“There is no way email marketing is still relevant in 2020!” The dreaded phrase marketing professionals hear all too often. But I get it. Email has been around since the late 60s, early 70s so shouldn’t it have reached its shelf life years ago?
The truth is, email has done something that most channels couldn’t, it evolved along with its users. Marketing has always been interruptive or marketer-centric. Content was constantly pushed on all channels without concern for whether consumers wanted it or not.
Today, consumers want to be control and want to be part of a larger conversation. Instead of being interrupted while going about their daily lives, they want to receive personalised and valuable content at the right time and right place. This is where email can perform really well and other traditional forms of marketing – well, basically suck. So, marketers and business owners listen up, email marketing is not a good-to-have, it’s essential to the success of any business. Still don’t believe me? Then look over the top 10 stats – prepare to have your mind blown!
- B2B “workers/owners/customers/audiences” still rely heavily on email. In fact, it’s the third most influential source of information and is only preceded by colleague recommendations and industry-specific thought leaders.
- Almost 60% of B2B marketers believe email is their most effective channel for generating revenue.
- Consumers who purchase products through email spend 138% more than those that don’t receive email offers.
- 28% of consumers would like to receive promotional emails more than once per week.
- According to Campaign Monitor, each $1 spent in the US on email marketing made $44 dollars in return, in the UK it’s £33 for every pound spent.
- In 2017, global email users amounted to 3.7 Billion – yes with a capital B – and that’s estimated to grow to 4.3 Billion by 2022.
- 49% of businesses use some form of email automation.
- By 2022 it’s estimated that around 333 Billion emails will be sent back and forth every single day 🤯
- 80% of retail professionals indicate that email marketing is their greatest driver of customer retention (the next closest channel? Social media, identified by just 44% of those same professionals).
- 73% of millennials identify email as their preferred means of business communication.
Okay, so you’ve wrapped your head around the sheer size and importance of email and you’ve convinced every top-level employee to invest time and money, what happens next?
Well you can easily spend a shit-ton of time and energy to find and set up the right tools, monitoring and optimizing campaign performance, managing your database and understanding SPAM filters. Let’s face it, designing an email that’s gorgeous yet functional is an artform (and a science). You have to think of everything from goals and subject lines, preview text right down to CTA (that’s Call to Action if you’re not yet familiar with the lingo). To get you started, I’ve hand-picked a few of the most important topics.
A recipe for success: The ingredients of a high-performing email
Setting goals is crucial to successful email marketing. It will help guide the direction of your campaigns and makes it easy to measure their success. Most importantly, having clear goals will undoubtably be appreciated by your recipients.
- Who are your recipients?
- What actions should your recipients take?
- Why should your subscribers care?
- Who are you sending the campaign to?
- How will you measure success?
FYI, selling something in every single email is NOT considered good content! If that’s what your were thinking, then you should seriously rethink your email strategy.
Email marketing newbies tend to leave the subject line and preview text for last and by then it’s just a rush to hit send. Think of your email as a bakery and your subject line as the window display. To lure people in to your store, you’ll need to showcase your most irresistible baked goods. Neglecting your subject line and preview text is a death sentence for your email. Here are a few tips to writing great subject lines:
Keep it short and sweet
Keep things to a simple 6-10 word phrase or ask a simple question to entice your reader. Just note that your open rates will start slipping at around 60 characters.
Avoid being too salesy
You know that awkwardness when you’re trying to avoid a sales person approaching you on the street? Well, ESPs make it much less awkward by sending your emails straight to the spam box. Avoid terms like “free” or “50% off” if you want people to read your email.
Personalise when appropriate
Many email marketing tools can help you personalize an email by including a recipients name or last name. This can make things feel a little more human, which will do wonders to your open rate, but this should only be used when appropriate.
Keep things fresh
The beauty of email is its ability to mix things up. Play around with different subject lines and test them to see what works for your audience and feel free to spice it up with an emoji!
This seemingly unimportant snippet of text is actually crucial to your open rate – especially on mobile. You see, it’s the last chance you get to convince the recipient to open your email. According to HubSpot, a well crafted piece of preview text can be used to:
- Continue the theme of your subject line
- Tease the content of your email
- Provide a call-to-action
- Add a personalised message
- Demonstrate the value of the content in the email
Design and Functionality
By now you should have noticed, email is a bunch of elements working in sync towards a specific goal. Designing a successful email is much more than just slapping a few images and text together. It’s about creating the best experience for your recipient so I guess it goes without saying, but your email should be easy on the eyes.
A little side-note, a great source of inspiration is a little website called reallygoodemails.com. If you didn’t quite get it from the name, it’s entirely dedicated to best-in-class emails. It’s a great, easy to use resource when planning a new email campaign.
Getting back to my story, here are a few tips and tricks you can use to give your email a little boost:
Admittedly, copywriting isn’t for everyone. Some write too sloppy and others tend to take the overly formal route. To help you step up your copywriting game, here are some easy to implement tips:
Write for Scannability
First and foremost, always consider your own reading habits. No one appreciates a ridiculously long email. In most cases, people read emails on the fly. Between meetings, on the bus or even while waiting in line. Best case, you have a couple of minutes to hook the reader so write for scannability.
- Keep paragraphs short
- Highlight text
- Use bullet points whenever possible
See what I did there? It’s is all a way of saying to your reader I appreciate your time.
Tone of voice
Knowing your audience is key to help set the right tone. Let’s use an example. Writing to a bargain-hunting millennial is almost certainly going to be different than writing to a power-hungry CEO of a mid-sized corporation. If you have a clear persona then this should be easy, if not, go back to the drawing board before you think of anything else.
Take things further by adding a personal touch to your email. If you have a well-segmented easy to add a little reference to your readers name, interests or even behaviours. Just remember, you’re trying to make things more human so use with caution!
In almost all instances, your email should have only one CTA. Newsletters are the exceptions to this rule since they contain multiple bits of information. In all other cases, stick to one CTA. This isn’t to say that other elements can’t be used as a form of CTA. Hyperlinks and images are great ways to entice a user to go to your landing page, but should be used in moderation.
Wording your CTA is another very important aspect to consider. There certainly isn’t a shortage of tricks out there to help you get tons of clicks. But the short and sweet of it all is to keep it simple. Seriously. Your CTA should make it abundantly clear what the reader is clicking on. Instead of saying “click here” why not say “Take me to the offer now” or “Download your guide”. It’s big, it’s clear and it does the job.
Placing your CTA depends entirely on the content of your email. Generally, it should be above the fold (that area you see before scrolling). However, many email marketers leave the CTA until the very end of the email. It’s a matter of what works for the particular email. Play around and see what works, just make sure it’s big. How big? Well, big enough for your reader to easily see and click on – even on mobile. It’s really that simple.
Images are great to add some spice to your email. It can add context to your text and just spruce up a dry old email. There are a few things to bare in mind when adding images to your email.
The first is a sad reality that a big portion of your recipients won’t see the images. Some email clients block images by default, they opted for plaintext or the device their using just doesn’t support it. It’s therefore crucial to add alt-text to your images. If you’re not yet familiar with the term, it’s basically a concise description of each image. It helps to keep the email legible when the images don’t render.
The second thing to keep in mind is that while images can help add flare to your email, it can also distract. In fact, a number of studies concluded that as the number of images in B2B emails increases, the click-through rate tends to decrease. In the case of consumer goods, images help to visualise your products much better than text.
The key takeaway here is that you need have a great understanding of your audience’s behaviour, what devices they use, how they view emails and in what context they’re receiving your emails.
Proofread and testing
There’s nothing more devastating than bad things happening to good emails. Before hitting send, do yourself – and your recipients – a favour by reading over your email. Not once, not twice, but thrice. Heck, go a step further and send a preview email to your closest colleagues and have them read over it one more time.
A little anecdote might strengthen my argument here. It was in the not-so-distant past and I was knee deep in deadlines. Luckily I took care of a few copywriting related tasks the week before. All I had to do was copy and paste the text into a template, link to the relevant landing page, add a few images and Bob’s your uncle. Well, soon after hitting send, the CEO worryingly came up to ask why I sent an email to a list of VERY important customers with the opening line being “Hi *FNAME*, <add a catchy opening line>”. Yup…that happened. If I could save you from the utter cringe that ensued, then I’ve done my job.
As a final note, your recipients aren’t as forgiving as you’d might think. So set a goal, don’t neglect your subject line or preview text, use the design framework and for heaven’s sake proofread!
Still need help with your email marketing? Pale Blue Dot can help your business increase your email marketing ROI all while helping to keep your costs low!