This blog post covers several important email marketing tips, along with actionable advice to help you implement them right now.
- Test Every Subject Line Before Delivery
Wouldn’t it be great if it were possible to test every subject line before you hit send? With the Email Subject Line Tester, there is. This free tool (which is also built into CoSchedule) makes it easy to optimize subject lines and see how they’ll look in recipient’s inboxes.
- Use a Real Person’s Name in the Sender Field
Getting an email from an actual person feels more friendly than one from a brand. So, use an employee’s name in the sender field, rather than your brand name.
For bloggers or solo consultants, your name might double as your brand. But, larger retail and B2B brands can benefit from this strategy, too. Most email service providers make it easy to edit the sender field. Consider using the name of the individual sending the email, or the best point of contact should a recipient have questions.
- Add Personalization
People want to feel like they’re more than just a number. So, to further make your emails more personable, include the recipient's name.
- Use Power Words
Subject lines should inspire readers to take action. So, include power words that motivate audiences to open and click.
- Experiment With Numbers and Stats
According to a study from YesWare, including a number (like an interesting stat or percentage) can influence a modest increase in clicks and replies.
There are at least a couple reasons this might be the case:
- Numbers are concrete. Subject lines that make vague promises are less compelling than those that state specific claims or benefits. For example, “Save 25%” is more useful than “Save Money.”
- Sometimes, stats are hard to believe (even if they’re accurate). And you just have to click for confirmation.
So, if you have stats or interesting percentages to share, consider including them.
- A/B Test Subject Lines
No study nor external data point will ever be as meaningful as your own results. One of the best ways to get insight into what works for your audience specifically is to A/B test as much as possible.
Subject lines are one obvious email element to split test, and most email service providers make this easy. Here are some shortcuts to help documentation to get you started:
- Create a Curiosity Gap
According to Wordstream, a curiosity gap is:
The curiosity gap is a theory and practice popularized by Upworthy and similar sites that leverages the reader’s curiosity to make them click through from an irresistible headline to the actual content. By creating a curiosity gap, you're teasing your reader with a hint of what's to come, without giving all the answers away.
How powerful can leveraging an informational gap be for copywriting? For Copyhackers, powerful enough to drive a 927% traffic increase to a pricing page.
Imagine what it can do for your email marketing.
To incorporate this technique into your subject line writing, do this:
- Identify the beginning and end of the story in your email.
- Leave out crucial information in the middle.
Now, done poorly, this is an easy recipe for cheesy clickbait. But, it can also be a simple formula for carefully crafted copy that piques curiosity (and gets more clicks on your emails).
Here are some examples of what this might look like in practice:
- “The easiest way to achieve your goal isn’t what you think.”
- “What’s the fastest way to achieve [GOAL]?”
- “Should you use this tactic to achieve [GOAL]”?
All of these examples leave something out, that can only be learned by clicking through to read the email.
- Experiment With Emojis
Emojis are more than just fun illustrations. They can actually help improve opens on emails. In fact, according to Kim Courvoisier (formerly from Campaign Monitor), “brands that are using emojis have seen a 56% increase in their unique open rates.”
Impressive. Will you achieve similar results? There’s only one way to find out: experiment!
To quickly grab emojis you can copy and paste into your own emails, visit GetEmoji.com
- Email Copywriting Tips
Strong copywriting skills are essential for effective email marketing. Here are ten different ways to sharpen yours.
Recommended Reading: The Email Copywriting Process You Need to Get More Conversions
- Keep It Brief
Whether you’re writing subject lines or body copy, make everything as long as it needs to be, and no more. Here are some basic guidelines to follow:
- Keep sentences under 25 words, and paragraphs under three sentences. These are considered basic best practices for web writing.
- Aim for 17-24 characters when writing subject lines. There’s no real “best subject line length,” but shorter copy is more likely to avoid getting cut off on mobile devices.
- Get to the point. Every word and sentence in your email should serve a clear purpose. If it doesn’t, then remove it.
- Include One CTA (But Don’t Be Afraid to Include It In Multiple Locations)
Including a single call-to-action is a classic piece of email marketing advice.
But, what about including that one CTA in multiple locations?
- Always Put the Reader First
No one wants to listen to a brand talk exclusively about itself.
Brands that solve problems for people, though? Those are the ones that get heard.
When writing email copy, put the reader’s interest first:
- Strong Example: “Cut your grass 35% faster with new, sharper mower blades.”
- Weak Example: “Our new mower blades are 35% sharper.”
The first example establishes a clear benefit and helps the reader envision themselves spending less time mowing their lawn. The second example isn’t bad, but it puts the company first, and fails to make as strong a connection between product improvement and tangible consumer benefit.
- Sell Benefits, Not Features
This is another classic piece of copywriting advice, and one that directly ties into the previous tip.
Generally speaking, customers care more about benefits than features. A sharper mower blade isn’t important because it’s sharper; it’s better because it means the customer can spend less time mowing their lawn.
- Maintain Message Match Between Email + Landing Page Copy
You’ve sent out an awesome email. Your unsuspecting reader clicks, compelled by your copy, only to find the landing page doesn’t exactly sound like the email.
Maybe the offer is different. Or, the theme of the copy isn’t quite aligned. Whatever the case may be, strive to maintain a consistent experience with your copy throughout the entire experience, from first click on a subject line, all the way through to a conversion on your landing page.
- Avoid Generic Templates
There’s nothing wrong with using a template as a starting point. But, everyone has seen the same plain text email templates, repeatedly. So, if you’ve seen something similar sent before, it’s time to go back to the drawing board, and come up with something fresh.
That’s all there is to this tip. Say no to generic templates.
- Develop a Distinctive Voice
Everyone gets too much email in their inbox every day. To stand out, developing a distinctive brand voice is important. Create a brand voice chart similar to this one from Content Marketing Institute.
- Make Copy Skimmable
Dense paragraphs of text typically perform poorly for email. So, keep sentences brief, and cut down paragraphs to a sentence or two (three at the max).
- Don’t Pay For Lists
There are lots of reasons you shouldn’t send emails to a paid list. Here are a handful:
- None of those people will understand why they’re getting email from a company that may or may not have ever heard about.
- A lot of those people are liable to unsubscribe and they won’t convert anyway.
- Worse, you could violate the CAN-SPAM Act. This could be extremely bad news for your business.
Build your list fair and square, and avoid paying for lists.
- Use Mobile-Friendly Design
Check out these mobile email stats from Campaign Monitor:
- Emails that don’t render properly on mobile devices may get deleted in under three seconds.
- At least 50% of email opens happen on mobile devices (an exact number is tough to pin down, but that’s a lot).
- Mobile users check email 3X more frequently than desktop users.
- 52% are less likely to buy from a company if their mobile experience is poor.
What do all these numbers mean? In short, you need to provide subscribers with a strong mobile email experience.
At a basic level, make sure you’re using responsive templates for designed emails (most modern email service providers should make this easy), and easily skimmable text for plain-text emails.
If you’re working with a developer building HTML emails, explain the importance of optimizing for mobile devices (if they’re not already on board). Use the stats above to build your case.
- Add Alt-Text to Images and Buttons
Image alt-text helps tell web browsers and email clients more about the contents of an image. It’s useful for two reasons:
- Helping the visually impaired understand what your images are.
- Providing context for images in case they can’t load.
- Manage Your Email Marketing Schedule on a Calendar
Calendars and planning tools help build consistency. Consistency helps deliver results. Instead of slipping on your sending schedule, get it organized.
- Optimize Your Email Sending Frequency
Consistency is key to success. But, that doesn’t mean you should stick to doing things exactly the same way you always have, indefinitely. Smart marketers optimize their approach based on performance data over time.
Email marketing should be no exception. Once a month, consider analyzing your email marketing sending frequency and note:
- Which times perform best?
- Which days perform best?
- Do open rates appear to drop off once a certain number of emails are sent?
- Are you getting a high number of complaints about excessive email (and do those complaints correlate with a drop in opens)?
Gather this data using the in-app analytics in your email service provider. Then, adjust your schedule accordingly.
- Create Unique Email List Segments
The subscribers on your email list may have unique interests or different backgrounds. Sending the same messages to different groups of people might not always get similar results from each one.
For example, if you run an auto parts ecommerce site, customers interested in Honda Civic accessories might not be interested in information about pickup trucks.
How could a marketer in this situation keep both groups equally engaged? By segmenting their email list based on interests. Here’s how to get started using four different email service providers:
- MailChimp: Getting Started with Segments
- List segmentation in Campaign Monitor
- Active Campaign: How Do I Create a Segment of a List?
- Constant Contact: Create More Targeted Lists Using Segmentation
- Create Valuable Gated Content Upgrades
Content upgrades are downloadable freebies gated behind an email opt-in form. To get these configured on your blog, website, or landing pages, you may need to get some developer help.
But, once you’re ready to roll, here are some great ideas for content upgrades you can try:
Ivan Kreimer wrote a great guide on creating content upgrades here.
- Include a Signup Link in Personal Emails
If you email folks around your industry with your own work email account, drop a link in your signature to get your company’s email newsletters, too.
- Launch a Contest (With an Email Opt-In Form)
Contests and giveaways are a great way to gather email signups. You can do this in one of two ways:
- With a physical entry form (for brick-and-mortar stores).
- An online content with a signup landing page.
Running a worthwhile contest can take a lot of effort. But, it’s worth it to build up a highly engaged email list. Fortunately, Matthew Barby has created an incredibly in-depth guide here.
- Run a List-Building Social Media Campaign
If people are following you on social media, they’re obviously interested in your brand. So, why not get them onto your email list? Run a creative social campaign directing to your email signup page.
- Optimize Your Email Opt-In Confirmation Process
If you use a single opt-in process, email subscribers will be added to your list as soon as they complete a form. However, if you use a double opt-in process, subscribers will need to click a confirmation link on an email they’ll receive.
The second option helps cut down on junk signups (if someone is going to bother to click the confirmation link, you know they really want to be on your list). But, if the confirmation email goes into a SPAM folder, you could miss out on subscribers.
Follow your email service provider’s guidelines on using double opt-in processes effectively:
- Add an Email Signup Link to Your Website Footer
CoSchedule’s Head of Demand Generation, Nathan Ellering, says you can expect a footer link to contribute around 1% to your overall list growth. But, they’re also extremely easy to add, and every little bit helps. Ask your developer if they can throw in a footer link to your email signup page.