Ah, email – where would marketing be without it? It’s been a mainstay of our profession forever, and it’s not going away anytime soon.
So why do many companies still fail to drive strong results with it? Surely it’s been thoroughly demystified by now.
It has – right here. Strap in, folks, this is going to be a ride and a half. Here’s what we’re going to cover:
- Audience targeting
- How inbox rate/deliverability works
- Open rate and how to increase it
- Boosting your clickthrough rate
- Getting more conversions on your landing page
- What to do with contacts who don’t convert
- Engagement and sending frequency
- Mobile friendliness
- How to experiment and constantly improve
Let’s get stuck in!
It all starts with your audience. If your emails are amazing, but you’re sending them to people who just aren’t going to want what you’re selling in the first place, you’re shooting yourself in the foot.
Ensure your audience targeting is on point by making sure your list is sourced from a reputable data provider who aggregates their data, and doesn’t scrape it.
If your recipients are the right ones, you’ll be well suited to get results. If they aren’t, then you’re going to see bad results, more spam complaints and opt-outs, and generally just not do well.
Once you’re certain the people in your contact list are great, then you can start worrying about improving your actual email content.
Inbox Rate and Deliverability
“Wait, you mean when I send emails they don’t just automatically appear in inboxes?”
Nope. Every time you send an email – whether it’s an email to a friend or an email lead generation campaign to 100,000 cold contacts – it goes through multiple checkpoints, where spam appliances rigorously scour it for signs of spam.
Your IP address gets a score assigned to it, called a sender score or sender reputation. This is a value between 1 and 100, and it’s what spam filters use to judge how trustworthy your emails are.
When a spam filter finds red flags – like a sudden surge in how many emails you’re sending at once, spammy language, and so on – your sender score takes a hit. The lower your score, the more your emails will get tossed into the recipient’s junk folder instead of their inbox.
Here’s the kicker though – that’s your own ISP checking your emails as they go out. When they reach the recipient, their ISP does it all over again.
So in other words, your emails get deeply scrutinized repeatedly every time you send.
It pays to take care to craft emails that won’t scare spam filters. Here’s some further reading on the topic.
Improving Your Open Rate
Once you’ve gotten through the spam filter gauntlet, and your emails are sitting nicely in inboxes, you’re good, right?
Once again, nope. Your email has now joined many other emails in that contact’s inbox. Now it needs to stand out, get attention, and get opened. Your subject line is the gateway to that.
If your subject line is a tossed-together afterthought, chances are your open rate is going to suffer.
Spend as much time crafting your subject line as you do on every other aspect of your campaign. It might only be 30-50 characters, but it’s crucial to have a subject line that pops off the page and compels people to click it.
No opens means no leads, and that’s the exact opposite of your goal.
Improve your chances of getting opens by making your subject line snappy and to the point. Your contacts should get a clear idea of what’s inside the email by reading the subject line.
Don’t forget to add personalization to your subject line as well. First name or company name tokens are a great way to add some familiarity to a subject, and encourage people to open your message.
Don’t be clickbait-y or make false promises. If you trick someone into opening your email with a misleading subject line, they’ll report you as spam and move on. It can be tempting to be funny or clever with something like this, but more people will be annoyed than will appreciate it. Don’t risk it.
Another thing you can do is include pre-header text. This is a bit of content that appears below the subject line in the inbox and acts as a preview of your email on some clients, particularly mobile. It’s a chance to give people a bit more information than you can fit in a short subject line.
Amplify Your Clickthrough Rate
Once your shiny new subject line strategies have convinced people to open, the real work begins – getting them to click through to your landing page.
There are a great many strategies floating around for email content, and they generally have merit. But overall, the ingredients for success stay the same.
Provide immediate, real value. Contacts should feel like they gained something from bothering to open your email. That might be a tidbit of information, or a potential solution to a major issue.
Use benefit-oriented language. Rather than “our product has this awesome feature”, say “you’ll get this awesome result”. People aren’t interested in your product’s features, they’re interested in what it does for them.
Show that you get their problems. Lead in with a problem that you know your audience has, and that your product can solve. If you get them nodding their head and saying “Yup, that’s exactly how it is” when they start reading your message, you’re doing it right.
Keep it snappy. Yup, this again. Short, simple and informative is the way to go. Don’t get overly verbose or you’ll lose their attention.
Use a strong, interesting CTA. That’s “call-to-action” for anyone who isn’t familiar with the term. A big button that has some text in it that links to your landing page is a call to action. It’s tempting to just put “click here” as your CTA text. Don’t; that’s boring. Use something interesting and related to your offer instead. For example, if your product helps companies keep better documentation, try “Revolutionize Your Documentation” as CTA text.
Ultimately, your clickthrough rate is all about how well you’re speaking to your reader’s needs. Make sure you understand who you’re marketing to.
Get Those Conversions
If your clickthrough rate is stellar but they aren’t reaching a great landing page, you won’t get many leads.
First of all, if you’re just sending people to your home page or product page, stop that. It’s lazy and ineffective. People will have to hunt around for the offer that matches your email content, and that means fewer conversions.
Use a dedicated landing page for every campaign. Yes, that means creating a new one for every campaign. Yes, you really do need to do this.
Why? Because when you have a page that’s solely dedicated to fielding contacts from one email campaign, you can match the page to the content of the campaign and create a seamless, smooth, comfortable experience for the contact.
Don’t make them search your website for a form to convert on.
Make that form the most obvious thing on your landing page. It doesn’t need to be obnoxious, but it should be immediately visible on page load. That means putting it above the fold.
Don’t make your form too long. The more fields people need to fill out, the less likely they are to bother.
Your landing page is there to expand on your email content. It should reinforce the message and provide additional information – still in benefits-oriented language.
Give your contact everything they need to convince themselves to fill out that form.
“Wait – if they didn’t convert, how can you nurture them?”
This tip is specific to those using Clickback’s Email Lead Generation platform. Its integrated Website Visitor Intelligence™ technology allows you to track how your contacts interact with your website – even when they didn’t convert.
That’s great information for optimizing your website’s conversion rate. It goes further than that, though – non-converters are also nurtured via drip campaigns, so you can keep coaxing them closer to converting.
Dial In Your Send Frequency
You want to get your emails to as many people as possible, as frequently as possible, right? Of course you do.
You need to be careful not to flood your contacts, though. Nothing generates opt-outs (and spam complaints) like a barrage of emails.
In general, it’s best only to send to a given set of contacts once per week at most, particularly if you’re sending to cold contacts. Just enough to remind them that you exist, without getting too in-their-face.
You’ll need to experiment with this, as every audience is different, and their engagement also depends heavily on the quality of your content. Err on the side of caution, though.
Mobile Friendliness is Crucial
People check their email on their phone all the time. If your email displays terribly on mobile, you’re going to have a bad time overall. And so will your readers.
Remember that your message will be displayed across a huge variety of clients and devices, test as much as you can, and try to head off problems before they happen.
That means using descriptive, accurate alt text on images for when clients don’t render them. It also means testing and making sure your text isn’t getting resized, your formatting stays intact and so on.
It’s not just your email content though. It’s also your landing page. Your landing pages need to be optimized for mobile as well, of course. Don’t use big images, ensure your loading times are speedy, and make sure your form is above the fold on mobile too!
Never Stop Testing
Look back at all the things we’ve just talked about. These aren’t just one-off improvements you can make.
Instead, you should be performing A/B testing every time you send a campaign. That’s when you send out the same campaign, but change one thing. For example, if you’ve got a list of 50k contacts, send half of them one email. Send the other half the same email, but with a tweaked subject line.
Try sending one with a personalization token in the subject, and one without. Then you can gauge how effective that token was, or wasn’t, by comparing open rates.
If you test something every time you send a campaign, you’ll quickly amass a large amount of data on what works and what doesn’t, and can constantly improve.
Focus first on improving where you’re weakest. If your open rate is good but your CTR is lacking, start testing different approaches to writing, different CTAs, different angles and selling points.
Follow these steps and you’ll be well on your way to crushing your email marketing.