Email marketing has been around for a long time and has evolved considerably over the years. Throughout changes in technology and how businesses connect with their consumers and communities, email marketing remains one of the most effective components of a digital marketing campaign. When executed well, it offers great insight to what your audience is interested in, and how to convert leads into customers.
Here are ten practices that will help increase your open rates, engagement, and the overall effectiveness of your email marketing campaigns.
1. Brand consistency: Your email campaigns must be consistent with your branding. The reader should be able to look at the email and, without even reading one word, know it is from your organization. Seems pretty logical, but I have seen email campaigns that stray far from what the rest of the brand looks like, and it doesn’t make sense to me.
2. Images: Imagery is an important part of any email campaign. Our eyes are drawn to images and graphics, and when effective, they deliver your message in a strong manner that can be understood quickly. People are weeding through (sometimes) hundreds of emails in their inboxes. The less they have to read to “get” your message, the better.
3. Less is more: Continuing on this theme, unless you are writing a newsletter for your audience, the less copy your email has, the better. Large blocks of content can put a reader off, so be direct and succinct. If you are writing an email newsletter, a great tactic is to include an image, headline and 1-2 introductory sentences for each article, and then a “read more” link that takes the reader to the full article on your website. It makes your email seem less overwhelming, and the links to your site can help with your SEO initiatives.
4. Link love: Make sure your email campaign is not a dead end for the reader. Your logo should link to your site. If it makes sense to do so, include your site’s navigation as part of your header (many online stores and restaurants do this, so the reader can start shopping or planning their next visit right away.) This is another one that seems clear, but I have received email campaigns where I had no way of getting to the website from the email. Not good.
5. Hook them early: A strong email subject line is a must. It needs to stand out from all the other subject lines your recipient is scanning in their inbox, and say “Open ME!” (But don’t use all caps in your subject line. It looks spammy.) There are some great tools out there, like SubjectLine, that analyze how strong your subject line is and offer tips on how to improve it.
6. Use A/B testing: An A/B test lets you try a couple of different subject lines to see which one gets the best open rates. It’s a great way to “road test” a new subject line strategy and offers insight on how to improve your subject line writing. (The email marketing vendor you are using should offer A/B testing.)
7. Tell them what you want: Whatever the goal of your email is, include a clear, strong call-to-action that leads your reader to take the action you want them to take, whether it’s registering for an event, making a donation, signing up for more information, or “getting their shop on.”
8. Don’t be a spammer, pt. 1: Don’t buy your email contacts. Make sure they have chosen (“opted in”) at some point to receive communication from you. (In fact, a reputable email marketing vendor will not allow you to use a list that you have purchased, and they have ways of knowing if a list is purchased, even if you don’t disclose it.) An easy way to let people opt in is to include an email list signup on your website that is connected to your email marketing vendor.
9. Don’t be a spammer, pt. 2: As part of the CAN-SPAM Act passed in 2003, your email must include a valid physical address in the footer.
10, Send it at the right time: There are certain days of the week and times of day that are ideal for sending email, and they may not be what you are expecting. Try out some different send days and times, analyze the results and adjust your send schedule to increase your open and click-through rates as much as possible.
What other strategies have you used to boost the performance of your email marketing? Share your ideas in the comments!