When it comes to email marketing, there’s more than one way to measure success. A multitude of metrics can indicate overall performance and present new areas for improvement after launching a campaign. By taking a look at click-through-rates, how conversion rates are impacted by a certain email, or how much website traffic is being generated, you can identify the effectiveness of each email marketing initiative. To be successful with email marketing, strategies, businesses should be focused on fostering recipient engagement and minimizing unsubscribers, all while maintaining a strong brand image.
Accomplishing all of the above is definitely feasible if the right strategy is created. You need extensive research, sometimes a bit of trial and error, and a thorough understanding of your audience. However most importantly, you need to implement a series of best practices in order to develop a strategic approach that enables you to achieve your core objectives. Here are 5 email marketing elements to keep in mind to help you make sure you're getting the results you want:
1. Timing and Frequency
The timing in which you send your campaigns is one of the most important elements to focus on in any email marketing strategy. You may be located in New York, but perhaps a large portion of your target demographic is in a different time zone. The time of day users receive emails can directly contribute to performance indicators like open-rate and click-through-rate.
Segment your contact lists based on the time zone the recipients live in so that they receive your messages at an hour that is convenient and appropriate for them. You can’t send the same message at the same hour to a global or national audience and expect to reach everyone.
If you’re looking to maximize user engagement with your emails, but aren’t sure when to send, a good place to start is by considering three core time slots—during the morning when your users are commuting or arriving at work, during the early afternoon on their lunch break, and in the evening when they are home. Also, think about the audience’s lifestyle habits. If you’ve launched campaigns in the past, take a look at the statistics provided by your email platform and see when readers would be most likely to give some attention to your email.
In addition to the timing of your email, the frequency at which you disseminate your messages also plays a major role in performance. The age of email blasting is over. Users have increasing email fatigue these days and won't even open your message if they are inundated with a plethora of emails. The fact is that the more messages you send the less effective they will be.
While your emails may have a short “shelf life” this doesn’t mean you should be sending a new one each and every day—that’s how you’ll get a surge in unsubscribers. Instead, keep your emails at two per week at most to ensure that you’re still reaching users and cutting through the clutter of their inbox. Depending on the industry, sometimes only sending an email twice per month, like a newsletter, is even more fitting.
2. Subject Lines
The importance of a terrific subject line cannot be stressed enough—it’s literally the first thing users read and their first “personal” impression of your brand. An effective subject line sparks interest and builds anticipation of the email’s content. You need just enough to get the user intrigued, while still staying true to your brand in under 50 characters. It’s okay to think a little outside the box and let some creativity flow with subject lines, but keep in mind that simplicity usually works best. The best subject lines find a happy medium between oozing creativity and being straight to the point of why you're emailing a user while keeping the brand image in mind.
The goal of a subject line is to entice recipients to open the message, and to click through the email. For that reason, it is crucial to be consistent as you go from the subject line to the actual content. You shouldn’t use a “clickbait” title just so that users open the message only to disappoint them upon finding no relevancy to what they initially saw in their inbox. This instills a poor sense of trust with your brand and almost guarantees that users won't take a desired action, and that they may even opt out of receiving your emails.
If you have an idea for a subject line but are unsure if it's relevant to your brand, never be afraid to ask your colleagues for feedback. Sometimes, an outsider’s perspective can shed some much needed light onto your ideas. Similarly, segmenting your lists into two groups and A/B testing different subject lines provides you with hard data about which line resonates best with users.
3. Content: Visuals and Copy
Images speak louder than words, and this holds true with any successful email marketing strategy. In general, there should always be more visuals than copy in an email, but it is still beneficial to invest in the writing you do have. With that being said, users don’t want too much to read. They just want to be able to quickly skim the content and get an understanding of the central messaging. If you have a lot of content to offer your audience, don’t include it all in the email. Use a call to action (CTA) button to direct users to a landing page on your website where they can read the full article.
Every email campaign includes a specific call to action, whether it’s to visit a website, enter an email, or purchase something, the user is always asked to react in some way. The more you’re asking from the user, the more compelling the content needs to be. The CTA needs to stand out from the message so that the reader can easily notice it and click on it without anything impeding their actions. Make sure these buttons are vibrant and prominent in comparison to the rest of the message, while still fitting with the design theme.
Since images are vital to the success of an email marketing campaign, you want to make sure they are loading appropriately and quickly for users. Use a file optimizing tool to ensure images load efficiently because if users are waiting too long for an image to load they’ll likely skip it or delete the message altogether. With that being said, sometimes a browser or an email service provider may not properly display the images within an email. By including relevant image alt tags, users will have at least some context as to what the visuals are intended to be if they aren’t appearing right away. This little effort can go a long way with providing a good user-experience for recipients.
Recently, more and more companies are experimenting with the inclusion of GIFs in their email campaigns. Sometimes this can be a challenging feat because not all email platforms will load them correctly, or they will only load one frame of the GIF instead of providing users with the full effects of the animation. If you're considering utilizing this type of visual in your emails, thoroughly test it on a variety of platforms and if it freezes on one particular frame, make sure it's an image that can stand alone and still give users a complete understanding of what the content is about.
4. Optimization for All Devices
Long gone are the days where all users accessed their inbox from the same email platform on their desktops. Today users are connected to email through smartphones, tablets, desktops, that include a wide range of different devices.. The way one person views an email isn’t the same way another person does, so to ensure that accessibility isn’t jeopardized for any users-- a responsive design email is typically the best solution.
Being able to optimize an email design allows all recipients on nearly every device and platform imaginable to have a user-friendly experience that allows them to view the content as intended. If you aren’t using a responsive design, investigate what devices the majority of your users are on, and ensure that the email is tailored to those functionalities and set up for that platform.
In today's era of being constantly connected to the internet, the majority of users are on mobile - regardless of vertical. This actively growing audience is constantly on-the-go and expects the brands they engage with to understand that. Clickable items on a mobile device should be optimized for a touch screen, using a thumb, not a mouse, and shouldn’t require the user to do any extra work (zooming in or zooming out) to view the images in the message.
While you can focus on a certain group of users, ideally, you should be optimizing your email campaigns for your entire audience—which means whatever device they are checking their mail on. Litmus is a great tool that allows you to see how your email would render on multiple devices and platforms before you send it. Give it a look through before you launch any email campaign.
The content you send users through email initiatives should be relevant and provide significant value. Marketing to the user as an individual and using personalization no longer needs to be exemplified by addressing them with first and last name. Similar to a conversion funnel, an email funnel allows you to target users with more specific content as they show signs of progressive interest and come closer to becoming a customer.
If a user in your email database signed up for your newsletter on a specific blog post, you can segment them based on relevant content that they demonstrated interest in. By personalizing emails in a step-by-step process based on relevance, your messages will be more effective since the content relates to what initially caused them to interact with your brand.
For instance, perhaps you have a newsletter sign up on your blog, and after reading an article about email marketing the user provides you with their contact information. Sending them a follow up email that addresses logo design will not fulfill their needs, since it’s arbitrary to the reason they signed up. Instead, set up a specific funnel for users within that group. Send them a whitepaper that goes into further detail about the subject, so the reader has a greater chance of opening the email and moving further down the funnel towards buying a product or service from your company.
Effective Email Marketing Strategies
One of the most effective ways to streamline communications with a specific audience is email marketing. Regardless of industry or whether a company is B2B or B2C, this strategic marketing approach can garner impressive results for brands if executed correctly. Utilize these best practices with every marketing campaign to help reach your users and foster business growth.