With over 144 billion emails sent each day, email marketing still remains one of the most effective channels for business communication. So how do you separate your marketing emails from the all the rest your customers receive? The key to developing an email message/campaign that stands out among the other hundreds of emails starts with strategy. What follows are a few tips for developing an effective email marketing strategy that will get your emails opened by your targeted audience.
1. Personalize your email without using the recipient’s name.
Forget the “Dear [INSERT NAME HERE]”. The practice of personalized email greetings is not nearly as effective as it may seem. In fact, research by Temple’s Fox School of Business suggests that personalized email advertisements are far more likely to repel customers than to endear them. But the research – which drew from 10 million marketing emails sent to 600,000 customers – also shows there is a way companies can use personal information without driving customers away: send them deals on products they want.
“Given the high level of cyber security concerns about phishing, identity theft, and credit card fraud, many consumers would be wary of emails, particularly those with personal greetings.”
A key element of email marketing is your relationship with the customer. Does a recipient trust you and your company? Does a recipient even know who you or your company are? Faking familiarity with the subscriber turns many email readers off. But this isn’t to say that all forms of personalization are off-limits. In fact, a particular brand of personalization can pay off big time: Sending email that acknowledges a subscriber’s individuality (e.g., purchase history or demographic).
The Temple Fox School of Business study also found that product personalization, in which customers are directed to products that their past purchasing patterns suggest they will like, triggered positive responses in 98 percent of customers.
To improve your email marketing effectiveness:
- Don’t send personalized greetings to new customers.
- Send emails to established customers more frequently than to new ones. A large number of emails may drive a new customer away but may prompt an established customer to purchase.
- Build a relationship with new customers by only emailing them ads for products they are predicted to like. However, expand your relationship with existing customers by occasionally exposing them to products they’ve never bought before.
2. Develop a subject line with fewer than 49 or more than 70 characters.
Did you know that the length of your subject line can determine whether or not your recipient will open or click through your email? According to research by Adestra (who tracked over 900 million emails for its report), subject lines 70 characters and up tested to be most beneficial to engage readers in clicking through to the content, and subject lines 49 characters and below tested well with open rate. In fact, subject lines fewer than 10 characters long had an open rate of 58 percent!
So when it comes to deciding on the perfect subject line, there appears to be really only one area to avoid: the subject line of 60 to 70 characters. Marketers refer to this as the “dead zone” of subject length. So the best email strategy is to squeeze out more words or cut back just a bit to avoid that 60 to 70 character dead zone.
3. Time your emails.
While you may develop during business hours, the ones with the best open rates aren’t being sent between 8:00 and 9:00 a.m. According to a Pivotal Veracity study, early morning email delivery has the lowest open rates. This makes sense since the first time most people check their email is when they arrive at work, and the common habit is to delete anything unimportant in order to reduce clutter before the day starts. In fact, multiple studies by Experian Marketing Services and a few others have shown that the time of day that received the best open rate was 8:00 p.m. to midnight. This block not only performed better for open rate (a respectable 22 percent) but also for click through and sales. Lunchtime sends followed the late night sends.
There are a few fast and easy rules about what is the best day to send email, however, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t test to find out if they hold true for you.
- Monday’s are considered the worst day to send mass emails in terms of open rate. The logic, again, involves the theory that most people spend most of their inbox time at work. When you come into work on a Monday, you instantly start deleting anything that seems like junk or unimportant emails so that your inbox isn’t as overwhelming to you. This theory has been backed up by research numbers in many email marketing studies.
- Weekends are also not a good time to send marketing emails since Internet activity, in general, is reduced on weekends. This is likely because people spend more time with their families, get outdoors more or are just disconnecting from all their online time during the week. Almost every online metric category slips on the weekends, and that includes email opens. Avoid big weekend blasts.
- Midweek days are the best days of the week to send emails. Most studies support that sending emails on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday will yield the best results. So, if you boil it down, you want to send your email campaign on a midweek day in the afternoon.
The bottom line is that optimal mailing for your customers’ needs will be up to you. Test, test, and test some more to find out when your customers are more likely to open email.
4. Design your emails to ensure it looks great no matter where it’s read.
Mobile opens accounted for 47 percent of all email opens according to email marketing firm, Litmus. Therefore, it is critical to design your email so that it looks great no matter what device it’s opened on:
- Convert your email to a one column template for an easy mobile fix.
- Bump up the font size for improved readability on smart phones.
- Follow the iOS guideline of buttons at least 44 pixels wide by 44 pixels tall.
- Make the call-to-action obvious and easy to tap. Above the fold is preferable.
- Consider ergonomics. Many users tap and scroll with their thumb, so keep important tappable elements in the middle of the screen.
5. Re-engage an inactive group of subscribers.
Your list is huge. Great! The only problem is that two-thirds of it may be inactive. Research has found that the average inactivity for a list is 63 percent, meaning that once someone joins they are less likely to ever follow-up with your follow-up emails. Email marketing firm Listrak goes so far as to identify the first 90 days as the window for turning a sign-up into a devotee.
So what’s to become of that inactive 63 percent? Re-engagement campaigns are an excellent place to start.
6. Develop segmented lists.
When it comes to email marketing, your goal is always to develop specific campaigns around product/service areas that your business offers. The next important step is to develop segmented lists so you can separate relevant content and information for particular groups of people. Remember, effective emails should accomplish two things: 1) direct recipients to your website and 2) drive them to take some type of action. Which leads us to the next tip.
7. Create a customized landing page.
I recently read an article in Entrepreneur magazine stating that email is a far more effective way to acquire customers than all that tweeting and posting and “liking” you’re doing on social media – nearly 40 times more than Facebook and Twitter combined! However, the ticket was to create customized landing pages. These pages, which send the user directly to the item or offer featured in the e-mail, can increase conversion rates by more than 25 percent.
As with everything in the marketing arena, you have to experiment and test different email strategies that you feel work best for your customers and targeted audience. Very likely, if you are doing your own experiments, you might have found different results. What are your best email strategies and email marketing tips? Tell us in the comments below! Of course, if you need helping designing and implementing your email marketing strategy, give us a call! We’d love to help.