Email is one of the biggest players in the marketing mix - but many marketers will admit they're not using it to its full potential, or getting the results they'd hoped. The best way to tackle this is to go back to basics. What are the vital elements every successful email should include?
1. Sender - The first step to making your email campaign successful is ensuring that your customers actually open it. You have two variables to play with here - sender, and subject line. There are a couple of simple tricks to bear in mind:
- Firstly, make sure your email is sent from a branded domain. By this, I mean that the email address it is sent from includes your company's name. Otherwise, it's more likely that your email will be marked as spam.
- Secondly, play with the 'friendly from name'. This is the name customers see in the 'From' column of their email platform. Make sure you use a name the customer will recognise - and use this to build brand awareness. So, for example, you could use "Claire from Escaped Creativity" or "Oxfam events team" or "Banbury Business Network". Even if they don't open the email, they'll get used to seeing your company name in their inbox and start to remember that you exist.
2. Subject line - Your subject line is the biggest influence on your customer's decision to open your email, or ignore it. Good subject lines are short, snappy and make the reader really want to open your email. Top tips for crafting a killer subject line include:
- Keep it to 50 characters. That's the number of characters the average user will see when your email comes into their desktop inbox. It's even fewer for mobile devices.
- Get personal. Use localisation (such as a town name or region) and personalisation (such as your customer's first name) to make your reader feel special. They're more likely to open your email if they feel it is tailored to them.
- Avoid salesy or promotional language. Words like 'free' and 'last chance' tend to put people off - instead, think about 'save 50%' or 'there's still time to book'.
- Don't be afraid to experiment. Most email platforms include functionality that allows you to perform a split test on your subject. This means writing 3-4 subject lines, and setting your provider to send the email to a small percentage of your mailing list to see which subject line results in the most opens. Then, the rest of your list will receive the subject line that worked best. A simple tool - if you don't use it, you're missing a trick!
3. Template - It seems obvious, but your template needs to be attractive and eye-catching, without being overloaded with images or adverts. Think about how you would feel if you received this email from someone else - would it capture your attention? Most importantly, is your email mobile responsive? According to research from Movable Ink cited on eMarketer, in the first quarter of this year 71% of email opens were from mobile devices. So if your readers can't see the email as you intended them to, you're missing a trick.
4. Content - The content of your email will be the main driver to its success. What you put in directly affects what you get out - will the reader click through to your sales page? Will you get a lead from this email? Here are a few things to think about when you come to writing the content:
- Ensure your email is personalised, and tailored to your audience. Most email platforms allow you to include dynamic content, so you can send a slightly different message depending on where your customers are located or what their interests are. If readers feel the email is directly relevant to them, they're more likely to act.
- Include value-added content. Don't just send a sales message and expect to get lots of sales off the back of it - if you give something away for free, like a white paper, webinar, or free briefing, you'll build your reputation and brand loyalty and trust. This could increase sales down the line.
- Include a clear call-to-action. Make sure the reader knows what they're supposed to do next - if they need to book a place at an event or download a report, say so. Buttons work well as they stand out more than straight hyperlinks.
5. Segmentation - For me, this is the single most important aspect of planning and delivering a successful email campaign. Personalisation is getting easier and easier - but it all depends on the quality of the data you have in the first place, and how well you segment it. My experience has shown that the more tailored you can make your message, the more likely customers are to identify with it - and therefore act upon it. MailChimp's statistics show that segmented campaigns receive 52% higher click-through rates than non-segmented campaigns. So before you write your content, think about how to segment your audience - by gender, location, job title, previous purchase - or any other demographic you can think of! This article from Salesforce contains some good ideas on how to segment your data.
Still not getting the most out of email? Get in touch for a chat about what else you can do.