- Have a plan
From an overarching email strategy, to the details of each individual campaign, planning is everything.
Every campaign should have a clear goal, so make sure you know your desired outcome before designing anything.
When it comes to content, consider your target audience and their needs and wants. What would they like to receive from you and how will it improve their experience of your brand, company, product or service?
Don’t forget the data, too. You’re sitting on a goldmine of customer information which can offer all sorts of useful insight at the planning stage.
- Make it personal
Personalise your email content where possible. Use their first name if it’s appropriate and you have the data, but always think about your target audience. A high-value customer or one you have a more formal relationship with might prefer it if you use their title and surname.
If you have the data and capabilities, you could try taking personalisation a step further by using dynamic or agile content to tailor text, images or even whole templates to an individual’s preferences or past behaviour.
- Optimise your subject lines
The subject line’s the first thing the reader sees, so make sure it gets straight to the point and is as enticing as possible. Keep it shorter than 50 characters too, so the whole thing shows in the recipient’s inbox.
Don’t forget to test your subject lines. A simple A/B test like a statement versus a question will reveal which has more impact, and help plan future subject lines.
- Keep it relevant
If you’ve planned your email based on your target audience this should be easy to do. As well as making sure the content will be of interest to the reader, keep it consistent with the subject line. For instance, don’t promise cat-lovers the week’s best deals on treats and toys for kittens, then show them a selection of litter trays.
One way to improve relevancy is to use Lifestage Contextual Marketing. By understanding your customer’s lifestage and their individual purchase triggers, Lifestage Contextual Marketing will help you contact the right customers, with the right message, at the right time. These lifestages can include a homemove, first car, new baby and retirement as well as other key life events.
- Choose your calls to action
If your campaign has a single-minded goal, your calls to action should fall into place quite naturally.
For instance, a travel company promoting new destinations might prompt readers to "Find out more", whereas a message targeting those who’ve been browsing flights to Spain in July could have a simple "Book Now" CTA.
Buttons offer more visual impact than embedded links and are great for getting clicks. Make sure they’re big enough to be seen, and colourful or in contrast to the content so they stand out. Remember though that sometimes less is more.
- Build with best practice
Email best practice gives us a few tips on how to design and build email templates, for example:
- Make sure your emails are no wider than 600 pixels.
- Put your most important information in the top 300 pixels.
- Don’t hide the unsubscribe button.
- Build emails using HTML tables.
- Use CSS inline.
- Avoid using background images.
- Use image alt tags to tell users what they’re missing, or to ask them to turn images on.
- Make it mobile-friendly
53% of emails are now opened on mobile devices and that number looks set to rise, so check what devices your audience are using and optimise accordingly.
Keeping your email content short and to the point will also help make it more digestible for those reading on a small screen, as well as focusing the reader on your desired outcomes.
- Monitor deliverability
Avoiding the spam folder is key if you’re to reach your audience and maintain your sender reputation.
Avoid using spam-like phrases and keywords such as free, winning, no strings attached and so on, both in subject lines and the body of the email.
Filtering your mailing list by engagement can help, too. If someone hasn’t opened your weekly email for a while, try contacting them less frequently so they don’t feel bombarded and label you as spam.
You should also keep your data clean, regularly removing bad or unused email addresses. When you receive an unsubscribe or a hard bounce for example, make sure you update your data list.
- Measure success
As with any marketing effort you should always track email statistics such as open rates, number of clicks, number of unsubscribes and conversions. These are great indicators of how each message (and the channel as a whole) is performing.
- Test, test and test again
From subject lines and calls to action to images, colours and the time you send, there’s no end to the number of tests you can try. Many are simple to set up and you’ll have results in a matter of hours, so it’s worth creating a testing plan and sticking to it. Just don’t forget to put what you learn into practice.
To learn more about email strategy or Lifestage Contextual Marketing, call 01908 829 300 or email email@example.com