Email marketing is one of the most powerful forms of marketing. If you’re not using it, you’re leaving a pile of cash on the table.
Don’t believe me? Marketing Sherpa’s benchmark survey found that over 60% of organizations feel that email produces ROI come budget time. Specifically, every dollar spent on email marketing generates an ROI of $40. Which means email has higher conversion rates compared to traffic from search and social media combined.
Clearly, knowing how to leverage better subject lines, better blurbs and better direct response copy is crucial to succeeding at email marketing. I often advise clients on how to better their email marketing, and have discovered that there are 7 turnkey ways to improve response rates and achieve a powerful email marketing strategy:
1. Segment Your Contact List By Buyer Personas
A HubSpot study reveals that marketers who segmented their contact list from two to six buyer personas received an 8.3% CTR while marketers with just one list generated a lower average click-through rate of 7.3%.
You can and should segment your contact list based on reader demographics, interests, and industry. You can add personalized recommendations based on each consumer’s browsing behavior on your website.
And like Copyblogger, you can even separate the lists based on the e-book they downloaded (i.e., the specific product they purchased, which places them at a specific point in the upsell cycle).
So before you do anything else, before you even start writing that next email — make sure to segment your contacts, first.
2. Optimize for Mobile
But you’re not out of the forest yet. After you segment your contacts, you should start optimizing your template for mobile.
When Medscape sent mobile-optimized emails, they saw a 53% higher click-through rate.
How did they do it? By identifying the 5 most popular areas for mobile optimization from a total of 33 newsletters sent (i.e., Cardiology, Family medicine, Internal medicine, Diabetes, Endocrinology).
In other words, they segmented their contacts. But the important thing is that they did it for mobile.
In fact, a Chadwick Martin Bailey Study shows that 75% of consumers are highly likely to delete emails they can’t read on smartphones. The same study shows that 66% of people under 30 use smartphones to open their mails.
Tips for mobile email optimization:
- Use a narrow vertical format. Most smartphones are touch-based devices and a vertical format helps readers see the entire email with a simple flick of a finger.
- Use large fonts. All links and images should be above the fold.
3. Write Catchy Email Subject Lines
Alright, now you can get started actually writing emails again. The first thing for you to know? 64% people open an email because of the subject line.
Dan of inform.ly tested the use of power words like “hack” against commonly used words like “simple secret” — “hack” increased click throughs by 28%.
Adam Rifkin’s analysis of social media posts reveals that headlines with verbs get more clicks.
For Sean Pault, these four words — “You are not alone” as an email subject line got him a 90%+ open rate.
A subject line that’s best used for webinar reminders, is [FIRST NAME] followed by where are you? (e.g., “Joe, where are you?” or “We miss you, Joe.”)
This subject line beats the industry average open rate of 24% and click-through rate of 4% (according to Mailchimp) and gets you a 43% open rate and a 15% click-through rate according to Steve Young.
Email subject lines need to attract attention, just like headlines do. When writing for an online audience, showing numbers as numerals immediately catches their attention, according to usability czar Jakob Nielsen. Scanning is more prevalent among newsletter readers, which is why numbers hold them by the throat. Pique curiosity.
Whatever the situation, John Caples, author of the marketing classic Tested Advertising Methods, says these are the three elements to an effective headline.
- Self interest
And if that wasn’t enough, here are 557 email subject lines to inspire you.
4. Personalize the Emails That You Send
Waiters are able to get better tips with a bit of personality. Why shouldn’t you?
MailerMailer’s Email Marketing Metrics Report revealed that personalizing email subject lines improved open rates by 8.8%.
And Marketing Sherpa showed that personalization of the subject line resulted in a 17.36% increase in click through rates. Here’s an example:
Subject line A: PadiAct Takes Your Targeted Subscriptions to a New Level
Open rate: 13.86%
Subject line B: [First name], PadiAct Takes Your Targeted Subscriptions to a New Level
Open rate: 14.79%
Open rate increase: 6.67%
CTR increase: 25.31%
Merely including the first name in the subject line caused a CTR increase of over 25%.
When HelpScout pitted a fancy newsletter template against a simpler template, the simpler template got over 20% more open rates. Surprisingly — simple works.
In 2011, Hubspot added a “HubSpot” sender name of some random person from the marketing team in the emails they sent instead of just the company name.
The test resulted in 292 more clicks and 131 more leads.
In another Marketing Sherpa case study, Doggyloot saw 750% increase in its clickthrough rate by sending an email wishing the customers’ dogs a happy birthday!
Personalized subject lines worked their magic in Obama’s reelection too. His Digital Team split tested email subject lines, while the best ones raised $2.5m in donations the worst ones raised less than $500,000.
“This was kind of revolutionary at the time and overall more than half of the $1bn raised by the campaign came from online donations. This A/B testing probably resulted in $200m in additional revenue,” said Obama’s director of digital analytics, Amelia Showalter.
The emails helped to gain donations from more than 4 million Americans and helped Obama’s administration recruit tens of thousands of volunteers.
- We like being addressed in our emails
- We like when someone is addressing us (not a faceless company)
- Since we’re all busy, we like reading things that are simple
5. Combine Blogging with Email marketing
This is a no-brainer. You can easily combine your blog posts with your email marketing by taking some of the best posts on your blog and sending them off as emails. Even better, you should theme your emails into series (just like most blogs).
For example, this Kissmetrics autoresponder series on relationship-building included 16 emails and performed very well.
And this autoresponder series from Copyblogger also exceeded expectations. When I subscribed, they sent me 20 emails with highly relevant content on copywriting, marketing, content strategy, etc. It seemed more like a free course than an email series.
A great example outside of the digital marketing industry is this website called Once a Month Meals that provides easy recipes for an entire month in just one day of cooking. When someone signs up for the “Once a Month Meals Secret Handbook”, they receive tips and tricks for saving on meals and secret recipes. All these emails contain lots of linkbacks to their site.
6. Use Welcome Series to Increase Conversions
When StudentBeans wanted to increase revenue from their website, they launched a welcome email series. The very first email they sent contained information on the next six emails that they were going to receive.
This increased engagement, and since the emails were announced beforehand they didn’t raise any alarms. No one got annoyed when they received them.
For the first email of the series, one team’s subject line A/B test saw the following open rates:
- 46.47% – Claim Your Free Cocktail plus Top Student Offers
- 41.2% – Claim Your Free Kinder Bueno plus Top Student Offers
- 30.9% – Top 12 Student Offers – Welcome to studentbeans.com
Oddly enough, they also witnessed a 33.9% increase in clickthrough rate for men when the color of the links was changed to orange. Without getting too deep into color psychology, orange represents adventure and social communication.
7. Leverage Multimedia Content
Video effectively doubled the click-through rate for Ragan Communications. Previously, Ragan used text mails for the promotion of its live events.
As an experiment, they sent out a video email. After experiencing higher-than-average click-through rates, they decided to make a video series. They placed a screenshot of the video in the email and included three lines of text about the video in the email body.
These video emails yielded an average CTR of .51% compared to text-only emails, which saw a CTR of 25%.
David Ogilvy thought direct mail was the answer to the copywriting glut decades ago, and it appears that The Internet has only proven him right so far.
In our uncertain economic ecosystem, one in which organic traffic is inconsistent and ad costs are on the rise with every passing day, email marketing will save your business.
That’s why building a targeted, relevant contact list to which you can market is an evergreen source of traffic — provided that you keep providing value.
As they say, the money is in the list.