Sending out e-mails to your audience is a great way of being able to communicate with potential and existing customers. That being said, not all e-mail campaigns are created equal, and there are many ways in which e-mail marketing can quickly become ineffective. So how can you establish an effective e-mail strategy?
Free e-mails shouldn’t mean less effort
Firstly, a common mistake that many brands make is forgetting the value e-mail campaigns hold. According to DMA, e-mail marketing has a return-on-investment of 3800%. Meanwhile, McKinsey has found that the average order value of an e-mail is at least three times higher than that of social media, with e-mail also considered 40 times more effective in the acquisition of new customers than Facebook or Twitter.
A common mistake brands make is forgetting the value e-mail campaigns hold.
With such a wealth of possibilities, establishing an e-mail campaign shouldn’t be taken lightly. Due to the fact it typically doesn’t cost anything to send out e-mails, however, they often become seen as something ‘less than’. Brands don’t spend as much time thinking through what they want to say, or putting budget into creating an effective campaign. Yet, just as you would with printed flyers, exhibition branding, or digital advertisements, you need to also put the same effort into your e-mails. They’re going to be landing into someone’s inbox. Every e-mail address on your mailing list is a real human with potential influence. Treat them and their time with the respect it deserves, and ensure everything you send out is considered and thoughtful. Additionally, ensure you are providing value. They need to find what you’re sending useful, or they’ll switch off.
Make your subject line count
Think how many e-mails you receive per day – dozens, hundreds, maybe even close to thousands. You have to work on the premise that your customer is as bombarded as you are, and is completely and utterly attention-starved. How are you going to capture their attention amongst all that noise to stop them from deleting your e-mail before they have even seen it? Your greatest shot is with your subject line, so make it count.
eConsultancy found that 74% of marketers believe targeted personalisation increases customer engagement, while Campaign Monitor reports that e-mails with personalised subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened. Experian also found that personalised e-mails deliver six times higher transaction rates, while Aberdeen learnt that personalised e-mails can improve click-through rates by an average of 14%. For Experian, this number was even higher, with personalised promotional e-mails achieving a 29% higher unique open rate through 2013, and 41% more unique click-throughs.
74% of marketers believe targeted personalisation increases customer engagement.
Personalisation can involve a number of strategies – from including the sender’s name (which can be captured when they sign up to your mailing list) to their location (if you have a way of establishing their geographical location, either through sign-up information or post-sign-up communications). Including the first name of the recipient in a subject line is statistically more likely to see your e-mail get opened. If you can combine this with something meaningful, such as recognising when it is their birthday or an important event that will matter to them, you’ll be able to build a great rapport through effective personalisation and great timing coming together. Uber and Groupon are both great examples of businesses that send location-specific e-mails; these matter far more to customers than something being sent relating to a city four or so hours away.
Some of the key ways to improve your e-mail subject line beyond personalisation include keeping it short and sweet. With around 40% of e-mails getting opened on a mobile phone first, there’s typically not much space for long headlines. Keep it fewer than 50 characters so it can be easily scanned. If you can avoid frivolous detail, do so. Your words all matter. Adestra conducted a study that found subject lines that contained the word ‘newsletter’ saw an 18.7% decrease in open rates. Make sure you tell readers what is inside the e-mail, but don’t make false promises. They’ll soon lose trust in you if they open the e-mail, only to find it doesn’t contain what had peaked their interest. This can ultimately result in a lower open rate and a higher unsubscribe rate.
Subject lines that contained the word ‘newsletter’ saw an 18.7% decrease in open rates.
Create a unique design
Once you have managed to capture your audience’s attention, you need to keep it beyond a matter of seconds in order for them to click through to your website or product. Having a unique and consistent design will help you to develop engagement with your subscribers. For starters, your e-mail must have a responsive e-mail design. With mobile phones used in almost half of all instances when opening e-mail, it should be easy to read on phones, tablets and laptops/desktops. Smart Insights report that 80% of people will delete an e-mail if it doesn’t look good on their mobile device.
Your design needs to get your point across quickly. Studies have found that people will check their phones, on average, around 150 times a day. You need to reach out to them instantly. 97% of people will only view an e-mail once, so the experience you provide should be memorable and impactful. This also relates back to point #1 – put effort into your campaigns. If people can see you have spent energy on your e-mail design, there is a much greater chance they will reciprocate this with their precious time.
Your design needs to get your point across quickly. Studies have found that people will check their phones, on average, around 150 times a day.
Virgin trains are a great example of a brand who have got their e-mail designs cracked. Even if the subject matter isn’t always relevant, the e-mail is typically engaging, interesting and – on occasion – entertaining thanks to witty puns or graphics. They quite often use GIFs, which mean aspects of their newsletters may be flashing to capture attention.
NEOM are another brand, this time within the health and wellbeing industry, who provide fantastic e-mail communications. They have a clear design style, which is cohesive throughout all their communications. It perfectly captures their content, while also providing a completely new user experience to anything found elsewhere. Their e-mail marketing stands out as a clear communications channel in itself, and always makes recipients want to have a look to see the design and content of every e-mail. Keep it fresh, keep it relevant, and keep it interesting – through the lens of a considered, clear layout.
Consistency is king
Whether it’s the blogs you are writing, the products you’re launching, the words and images you’re using across all your branding, or the newsletters you’re sending, consistency really is king. Humans are creatures of habit. Sending your e-mails on a particular day, or at a certain time, soon becomes something people look out for and expect. This can play a key role in improving your open rates and click-throughs.
Humans are creatures of habit. Sending your e-mails on a particular day, or at a certain time, soon becomes something people look out for and expect.
Who Is Hosting This found that when businesses send four e-mails per month, this significantly increases how many consumers decide to open more than one e-mail. Meanwhile, Database Marketing reports that open rates are seen at their highest level when companies are sending two e-mails per month. This can feel like a lot of work though (we know, we’ve been there!), especially when you’re a small company with limited time on your hands. So what can do you?
Firstly, create a content strategy so you have a very clear idea of when you will be sending your e-mails, what their subject line will be, and what content or promotional offers they will contain. This will help your communications feel cohesive and considered. It will also mean you don’t need to rush anything, and can start preparing your e-mails ahead of time.
Automated e-mail messages have higher open rates by an average of 70.5%, and higher click-through rates of 152% compared with ‘business as usual’ marketing messages.
Ascend2 report that e-mail marketing technology is used by 82% of B2B and B2C companies. You won’t be alone by deciding to use e-mail automation systems in order to send your campaigns out on the date and time required in a consistent flow. By putting them all together at one time, you can dedicate one day to creating several weeks worth of campaigns. This can then be a weight off your mind for the remaining weeks until you need to do this again.
Just keep in mind what you are sending out and when, just in case something should need changing or editing after they’ve been prepared. Epsilon E-mail Institute comments that automated e-mail messages have higher open rates by an average of 70.5%, and higher click-through rates of 152% compared with ‘business as usual’ marketing messages. eMarketer also reports conversion rates as high as 50% for B2C marketers leveraging automation.
Even if you choose to send out all your e-mail campaigns manually, the important thing is to be consistent in how frequently you send them, and when you choose to do so. Additionally, ensuring the words you are using are on-brand, the content feels consistent with other e-mails you have sent, and the design feels in keeping with your branding are also important. Consistency should flow through every vein of your brand in order to improve memorability and impact.
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