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9 Ways to Improve your Email Marketing Results

June 25, 2018

Did you know that on average you make £38 for every £1* invested in email marketing (Statista)? In other words, email marketing averages an ROI of 3700%. Just last year, there were 3.7 billion global email users and that figure is expected to reach 4.1 billion in 2021 (Statista). Whether you’re a small business owner juggling it all, or a dedicated email marketing consultant who lives and breathes email, there’s always room for improvement. From personalisation to hyperlinks, we’ll go through nine ways to improve your email marketing results.

*converted from US dollars at time of publishing

  1. Write short and compelling subject lines

If your subject line flops, the rest of your hard work won’t matter – so cater to smaller screen sizes and short attention spans (Litmus, 2017). About half of all emails are opened on mobile first and a study by Adestra found that subject lines with 30 or fewer characters had an above average open rate. With so few characters available, you’ll want to get your point across in a compelling way. One strategy that can yield a 22% higher open rate is to instil a sense of urgency and exclusivity, by using phrases such as, ‘for a limited time only’ or ‘handpicked for you’ (Email Institute). However, this strategy may not be appropriate for all emails, so you’re best experimenting with your subject line strategy to find what resonates with your audience.

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  1. Optimise your preheader

Don’t miss out on a chance to increase your open rate with an optimised preheader. Combined with your subject line, your preheader is the first thing subscribers see to determine whether or not to open your email, so make it count. Similar to your subject line, you’ll want to keep this text short to display properly in the inbox preview and in the body of the email. To make the most of these additional characters, you can use it as an extension of your subject line or include a call-to-action. A well-optimised preheader makes the value of your email’s content more clear and obvious to your subscribers to yield a higher open rate. The below examples demonstrate how you can use your preheader as an extension of your subject line (example 1) or as a CTA (example 2):

Example 1 – Yogamatters – Extension:

Subject Line: Mental Health Awareness Week; Preheader: Let’s travel the path together

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Example 2 – Master Debonair – Call-To-Action:

Subject Line: Whether you’re the groom-to-be or a wedding guest; Preheader: Visit us in-store for the full experience

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  1. Make it personal

Including the recipient’s first name in the copy, recommending products based on their past purchases or offering a birthday discount is a good way to standout from the crowd and provide subscribers with a positive, tailor-made experience with your brand. Personalised subject lines can even boost your open rates. Research by MailChamp found that multi-channel retailers experienced a 37% increase in unique open rates when emails used a personalised subject line instead of a generic, non-personalised one.

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Personalisation also lends itself to better data collection. Sending personalised messages can encourage subscribers to share personal information with you, which in-turn can improve your overall marketing strategy. Research shows that 63% of Millennials, 58% of Generation X and 46% of Baby Boomers are willing to share personal information if they receive personalised offers or discounts (Salesforce).

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  1. Link everything

It sounds simple and that’s because it is. Link your images, your headers, your paragraph copy and of course your buttons to the most relevant pages. We’re not talking about stylising the text so that everything is an obvious underlined, bolded, bright blue hyperlink; instead, save that for your call-to-actions, but hyperlink your remaining copy with standard text formatting. The key here is to be sure that the links are appropriate for the content they are attached to – you don’t want to frustrate or mislead your subscribers with mismatched content and links.

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  1. Periodically cleanse your email list

It might sound counter-intuitive to purge your email list of contacts, but invalid email addresses and unengaged subscribers can cost you money (as some email marketing platforms charge you based on number of subscribers) and have a negative impact on your email delivery performance. However, before you wash your hands of inactive subscribers, you’ll want to run a re-engagement campaign with an offer your audience would consider highly valuable. If your contacts still don’t engage with this campaign, then it might be time to cut them loose.

When you clean your lists, you benefit from:

  • increased open and click rates as your engaged contacts become a greater percentage of your total list
  • reduced spam complaints and bounced emails which improve your reputation and email deliverability as a result
  • reduced costs if you pay per email sent or, for example, dropping down a tier on a monthly plan due to a smaller list size (this depends on the supplier and service plan)
  • better, more accurate reporting on your engaged customers to improve your email marketing strategy and analysis in the long run.

To define what counts as an inactive subscriber, you’ll need to determine a point at which spam complaints and bounces outweigh the benefits of the emails sent. Here’s an example of what you might consider to be an inactive subscriber: someone who hasn’t purchased anything in the last two years and hasn’t opened all of your last 50 campaigns.

Example – MailChimp:

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  1. Segment your email list

Knowing your audience is the key to any successful marketing campaign and list segmentation can do wonders for your email marketing results. Segmentation ensures you provide value to your audience, reducing your subscribers’ exposure to irrelevant messages and improving email engagement.

Segments can be created based on all kinds of data: demographic (gender, age, education etc.), geographic (country, city, climate, etc.) or behavioural (products purchased, products viewed, email engagement, etc.). For a better idea of how these can apply to your email lists, here’s an example for each:

  • Demographic Segment: For example, showing offers of men’s clothing to your male subscribers and women’s clothing to your female subscribers

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  • Geographic Segment: For example, sending a special delivery promotion only to subscribers that live in the eligible area

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  • Behavioural Segment: For example, sending a product or brand focused offer to customers who have purchased that specific product or brand in the past

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  1. Automated Workflows (if possible)

It may take a bit of thoughtful planning and strategising to produce a successful automated email workflow campaign, but the benefits are worth the initial outlay. For starters, once it’s set up, it’s done – email marketing automation can make you money in the background while you focus on improving other areas of your business. It also nurturers your leads, saves you time and money in the long-run, increases brand awareness for your subscribers and supplies customers with relevant content for a positive experience with your brand.

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The below examples demonstrate how you can implement automated emails in your marketing strategy to improve your results:

  • Welcome Workflow: After a customer signs up to your newsletter, you can provide them with a welcome discount or more information about your brand or products.
  • Upsell Workflow: After a customer completes a purchase, you can offer related or complimentary products to encourage upsells or add-ons.
  • Re-engagement Workflow: When customers stop engaging with your brand for an extended period of time, you can encourage activity by asking them to update their email preferences, requesting feedback in the form of a short survey or, of course, offering discounts and freebies.
  • Abandoned Basket Workflow: When a customer places an item into their shopping cart but doesn’t checkout, you can send a friendly reminder of what they’ve left in their basket. You can also incentivise this with a small, time sensitive, offer or discount.
  1. Create a custom, responsive email template

It’s important that you use consistent branding across your marketing channels to build trust with your customers and stand out in a crowded email inbox. More importantly, using a custom, responsive template cuts down on production time and ensures your emails are easily viewed across different devices and screen sizes. This is vital considering nearly half of all emails are viewed on mobile. With a custom, responsive email template, you can save time and money, stay consistent and focus on more important aspects of your email such as segmentation or personalisation.

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  1. Test, test, test

Testing is a great way to determine what resonates with your audience, specifically AB testing or split testing. AB testing is a way of comparing two versions of an email against one variable to determine which one performs better. You can AB test your subject lines, email design, layout and content, sending times or from address to determine whether A or B gets more opens or clicks. It can also be insightful to review which email received more unsubscribes or spam complaints to see if the winning email was successful all around.

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For the most accurate test results be sure to hold everything else constant in your email except for the single element you’d like to test. For example, if you want to determine if your audience prefers the use of emojis in the subject line, you’ll want to keep the copy exactly the same expect for the addition of an emoji.

To get started with split testing, here are a few examples of what you can test to improve your email marketing results:

  • Subject line: length, personalisation, emojis, numbers, CTAs
  • Send time: day of week, time of day
  • Content: length, layout, content, CTAs
  • From Address: no reply, personal, informative

These are only a few ways to improve your email marketing results, but if you’re having trouble achieving the results you want with your email marketing strategy, contact us today to find out how we can help.

Written by Andy

Andy is Venture Stream’s Chief Operating Officer and has over 15 years’ experience in ecommerce consultancy, design and retail marketing.

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