Happy Monday, marketers! How about we get your workweek off to an informed start with some news and information from the wide world of email marketing? Here we go:
Revamp your email marketing program for a fresh start in 2017
“For an email program to be successful, marketers need to analyze and revamp sending strategies, tools and message content at least once a year to ensure recipients are engaged and enjoying the content their brands are sending them,” writes Scott Heimes at Marketing Land. “The coming of a new year is a time for resolutions and fresh starts, so it’s a perfect time to reevaluate and revamp email marketing programs.”
Heimes suggests that cleaning your email lists is a great way to start off the revamping process. “Cleansing subscriber lists of invalid emails lowers the risk of bounce-backs, which directly impact deliverability rates,” he writes. “If a marketer emails a list with too many invalid addresses, there’s a good chance that a domain will take notice and assume the brand has poor collection practices. Therefore, the brand’s emails may end up in the junk folder, or the sender may be blocked altogether.”
It’s also a great time of the year to freshen up your email templates, Heimes suggests. “Be sure to compare your different mail streams for branding consistency to ensure a holistic brand experience is being communicated to the customer across the board,” he writes. “Don’t be afraid to refresh the look and feel of all your emails in 2017 if there are inconsistencies. Consider how each template will resonate with different customer personas and ensure that the structure and format flow. Remember to include the call to action (CTA) in the header, and make certain that the message hierarchy is consistent with the brand’s strategy and goals.”
And a third, but equally important focus, should be your email content. “A brand’s objectives and goals may have shifted throughout 2016, so make sure that in 2017 the content and messaging of the email program reflect those changes and echo the voice of the brand,” Heimes writes. “This is also a great time to cut back on content and streamline the messaging to create more impactful emails.”
Once you are done with your new year’s freshening-up, why not take advantage of your new start by working to re-engage customers you may have lost in 2016? “Begin by analyzing engagement metrics and reaching out to those who have not engaged for 30 days,” Heimes suggests. “Craft a campaign with A/B testing and reach out to users to understand what is resonating with them. Try reminding the subscriber of when they opted in to receiving emails from your brand through humor or incentives. Lastly, always include at least one link for them to re-engage with the brand, perhaps one to the email preference center.”
Focus on subject lines, copy and CTAs to drive more sales
Not satisfied with the results of your email marketing efforts? You may be able to change that by focusing on three key areas, suggests Reshu Rathi, writing at Inc42.
“When you do a deep dive into why email marketing is not driving the sales you expected, you often discover small mistakes are the cause,” Rathi writes. “These simple errors are easy to fix but can have a significant impact on your bottom line.”
The culprits affecting sales are usually subject lines, copy and CTAs, she posits.
Regarding subject lines, Rathi says that attention to personalization, segmentation and length will pay off in higher open rates. “In real life, people like it when you address them by their name; the same rule applies to email marketing too. If you want to improve your open rates include the recipient’s first name in the subject line. Remember, better open rates are the first step to increasing your conversions.”
Segmentation is also key, Rathi suggests: “The more relevant your subject line is, the more the chance your emails will be opened. And, it isn’t possible to be relevant without list segmentation.” She adds that subject lines need to be short to be effective: “Nearly two-thirds of emails these days are opened on mobile devices. If your subject line is wordy, your recipients won’t be able to see it properly, as mobile devices display only a few characters of the subject line.”
When it comes to copy, Rathi says it should “provide valuable information and engage your readers.” In addition, it should “align with your subject line” and be easily readable on mobile devices, which means that you need to “keep it short and concise to make it easy for your subscribers to consume your copy on small-screen devices.”
And CTAs need to be clear and have a sole focus. “Don’t assume that just because you know what you want readers to do, they’ll know it too. Clearly tell them what you want them to do.” Rathi writes. “Marketers often try to add too many CTAs in one email to encourage readers to click, but the more, the merrier doesn’t always hold true. A single focused CTA makes it easier for subscribers to convert rather than too many CTAs.”
Contextualization, mobile and other email marketing best practices
Anton Kraly writes at Business 2 Community that contextualization, mobile, “motion,” wearable devices and integration with social media are a few of the email marketing best practices from 2016 that will shape its future in 2017 and beyond.
Last year, “contextual emails stood out in terms of email marketing best practices,” Kraly writes. “With more and more emails being sent to our subscribers’ inboxes, how can we make sure that our emails will get noticed? Create contextual emails!” He says the power of contextual emails comes from the fact that they “are personalized to your subscribers and make them feel that your email was typed out and sent exclusively to them.”
Regarding mobile, Kraly writes that “there was a huge shift in email marketing best practices in 2016 when it came to how subscribers read their emails” and cites statistics indicating that in the first quarter of last year, 66 percent of all U.S. emails were opened via mobile. To make sure messages that are received on mobile devices are read by potential customers, Kraly recommends that email marketers employ responsive design, keep messages short, optimize subject lines and develop compelling preview text.
Kraly uses the term “motion” to refer to video, animated GIFs and other elements that add action to email, and says their power to make emails more successful shouldn’t be underestimated. “By 2017, video will control nearly 69 percent of all consumer internet traffic,” he writes. “What does this mean for email marketers? If you video it, they will watch it.
With motion, you can attract your email subscribers’ attention at a glance, and the use of moving elements, like a timer, can enhance the click-through-rate tremendously.”
Kraly also acknowledges the growing use of wearable devices as a trend that marketers need to be aware of and design for, noting that an estimated 28 million smartwatches were sold worldwide in 2016. “Marketers can’t ignore that wearable devices, like the Apple Watch, are transforming the landscape of email marketing’s best practices. Experiment with plain text emails, brief content, and optimized subject lines to ensure that your emails are compatible with wearable devices.”
In 2016, “email marketing began to work together with social media for larger campaigns,” Kraly writes, an integration that he sees continuing in 2017 and beyond. His suggestions for successfully synergizing email marketing and social media include uploading and connecting email subscriber lists via social networks, running retargeting ads on Twitter and Facebook for subscribers who click on emails, creating exclusive groups for email subscribers and creating CTAs that drive social shares.