Email. The 40-year old communication system is oft touted as ‘On its way out’ but the evidence is pointing to the contrary. With a 6% projected annual growth rate over the next four years and 182 billion emails sent each day, it’s clear email is going nowhere. However, email marketing is becoming increasingly difficult as consumers are bombarded day in and day out with online ads and spam. It’s important that your content cuts through the clutter. Here are some tips on how to do just that:
1. Have a strong subject line.
Your subject line will vary depending on your brand and the type of communication you are sending. This may sound counter-intuitive, but a snappy subject line is not always the best course of action. The best subject lines are short and to the point. In order words, as I have said before on this blog, don’t make your audience feel like they’re being sold to.
For example, if your email is a company newsletter, you may enjoy more engagement with a simple, descriptive subject line like “October 2014 Newsletter.” Mailchimp’s Subject Line Comparison shows research to support this with the best open rates coming from subject lines like “[Company Name] Sales & Marketing Newsletter” or “We’re Throwing a Party” and the worst from subject lines like “You Asked For More…” and “Valentine’s Day Salon and Spa Specials!”
Mailchimp also provides us with research on the three top words to avoid when creating your subject line. Most of us already know to avoid the word “Free” as it reads as spam, but recent research has unearthed three more that are to be avoided: Help, Percent off, and Reminder. These words weren’t found to trigger any spam filters but did negatively affect open rates.
This is all well and good if you are sending a newsletter, but what are you to do if your emails are purely promotional? Try to keep the subject lines short and relevant, avoiding capital letters and exclamation points. In short, tell your subscribers what is in the email. For more subject line tips, check out Mailchimp’s Best Practices For Email Guide. The information they provide is applicable to all email marketing platforms.
2. Design your Email
This might sound like I’m stating the obvious but make sure you take the time to design your email well. An easy way to asses your design is to keep an eye on any big-brand newsletters you’re subscribed to and try to ask yourself if the look & feel of yours are comparable. You don’t need big-brand money to create beautiful emails. Most email services now come with drag and drop features, and pre-loaded templates to help your brand look its best. If you’re looking for some inspiration, a quick google of “Creative Email Newsletters” should get the ball rolling for you. I particularly like Awwwards.com’s collection of 16 Revolutionary Email Newsletter Designs.
An important thing to note when designing or re-designing your emails is that simplicity is often the best strategy. Try not to let your emails get too busy, and keep the color palette limited.
3. Open with a strong image
The internet is a visual place so make sure you’re engaging subscribers with strong imagery from the outset. Try to choose photographs or colorful graphics rather than images with lots of text.
4. Include Calls to Action Early On
Most subscribers ignore content at the bottom of an email so it’s the last place you want to include a call to action! If you have special offers or new products that aren’t related to the main content of the newsletter create a sidebar for them. They will enjoy increased interaction while remaining separate from the body of the email.
5. Keep it Short
As much as you can, keep your content short and relevant.
6. Send at a Strategic Time
Experian has found that the best time for maximising email open and click-thru rates is between 8pm and midnight. This is not to be taken as gospel, but rather kept in mind when thinking about your target audience. If your audience work on their feet, chances are they won’t check their email until late in the day. If they work in an office they’re more likely to get a chance to check it earlier. Either way, sending your campaign out after 5pm or at weekends will garner good results.
7. Optimise For Mobile
Almost 50% of your subscribers will read your email on their cell phone and 69% of those users will delete an email that isn’t mobile-ready. Most modern design templates are already optimised for mobile but here are some extra things to keep in mind.
- If you are using a sidebar, consider its placement carefully. If it’s on the left-hand side it’s the first thing mobile readers will see. If it’s on the right-hand side, it will appear below the email’s main content.
- Keep your image sizes small. Although download rates are constantly improving, cellphones still tend to be slower than computers. Keeping your image size small doesn’t mean using tiny thumbnails, just make sure the file-size isn’t huge. A lot of email services will notify you if your image is too large and prompt you to re-size it. Make sure you pay attention to these prompts. On average, every 1 second delay in loading time results in an average 7% drop in conversions.
- Make sure your links & buttons are big enough to be easily touched by a finger, and space them far enough apart that there’s no accidental clicking.
More more infomation and numbers about Email marketing on Mobile Devices, check out this Mailchimp report.
An additional resource I love is Mailchimp’s Email Marketing Benchmarks. They give you the opportunity to compare your performance to industry standards.
Have you implemented these any of these ideas in your work? Let me know how it’s going in the comments below.