In this ever-evolving social, mobile and content-based world we’re living in, we sometimes neglect the tried and tested things that still work. Email marketing is becoming an ever-more neglected part of the marketing mix as managers start branding it ineffective and ‘old hat’. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth, and the facts back this up.
Email marketing still works extremely well, if there’s a perfect storm of design, content and segmentation applied to your campaigns. Although direct response elements are still important in the world of marketing (even in the digital realm) people often forget to consider the design elements that make these efforts attractive. If you can attract with great design and convert with compelling copy that’s targeted at the right audience, you can create email campaigns that are wildly successful.
This article is dedicated to all of the above elements – and then some – as we tear open what makes for an effective campaign these days and show you exactly how to make emails that convert like crazy. Before we get into the meat and potatoes though, we must get strategic:
The Purpose of Your Campaign
Email campaigns come in all shapes and sizes, each with their own purpose. A mistake people often make – and this applies to social media marketing too – is that they jump on the bandwagon of a particular technology without thinking of what that platform can do for them.
So with this in mind, what purpose do you want your email campaigns to serve? Are you capturing leads in exchange for a free ebook or webinar? If so, by having a sequential email campaign, you can nurture those leads into becoming qualified prospects.
You might also have a blog that you regularly post updates to; if so, having a lead capture form for subscribers to be kept in touch is also valuable. There is best practice and certain no-no’s when it comes to constantly bugging your subscribers with sales materials, but the more they trust you and your brand, the more likely they’ll opt in for more materials to progress further through the buying funnel.
There may also come a time when you’ll have a new product to shout about, so having a solid and sequential campaign set up for your launches can work wonders too. Make sure you segment to target those who already know you separately from new leads to your funnel.
Compelling Email Copy
Now you know what you want your email campaign to do, it’s time to put pen to paper – or more fittingly – fingers to the keyboard.
Many direct response marketers say that 80% of time spent on sales letters should be directed at the headline. The subject line of your email is, in a way, the headline for your email. It is what grabs the recipient’s attention and should compel them to open it.
If you get your subject line right, you may be able to increase your open rates considerably. If you’ve been doing email marketing for a while and you’re disappointed by your open rates then playing around with the way you address your audience could give you the boost you need.
Once you have your target audience inside your email you need to keep their attention long enough to persuade them to take action. Your copy needs to be relevant, interesting, educational or entertaining in order to do this. If it’s leading them to a piece of content on another web page then tease what they can expect in exchange for that sought-after click.
Include bullet points, headlines and bold, italic and underline formatting to cater to both analytical readers as well as skim-readers. We call these double-readership paths and, by catering to the different ways people consume content, they can broaden the appeal of your emails.
Beautiful or Simple Design
When I first started working with Mediahawk, I kept to a simple plain text email format. Now we’re mixing it up a bit by adding some graphical elements to our emails. As you’ll see in a minute, experimenting with the building blocks to your emails can gain great improvements. But why is design so important?
I believe that the design of your marketing materials is very important – including your website, sales material and emails. Great copy used to be able to stand on its own feet, but these days it’s important to have great design to back it up.
Design, however, should always be there to serve function. That’s the true purpose of design. Having great content with bad design can (not always) be detrimental, but the opposite can also be true. If you have lots of fancy graphics but very little in the way of substance and content then people are unlikely to open, let alone read what you have to say.
Take a look at the following email I recently sent out to subscribers of our free ebook. I chose a nice and neat design that came across as professional yet friendly:
It’s not littered with images, but it’s definitely not short of them either. We laid it out professionally with content that told the recipient exactly what they needed to know. With an 18.5% open rate with a 4% CTR, we’d say it didn’t do too badly.
This format might not be right for your campaigns. You might own an eCommerce business where you need lots of images to illustrate what’s new and exciting in more detail (just subscribe to Apple’s list and you’ll see what I mean). Perhaps a plain text email would be more effective – only the facts will tell you what’s right for your campaigns; which brings me right to the next section of this article.
Test & Tweak Like a Freak
I’ve given you a lot of ideas here, but they shouldn’t be taken as gospel. As I said above, the stats are what you should really listen to. Split testing your campaigns is a great way to give yourself a little boost; from the subject line, to the design, copy and even the wording of your calls-to-action.
By testing as often as you can you’ll quickly find out what works and what doesn’t. Measure it all the way to on-page conversions by using Google Analytics as well ascall tracking software if you’re relying on the phone to gain a response.
I advise you to try testing every single email you send out, as you should only test one element of your emails out at a time (we have a guide to statistically significant split testing that you can read for more information on this.)
How are your email campaigns currently going? Are you absolutely crushing it or could you be doing something better? Let us know in the comments below.