So you’re a digital marketer. I’m willing to bet money on the fact that you (or your company) already use email marketing as a key tool in your marketing toolbox. You’re in good company too.
Email marketing ranks #1 in the list of methods or tactics used by businesses to reach out to new customers and build awareness.
This reliance on email is not without good reason. Not only is email marketing an extremely low-cost marketing tool, it’s also the one that offers the best bang for your marketing buck. According to a study by The Relevancy Group, Q2 of 2017 saw 21% of revenues for businesses come from email marketing alone.
That double digit figure however, doesn’t come with bland ol’ emails that look exactly like the previous one. As consumers’ exposure to personalized communications grows, what was yesterday’s “hack” has become today’s “must-have” or “fundamental.” Here are a few things you must look out for if you want each one of your emails to create an impact and bring in conversions.
Email Marketing Hack #1. Pre-header text
An oft-overlooked piece of email marketing, pre-header text (also known as “preview text”) is that bunch of words you see in your inbox, immediately following the subject line itself. Many otherwise-perfect emails run into a brick wall here, when they forget to remove standard text like “View in a web browser” from the beginning of their emails:
Leading email service providers like Gmail and Yahoo allow marketers to say a little more to their users beyond the subject line, before they even open their email. Consider it a bonus chance to reel in that elusive open, click or conversion!
Where once marketers had to depend on custom code to include pre-header text in their emails, that process has now become incredibly simple with the slew of marketing automation platforms out there. Most have WYSIWYG interfaces where you can type pre-header text into a form field, and voila, the pre-header text is set!
Things to keep in mind when optimizing your pre-header text:
- Think of pre-header text as your second subject line. Spend equal thought in crafting and perfecting it.
- Unlike subject lines, in many cases, the pre-header text will not be cut off and full sentences are often visible, depending on the device being used to view it. Don’t skimp on the length in favor of brevity on this one.
- Adding a call to action that builds on the introduction offered in your subject line is a great way to improve open rates.
- Last but most important, don’t miss out on adding pre-header text to all your emails.
Email Marketing Hack #2. “Smart” content
When speaking of smart communications, how can one not mention the iMessage app. From auto suggesting responses to auto filling personal information from phone data, there’s a wealth of capabilities it offers that make it a truly “smart” messaging app.
Emails have now begun taking inspiration from these smart messaging apps to offer content that’s tailored to every aspect of a user’s profile, making the email hyper-relevant to the user. And we all know that relevant content delivered to the user at the right time is a strong bet for a likely conversion. From web browsing data to transactional data to a user’s profile data, companies sit on a gold mine of data sources waiting to be tapped and crafted into effective marketing messages.
Spotify dug deep into users’ listening data, preferences and usage history to create this hyper-personalized email for its premium users. The campaign drove a staggering 75% engagement rate with 57% of subscribers calling it a “memorable email.”
Truly smart emails leverage even the most innocuous data points. Fast food chain Chick-Fil-A used smart emails that identified a user’s device and served up different emails based on the device detected (iOS, Android, desktop etc.) to drive it’s app download campaign. The emails hit their mark brilliantly, with Chick-Fil-A eventually ending up with the #1 trending app in the iTunes Store.
In addition to using “smart content”, you also need to “be smart” with your content. For instance, although videos in emails are becoming commonplace these days, you still want to make sure your audience gets your message exactly as you want them to, and so you’re better off including an animated gif, for which support across all email clients is exceptional.
You can learn from tech tutorial and gadget blogs like iGeeksBlog – even if you’re explaining something like how to record your iPhone screen, you can turn it into a series of stitched images or gifs instead of an actual recording.
This way, you succeed in educating your subscribers without any chance of frustrating them in the process.
Email Marketing Hack #3. Embedded surveys
Market research owes a great deal to email marketing over the last decade. With the ability to reach millions of respondents in one go, email makes data collection simpler than ever before. Unfortunately, market researchers fall prey to one of the inherent flaws of email marketing – conversions can only be as strong as an email’s click through rate. Let me explain.
Most email surveys have buttons that say “Take Survey” or “Start” that take the user to a new browser tab and kick off a standalone survey. Trouble is, not enough people bother clicking on this CTA button, resulting in poor response rates and thin data.
Enter embedded surveys.
By including the entire survey inside the body of the email, marketers can prevent the inevitable user drop-offs and collect exponentially higher responses than they would have otherwise.
Data shows that embedded email surveys increase survey response rate by 125% compared to traditional surveys that take the user out of their email inbox.
Embedded surveys can be used for a variety of purposes including soliciting a user’s product review, NPS or customer satisfaction ratings, completing customer profiles, requesting users’ interest and more.
Some things to keep in mind with embedded surveys:
- Keep the survey short and simple. Too many questions will make your email bulky and unreadable, not to mention, lower your response rates.
- Experiment with radio buttons, open text fields, check boxes or even buttons to keep the survey easy on the eye as well as easy to take.
- Check whether your email marketing platform supports embedded surveys. Most platforms do. MailChimp lets you use custom tags or integrate with SurveyMonkey or Google Forms, Google schema for email allows users to fill forms and write reviews from within Gmail, and so on.
- Different email clients render embedded surveys differently. Check how your survey renders on the most popular email clients before sending one out.
Email Marketing Hack #4. Creative design
You likely put lots of care and thought into your website and product design, so be sure to carry that design thinking over to your email campaigns. Using a color scheme and cohesive design can help raise brand identification by 80%.
Take Spirit Airlines, for example. Their website includes bright yellow as the main color, with accents of black and red. They also include cartoon drawings and a font that almost looks handwritten. These same design patterns translate perfectly over into their email campaigns, so recipients can easily recall their brand. Spirit’s colors also make them stand out from their competition, as many airlines tend to include more muted or standard colors, such as white, blue, red and grey.
Add in the unexpected by including things like gifs or videos for a visual that is sure to catch people’s eye, like GrubHub did with their email campaign. Since a food delivery service tends to have quite a long list of competitors, including a short video played on repeat that illustrated their overall message made GrubHub’s email truly unique.
Even though 269 billion emails are sent and received every single day, a mere 21% of them actually hit those all-important customer eyeballs. Of the emails that are read, even fewer get acted upon. Given the potential that email marketing holds, you owe it to your business to equip your emails with every advantage you can to help them hit the mark. The tactics we discussed here are fast becoming email staples that no business can do without.
What’s taking you so long?
Guest author: Rohan is an experienced digital marketer who has worked both agency and in-house, developing data-driven strategies for SEO, PPC, social media and content marketing. He is also an avid business and tech blogger; his insights are frequently published in publications like Fast Company, Fortune, and Adweek.