A successful email marketing campaign requires a considered content strategy to ensure that your email content is relevant and interesting to your audience. Your content strategy should be absolutely paramount to the success of your email communications however in such a cluttered space (your inbox) there are a few simple tactics that you can employ to keep your users opening emails (so they can read your fabulous content).
1. Make sure the FROM field in your email is populated with an email and name that your users will recognise and trust.
The email should look like a legitimate email – either an individuals name or a reasonable generic email such as email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The name that is represented in your inbox as the from field should have your brand’s name, or the individual who sent it, as well as the name of the product (if you have multiple email products – such as a newsletter or promotions/ sales or take action campaigns. See the WWF example below. Futuremakers is WWF’s monthly newsletter.
2. Your subject line should aim to be under 10 words (not including stop words such as in, at, and etc) and needs to have a strong call to action.
In all honestly, your email campaign hinges on two things: 1) The user’s need or desire for the information your brand/ email can offer and 2) the subject line. Users make a choice whether or not to open an email based on the subject line information and the trust of the brand that has been built through the quality of the past communications.
Through testing, I have found that subject lines using Capital Letters For Each Individual Word. But you will need to test this for yourself.
The call to action is also very important as you are setting up the user’s expectations. If you manage to get a user to open an email based on an incredible subject line, but then the email subject line doesn’t match the content of the email, the user will feel they’ve been conned and their trust in your brand will be diminished. The subject line must be relevant to the email content.
Testing and research of subject lines has also taught me that referencing famous people (Tim Winton) or engagement objects (such as Video or Photos) increases the open rate. Similarly, I have found that focusing on the problem, the negative or the threat gets stronger open rates than optimistic, positive and solution focused messages. Sad, but true.
3. The email communications your users receive in the first week after they have signed up to your email list can make or break the long term trust in your brand.
A user, donor, customer is most engaged after that first action, the email subscription action, therefore the first communication they receive needs to be engaging and full of useful information. Depending on the sophistication of your email campaign tool and the information you request from your users, it is possible to provide a very targeted Welcome Email that is relevant to the individual. If you don’t have such fancy tools or advanced segmentation models, you may have to try to be creative with a generic email that all users receive.
A generic welcome email can still be very impactful if your product or brand is inspiring. For a charity, the Welcome email reminds the user that they are/ have the solution to our [environmental/ poverty/ drug] problems. We empower the user with information and give them simple actions that they can take to make a difference.
If you are a retailer, you can offer specials or promotions in your welcome email. Ask the new user to join your loyalty program where they receive instant benefits and feel part of an exclusive group. If you’re in insurance, follow up the welcome email with a phone call and offer for a free quote.
Whatever your business is, the initial communications will set the tone for the future relationship, make sure it matches the users expectations and shows them the benefits to them, not the benefits to the business or brand.
Now, do a quick sense check on your emails.
1. Check the From field. Make sure that it appears to be legitimate, not as though a robot generated it.
2. Go over your reports and check the subject lines you’ve been using.
The open rates of your emails direct correspond with the subject lines so go back and look at your reports and analyse the emails that got the highest open rates and then see if the click through rate corresponded to the subject line – ie. Did your subject line match the content of your email?
3. Sign up to your emails with a new email address and review the welcome email or first week communications that a user receives. Does it inspire or engage you? If not, start over.
Let me know how you go.