Let’s say that you’re a marketer trying your best to improve sales for your products/services. You’re already aware of the benefits of email marketing.
- You know that email marketing has the potential to boost your ROI by 440%
- You also understand that email marketing is 40 times more likely to convert leads as compared to social media
With these in mind, you create an email list, start an email marketing campaign, and set-up an email sequence. Then you wait for the results.
But the results are way below your expectations.
In fact, you have tracked down that open rates are very low, CTR is almost zero and there’s no conversion at all.
Even though this is an imaginary situation, it’s not an impossible one! So, if you ever face even one of these issues, here’s what you should ask yourself.
“There are 270 billion emails being sent out every day. What makes my emails stand out?”
There can be lots of answers to that, and each may be valid. I’ve asked that question myself many times, and in the process, I’ve learned a few simple tricks to boost my email campaign results. I believe these tactics can work for you too.
1. I started drafting emails with dynamic content like GIFs, polls, and videos
In one case, my email subscribers were mostly millennials and gen-z. These people are almost always busy and they don’t have time to read large blocks of texts. So, no matter how creatively I write my emails, long paragraphs of texts don’t work with them.
I thought why not experiment with dynamic content like animated gifs, survey polls and videos? That can grab a reader’s attention. I also experimented with catalogs, holiday templates, embedded links with customized messages, looping video content, etc.
I was inspired by Uber’s dynamic emails. Check out this example:
You can see how Uber added a rotating animated GIF that gives an edge to the mail. Even though the image was surely not the main focus of Uber’s email marketing campaign, it added some freshness to the campaign.
I tried inserting an animated gif (thanks to Giphy – they have a great collection) in an email and ran a few campaigns. I also tried linking some videos with their thumbnail in email. At other times I inserted a simple survey with three-four options.
The results were definitely encouraging. Engagement and CTR were higher than ever. Readers liked what they saw and I even collected useful feedback.
Overall, I realized that careful use of rich media in emails can break the monotony and increase conversions. What do you think? What kind of rich media will your audience like?
2. Optimizing email subject lines and preview texts gave the most outstanding results…
What a headline does for copywriting is what an email subject line does to an email marketing campaign. An email subject line can make or break your email marketing campaign performance.
In fact, believe it or not, I have understood it the hard way. Many failed email marketing campaigns and a bunch of well-written emails that didn’t get opened – taught me that optimizing the email subject line should have been my first priority. Here are some of my tried and tested methods to optimize your email subject line:
- Include the subscriber’s first name in the subject line. If your email software supports it, definitely include an appropriate merge tag for the subscriber’s first name in the subject.
When I receive an email with my name in the subject, it instantly draws attention and creates both curiosity and urgency. In fact, by including the first name of the email subscribers, you can improve email open rates by 26%. And that’s a lot for any email marketing campaign.
- This has been hard for me to get right, but whenever I shorten my email subject lines – for example, 3-5 words or 17 to 24 characters – I witness much higher open rates. I used to write elaborate subject lines, but I learned that we don’t need to disclose everything in the subject. A subject that raises curiosity will probably work better.
Wondering why? 50% of emails are opened with smartphones. And a standard smartphone shows up to 38 characters in the subject line of its portrait mode.
So, if you’re writing a long subject line like “Hi, Sreyashi, we’re mailing you all the details of our latest organic food product”, chances are, people won’t even read the line till its end. Instead, rephrase it like this, “Sreyashi, organic food for you”. Now that has greater chances of getting opened.
Here’re 3 examples of cool subject lines from some of the popular brands:
- Ikea – “Where do all these toys go?”
- HP – “Stop wasting money on ink”
- Sephora – “Your beauty issues, solved”
Now, we all know that Ikea, HP, and Sephora operate in industries that are poles apart. But they all have drafted crisp subject lines, within 6 words, that either hit their subscribers’ pain points or make them curious.
Another thing that is adjacent to an email subject line is preview text. You need to make the most of your email preview texts to grab customers’ attention. Writing a convincing subject line is not always enough; chances are, some recipients will read the preview texts before opening your emails.
There is something more that we can learn from this screenshot, but I will get to that in a minute.
Here are a few tested tricks to make the most of email preview texts:
- For the longest time, I kept on pasting my email subject line in place of the preview text. And now I have realized what a horrible mistake it was. Please don’t make this mistake in your email marketing campaigns.
I have also received email preview texts that say, “having trouble viewing this email?” They’re probably coming from their email marketing software – where it gives a link to view this email in the browser. But such preview texts sound deceiving to me.
- What you should rather do is amplify curiosity in the reader. For that, you’ll have to create witty phrases or Call To Actions (CTAs).
For example, if I see an email preview text that says, “Up to 50% Discount on all Products +Free Delivery for today”. Will I not open that email? Of course, I will.
Now back to the image above.. There are 3 emails with 3 different preview texts. Let’s analyze each preview text:
- Email 1: This email made the same mistake that I already explained. They played the “Is this email not displaying correctly?” card. That’s a thumbs down from me!
- Email 2: This email is so-so. It has some promises in the preview text. But clearly, I can’t figure out enough from the preview text. I may or may not open it. Depends completely upon my mood and how much time I have in hand. And it feels like it’s just showing the first few characters of the actual email body. The sender probably didn’t care enough to define a proper preview text.
- Email 3: This email pasted its subject line in place of preview text. But it adds some value by including the discount code. It assures me that I can get some discount on my purchase if I open this email.
So, out of these three emails, I will probably open the 3rd one. What about you?
3. I use email marketing to promote my social channels (and social channels to grow my email list – it’s a win-win)
If you’re planning to improve the overall performance of a marketing campaign, your brand strategy should include both email and social media. We normally think of each channel in isolation, but using one channel to promote the other can have surprising results.
Here’s what I did to improve my overall marketing performance:
First, I started posting on social platforms (LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter). What I would do is offer a little sneak peek of our products and services there and invite the audiences to join our email list for further updates. Here’s an example:
I posted this social post on all our social media accounts. We could see the difference right away. We had 50+ new email subscribers within 2 days.
- Now, it was my turn to flip the coin. I started inviting our email subscribers to follow us on our social accounts. We started including the social icons in the footer of every email in our email marketing campaign. We kept the email content pretty much the same, just a few tweaks here and there. And it looked something like this:
After a week of sending these emails, we could observe steady growth in our social media followers. Since then, we have continued to cross-promote.
4. I understood that transactional emails don’t have to be boring (and started brightening them up)
I have received countless boring “order confirmation” emails. I knew how monotonous they get. So, when I got a chance, I tried jazzing up my transnational emails with cool design templates and some good content – while still maintaining their sanity!
I took inspiration from Amazon. Take a look:
Source: Campaign Monitor
You can see how Amazon designed this transactional email. The main purpose of sending this email was to send the order details and bill amount to the buyer, right? But Amazon has so much more to offer.
Amazon uses a clean design template to send the invoice. They also include product recommendations and some help text. I tried this with our transactional emails too – made them a little less serious – and more in tune with the brand personality. Used some colors and helpful text here and there.
Working on transactional email has worked really well for us. It has become another opportunity to engage with customers, bring them back to the site to explore more, or create value with educational content. Transactional emails are often overlooked, so go ahead and revise yours. You will create a big impact there.
5. I always ask for feedback (a good old trick to growing engagement)
Asking for feedback and suggestions from your email subscribers can never become backdated. In fact, asking for their suggestions always results in greater engagement. We have already discussed that dynamic content works well in email marketing. So nudges for reviews, requesting one sentence feedback, clicking a link to say yes or no… these are all great (and simple) ways to gather feedback and make people feel part of your business.
Have a look at one of “Sun of a Beach”’s feedback request emails:
This is an interesting (and email-friendly) way to collect feedback. Instead of a lengthy form, there are five “squares” to click on. They are actually links, designed to look nice. The buyers don’t have to open a different page/website to give their feedback. They simply click on one of the boxes. Such instant feedback forms are great micro-engagements.
Also, see how “Sun of a Beach” entices the buyers with a 10% coupon. I’m sure they get a lot of feedback due to the coupon. But the coupon also increases sales because people then want to use the coupon and get a discount. It’s really a smart strategy.
Want to run successful email marketing campaigns? Make sure that you’re investing in the right tools and keep learning. If you’re on WordPress, try our free plugins: Email Subscribers (helps you run any email marketing campaign), Icegram Engage (for crisp opt-ins and CTAs), and Rainmaker (for lead collection and management).
By the way, do you think the tactics that worked for me would work for you? Any particular strategy you found more interesting? Any other suggestions? Please share in the comments!