Top tips from internet expert Dave Howell
1. Enhance the customer experience
The emails you send to customers should be one component of an integrated marketing campaign that supports your brand. The connections you make through email should reinforce marketing messages, but should also aid customer service. If you can make your emails relevant and engaging, this will vastly improve open rates and click through transactions.
2. Better email design
Emails need attractive design to prompt recipients to open them. HTML emails are now widely used. Various applications can be used to create them, including the Adobe Creative Cloud suite. Thousands of templates are also available from vendors such as ThemeForest, while a range of templates are built into services such as Campaign Monitor and MailChimp. Other services include Inkbrush, AWeber, Constant Contact and iContact.
Clarity and engagement should be your watchwords when creating marketing emails. Use images and video, but don’t forget their purpose. Emails are likely to be viewed on smartphones, so design them to look good on smaller screens.
3.Multiple devices, multiple platforms
There will always be a small percentage of recipients who won’t be able to open your messages, but you can minimise this by having options such as text only versions of your emails.
According to the latest study from market research company Litmus, the iPhone email client has the largest market share at 33 per cent, Gmail has 15 per cent, the iPad 12 per cent, Android 10 per cent and Microsoft Outlook six per cent. Your emails should open on all these services.
4. Create viral messages
Viral is a term often associated with social media content that’s been shared an unusual number of times. Viral emails are also possible to create and can lead to a welcome boost in sales.
According to Litmus, ‘forwards’ expand the reach of your messages and generate additional conversions, but they have significant meaning beyond that. They’re a powerful indication of the overall health of an email marketing campaign, because they show you’re fulfilling subscribers’ needs at the highest level.
There is no secret formula that will result in an email going viral, but you can increase your chances by making your messages highly targeted to specific groups. Making your message strong and clear with a prominent call to action are essential components of viral emails.
5. Write great subject lines
Grabbing the attention of a recipient with a subject line is vital. Matching the subject line to the content of the email is also important. If the message includes offers or discounts, say so in the subject line. If there is a specific benefit to the audience, make this very clear.
Urgency or scarcity can be powerful motivators. The call to act to receive a specific offer or meet a deadline for a limited quantity of products are all great ways to get your message to go viral.
Make your subject lines as concise as possible. Around 50 characters or seven words has proven to be the most effective.
6. Personalise messages
Making a personal connection with customers is important. The emails you send should have a level of personalisation, but in an age of phishing, identity theft and cybercrime, consumers have become wary of emails addressed directly to them. However, personalisation doesn’t have to mean using a customer’s name. Using location can also be effective.
Segmenting your customers into groups and sending them targeted emails makes them personal to that group. Think about the messages you want to send and the group who would find them most beneficial. Use customer profiling to understand these groups and ensure each message speaks directly to them.
7. Send your messages at the right time
They say timing is everything. This is certainly the case when choosing when to send your emails. A study by MailChimp found that Tuesday and Thursday sees the highest volumes of email traffic, so avoiding these days will give your message more of a chance of standing out from the crowd.
The beginning of the day (9am-10am) and evenings (6pm, with a spike around 8pm) tend to yield the best open and click through results. It’s also important to get your message opened as soon as it’s delivered. Delays tend to mean a big drop-off in open rates and action being taken, so make your subject lines irresistible.
8. Call to action
Emails without a strong and clear call to action may as well not be sent. After an engaging subject line and attractive content, a call to action is vital. Often this will be a ‘click here’ button to take the recipient to a landing page on your website.
Don’t wait until the end of your message. Use a call to action throughout the email to keep prompting the reader to act. Don’t confuse messages with different calls to action. Focus on one and wrap your email around the action you want your customer to take. Use trigger words such as ‘shop now’, ‘buy’, ‘download’ and ‘save now’ to get your customers tapping or clicking the link.
9. Responsive design
To ensure your emails open as you expect on mobile devices, aim for a maximum width of 600 pixels. Apple recommends buttons should be no smaller than 44x44 pixels. Single columns that contain body text and other content will ensure the majority of your message will be instantly visible.
Place all calls to action towards the top of you message, so even if resized they will still be seen. Avoid lengthy pages that require lots of scrolling, as this doesn’t translate well when viewed on mobile devices.
10. Don’t forget the landing page
Often overlooked, the landing page your emails link to is arguably the most important component of your campaign. According to marketing specialist MarketingSherpa, landing pages are effective for 94 per cent of all companies in the business-to-consumer and business-to-business markets.
Your landing pages should focus on the products you’re promoting. Lots of white space keeps the page uncluttered and enables you to use bold images and other graphics. Make it obvious what your offer is and how the visitor can obtain it. The landing page should reinforce the content of the email you sent.