12th April 2016 | Blog, Latest Articles

While email marketing is one of the oldest tools at a digital marketer’s disposal, it still remains one of the most effective ways of reaching people.

Most internet users access their emails on a daily, with new messages filling their inboxes almost as quickly as they can read them. Newsletters, various sales and special offers – people can’t help signing up for news on subjects that interest them.

Couple that with how accessible it is to read your mails today. With an ever-growing mobile market with phones and tablets, and you can see why email is still such a viable marketing tool.

The Numbers

We highlight some stats to highlight the effect of email marketing.

  • 80.8% of users report reading email on mobile devices – Hubspot (it’s important that you use an email marketing tool that creates responsive campaigns).
  • 79% of marketers say email directly generated ROI in 2015 (compared to 54% in 2015) – Salesforce 2016 “State of Marketing” report.
  • Email marketing was cited as the most effective digital marketing channel in 2014 for customer retention in the United States – eMarketer.
  • For 69.7% of US internet users, email is the preferred method of communicating with businesses – eMarketer.
  • Mobile email opens have grown by 180% in the last three years – Campaign Monitor

Far from becoming outdated, you can see how email is flourishing. Though not everybody loves being constantly bombarded with mails – in a recent survey 44% of users reported that they are receiving too many emails.

Email Survey - Statistics

These are all impressive figures, but don’t be led to believe reaching those kinds of numbers is easy. While it’s fairly simple to set up an email campaign (with the right tools), there are a few factors to consider creating a successful campaign.

You are competing with a ridiculous amount of other email senders, and a lot of emails remain unopened. My Gmail inbox is sitting with over 25,000 unread promotional newsletters. I know which ones are important to me, and what I want to open.

But we can design our emails to be opened, and clicked. We look at 8 key areas to focus on in order to accomplish this.

1) Segmentation

You have your list of subscribers but you have to consider that not all of them have the same interests in your company. If you have a variety of services or products, you should look at segmenting your list.

Some basic examples of segmentation are:

  • Gender – If you‘re selling gender-specific products then it doesn’t make sense to send a campaign to both sexes. For example if you’re selling clothing then you want to split news regarding your female and male products separately.
  • Location – This is important when you have local businesses in different countries. Emailing your campaigns at the right times can be crucial for conversions.
  • Age – Maybe you own a car dealership, and you know which brand and models appeal to which age groups

Segmentation is successful because you’re targeting the exact market for your offering. It makes the potential customer happy, and it helps you to achieve:

  • Increased click-through rates.
  • Increased open rates.
  • Increased conversions
  • A lower number of unsubscribes.

2) Responsive Design

With 80.8% of users reading emails on their mobile devices, you have to ensure that your campaigns are designed to be responsive. This can be tricky with so many email clients and various devices in the market.

If readers are going to have issues with viewing your mails properly, they might not bother clicking on anything, or worse, not open any future emails or simply unsubscribe from your list.

A mail platform like Mailchimp has templates set up with responsiveness in mind, and you can easily preview what your campaigns look like in desktop and mobile.

One of the most common problems that both developers and designers encounter with responsive emails, is that it can get very complex, very fast. There are limitations to what you can do with tables and displaying your data in columns. For now there is no alternative that will work consistently on all email clients.

3) Subject Line

Email Subject Line

This is the first step of the process, and probably the most crucial. The first interaction with your newly-sent email will be that of the recipient reading where the email came from, and what it is about. The subject line will be the clincher here, which is why it’s important to optimise it.

You will need to test what works best in your niche, but generally people prefer subjects that:

  • Are short and quick to read – People make up their minds about whether they want to open an email in a split second, so get your message across in as short a format as possible. We suggest no more than 50 characters.
  • Include their city or town – This makes the message feel more tailored to them.
  • Are not too sales-orientated – It’s a difficult situation, especially if you’re an eCommerce store looking to spread information on your latest products. But if you don’t avoid terminology that is pushing sales too much like “Free” or “Buy Now”, your email could get flagged as spam and then nobody will end up seeing or reading it.
  • Feature a question – This can pique the interest of readers if you ask the right questions, prompting them to open the email.
  • Invoke a feeling of urgency – Present the recipient with something that they feel they can’t be without, or that it will soon be unavailable. They will feel inclined to click on your offering.
    Includes lists – You’ll find a variety of marketers using this technique across the web, with examples like “7 Ways to Boost Creativity”. We use this similar format with a variety of our articles as well.
  • Present a mystery – An incomplete subject line like “Our competition winner is….” will have readers wanting to click on your email.
  • You need to look at your industry and think of what your readers would find interesting, and an even more interesting way of presenting that in about 5-7 words.

4) Personalisation

Email Personalisation

Making your emails appeal to an individual by personalising the experience for them can make them feel that you are relating to them.

You can include the recipient’s first name at the start of the email with a simple “Hello ‘First Name’”, or perhaps include their first name in the subject line to draw their attention.

You can use information that they have filled in when signing up for your newsletter, such as:

  • Their location.
  • Their company name, or their position at that company.
  • Mention their purchases of specific products If you run an eCommerce site and would like to sell a linked product.

According to HubSpot:

  • Click-through rate is higher when using the recipient’s first name in the subject line over no use of the first name.
  • CTR is higher when using the recipient’s company name in the subject line over no company mention.
  • See the examples in the image above – Hubspot’s email from a “Sarah Bredick” above includes my first name, and the Groupon email includes “Cape Town” as part of the sender’s name to localize the email.

5) Short, focused copy

The email copy should compel readers to want to know more and click through. Don’t overburden them with a text-heavy email, keep the message focused and simple. See the following newsletter from Adidas:

An example of simple email copy from Adidas

Use Hemingway to help you create shorter sentences that your readers will understand better. If you have more to say, leave that for the landing page.

6) Use of quality Image(s)

This rings true for all forms of marketing – high-quality images attract more people. We’re not saying include as many images as possible, because that might overwhelm your readers and make them lose focus.

Be selective with your use of images. If you’re, they should be of high-quality and completely relevant to whatever you are offering in the email.

7) Strong Call to Action

The main goal of your campaign is to have your readers click through and complete your intended conversion. With a clear Call to Action, that won’t happen.

When you want users to click, a text link won’t do. That can get lost in the rest of the copy, and even if it’s in another location on its own, it won’t draw much attention because it doesn’t catch anybody’s eye.

It should stand out from the rest of the email, attracting the eyes of readers. This newsletter from Shutterstock is a good example:

Email Call-to-Action - Shutterstock

The button stands out very clearly.

8) Landing page

This is seen as the other half of this whole adventure. Your email can be the most clicked piece of content in the history of the whole internet, but without a proper landing page, your efforts might be in vain.

A landing page is the web page that you are directing your readers to in order to complete whatever action it is that you want them to complete. It is specifically designed to do this, and in most cases the only way to get to these pages is by clicking on a button in an email. It’s not an everyday web page for anybody to see.

From here you will encounter one of the two basic landing page types:

  • Lead Generation Landing Pages – The aim of this type is only to capture information about yourself in order for the company to market products to you in future, or simply connect with you. You will be rewarded for this with a free gift, like a free trial, a discount voucher, a report . ebook etc.
  • Click Through Landing Pages – This page is there to tempt you into clicking through to another page to complete a transaction. If this is an ecommerce site, you’ll be presented with a description of the product and all its benefits, and people recommending it. The page you click to after this is most probably the shopping cart (where you will also login / register with the site).

Unbounce specialises in landing pages, I’ve selected one of their templates to look at. This example is a signup form which involves signing up for educational courses:

Email Landing Page

What I like is:

  • The simple design
  • Short, well-written copy
  • It has an easy entry point for the user, it only has five fields to fill in order to complete making initial contact
  • The clear Call to Action of “Give me a call”

9) Timing

That takes care of the design aspect, but before you send off your campaign, there is another factor to consider top optimize your chances of conversion. When do you send your mails?

Experiment with your timings. Split your campaign up and send them out at different times to see which days and times are optimal for your industry.

The added benefit of splitting up your campaign is that it puts less strain on your website server, so it doesn’t slow everything down.

Closing

You will have to constantly try out new methods or formats to find what works best for you. E-mail is an old tool, but not an exact one as statistics differ from industry to industry.

We suggest you A/B test each campaign to pinpoint which elements are working for you and which are not. Always look to improve your offerings and you’ll do just fine.