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Survival of the Fittest: How to Improve Your Email Marketing Strategy

Posted by Lauren Ruckheim on July 29, 2015


Approximately 145 billion emails are sent out per day, resulting in 9,000 emails received per person annually, according to Lyris. With such a large volume of emails sent daily, how do companies ensure that their messages stand out amongst the crowd?

Email marketing is becoming a battleground with every business vying to increase open rates, generate new leads and hopefully attain new clients. With that said, it is not shocking that 65% of marketers say breaking through cluttered inboxes is their biggest challenge. But don’t lose hope, because with the proper arsenal of email marketing strategies, there is still a way to win the perplexing battle of email marketing.

The Email Subject Line

An email subject line is generally the first piece of information consumers see when a message is delivered to their inbox. With that said, the subject line can make or break open rates much like a pick-up line is the deciding factor in determining if you will get a phone number or not. Thankfully, there are a few simple tips that can improve the quality of a subject line:

  • Keep the subject line short and to the point by using fewer than 50 characters. Much like a tweet you only have a few characters to woo an audience.
  • According to MailChimp, words that won't trigger a spam filter, but will negatively affect your open rates are: “help,” “percent off,” “free” and “reminder.” Try to avoid using these terms within the subject line to reduce the risk of your email ending up in the spam folder.
  • Including a location such as a city name improves the open rate, according to MailChimp.
  • Keep the subject line innovative. Repeating subject lines for regularly sent content like newsletters and updates can severely drop the open rate of emails.
  • Do not neglect the “from” line. Ensure the consumer knows exactly who the email is from; therefore, avoid using generic return emails like info@company.com.
  • Avoid using all capital letters or excessive exclamation points as these tend to make the subject line sound more like a cheesy pitch.

Crafting a well-thought-out subject line that helps increase open rates rather than trigger the spam filter can mean the difference between hitting delete or open.

The Power of Personalization

It will come as no shock that consumers react positively to personalization. According to MarketingSherpa, 69% of consumers are willing to give up personal data in exchange for more customized services.

Segmenting email lists is a simple way to add personalization as it enables companies to customize emails for different audiences. Similar to developing buyer personas, segmenting lists allows companies to define different buyers by their varying characteristics. For example, filtering leads and current customers into separate lists ensures that each group is going to receive information that is of interest to them.

Additionally, segmenting lists makes it easier to provide relevant content, offers and calls to action to the consumer. Segmenting lists based on your consumers’ interests can increase the likelihood that consumers will actually respond as they are more likely to find interest in the content provided. The MarketingSherpa 2012 Email Marketing Benchmark Report states that 39% of marketers who segmented their email lists experienced higher open rates.

Beyond segmenting email lists, including personalized information such as a customer’s name in the content of the email can make the company seem more personal while also increasing the open rates. Findings show that email click-through rates increased by over 36% as a result of including personalized information. Personalization can even be incorporated into the subject line as personalized subject lines are 22.2% more likely to be opened than non-personalized ones, according to an Adestra Report.

Mobile Optimization

One of the biggest problems facing email marketing today is the lack of mobile optimization. Today, 48% of emails are opened on mobile devices, while only 11% of emails are mobile optimized.

A simple way to improve mobile optimization within an email is to simply reduce the image file sizes. Larger photos that load slowly can slow down the loading time significantly on mobile devices. According to a study by the Aberdeen research group, every one-second delay in loading time drops the average conversions by 7%, therefore making sure emails load quickly is vital.

Similarly, if an image’s proportions are not defined for mobile screens, only half of the image might be displayed as opposed to centering itself in the mobile screen. Adjusting the style proportion in the HTML code of an email is a quick way to change the dimensions to the proper proportions for a mobile device.

Everyone at some point or another experiences the embarrassing moment when their finger is too large to open a link. Fortunately for us, the problem is not the size of our hands but buttons and links that are formatted too small. Simply increasing the size of links can help the consumer avoid this user experience issue.

While columns are a great way to organize content within an email, too many columns leaves an email looking cluttered with small text and images. Restricting email layout to two columns is a great way to simplify email layout.

Improving mobile optimization of an email does not take a massive email makeover. By implementing a few simple strategies it is easy to keep emails mobile-friendly.

Trigger Emails

Beyond sending mass emails, triggered emails (also called automated emails) provide the opportunity for companies to send an email in response to a customer’s action, such as visiting a landing page, signing up for a webinar, downloading an ebook or starting a free trial. As a result of each action, the consumer provides their information, thereby opening the door for an automated email to follow up with the consumer.

The average click-through rate for triggered emails is more than double the rate for mass emails. Triggered emails can be customized for many different purposes. Common types of triggered emails include:

  • Thank You: Using a triggered email to thank a lead or client for their interests or business can be a great way to build a genuine relationship with the consumer. In addition, this provides organizations with an opportunity to display a unique personality and company culture while also making the business more personal by offering assistance to any questions a consumer may have.
  • Additional Content: Triggered emails can be a great way to offer a consumer additional content on products or services. Providing them with how-to videos, demos, case studies and guides gives the user additional resources that enrich their experience.
  • Alternative/Additional Action: Offering an additional action for the consumer is a great way to increase re-engagement with the company. For instance, if a customer downloaded an ebook, suggesting an article, video or additional service or product that may be of interest to them can keep them interacting with the brand.

With consumers’ mailboxes often overflowing with messages, crafting an email that stands out is essential to a successful email marketing strategy. Utilizing a few of these email marketing tips can mean the difference between the message being sent to the trash folder or being clicked open.

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Topics: Email Marketing

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