week ahead) and Fridays (should be pretty self-explanatory, it’s the weekend!).
TRY A/B TESTING
A/B testing means testing two versions of a message to hone a campaign. You can use A/B testing to examine any single variable. Start by dividing your recipient list into halves, then tweak variables accordingly from subject lines to alternate first lines to calls-to-action, or even types of capitalization to see how readers respond.
MEASURE, TWEAK, REPEAT
Test, analyze, tweak, repeat: the best marketers test their email marketing tactics relentlessly. Compile as much data about your audience as you can while you measure and be prepared to methodically re-evaluate and revise your approach.
While all these tips are incredibly beneficial and should be implemented, the most important suggestion we can offer is actually quite simple: treat your subscribers like humans. After all, every single person on your list made a conscious decision to be on your list and receive emails from you. Be a genuine resource for them and your results will speak for themselves. Good luck!