With the number of email users worldwide now passing 4 billion, email marketing is as vital as ever for reaching, engaging, and retaining customers. That’s as true for a multi-million-dollar corporation as it is for a small business or start-up. It’s cost-effective too. Email marketing famously yields $38 in ROI for every dollar spent and offers a nonintrusive channel for attracting your customers’ attention, educating and informing them, and driving conversions. The majority of your most important communication with your customers won’t be on social (where just 5% of your followers will see your organic posts) but by email — provided you have their permission and are set up to land in their inbox rather than their spam folder.
Use email marketing fully and you can maximize your average customer lifetime value, increase customer retention, and target the all-important 20% of engaged customers who will ultimately deliver 80% of your revenue, according to the Pareto principle. Follow these five essential starting points that any email marketing agency can incorporate in their efforts.
1. It All Hangs on the Subject Line
Every email you send is competing for attention in the inbox, and nothing sets your emails apart from the rest like a compelling subject line. With the average open rate for email hovering at 21%, and varying greatly between industries, you have a clear benchmark for whether your open rates are underperforming or not. Try the following techniques, test relentlessly, and you should see your open rates improve:
Keep It Short
Not only is a short subject line more distinctive in the inbox, it will also stop your text being truncated on mobile. Aim for 41 to 50 characters, giving you just five or six words to get the message across.
Keep It Honest
Do grab attention, but don’t resort to clickbait. If you promise something in the subject line that is not present in the email, you will not only drive up your unsubscribe and spam complaint rates, but you could fall afoul of CAN-SPAM laws.
Certain words or characters trigger spam filters, particularly “buy,” “free,” “sale,” and “[email protected]#$%&.” Avoid writing in ALL CAPS, too.
Use Your Power Words
Reach for the words that convert, mainly because they consistently trigger curiosity, FOMO, vanity, or greed. Context is important, of course, but words such as “you,” “upgrade,” “just,” and “monthly” often feature in high-performing subject lines.
As long as it’s on-brand, an emoji at the end of a subject line gives your subject line inbox appeal and a human touch. 👍
Test Your Best Line
You can even run your subject lines through a testing tool to see how they match up. Your first point of reference, however, should be the insights you’ve gathered about your audience according to your data.
2. Personalization Is Powerful
Your email should always be written to a single reader rather than your audience as a whole. Personalization starts with the subject line, which is easy to set up using [FIRST_NAME] tags available through your email service provider. Subject lines with personalization are 26% more likely to be opened, while adding personalization to your calls to action can increase clicks by over 200%.
A subject line that reads “[RECIPIENT’S_NAME], Check Out This Week’s Upcoming Events” is likely to outperform “Check Out This Week’s Upcoming Events.”
You don’t have to include the name. You can also personalize your call to action (CTA) by adapting it to a return customer rather than first-time buyer, or simply adding touches like “View my cart” rather than “View cart.”
3. Your Call to Action Is the Goal
Arguably the most important metric in email marketing is your click-through rate (CTR), and that comes down to the prominence and clarity of your call to action. Bear in mind that once an email is opened, you have less than two seconds to catch the reader’s attention. You then have about five or six seconds to keep it. We don’t generally read emails from start to finish. Rushed and distracted, most of us scan the headline and subheadings and make a subconscious decision in milliseconds whether to read on or return to what we were doing. A clear and visible call to action button (or two) is essential for closing the deal when you have secured that hard-won attention.
Use Strong, Clear Verbs
Start your CTAs with an unambiguous command, like “buy,” “download,” or “find.”
“Now” is always powerful, but “today,” “today only,” and other time-sensitive language will also give your CTRs a boost.
Make sure that users are clear about what is on the other side of the click; if you’re asking them to “buy now,” the CTA should point to the product page, not the landing page.
Use contrasting button colors that are impossible to miss, give your CTAs white space between text blocks, and make sure you have at least one above the line so that it’s visible in the header without the recipient needing to scroll.
4. Aim for Quality Over Quantity
When it comes to email marketing, more is not always better, especially as your list size grows. In fact, you should always try to avoid sending messages to your entire list. Aim instead to create strategic segments informed by user behavior. Not only will this maintain a healthy IP reputation and inbox rate, you’ll be able to target your most valuable segments more effectively.
For example, it’s always a good idea to create a segment of new members who might benefit from more informative emails. On the other hand, a segment of your most active users (those who open/click your emails) will be a better choice to use for more frequent email blasts. As you grow your email list, aim to establish these key segments:
30-, 60-, and 90-Day Engaged
Most of your revenue and responses will come from subscribers who either purchased or opened an email in the last 30 days. These are the users you want to keep updated regularly, whereas those who have lapsed need reminding of why they were first interested in your business.
Create a separate list for your biggest-spending and most engaged users, and offer them bigger discounts, early-bird previews, and so on.
Lapsed or Sunset Subscribers
Carry on sending emails to disengaged subscribers and you’ll ultimately drive up your spam rates. Offer those subscribers who haven’t opened or engaged in the last 90 days a final chance to come back, and remove them from your list if they don’t.
5. Test, Test, and Test Again
The beauty of email marketing is that it unearths a huge amount of valuable customer data that reveals what types of content resonates best, what offers really hit the mark, and even what time of day people are most likely to open their mail. A/B testing separates the winning formulas from the rest. By sending out different versions of an email campaign to your subscriber list, you can see the effects of changing specific elements, such as subject lines with or without personalization, the color of a CTA button, or an HTML email versus a plain-text email.
The options are limitless, but it’s important to test only one element at a time and to focus on metrics that matter. If your click-through rates are low, for example, you may want to test different types of CTA button. If your open rates are plummeting, that’s your cue to test long versus short lines, emoji, or personalization, perhaps. A/B testing is the most important step to improving your email metrics and learning about your list. You should always try and learn something from every A/B test you do.
Email marketing can make a significant impact on your business if handled with care. Using the steps listed here will get you headed in the right direction, but it won’t necessarily mean the job is done. For an expert perspective on email marketing, get in touch with our Lifecycle Marketing team today.