In 2016 alone, over 215.3 billion emails were sent and received per day. Per day!
That’s a whole lot of emails.
When it comes to standing out and breaking through all of the noise, it can be challenging. Optimizing your email marketing is no joke, and it can take a whole lot of work.
That's why we’re here to help. We understand how tough it can be — we work every day to make sure our clients have outstanding emails. Emails that are opened, emails that convert, emails that do what they’re supposed to do: engage the reader.
We thought it might be helpful to share some of our tips that we use when creating and developing emails. Follow these 10 steps, and you’ll be crushing your email marketing strategy in no time.
1. Write a Compelling Subject Line
Subject lines are the first impressions of email. If they don’t catch the attention of the person you’re trying to communicate with, or if they come off poorly, your email is doomed. Subject line content pretty much equals open rate metrics, so it has to be good.
How do you keep your email out of your subscriber’s trash folder?
- Use numbers
- Personalize the subject line
- Keep the subject line around 30 characters
When you add numbers to your subject line, you’re eliminating the vague copy we often see. Like in blog titles, providing a number gives the reader a clear and straightforward message about what they’re going to read.
Personalization is another way to grab user attention — plus, there' data to back up the use of it in subject lines. An Experian analysis showed a 29% bump in open rates when a name was included in a subject line, and a Retention Science study found subject lines with the recipient’s first name had a 16% higher open rate. If that doesn’t make the case, I don’t know what will.
Why 30 characters? To start, iPhones cut off text at around 35 characters. Then, there are studies (like this one from HubSpot) that show shorter subject lines have better open rates. If 30 character seems a bit too short, we recommend keeping it below 50.
2. Use CTA Buttons Instead of Text Links
Are your open rates out-of-the-park but CTRs are down? It may be your use of a text link CTA. Without an obvious CTA, users can breeze over the whole point of your email — the conversion.
Here' our case for CTA buttons:
People immediately know it's a CTA — and that they’re supposed to click it. Call-to-actions also offer a large amount of usability testing. For instance, SAP found that orange CTAs boosted their conversion rate 32.5 percent.
Sometimes it's just the color or how a user views a CTA that can make all the difference.
3. Set up Email Automation
MYTH: marketing automation isn’t personal.
In truth, marketing automation can be even more personal than emailing someone yourself.
Automation allows for immediacy. You can set triggered emails and that engage users directly after an action is taken. Email chains and workflows only further what you can do to engage with a user.
At the end of the day, it's all about how you address those on your email list. For example, a form letter will sound like a form letter, whether it's typed out one at a time or sent via an automation software.
4. Use Data to Personalize Emails
We already talked to this when it comes to email subject lines, but we have yet to address the full power provided by personalized emails.
Segmentation/personalization can be based on demographics, lead classification, purchase types and even interests. Content can be adjusted, CTAs can change, even images can be segmented.
What have your users opted into to get on your email list? What forms have they filled out? How far along are they in the buyer's journey? All of these questions can help you effectively segment your email list.
Still on the fence? Then check out this study conducted by Marketing Land. According to them, personalized emails deliver 6x higher transaction rates.
5. Experiment with Animation and GIFs
Who doesn’t like opening an email with a GIF or a nice animation? Whether it's for a promotional purpose or a short clip from last week's SNL, there's something about it that's playful and fun.
Throwing in GIFs and animations help your emails stand out from the crowd. It's a great way to draw attention to your content once the email is opened (and can even promote the sharing of that email to a friend).
Take a look at this case study conducted by Marketing Sherpa. Dell saw a whopping 109% revenue increase with a GIF-centered email campaign — talk about results!
Be sure that you’re paying attention to your clientele when implementing GIFs and animations. Microsoft Outlook is notoriously known for not supporting GIFs, but don’t worry, there's a workaround. Have the first frame of the GIF be an engaging shot in case the GIF doesn’t run — problem solved!
6. Be Authentic
Remember, you're sending an email — don't turn it into a form-letter-sales-pitch that sounds scripted. You're communicating with a real person; act like it!
We all know what I’m talking about, - those sales, jargon-filled emails that are deleted the second you open them.
It's amazing how much you can increase engagement with your emails by changing your tone and being honest.
7. Offer Real Value
If your email doesn’t offer value to the reader, it's on you if the campaign isn’t doing well. At Blue Compass, we can’t even begin to explain how many emails we receive in a day that offer absolutely no value, and they all get deleted immediately.
It's simple: create great content and provide real value to your email list. Do so, and you’re bound to see increased engagement in your campaigns. Always ask yourself if your emails are providing value to your users, then revamp as needed.
8. Make Sure Your Unsubscribe Link Isn’t Hidden
Strange that in a blog about optimizing emails telling you to give your customers an out, right? But here's the thing — if people don’t like your emails and can’t find an unsubscribe link, chances are they’re marked as spam.
That's a serious issue.
If your email is marked as spam enough times, email providers will automatically shoot it to the spam folder — guaranteeing zero engagement.
Now your unsubscribe link doesn't have to be the size or prominence of a CTA, just make sure it’s available.
9. Pay Attention to Your Analytics
I know what you’re thinking, “duh. Of course, analytics are important.” But we’ll be the people to tell you: double and triple check every little aspect of your email’s analytics.
Data doesn’t lie, and sometimes, it’s the simple insights from your analytics that give the most answers. You would be surprised how often we see people throw away an email campaign where a tweak here or there could solve the whole problem.
Is your open rate the issue? Is your CTR the issue? Could it be your CTA placement? Is it your subject line?
Your analytics will be the best place to start when trying to answer these questions.
10. Build Your Emails for Mobile and Desktop
Most of the time, we see clients build emails from desktops for desktops — mobile always seems to be on the back burner (or not even thought of at all).
We can’t say it enough; emails must be built for both mobile and desktop. An image that’s way too big (isn’t responsive or optimized for mobile) can ruin a whole email when viewing it from a phone.
If you’re still not convinced, here are some fun facts:
- 70% of consumers delete emails immediately that don’t render well on a mobile device
- 53% of emails are opened on mobile devices
The phrase “mobile-first” is starting to get a bit old, but the world is shifting toward a market where it’s more important now than ever.
Email Marketing Trends on the Horizon
While these 10 tips will help you optimize your email campaigns today, we don’t want to ignore the future. There are some awesome developments coming to the world of email, and you should be paying attention to them if you want to stay ahead of the curve.
Here are the two things we’re looking forward to the most:
Interactive emails are essentially mini web pages in an email. While their applications are somewhat limited right now, you may begin to see things like product demos, and forms coming straight to your inbox.
Artificial Intelligence (AI):
No, HAL 9000 won’t be coming to your inbox anytime soon but Google’s machine learning algorithms, and others like it, might. Machine learning is one of the biggest strategic technology trends coming to marketing. It’s only a matter of time before audiences are automatically segmented and email times are picked out for us.
Want to talk more about optimizing your email marketing campaigns?
We’re always willing to talk and see how we can help you achieve your business goals. Feel free to contact us to find out more about what we do.