No doubt you see digital marketers discussing the newest and most exciting email marketing tricks just about every day all over the internet.
Some of these hacks will promise to change the way you market your product. Some might even guarantee to take your email campaigns from 0 to 100 in no time.
But here’s a piece of wisdom… age-old marketing best practices, and not ‘new tricks’, genuinely make a difference and will continue to do so for years to come.
It takes years of trial and error to uncover these principles of email marketing. A hundred books and 100+ articles/blogs won’t teach you as much as field-testing will.
There are plenty of proven email marketing tips, many of which haven’t changed for years and won’t change for years to come. The closer you stick to some of these proven email campaign best practices, the more likely your campaign is to succeed.
This is a post for marketers who want a tested formula to get a response to their emails.
Tips to make your email marketing smarter
There are three basic components of email marketing. All three of which, when closely aligned, can replicate your email marketing success.
Align the three of these into your email marketing campaign, and your results will improve tenfold. But before you get on to that, ask yourself a few questions:
What is your product?
What are its marketable components?
Who is your target audience?
What is your key message to the consumer?
Who are the people who will influence your audience?
What marketing channels do you have access to?
How long will your marketing campaign last?
What are their phases?
A lot of marketers make this mistake of never doing the initial brainstorming, which often leads to their campaign going nowhere. These questions will give you a bird’s-eye view about the direction of your marketing campaign and help you establish an even better plan. Based on the answers to these questions, you can further develop and define your marketing campaign.
Now let’s walk through these three basic components of email marketing…
Design enables consumers to perceive, navigate, and interact with your brand. The better your email design, the easier it will be for you to get a response to your email campaign. The below given guidelines will give you new ideas to create a compelling email template.
Marketing is all about simplicity and brevity. Make sure you break up the information so it’s easier for the reader to digest all of the information. To get the best response to your email marketing, you need to:
- Make your content shorter.
- Replace chunky paragraphs for short paragraphs.
- Use bullet points, images, bold titles, quotes, etc.
- Set your call to action apart using bold colors, button, or text.
- Integrate social sharing buttons as well as your contact information.
- To make your email CAN-SPAM compliant, make sure the unsubscribe links are placed prominently and easy to find.
According to the 2015 State of Marketing Report from Salesforce, 79% of marketers deem email content and design as both the most critical and most effective aspects of an email. You can find a great example of a streamlined, mobile-friendly design from Uber here.
A pretty send, for sure. Here are a few things we love:
The initial description is brief. The call-to-action is within the scroll, which is perfect for subscribers who just want to skim through an email to see if they can find something interesting. And the content, which is in a step-by-step explanation, looks very pleasing.
Most of all, we love how consistent the design of their promotional email is. It includes visual aspects of the Uber brand, like their social media photos, app, website, and other parts. Plus, the email is decked out with the right color scheme – not too much bright, along with geometric patterns. Best of all, their email tells their brand’s story.
To sum it up, Uber seems to have nailed it in one go.
The worst thing you can do as a marketer is not understand your audience and its needs. You need an audience that is relevant to the buyers’ demographic. To do this, identify your target segment by filtering significant variables such as buyers’ behavior.
When you market your product to the wrong demographic, your email ROI will decrease, and so will the most important email metrics. Your email marketing list needs to be fresh, relevant and accurate enough to increase engagement levels and turn prospects into buyers. With the integration of multi-channel marketing, it has become even more necessary to maintain an email list.
A relevant mailing list will:
- Increase open rates
- Increase click-through rates
- Increase conversions
- Decrease unsubscribes
- Avoid spam filters
- Increase brand loyalty
It’s ideal to partner with a reputed email marketing company who can deliver your emails as much as possible. But most importantly, a fresh and relevant email list also means you won’t get blocked by ISPs for spamming.
Here’s an example (see image below) of an email I received in my inbox a few days ago. As you can see below, design-wise the email is very bland, but it’s to the point. It reads simply like an email from a friend or a colleague, asking for a quick favor.
The email consists of a call-to-action to a questionnaire, where the sender wants to gather insights about her actual readership. It shows their obvious dedication to know all about the people who are reading their marketing emails.
Now this is a great approach to get a better response rate to your emails. Best of all, it helps impress your audience with clever and relevant promotional emails.
Now that you have an engaged email list, you can carry out A/B split tests. An A/B email split test will help you figure out which version of your email campaign is the most effective. Here’s a list of basic A/B email split tests for you to try out:
- Headline copy and length
- Mobile-friendly optimization
- Product image sizes
- One column vs two columns vs three columns
- Color scheme
- Time of the day
- Trial vs membership/purchase
- Flash sale
- Testimonials in email
- Prize draws or contest
- Introduction length
- Direct link mechanism
- Coupon code
- Call to action button design
- Including loyalty points
A/B split tests are a great way to optimize your email campaigns. There is never a universal way to create your email marketing campaigns that will work well for each product and audience. Using A/B email testing you can greatly improve on important email marketing metrics.
How do you want your marketing message to be presented? Does your message tell a story?
Put down facts, information, or whatever else you need to tell a story. Here’s why… consumers’ buying choices are inspired by emotions, memories and interests. With ‘storytelling marketing,’ you can weave your product seamlessly into the story and build excitement for the call-to-action. As well, numerous studies have shown that our brains are far more engaged by storytelling than straight to the point facts.
There are a few basic types of storytelling marketing:
- Origin stories
- Vision stories
- Case studies
- Why stories
Let’s take a look at a couple of online retailers that use email marketing as an opportunity for brand storytelling.
All of the best of brands have two things in common:
- Have a clear brand voice
- Convey a brand ethos
Crew: The U.S. retailer sends out four welcome emails in a one-week period. After the first week, subscribers are sent regular promotional emails.
All emails in the welcome email series sent over the first week are dedicated towards introducing the brand, its product range, J. Crew’s personal shopping service, and its social media accounts.
The first email starts with a note from the company’s creative director talking about J. Crew’s well-defined brand ethos. The tone of the emails makes the recipient want to explore their brand experience by visiting a J. Crew physical store.
MAC’s welcome email is a visual feast inviting readers to engage in a whole lot of ways, and engage with its product offerings. The emails are designed to look aspirational – introducing top makeup artists under the headline ‘Our Artistry’. It also encourages subscribers to get to know the artists, watch their how-to videos, and buy more MAC products in the future.
Some of the best brands of 2016, Apple, BBC, Amazon, and Facebook, for example, capitalize on storytelling. In fact, storytelling marketing is not just a way to engage customers, but to start conversations in a compelling way.
Did you know that an extraordinary process known as ‘mirroring’ occurs where our brain activity mimics that of the storyteller’s? A neurotransmitter called Dopamine, which aids in memory retention is released. The cortex (associated with thought and action) is activated more than when we’re just processing cold, hard facts. So, keeping spinning the yarn, and create a compelling story to capture your potential buyers’ hearts and minds.
You now have a tested formula to get more responses to your email campaigns. Go ahead and make it a part of your marketing strategy. Remember, ‘DESIGN, DIRECTION and CONTENT’.
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