Over the past 5 years I have found myself caught up in the dark art of email marketing. More accurately email creative and build. Back then I thought ‘I can code websites and programs, how hard can a little email be’, right? Wrong! Remember back when you had to hack your site’s to play nice with Explorer (and even Netscape, showing my age here) and how much of a pain it was in the early days of png’s and scripts will multiply that pain by 40. With a multitude of email clients all rendering out different specs and not one clear ‘standard’ in place, it was a minefield. Outlook was the first issue to get around and with the aid of ‘VML’ and an understanding on how it was rendering elements this was soon a problem solved. By fixing Outlook you broke Yahoo with its strangetag rendering so fall backs were in place for that. Throw in 20 other email clients and you can soon start to realise the job of an email creator was one of blood, sweat and tears with a side twist of torment but also joy when it worked.
Six years on I have managed to become an acknowledged/go to email communication person and have the ear of other top performing email marketers, creatives and coders. Recently I sent out an email to my fellow email addicts and asked for their top 5 tips to ‘Make Email Better’. I’ve collated the answers and put them in an order from start to finish.
4 steps to send better email
Step 1 – Nail the subject line
The subject line is the handshake of the email world. It’s vital you make a good first impression. An estimated 93 billion marketing emails are sent each day (Radicati Group) and 33% of email recipients open email based on subject line alone (Salesforce).
I’ll write another post about subject lines (and Jason boxes) and how to ‘nail’ them but for now just remember your subject line needs to be engaging to the audience, relevant to the content within the email and to the point.
Step 2 – Mobile first bla bla bla
For the past few years I turn off when agencies start sprouting about designing for mobile first whether it be websites or saas. It’s not because it’s wrong it’s because it’s like reminding your Dad to look both ways while crossing the road. We all know it’s vitally important to get the responsive elements of our digital products correct but it’s so 4 years ago banging on about it. I’d much prefer to hear agencies say ’your user’s first’. Anyway, I’ve been side tracked. Email has evolved a lot over the past 3 years, from standard tables to inclusion of media queries to create a responsive feel through to where we are today. My preferred approach is a hybrid-fluid layout (I’ll deep dive into this another time with downloads), this ensures we conquer the dreaded Android Gmail App and remain solid in Outlook.
66% of emails are opened on a mobile device (Movable Ink) and 70% of smartphone users say they delete emails immediately that don’t render properly (Axiom). So, know your list, if mobile devices are a huge share of the open rates then take that into account while content planning and designing.
Step 3 – Relevent Content
You have 8.25 seconds to capture someone’s attention and marketers rank email content and design as the most important element of a campaign (Paradot). My personal advice is to simplify and optimise your content. Have one key message that is relevant to the user and keep secondary messages to a minimal. Get strict with your marketing team or client, information overload will scare your user.
Step 4 – Make it count!
So you have done all the hard work, the user has received and been tempted into the email with a clever subject line. Your clear message has made the user intrigued or comfortable enough to hit your well designed and crafted call to action and then what? You as an email guru’s job is done and done well… another percentage on you open rate and click through stats. Well cool your jets we are still in the middle of this ‘one on one’ battle of wits. We need to ensure that where the user goes to from the email is what the user is expecting to receive. If we have tempted them in with a competition then the user will be expecting a landing page with this message and instructions clearly defined. Should the user just land on a home page to a website where the competition may be mentioned in a small area somewhere then the user will feel duped. Unless it’s vitally important for the user they will just bounce straight back off the site and when you next communicate to them they will subconsciously remember this negative feeling and ignore the email or even unsubscribe. Think about the flow for the user. Keep the same tone of voice, a similar style set and above all relevant information.
33% of online revenue can be sourced to a direct email appeal (M+R), yet only 48% of marketers create a new landing page for each of their campaigns (Marketing Sherpa).