Recently I decided to reduce the insane number of emails I was receiving every day so as each marketing email landed in my inbox I made a quick judgement about whether to remove myself from the database or to stay in the loop. Speed reading the content while scrolling all the way to the bottom of to find the ‘unsubscribe’ link I started thinking (with my marketers hat on) about which ones made the cut and why.
In our digitally connected world we are bombarded with marketing information all day every day. So what can businesses do to get more engagement from email direct marketing and is it still an effective marketing tool?
- Segment your email lists
First and foremost it’s important to understand WHO you are sending emails to. By better understanding who your customers (subscribers) really are you can create more engaging and relevant content for your emails (check out our recent post on this). Sometimes one standard email for your entire database is not the best option. Some subscribers may be more interested in sales/discounts while others want premium access before anyone else in the general public. Providing relevant content can improve your open and click through rate while reducing your unsubscribes.
- Make sure your emails are mobile friendly
The stats suggest that more than 50% of email is now read on a mobile device and many people will simply delete an email immediately if it doesn’t display correctly on their mobile. So create email content that is mobile and tablet friendly. Mailchimp have some great tips on making your emails mobile friendly and enable you to preview what your email would look like on different devices/browsers.
- Make your subject line compelling
You win or lose with a subject line and they can make or break a campaign so you want to make it as compelling as possible. They need to be compelling enough to make people open them but friendly enough that they are not turned off (by something too salesy). Finding that perfect balance Is not easy but when your open/read rate is so significantly impacted by 5 words in a subject line it’s worth putting in the effort to come up with something really attention grabbing. Short subjects with a sense of urgency such as ‘Last chance!’ ‘Ends tonight!’ etc. tend to get an increase in open rate and using a personalized first name can also make your email stand out in a jam packed inbox. Emails with a personalized subject line are 26% more likely to be opened.
- Personalise your email
Email marketing tools such as Mailchimp make it really simple to personalize your content. Start with the basics like including the recipient’s first name in the email and if you have the data available to you then personalize the email with compelling content for a stronger call to action. For example, you could use past purchase behavior to determine which products/sales are featured within the email. The more recipient data you can use to personalize the email the more effective the campaign will be.
- Have a clear call to action (CTA)
One of the most common mistakes businesses make is not having a clear call to action – what do you want your customers to do? Come into the store, update their details, register for your event, refer their friends? If a reader can’t determine what you want them to do within the first 5-10 seconds they are likely to click the back button on their browser or delete the email. So think about what it is you want your customers to do and make sure that it’s clear. It’s best to have a different set of eyes check this for you as sometimes what you think is completely clear is ambiguous to someone outside the business.
- Consider delivery times
Your customers and email subscribers are busy people so consider what times they are likely to be reading email (with the ability to take whatever action you want them to). You could test your campaigns by sending at different times to see when you get better read/open rates. Otherwise email campaign tools such as Mailchimp will automatically schedule your email at the optimal time – let them figure it out for you.
- Cut out words that trigger SPAM filters
More than 100 billion emails are marked as SPAM every day as email programs automatically filter messages that appear to deceive and scam readers. ReturnPath, about 21% of permission-based emails sent by legitimate email marketers end up in junk folders. Avoid using key words that are associated with SPAM such as “big bucks,” “winning”, “earn per week,” “free money,” etc. Other triggers for SPAM filters include a subject line in all caps or the words “sale,” “free,” “rich” or “deal.”
- Cut out the fluff
Keep your emails short and to the point. Say what you have to say in as few words as possible. Find words that pique the readers interest at a glance using bold headings/subheadings supported by images and the get to the point with what action you want them to take. People simply don’t have the time to read your essay explaining why they need your product or service. Edit, edit and edit again removing as much unnecessary text as you can. Make your emails easy and quick to consume and people will be more likely to read and less likely to unsubscribe.
- Encourage people to share and keep it social
Even if your readers are not interested in the offers you’ve included, they might forward the message to a friend, family member or colleague. And with all calls to action it is important to make that step as easy as possible so be sure to include buttons that enable people to share with a click. To reach a bigger audience organically you can use custom social sharing links in each email. These links allow recipients to seamlessly promote your message to their social networks. This can be with text or icons which appear throughout the content. As a minimum, your email template should include links to all of you social media accounts.
- Send from a real person
Send emails from a real person that people can reply to. Emails coming from addresses such as firstname.lastname@example.org are likely to trigger SPAM filters and are also completely impersonal. More and more we want to engage with businesses as if they were human beings. So give your emails an identity, send them from an account recipients can actually reply to. They also look better in someone’s email inbox so they are more likely to be opened.
- Analyse the results
As with all marketing strategy the best way to make decisions is based on knowledge. After you send out every campaign, it is imperative that you read your results, learn from them, adjust accordingly, rinse and repeat. Email metrics can help determine the effectiveness of communications and fine tune them to improve their efficiency. So what are these metrics and how do we use them? The open rate measures recipients’ initial interest in the email. How well have you convinced recipients to open the email? The click through rate tells both how interested recipients were in the text/images/content and how clear our call to action was. To take this a step further you might want to consider your conversion rate (of the people who clicked through, did they make a purchase, register for your event, call your business etc). Finally, the unsubscribe rate to measure how well your email campaign holds the subscribers’ interest over the long run.
We have a team of experienced direct marketing strategists and we love to analyse data. So get in touch if you want some help revamping your current EDM engagement strategy to sky rocket your results.