Email marketing is known as possibly the most performing channel for business owners, bloggers, etc to engage an audience, boost ratings and drive sales. The core difference from other channels is that you already reached the minds of people. They are already signed up to hear from you. It means that the mission’s first stage is completed.
So it’s time to continue. The advantages of the email channel make it a priority for businesses of all scales. It’s easy to implement and manage. Financial expenses are minimal. A wide variety of tools and services are at our disposal to solve problems. And last but not least is overwhelming ROI. It may even reach 44 dollars in return for each one dollar invested in email marketing. Sounds inspiring.
On the other hand, it’s also easy to kill all the effects and profits of this channel. Just send poor uncompelling emails to the wrong contacts. And do this untimely.
I guess you do not tend to “marketing suicide” of your business. And won’t take my bad advice too seriously :) Well, let’s proceed in a positive key. A simple question – what is good email marketing?
In short, performing email marketing is well-planned, professionally crafted, timely, relevant, and personalized. Getting based on these cornerstones, let’s figure out what we have to keep in mind to reach our goals.
Tools and types
First of all, just a couple of sentences about these practical things. We’ve already mentioned that there are many helpful tools on the Internet. As this post is dedicated not to this topic, we won’t talk about specific services, it’s enough to notice template editors and ESPs. The first is to craft an HTML email template, the second is to send.
For our purposes, we use Stripo.email HTML template builder integrated with eSputnik ESP. You can choose other tools, of course. Which requirements are essential for these types of services?
Email editor must be equipped with an advanced set of options, categorized collection of ready-made templates, automatic responsive layout, micro tools to work with images, etc. While for ESP, options of deep segmentation, personalization, and advanced automation are top priorities.
As for the types of emails, every marketer should know about the set of emails which are a must for all businesses. In a nutshell, there are three basic categories we have to send:
- promo emails including sales, product announcements, and newsletter emails;
- transactional emails including triggered messages and post-purchase updates;
- lifecycle emails based on a client’s personal history and behavior, for instance, abandoned cart emails.
Ok, it looks pretty clear. The seven recommendations below are related to all types of commercial emails, differences are all about details. But in common, our tips fit all kinds. So let’s go!
1. Make subject lines tempting
Tempting to what? To click and open, of course. It may sound simple but there’s a typical mistake. Actually, email marketers often pay the closest attention to content, craft perfect design and text, embed new-fashioned AMP blocks, etc. But all that will be appreciated only when the email is opened. That’s why before-the-open elements have an essential mission. The subject line is the most significant factor for subscribers to take a decision. For a positive answer, the email subject should be outstanding and compelling.
How to do this? There are various practices. Subject lines may be written in a serious or fun manner, there is even science on how to make holiday subjects. For instance, all these spooky subject lines in Halloween campaigns… Too robust topic to mention everything. Yet the common denominator is here: subject line should always evoke emotion in recipients.
Make people feel such emotions as excitement, joy, curiosity or so. And they will be more likely to open the inbox email. There is an old but still good trick known as the “curiosity gap”. Provide recipients with a measured portion of information just to hook them up. Make them curious. But don’t give enough to satisfy their curiosity – a mystery must remain until they open a message.
Be always clear when you write a subject line. Remember that irrelevance is a rate killer. So your subject line has to be relevant to email content – and tell what subscribers will see in the email body. A little intrigue is good… but don’t veil everything with fog too thick. Misunderstanding is no good here.
Another practice that works is subject line personalization and hyper-personalization. When you add subscriber’s names to the subject line, it’s personalization. And it significantly boosts open rates, right.
But to be really in trend, use hyper-personalized subjects. This is when a recipient sees a surprisingly unique email subject based on his or her previous purchases and other behaviors. It makes an impression of really personal communication, not machine-generated. And makes people open their inbox email without hesitation.
And last but not least… Keep email subjects short! This year, emails should be more than responsive. Mobile-friendliness is a priority. So remember that mobile email clients tend to cut off long subject lines. Stay within the limitations – it’s better to use preheaders if your message needs to exceed that number of characters.
2. Choose the perfect time to send
When your email hits the client’s inbox? Another essential question. Sometimes it’s just as important as what content you send. Even though email is a user-friendly format where recipients choose when to open and read… But remember that you’re not the only one who sends them emails. Ignoring the sending time we risk to be lost among a multitude of other messages.
How to find the right time to send campaigns? Regarding triggered and transactional emails like subscription or order confirmations, there are specific rules. Some types should be sent immediately. Others are launched after a certain period of time, the next working day, in some days, etc.
With regular newsletters, sales emails, and so on… Don’t even try to google any “one-time-fits-all” solutions. They simply not exist. Well, you may find something. But we don’t recommend to rely on those “magic formulas” to send on Tuesday morning.
The perfect time to start email campaigns depends on many factors. And this is quite individual. You should know your customers by testing what works.
Track the peak purchase times with tools like Google Analytics. Send bulk mailings at different times and analyze open rates and other metrics.
Since you’ve found the best day and time for sending, stick to it. Your clients will quickly get used to this schedule. A constant basis leads to growth in open rates and CTR.
As for lifecycle emails based on specific behaviors, they require a bit more testing to find the right solution. For instance, the best time for abandoned carts can vary depending on the reason for the order cancellation and your specific strategy of returning people back to delayed orders.
3. Segment database as deep as you can
Email segmentation may look too complex mission. In fact, it’s much simpler than it seems. Moreover, modern eCommerce services make it easier since these tools are equipped with AI-based algorithms and other features to automate the segmentation processes.
We all know that the essence of segmentation is to split the entire contact list into smaller targeted groups. Segmentation enables us to personalize emails – of course, if combined with dynamic data and customers’ behavior tracking.
How to segment the database? Besides default data like gender, age, etc there are several specific factors. We mean customer type, interests in certain products/topics, geolocation, and level of engagement.
Having the contact list fragmented into smaller interrelating segments we can apply this in practice. For example, there is a segment for newcomers that didn’t make a purchase. Our mission is to build their trust and motivate new users to order something for the first time. Consequently, it’s a good decision to offer first-time discounts in emails for this segment.
For long-term loyal clients, the strategy is totally different. They are constantly ordering goods from us or using our services/apps/software, reading our blogs, etc. This way, it’s better to focus not on discounts but on showing our appreciation, loyalty programs and promoting more products/services these clients may be interested in.
4. Call to action – Loud and clear
In most cases except for some specific notifications, CTA is an item that represents the priority mission of the email campaign. With calls to action, we directly motivate our customers to perform an action we want them to. in other words, to take The Most Important Step. Let it be purchasing a certain item, navigate to the landing page, reviewing a recently purchased device, or so.
In most cases, CTA is a link or a button. As this is the “central” email element, so to say – here are some tips for email CTAs:
- make an accent on a single CTA per email. The campaign should focus on one central action. Well, we can add more. But additional CTAs make a risk to distract or confuse the recipient. If you need multiple CTA items, make additional calls less dominating visually. Another solution is to embed an AMP-powered carousel where the button may be attached to each item image;
- choose the action-oriented language. In the calls to action, words should make a sense of urgency. Play with this common fear to lose something and to be late. Emphasize the time of expiration for an actual sale. Or the limited number of items in stock. And then, add words like “Buy now” or “Get started”. A good trick is to enhance the call to action with a countdown timer – it works, proven!
- make the CTA button design really noticeable. Your call to action must be “loud”. And standing out among other email elements. Use bright and contrasting colors. There’s also new practice to apply CSS animations. It looks like this:
5. Build relationships with welcome emails
Welcome emails are essential for the whole digital marketing strategy as they the tone for relationships with customers since the very beginning. So it’s a crime to ignore welcoming emails. Moreover, it’s just unethical, isn’t?
We said welcome emails… But it’s often even better to arrange welcome series. Especially it goes to the SAAS. When we offer some software, tools, services where users should learn how to use all this, and how to boost the typical troubles by themselves. there are special practices on how to build the chain of emails with manuals, FAQs, etc.
In any case, first welcome emails should always come to the new client’s inbox immediately after signup. Firstly, this is polite. Secondly, it’s precious time when you are fresh on the client’s mind.
All the welcome emails must be personalized and include, at least, the recipient’s name. Better avoid those no-replies, they taste like machine oil :) I mean, they are too mechanic and impersonal. Customers have to get an option to contact you instead.
Next, welcome email should explain what to expect from you in the future. As well as to offer clients to share more personal data and set preferences. It’s important! We talked about the segmentation and personalization above. this is where you can unobtrusively collect all the info you need.
Let people know what content they’ll receive, what is the frequency of your regular mailings… And then, just meet the expectations.
Welcome emails are also a perfect platform to collect subscribers’ feedback. Ask newcomers why they signed up, made an offer or so. AMP-powered elements allow to rate, vote, leave comments not even leaving the email. Use this opportunity!
This feedback is priceless knowledge to optimize the whole business, not only email marketing aspects.
6. Be a content perfectionist
Regarding content, it’s a robust topic to say much. in our post, let’s only figure out some key conditions to look professional, be in trend, and compel people to perform the actions you want them to.
Crafting email copy we must fulfill the promises we’ve made in the subject line. In other words, be honest and relevant. No matter how attractive your subject line is – you will fail if the content doesn’t meet the expectations.
The copy of the email should be always compelling and concise. That’s why it’s critical to stick to a hierarchy of information. Place the most important things in the upper part of the email body. And then, continue with the details.
We should also format the copy well. Divide the text into easy-to-read paragraphs and sections. Write short paragraphs, use bullet points, and clear hierarchy to make email scannable.
Don’t be afraid to use bold text phrases or highlightings to attract attention to key sentences.
As for design, let’s only mention brand consistency. Fortunately, modern email marketing tools allow applying your brand book style to emails. Color schemes, logo, fonts, constantly appearing imagery – add them all to your emails. When it goes to images, it’s better to choose smaller pics no larger than 1MB. Some email providers are still blocking the heavy images, so it annoys when people receive emails that look half empty. in any case, always add alt text to every image you use.
7. Mobile-friendliness is a must!
The last but ABSOLUTELY not least is a mobile priority. yes, you got right, we said priority. The next level of responsivity, so to say.
This year, the percentage of email opens on mobile devices overcomes the desktop rates. And it only grows. That’s why the optimization of emails for mobiles is a must for email marketers.
Yes, responsivity of templates is a default condition for email editors today. But what we usually call responsivity and mobile-friendliness?
We mean emails that are automatically reshaped into a mobile screen format. But the actual mobile priority is not only about the layout.
Mobile-friendliness is about content now. Put yourself into a place of human with smartphone. You’re right, the whole content should be convenient even being read on the run.
Email copy must be concise yet motivating to click through. The same goes for imagery, animations, CTAs, etc. The pic on the first scroll should compel to read down. The best position for CTA is the second scroll.
Of course, the email marketing success formula is not limited by these seven ingredients. There are no simple solutions when it comes to practice.
The essential truth is that eCommerce is all about experiments. Pay attention to recommendations and tips – and try different tactics to figure out what is best for your business.
We hope you can adjust these practices to your specifics. And crystallize the unique strategy for your brand. Improve your digital marketing campaigns and optimize the performance of your efforts.
We sincerely wish you success and conversion!