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Omnichannel commerce | Email

10 Tips for More-Productive Emails

image: 10 top tips text written on a chalkboard
The beauty of marketing emails? It’s easy to continually fine-tune them to improve their results

Just about everyone who uses email as a marketing tool is continually in search of ways to improve its effectiveness. But there are so many variables to test and tweak, it's hard to know which elements to consider—or rather, reconsider—first: Which potential changes could have the greatest impact on performance?


In a white paper titled "Top 10 Critical Techniques to Test to Improve Your Email Marketing," marketing solutions provider Worldata suggests 10 items that have the potential to be the greatest needle movers:




Create multiple types of link buttons. Creatives labour mightily over the design of "click here" buttons: How large should it be? What color? What exactly should it say? And that's great—but keep in mind that the majority of email clients block images by default. If the email recipients of those clients haven't changed their settings to view email images, they're not even going to see what those buttons look like. That's why it's vital that your buttons should include hyperlinked text as well.




Try some sort of exclusivity. According to Worldata, including "exclusive" or a similar word in the subject line creates on average a 24% lift in open rates. Of course, you can't declare that something is exclusive if it's not. If you sell products or services that are indeed available only via your company, congratulations: You can see for yourself whether promoting exclusivity boosts business. Otherwise, you could consider offering an "exclusive" early-bird peek at new products to your "most valued customers," for instance. Just be sure that you don't mislead: That early-bird peek really does need to be limited to valuable customers, not every name on your mailing list.




Create a sense of urgency. That's why you'll see subject lines with wording such as "Today only" or "Sale ends tonight." This tactic has long worked in bricks-and-mortar retail and catalogues.




Track the "click here for trouble viewing" link. This link, which usually appears in the preheader, enables email recipients to view the content of the email online rather than in their inbox. If you don't have this option on your emails, add it pronto. And if you do have it, make sure it doesn't account for more than 15% of all click-throughs from each email. If it does, that's a strong hint that your email needs to be redesigned for better usability.




Create a mobile-friendly email design. More than one-third of all emails are now read on mobile devices, according to Worldata, and that percentage is likely to continue to rise. Therefore, your emails should include a link to what Worldata calls a "stripped-down" version that will render effectively on any mobile device.




Consider an "all-in" design. Common email practice is for the logo to link to the company home page and call-to-action buttons to link directly to specific product pages, registration pages, and the like. With an all-in design, "all of the links in an email go to one, standard landing page," Worldata explains. You can then tailor this landing page for the particular campaign. "Email messages that drive all link traffic to the same location have a 48% higher conversion rate than those emails allowing for multiple destinations."




Reconsider your landing pages. If your conversion rates are disappointing compared with your open and click-through rates, you need to look closely at the pages your emails link to. Landing page optimisation is a huge topic in and of itself, but among a few best practises to consider, according to Worldata:


:: Repeat the main image of your email on the landing page.


:: When asking for information, keep the number of fields to a minimum. For instance, if you're asking for a postcode or a zip code, you probably don't have to ask for the town as well.


:: Keep extraneous links to a minimum. If you want the person who lands on a product page to make a purchase, avoid adding blog links to the page. If you want the person to register for a webinar, avoid adding links to white papers.




Check the domains of your email recipients. "On average, @gmail recipients have a higher credit score than @yahoo and @hotmail email addresses combined!" the white paper notes. "This can be accredited to the assumption that some people have multiple email addresses and they use @yahoo or @hotmail to sign up to receive information, but not as their primary account. These graveyard mailboxes may not convert into as many opens as others, so test an email that omits these mailboxes from your file before deploying." At least as important, email clients and service providers look poorly on lists with a high percentage of dead addresses, which in turn can hurt overall deliverability.




Commit to making one change in each new email program. If you're especially risk-averse, test the change on only part of your list—in effect, conducting an A/B split test. Speaking of which...




Use 10% of your file as a focus group. This works especially well with wide-ranging tests and changes. Divide this 10% segment in half, and send them different versions—different subject lines, different images, different offers. Wait at least 24 hours to compare open and click-through rates, then roll out the winner to more of your list.

author: Sherry Chiger

Sherry Chiger

The editorial director of Your Commerce, Sherry Chiger is an award-winning writer and editor. She was formerly editorial director of Multichannel Merchant and Catalogue e-business magazines.


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