Nicole Merrett is vice president of CRM marketing for Sage North America, a supplier of business management software and services for small and midsize businesses.
Here are seven suggestions to help you craft more effective email campaigns and get better response rates.
- Subject Line
First impressions are critical in any form of communication. When people receive an email, the first thing they see is the subject line, which has the potential to either gain or lose their interest. Subject lines that include your company’s name as a reference and provide specifics supporting your email topic will typically gain higher open rates.
- “From” Line
To understand how important this is, think about your own inbox. Would you be more likely to open an email sent from email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org? People don’t want to open an automated email.
People love seeing their own name. It makes them feel is if the email was written to them personally and not sent to thousands. Online services have simple options to directly insert names from your contact database using a template editor.
How often do you send out newsletters, event invites, and updates that aren’t just soliciting a purchase? Are you getting an active response from recipients? If not, try something new. Be conscious about how many emails you send out each week or month. How are individuals interacting with your emails? Are you following up accordingly? How are you engaging the people who seem uninterested? Some email services include click-through analytics that monitor which readers spend time with your emails and forward them along to colleagues.
- Quality Content
When you provide your contacts with quality content, they’re more inclined to read your emails and even forward them to friends. Gain your contacts’ trust by emphasizing quality of communication over quantity. One option is providing information they can use immediately. A seller of gardening supplies might offer a series of horticulture tips; and when a prospect is in need of planting materials, he or she would likely think of the insightful supply-marketer first. The best sources for good content are the questions you get from your customers.
Test the way your email appears, not only through your own email service provider, but through several providers. Test all links in your message to make sure they work. Test your graphics. Pictures are a great way to grab someone’s attention. Remember, however, that pictures don’t always show up in email messages, so test the effectiveness of your email by viewing it in an email client with images turned off and making sure your message remains easy to understand and the call to action is clear. Finally, test your email with a spam check tool before sending. Spam check services review email content to see what might get caught in spam filters.
- …And More Testing
Your email has passed all the tests: it looks good, the Web links work, the images are properly placed, there’s a clear call to action, and it’s made it through the spam check…but it’s not getting the open rates you expected. How come? There are many reasons, including the time of day you send your email, the day of the week on which it’s sent, the frequency with which you send emails, etc.
So why not test it?
Test one change at a time. For example, explore what days your recipients are more likely to open your email. Split up your recipient list, and send each set of recipients the same email on different days. Does the open rate stand out more on one day than another?
A next step could be to determine the time of a particular day people are more willing to open and interact with your email. Again, divide your list and send out the same email at different times of the day. A good starting point is the start of the day and middle of the afternoon. Studies have shown that these are the best times of day to send emails. See if your tests concur.
When you have a specific day and time recipients are most responsive, examine your content. What sort of subject line gains the highest response? Do your recipients react more to graphics or text? Consider the placement of your call to action. Is one position more effective than another? Do your recipients appreciate lengthy, informational emails, or do they prefer a quick read? Test each element one at a time.
With email marketing, you never need to settle for one formula because you will often have the flexibility to make improvements as you go. So make taking advantage of trends and technology the constant in your digital marketing programs. This will help you achieve more tangible results.