Are you wondering where your email marketing campaigns are going wrong? Or maybe you’re just foraying into the world of email marketing and you’re confused as to where to begin? Rather than taking wild guesses at what might work, try our top five tips – all supported by studies conducted by reputable names in the email marketing world.
Choose a tip or keep scrolling to read them all:
- Use A/B testing to dramatically improve your open and click rates
- Try sending your campaigns from a personal email address
- When it comes to subject lines, remember: “tell, don’t sell”
- Let your subscribers choose how often they receive email promotions
- Now it is more important than ever before to optimise your campaigns for mobile devices
1. Use A/B testing to dramatically improve your open and click rates
Example A/B test
A/B testing involves sending two different versions of the same email marketing campaign to small parts of your list and then sending the most successful one to the remainder of the list. Common aspects to change include the subject line, the send time and the ‘from’ name.
For example, if you have a list of 500 subscribers you might send version A to 20 members and version B to a different 20 members. Each version could use a different subject line but would be otherwise identical. After collecting the results, you would send the most effective mailer to the other 460 subscribers.
A recent study by email marketing provider MailChimp looked at more than 240,000 A/B tests. In all cases, the average number of opens and the average number of clicks improved as a result of the tests being carried out. The ‘from’ name had the greatest impact on the number of opens (12%), while the send time had the most significant effect on the number of clicks (a 22.6% change).¹
As well as measuring the impact of different subject lines, send times and from names, A/B testing can be a great way to discover the tone of voice, type of image or amount of text your particular subscribers respond well to. The impressive results of this study prove just how worthwhile it is.
2. Try sending your campaigns from a personal email address
Speaking of A/B testing… a recent study by marketing software company Hubspot found an interesting pattern when they ran A/B tests on more than 50,000 recipients. In their study, they discovered that personalising the sender name and email address increased the open rate by an average of 3%.²
Most email campaigns use the company name for the ‘from’ field and use an email address like email@example.com. In this study, an individual’s name (e.g. John Doe) was used in the ‘from’ field, with their personal work address in the email field (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org).
Of course, whether this will work with your own mailing list will depend very much on your industry. This technique can work very well in a B2B context. For example, you could send your campaigns as if they are from a customer’s appointed sales rep.
3. When it comes to subject lines, remember: “tell, don’t sell”
Emails with sales-y subject lines like "You Asked For More..." often remain opened
The subject line can make or break your email marketing campaign. Get it wrong and the majority of your recipients may never open your email – worse yet, an unappealing subject line may cause many list members to send your carefully crafted campaign straight to the spam folder.
Email marketing provider MailChimp analysed more than 40 million emails and found that descriptive rather than overtly ‘sales-y’ subject lines tended to be more successful in terms of generating opens.3
Subject lines such as “[COMPANY NAME] Sales & Marketing Newsletter” and “Upcoming Events at [COMPANY NAME]” received open rates of 60%-87%.
Conversely, subject lines such as “You Asked For More…” and “It’s still sunny in Tahoe!” generally failed to appeal – resulting in open rates of between 1% and 14%. While phrases like this might work well in a newspaper advert, this type of language is associated with spam in the context of an email inbox.
As a general rule of thumb, subject lines should be precise rather than vague and should set an accurate expectation of what the email includes. Anything that looks even remotely spammy or fails to make the nature of the email content crystal clear will likely be deleted.
4. Let your subscribers choose how often they receive email promotions
Allow your list members to change their email frequency options at any time
Why have so many people unsubscribed from your mailing list? It’s probably because you’re sending them a few too many emails for their liking. Email marketing provider Constant Contact asked 1,400 consumers to share their top motivation for unsubscribing from an email list. A massive 69% cited “Too many emails from the business” as their primary reason.4
An easy way to prevent customers from feeling pestered rather than pleased by your mailers is to allow them to choose how frequently you can contact them. As part of the initial sign-up form, you could add ‘Weekly’, ‘Monthly’ and ‘Every three months’ as frequency options. Better yet, give your recipients the freedom to change this option at any time. You could also improve your unsubscribe page by asking your list members “Are you sure you want to unsubscribe? If you still want to receive the latest news and offers but would prefer to hear from us less often, change your email frequency preference below”. You could even offer your list members the option to ‘take a break’ and stop all email communications for three months.
Making these changes to your sign-up and unsubscribe pages ensures you avoid irritating rather than enticing your recipients.
5. Now it is more important than ever before to optimise your campaigns for mobile devices
Mobile devices like the iPhone and iPad represent 44% of all email opens
The mobile revolution is well underway and it’s having a major effect on how we communicate online – email included. Litmus Email Analytics tracks email opens by client (e.g. Apple iPhone, Outlook and Gmail) and updates the figures at emailclientmarketshare.com each month. At the time of writing, opens on mobile devices represented 44% of all email opens.5
With the majority of email opens occurring on devices such as the iPad, iPhone and Google Nexus, optimising email marketing campaigns for mobiles has become essential. Before sending your campaign, you should test it to check it looks good and works as you would expect on a smartphone and a tablet. Don’t forget to optimise your landing page for mobiles too – when mobile users click a link in an email, they will expect to see a web page that looks just as good on their mobile device as the email did.
Optimising your email marketing campaigns for mobile devices ensures you do not miss out on clicks and sales that you may have otherwise gained.
We hope this article will inspire you to try a new approach with your next email marketing campaign. Ultimately, what succeeds will depend on the nature of your business and your customers – so it is definitely worthwhile to conduct plenty of A/B tests first!
If you would like any further advice about email, mobile landing pages or anything else to do with your online presence, please get in touch with our Online Services team today.
Click here to read our guide on how to craft an email subject line that guarantees opens.
About the team behind this blog post
De Facto Software's Online Services team creates feature-rich websites and innovative apps for businesses in a variety of industries. Click the link to find out more about our online solutions.
4 Constant Contact