Nearly all industries and businesses use email marketing as a way to reach their audience. And it's no wonder why--as email users, most of us are constantly connected, checking our inbox on desktops and mobile devices multiple times a day. By reaching users on devices that are just a touch or click away, marketers hold a major advantage if this initiative is properly utilized and appropriately implemented.
Email allows you to draw attention to any specific asset of your business. Whether you're trying to drive immediate sales, remind users of an event, or bring traffic to a distinct page on your website, email marketing is often the best way to do so.
If you have significant value to offer users, then the advantages of email marketing may seem endless. However, as a platform it won't be effective if the message isn't being opened or clicked on. In order for email marketing to be a successful channel, and for your click-through-rate to be significant enough to produce results, apply as many best practices as you can to your efforts.
We've asked some top digital marketing experts at our digital agency for insights, and have looked to outside experts at some top organizations to find out what their best tips are for producing emails with high click-through-rates:
1. Customer Logic
Bryan Clayton, CEO at Greenpal, points out the worth of thinking about your audience when you're crafting emails, and suggests asking people unfamiliar with the content for feedback on how it reads:
"The biggest mistake we were making when crafting our emails was that we were using company logic as opposed to customer logic. You really need to put yourself in the mind of your customer when crafting your emails. Run your email copy by friends, and strangers. Get feedback because it's so challenging to get out of your own skin."
-Bryan Clayton, CEO, Greenpal
2. Timing Matters
Finding the best time to send emails to individual users will provide the best results. Austin Paley, Corporate Marketing Communications Manager at Blue Fountain Media, explains the importance of segmenting contacts with consideration for timing:
"While there are some standard times that are widely considered the 'best' to send emails based on vertical and email type, you should try and go beyond just finding the best time to send for most of your users and aim to send at the best possible time for each individual on your contact list. For example, if you find that most people like to open emails at 9 am, it isn't enough to just send an email at 9 am Eastern Standard Time and call it a day. Use the information you've gathered in your lists to try and segment your contacts down by time zone - that way you can send to each person at 9 am in their local time. Some mailing platforms will do this for you automatically as a final step before you send - but if your email service provider doesn't include this it can be as simple as using phone numbers or city data to figure out what state a contact is in and then adding a new time zone field manually. It can be a lot of tiring manual work, but higher open rates and better results make it more than worth it."
-Austin Paley, Corporate Marketing Communications Manager, Blue Fountain Media
3. Think About Individual Users
It's important to have relevant messaging, and an understanding of your users at a 1-to-1 level explains Shannon Johlic, Head of Marketing at Boomtrain. Then you can deliver only the most targeted content for that individual person:
"As email marketers, we must look to reaching the mythical segment of 1. No audiences, just individual people seeking more personal user experiences. But how do you do this? Previously thought a near impossible task, now, (thanks to machine intelligence), marketers have the opportunity to massively scale and automate not only the actual building of the emails, but the collection and processing of data that surfaces an understanding of the behavior of your subscribers/customers and a deep understanding of your content/products. This coupling of multiple layers of understanding with automation gives marketers tools that predictively populate emails with content most relevant to that individual person, and will deliver it to them at an optimal time. Powerful computers and algorithms have evolved so much that marketers are now able to distribute relevant emails as if sent by a close friend who has known that individual for years."
-Shannon Johlic, Head of Marketing, Boomtrain
4. Quality over Quantity
Ashley Chavez, Director of Marketing at Get Smart Marketing explains that sending emails to a ton of leads that aren't necessarily qualified is far less effective than sending to a smaller, qualified group:
"As a marketer, it is your goal to influence a consumer's purchase decisions. Email is a powerful tool that helps marketers connect with consumers, delivering them useful and relevant content right to their inbox. So, it seems logical that the more people you can contact, the better your chances are at sending qualified leads to sales. However, more doesn't always mean better. Adding unqualified leads to your nurture campaigns, won't help close more sales. Grow your email list the smarter way by serving personalized sign up forms only to visitors who haven't opted in and that fit within one of your target audience personas."
-Ashley Chavez, Director of Marketing, Get Smart Content
5. Code Images
Andrew Jung, Corporate Marketing Associate at Blue Fountain Media suggests always defining your image sizes in your coding, and labeling them with alt image tags for the best user-experience:
"If your images don't render in your clients' email platform, your email will display as an assortment of random white boxes and could come across as spam. By having the image sizes defined with alt image tags in your coding, it ensures that the layout of your email will retain its shape without being jumbled together and your alt tag images will explain and help identify what each white box is. This does not seem like a huge difference to you, but putting in the extra effort can be the decisive factor that might sway your clients to load those images and actually read and react to your email."
-Andrew Jung, Corporate Marketing Associate, Blue Fountain Media
6. Align Content with the Buyer Process
Aligning content with the buying cycle is crucial for every company and should be a focus of any successful email marketing campaign. Troy O'Bryan, CEO at Response Capture explains how organizations should consider where the user is in the buying process when crafting their emails:
"Each stage of the A.C.T. (Awareness, Consideration, Transaction) Model represents a different part of their journey and the content should be reflective. For example, if a prospect visits the "request a demo" page on your website, they are already in the Consideration stage. A case study or expert guide would be great content for your follow-up email strategy. By tailoring the content to fit the wants and needs of the buyer, they will be more likely to respond because you are providing something of value."
-Troy O'Bryan, CEO, Response Capture
7. What's the CTA?
Having a strong Call-To-Action allows marketers to encourage users to take a desired action that brings them further into the conversion funnel. Saurbah Nangia, CEO & Founder at Targeting Mantra suggests making the CTA of your email your core focus:
"Marketers should focus on the CTA that goes with the email. Whether it is a template or a simple HTML message, your email focus should be on the CTA you are including in the mail. This is because you have just 1-8 seconds to catch the attention of the reader and you should be able to direct the reader in split seconds what you want him/her to do."
-Saurbah Nangia, CEO & Founder, Targeting Mantra
Like all other marketing tactics, in order to understand what's going to resonate best with your users and what types of email messages they're most likely to open and click through, you need to do some testing. Jeff Tomlin, CMO of Vendasta Technologies highlights the importance of this in his tip:
"Get them into the email. First, you've got to get people to open the email and they choose in milliseconds whether to do so or to delete based only on who sent it what the subject line is. So make both count. Remember, emails coming from a person usually perform better than those coming from an entity. And while there are plenty of guidelines on creating open-worthy subject lines, if you're looking for the BEST subject line, you need to test. Test. Test. And, you got it, test."
-Jeff Tomlin, CMO, Vendasta Technologies
Owner at The Media Captain says his team has had great success with embedding videos in their email marketing, and suggests using it as an opportunity to engage users in a way that many companies don't:
"When you mention "video" in the title it typically has a higher open rate percentage. We will then embed the video within the email blast and when people click on it, it drives them to a landing page specific to the email marketing message that we're delivering."
-Jason Parks, Owner, The Media Captain
10. Build Consistent Confidence
If you're not delivering in content, you likely will not be converting clicks. Owen Powis, Founder and CEO of Mailflow, stresses the importance of instilling confidence in your users:
"Focus on creating the best possible experience, and people will click when they have confidence that the email will contain something they want to see. If they know when you send them an offer it's always a great offer they are far more likely to check it out. The more effort you put into creating a fantastic campaign that genuinely benefits your audience the better your CTR will become. This is a far healthier and longer term strategy than just looking at making the subject line stand out."
-Owen Powis, Founder and CEO, Mailflow
Effective Email Marketing
Email marketing is one of the best marketing tactics for reaching an audience, and boosting a brand's ROI. To understand if your efforts are paving the way for your business, take a look at your key performance indicators and examine your open-rates and click-through-rates to identify areas of improvement. If you'd like to enhance the overall performance of your email marketing, and increase your click-through-rates, incorporate some of our experts' ideas throughout your next campaign.