Your email subscriber lists are among your most valuable marketing assets, but are you maximizing their potential? You should be. Many of your subscribers won’t give you more than one chance to get email right — and that includes everything from clear and relevant calls-to-action to good design and mobile responsiveness . A 2015 study by BlueHornet revealed that 42 percent of respondents delete emails that look bad on their phones. Nearly 5 percent will unsubscribe from your list. Ouch!
At the 2016 Conversion Conference in May in Las Vegas, leading email marketers and conversion rate optimization (CRO) experts from around the country shared best practices and tried-and-true strategies for getting real results from your email campaigns and for growing your email marketing strategy. Here are 12 of our favorites — and ones we at Swift Local Solutions emphasize to our clients:
- Personalize your emails. No, that doesn't just mean using the recipient's first name in the body of the email text. It means recognizing that inboxes are personal, private spaces and tailoring your messages to respect that space.
- Consider your email strategy in the context of the "Trust Bank." Every good, useful email to a user deposits one credit in their Trust Bank. But every email that asks for a purchase or isn't perceived as useful or beneficial takes one debit from that same Trust Bank. What's your account balance with that email subscriber?
- Where are your email recipients when you send out your blast? If you’re sending early in the morning or late in the afternoon/evening, make sure that email looks great on mobile (56 percent of email opens are now on mobile devices — a six-fold increase since 2011!). Conversely, make sure the email is desktop optimized (but still looks great on mobile) if sent during the workday.
- A great subject line is critical. Repeat: A great subject line is critical. Be specific and personal, whenever possible. Remember that the subject line is often the trigger that results in your email being opened or immediately deleted.
- Email conversions are about replies. Email marketing is about clicks. Recognize the difference and tailor your strategy and campaigns to the desired results.
- No typos! Misspelled words, poor grammar and incorrect punctuation send a terrible message about your company's professionalism and competence. Read and re-read — and then have a colleague read and re-read — email campaigns before hitting “send."
- Send a test version of every email to yourself and other relevant coworkers. Open it on several different devices (smartphone, tablet, desktop computer, etc.) and review carefully. If changes are made, send another test and re-review. Remember, for many of your email recipients you only get one chance to get it right — or risk losing them forever.
- Know your stats and what they mean. What’s your bounce rate? Are unsubscribes increasing or decreasing? How about click-throughs? If a particular email performed better than average, make sure you — or whoever is running your campaigns — know why (and then put that knowledge to use in all future emails). The same goes for emails that performed poorly.
- Responsive email (an email that responds to the screen size it’s viewed on) performs better than non-responsive email, but it’s not a silver bullet. For example, Gmail doesn’t support responsive design. What percentage of your email subscribers use Gmail, and how is their experience suffering?
- Understand the subscriber experience and optimize accordingly. Your email's From Name, subject line and preview text are the first three things a subscriber sees when your message hits their inbox. And they’re the three things, in descending order of importance, that have the greatest impact on whether your email gets opened. A handy cheat sheet:
- Keep your From Name to about 25 characters
- Subject lines should be no more than 35 characters
- Preview text should be no longer than 85 characters
- You spend time (or you should) making sure your subject line is great. Show your preview text the same respect. Seventy-five percent of emails are displayed with preview text in the inbox. Treat it like a second subject line — be useful and specific, front-loading with keywords and phrases that perform with your intended audience. But avoid repetition with your subject line. Here’s more from Litmus’ “Ultimate Guide to Preview Text Support.”
- When it comes to font and button sizes, bigger is better. Justine Jordan of Litmus recommends body copy of 16px or larger, headlines of 22px or larger, buttons of 44 x 44px or larger, and white space of 40px or larger.
Are there other email marketing best practices you rely on for your business? Be sure to share them below in the comments.