As an email marketer, my eyes are always peeled for emails that use interesting and innovative techniques that enhance open and click-through rates. Recently, I realized that some of the most consistently reliable sources of email inspiration are ones sent from the primary email marketing services (Constant Contact, Mailchimp, etc.). Email marketers not currently subscribed to receive content from these services are missing out on some excellent examples of best practice implementation and other methods that have been proven to increase campaign effectiveness.
However, it should also be pointed out that nobody is perfect and that even emails from some email marketing services have room for improvement.
Here are five such examples of emails from email marketing services:
1. Constant Contact
Earlier this year, Constant Contact sent an email campaign advertising their new social media functionality.
The good: This email does a great job in respect to its messaging. In a matter of a few seconds looking at this email, you can easily tell who it is for (small businesses using email marketing), what they are announcing (social media campaigns are here), and what to do next (watch a short video or signup). The Constant Contact email achieves this level of message clarity with the use of a strong banner for its primary headline, bullet points to breakdown the details in a digestible manner, and bold calls to action (including click-enticing play buttons) that clearly indicate what the user should do next.
The bad: For the most part, this email follows the vast majority of best practices and uses a clever tactic or two above the norm to increase performance. However, one area that could be improved is the email’s snippet text.
By simply switching these two lines of text, Constant Contact could have potentially increased their open rate. Currently, as it stands, the snippet text for this email is a bland “having trouble viewing this email”, which does not offer any additional value or incentive for the user to open the email. By highlighting the fact that the email contains a video in the snippet, Constant Contact could have supplied an extra incentive and increased opens.
This is an informational newsletter I received from Mailchimp “The Monkey Wrench.”
The good: While nothing groundbreaking, a table of contents in email is often forgotten. Table of contents are welcomed to informational newsletters that have multiple pieces of content and allow users to quickly jump to the information that is relevant to them. In a fast paced medium such as email, a table of contents can be the difference between a user reading your content or not.
The bad: Informational newsletters work best when each piece of content includes four simple things: a bold headline, one sentence of teaser copy, image support, and a strong call to action. This Mailchimp newsletter comes close with three-fourths, but it appears even the pros forget their best practices sometimes - not a single strong call to action is used. Every link within the Mailchimp email resorts to mere hyperlinked text and leaves the reader somewhat directionless after each piece of content.
Listrak, an email marketing service that specializes in remarketing sent an email earlier this month advertising an upcoming webinar.
The good: While simple, this email excels in its color usage. Only the calls to action display in any color other than white, which makes them pop out a bit more to the user and increases their click-throughs. This email also does a great job in respect to its snippet text. This allows the marketer to highlight the content of the Webinar“Increasing lifetime customer value”, in the main subject line and pair that message with an enticing call to action “reserve your spot for our free webinar.”
The bad: While this email doesn't strictly do anything wrong, there are a few areas for potential improvement. One example is to use more helpful imagery. The current image is rather bland and does not support the email’s messaging. Instead, this email could be improved with an image of the presenter to make the invitation feel more personal.
4. Campaign Monitor
Campaign Monitor has recently been highlighting their responsive email tools and resources. This month’s newsletter advertised their responsive email template builder.
The good: It’s responsive! The display of this email varies and is optimized for whatever device the email is being viewed on. As users increasingly use their mobile phones to read email, responsive email design & development is becoming something that every email marketer should consider.
The bad: While this email does not include any elements that would distinctly hurt performance or decrease click-throughs, it could be improved with some additional image support for its secondary blog posts as you scroll down.
When it comes to emails from email marketing services, I would have to say that AWeber takes the cake. This email incorporates almost every positive aspect from the previous examples and then adds a few more.
The good: While this email uses several effective practices to improve performance, one aspect I find very interesting is the elevated Unsubscribe link at the top of the email in addition to the footer. By placing an additional Unsubscribe link in prime email real estate, AWeber provides an easy exit for anyone who no longer wants their emails. Initially, this may sound like shooting yourself in the foot by encouraging unsubscribes, but as described in our Guide to Email Marketing Deliverabilty; recipients who do not want to receive your messages and do not engage with them will actually hurt overall email performance in the long run. By promoting unsubscribes for those who want out, AWeber is actually improving their chance at opens and clicks in the future from recipients who desire the content (Read more about this in our Email Marketer’s Guide to Deliverability).
Room for improvement: I left out a bad category because there really isn't anything "bad" about their efforts. The only area of this email that could use some additional consideration is the “personal approach.” At the end of the AWeber email, an AWeber employee is featured as the sender of the email. It includes her name, photo, title and contact information to give the email a personal, human touch. This tactic is often found effective for many B2B companies engaged in email marketing. However, the use of this personal approach in the AWeber email feels a bit forced and out of place in this particular instance without any prior mention of Amanda the sender. This effort may have been more effective with Amanda’s name listed as the email’s From Name, which would have given it a personal and human touch from the start to increase opens.
As you can see, save for a few nitpicky criticisms, the email marketing services provide excellent examples of practices that you should test out and potentially incorporate into your own email marketing. Simply sign up for each of their newsletters and keep your eyes peeled for anything new and innovative.
Any thoughts or comments about your favorite email marketing techniques? Let us know in the comment section below.