- Posted by Nigel Edelshain
- On October 9, 2015
- Email marketing
Studies continue to show that email generates the highest ROI of all digital marketing techniques. But not all email is created equal. Results do vary.
The first step in a successful email campaign is having your email opened but even this seemingly simple achievement is getting trickier by the day as we all receive more and more emails (121 emails per day per The Radicati Group) and have less time to read them.
Even though email is now the “granddaddy” of digital marketing techniques it never hurts for an “old marketing dog” to learn a few new tricks to get your emails opened and read. Here are our latest tips.
1. Pick your sender name carefully
The first thing we look at when we receive an email is who is it from. We will open the email if it’s from someone we recognize and trust. Otherwise we consider the email suspect and delete it quickly.
If you have a relationship with the recipients of your email, make your sender name as recognizable as possible. For example, at Wainscot Media we have more than one brand. We have brands for each of our magazines as well as our corporate entity. If someone signs up for an email on one of our magazine sites they often don’t recognize our corporate name. If a reader gets an email from “Wainscot Media” instead of “Bergen Health & Life” they probably won’t open it.
2. Include power words in your subject line
Research shows some words when included in an email subject line boost open rates: The word “free” generated a 6% lift in open rates versus emails without this word in the subject line (and the research also showed the word “free” did not cause a big spike in spam filtering). The word “tomorrow” generated a 6% improvement by introducing a sense of urgency without sounding too much like a sales pitch. “Download” generated a click through rate 4 times that of the control emails (but of course only makes sense if you are sending the recipient something to download).
3. Avoid suspect words in your subject line
Some words in the subject line depress open rates: “Newsletter” caused a 25% drop in email click through rate (the researchers surmise this is because recipients see this as an email sent for the sake of sending an email rather than something important.) Inlcuding “quick” in the subject line sent email opens down 20%, presumably because it sounds too much like a marketing pitch. “Meeting” caused an 8% drop in open rates, probably because it is often used in emails by sales people wanting to set up a meeting.
4. Watch the length of your subject line
Open rates (and email click through rates) drop off after a subject line goes beyond a certain number of characters. See the graph below from Hubspot.
The data shows that personalizing your subject line does boost open rates. Hubspot research showedclick through rate (CTR) went up about 25% when a subject line included the recipient’s first name.
6. Watch the length of your body copy
Long emails are just plain scary (even at Halloween!) Just about everyone I talk to inhabits a time-starved work world. When we see several paragraphs of text in an email we want to hit delete fast.
7. Optimize for phones
Apart from being time-starved the other thing we all seem to have in common today is our “abundant” use of smart phones (78 percent of millennials use their smart phones more than two hours every day and 87 percent say their smart phone never leaves their side).
Data shows that 66% of emails are now opened on mobile devices so make sure your email looks good on a phone (and a tablet). If it doesn’t, we might open your email once but we will know better next time.
8. Segment your lists
One email does not appeal to everyone. Segmentation is a critical factor in the effectiveness of your email campaigns. Emails need to be varied based on the recipients. More targeted subject lines and body copy mean higher open rates. According to research from Mailchimp, segmented emails garnered a 13% higher open rate than non-segmented campaigns.
9. Ask your readers what they want
Ask your email recipients what they want in your emails. The usual methods apply: Consider sending out a survey, asking on social media or event talking to actual recipients. When emails contain what your recipients want, open rates are sure to move up quickly.
10. Test when you send
Another much understood but little implemented technique: Test.
Split up your lists and try some A/B testing. Which words in subject lines cause open rates to go up? How much body copy is too much? Which time of the day/week should you send your emails? (There’s no one answer to that last question—but see the chart below for some clues.)