It’s difficult to pinpoint a time when email has been the height of tech fashion. It was probably in the mid-to-late-2000s – before Apple came along and managed to pry the BlackBerrys out of peoples’ hands.
Since then, we’ve seen social media, video, memes, and the general idea of ‘viral’ content explode. If you want to look like you’re at the cutting edge of marketing, you probably need to be sitting on a beanbag in a break-out area talking about edgy content campaigns – not poring over copy for email newsletters.
As trends move, email could well find itself relegated to the bottom of your to-do list – but that’s exactly why you should be giving it plenty of thought.
Email endures. Your email app never gets deleted from your phone – nor does it have the notifications shut off so you can get some work done. Checking your email can be done in a few seconds – whereas checking your Instagram feed is likely to require a hefty amount of scrolling before flitting between messages and exploring new content.
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Email is focused, it’s simple, and it delivers – but you’ve got to do it well. Email marketing will continue to represent a strong ROI – as long as you make sure you’re doing everything you can to focus your campaigns correctly. Here’s how you can do exactly that:
Use a responsive template
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It’s now fairly well-known that mobile makes up the majority of webpage traffic worldwide – 52.2% to be exact. In the US, that figure is higher still – with 57% of people using their mobile device to browse webpages.
So, optimize for mobile right?
Well, it’s not quite that simple when it comes to email. As the above article from CampaignMonitor highlights, while 50% of emails appear to be opened on mobile, there’s a large number of email recipients that appear to use mobile to quickly skim their email – before going back to explore in greater detail on a desktop device later.
Rather than optimizing for one specific device, make sure you’re using responsive templates that keep everything in your email as-intended whatever device it’s opened on. Optimization is simple if you’re using a service like Mailchimp – but if you’re managing your campaigns without the help of a marketing platform, you might want to think about having a custom responsive template created. When people revisit emails the click-through-rates you’ll typically see go through the roof – therefore, a responsive template is a small investment that is likely to repay itself many, many times over.
Segment your email list
Photo by Emile Guillemot
Segmenting your email list is one of those comments that you’ll see bandied about lots of email marketing discussions – but few people will tell you exactly why/how you should be doing it.
Essentially, to ‘segment’ any list of customers is to break them down into distinguishable groups based on their consumer behavior. As such, there’s no prescriptive way to funnel people into different segments – instead, you might want to ask yourself who you’d like to target with certain campaigns.
Might people who have bought product A be interested in product B?
Would a special offer for newsletter customers convert them into paying customers?
Could a VIP invitation interest repeat customers?
There’s literally no end to the segments you can create. What did they buy? When did they buy? Where are they based? What was their spend? Who bought it in blue? And so on…
When you’ve worked out which audiences you’d like to communicate with, you can start designing campaigns to suit what appears to be their individual motivations. This approach is immensely powerful – and, when you compare conversion rates to full-email-list marketing, you’re going to see enormous conversion improvements.
Have a clear CTA
I create a lot of copy for email marketing campaigns – and the process usually starts with a review of what a company is doing at the moment. Often, ‘what a company is doing at the moment’ looks a lot like a desperate date frantically blabbering about everything they like/do in an attempt to find some common ground with the person they’re sitting opposite.
What most companies (and desperate daters) don’t realize is that by throwing all this information at the person they’re communicating with, they’re significantly reducing their chances of getting the desired outcome. In fact, unless you’re being very clear with your audience, you’re wasting your time and resources sending the email.
If you’ve segmented your email list, the next step is creating the desired outcome for those customers based around what you already know about them. Create your email around this outcome – and this outcome only.
When you give people numerous options, you have to water down the power of the message. Effectively, ‘Click here to see what’s in our 50% off sale’ becomes ‘You can click here to see what’s in the sale, or you can keep reading to hear about some company news, or you can scroll to the bottom for a referral code’ – etc.
Have one clear call-to-action (CTA) – and one only. Got another? Decide which is priority and design another email for another time.
Embrace double opt-in
If you’ve managed to get someone signed up to your email list, why on Earth would you want to give them the chance to jump-ship immediately?!
Well, the answer is really all about the quality of your list – and if you value quality over quantity (which you should) – then sending an email that requires a further link to be clicked to cement that person’s place on your email list is a must. When you do, you get to know that everyone on your list actually wants to be there – it’s the difference between having 10 good customers visit your store – or 20 people who you’ve just rounded up and forced through your doors after they looked in your window.
So, a double-opt-in list is more likely to convert – but that’s not the only reason you need to be thinking about making sure your recipients want to hear from you.
If you’ve got any customers from the EU member states (which is practically all of Europe) you need to make sure you abide by their General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). GDPR makes it an offense to market to people who have not double opted-in to your communications – and companies are starting to see fines if they don’t. Even if you take your chances with GDPR – you’ll quickly find yourself heading for people’s spam folders by default if enough of your email communications are flagged as unsolicited – a punishment that can impact anything coming from your domain in the future too.
Photo by Pixabay
If you’re not split testing your email marketing efforts you’re missing an extremely effective trick.
Split testing is the science involved with breaking your audience into two or more groups – before trying different emails to each group. Now, ‘different emails’ might sound like a lot of work – but actually, you’re only going to be adjusting one small variable. What that variable is will depend on you – but you’ll want to see what impact it has on your conversion rate – and, luckily, you’re going to be able to do that easily since you’ve now got two distinct audiences and an ability to put different links in the emails.
So – what should you split test?
Well, the options are virtually endless. Do you think you might get a better click-through-rate (CTR) if you worded the CTA differently? Perhaps a different header image? Or maybe you’re over-estimating the importance of the email copy and you should just place the CTA and link at the top of the email? Could a better subject line boost conversions?
There are no definite answers here – just as there are no right or wrong way elements to split test – as long as you’re only adjusting one variable at a time.
It’s useful to think of split testing as something that you’re going to be working on over the life of your brand or email marketing efforts. You’ll never achieve a 100% open rate or conversion rate – but you will be able to make micro-adjustments that will teach you how to make the most of the next campaign you work on.