Boost your email marketing results with brain science

December 4, 2014

During our recent Sixth Sense of Marketing webinar, Christopher and I had a blast sharing all kinds of fun brain science facts and email stats that impact marketing results (big thanks to MarketingProfs for hosting us!).

We know that it was A LOT of info packed into a short period of time, so here’s a recording (log in with your same registration credentials to access) where you can catch anything you might have missed. We also got a ton of great questions, so there was just no way we could get to them all (sorry!) during the webinar. But the good news is that the fine folks at MarketingProfs compiled the ones we missed so that we could answer them here on the blog.

Hey, that's us, Jamie and Christopher. You know, just putting faces with names and all that.

You mentioned that we should stop saying “click here” on our links. What alternatives to “click here” do you recommend?

Ah, “Click here!” Back in the early days of the internet, as we mentioned, it made total sense to condition folks to click because that’s naturally what’s happening with a mouse. However, as more and more people “tap” on their phones, that language seems a little antiquated. A cool alternative to use on call-to-action (CTA) buttons is just to be really direct. For instance, if you’re asking people to take a specific action – like downloading a white paper – then you could try “Download now” or “Get the guide.”

For example, we have a free service called One Idea where users can send us their latest email campaign, and in return, someone from our strategy side will reply back with one idea to make your email better. We tried a lot of different language for our button copy, but what's working for us is: “Give me one idea” or "Share my email." In both cases, the copy is direct, promotes action and fits snugly in our button design. Button text is also a super-easy thing to test. You can have two versions of one mailing going to different groups and test which language gets the most clicks.

I find writing subject lines kind of tricky because I can be long winded. What are the key elements in a subject line to not be simply passed over in the inbox?

I’m going to start to sound like a broken record, but when it comes to subject lines, testing is where it’s at. But beyond testing, we typically like to say the shorter the better. There are a few reasons, but one is that on mobile devices, specifically the iPhone, you are limited to around 32 characters before your subject line gets cut off.

Also, while there is no such thing as a “right” or “wrong” subject line (every audience is different, after all), it’s not the space to be too verbose or creative. Here’s an example:

I just got an email from a B2B recruiting company (I actually don’t remember signing up for their list, but I digress), and the subject line simply says, “Hire the best for less.” It’s compelling, short, not too stuffy, but not too creative, and most importantly, it supports the point of the message. The headline in the body says, “Fill any position for only $995. Any salary. Any industry.”

Having one, clear goal for your mailing helps, and writing the shortest, sweetest subject line to support that goal – whatever it may be – is a good place to start. However, again, the best thing to do is test! For example, Emma allows you to test up to 3 subject lines at a time. Only a portion of your audience gets served the three different options and then the “winning” subject line is sent to the remainder of your list. It’s an easy way to maximize your email's open rate.

Can you identify a few best practices that make emails more mobile friendly?

Sure thing. And since we learned today that lists are one of the best methods for helping our brains retain information, here’s a quick bulleted list of things you can do:

• Use large, tappable buttons for your CTAs instead of text links.
• Embrace the scroll (it’s a really natural behavior on smart phones) by designing tall, skinny emails in a single column.
• Use a large enough font to be readable on small screens. We recommend 14 pixels.
• You’re probably tired of hearing this after the webinar, but use big, bold images.
• Break up the content into sections with clear headings to make it easy to scan.
• Keep your design simple with lots of white space.
• Create emails in a responsive template, so it will look great on any device.

A lot of the examples you showed were for B2C. Do your recommendations also apply to B2B, especially when dealing with very unsexy, untrendy subject matter?

Absolutely. Regardless of your content’s relative sexiness, the important thing for marketers to remember is that whether it's a B2C or B2B campaign, it's still a human being on the other side of that email – all of the brain science and research that we discussed still applies.

So along with all the other data we discussed, using images that appeal to the primitive brain, thinking about the effect of color choice and designing with mobile in mind will have an impact on your email results in the B2B space. And hey, as long as your content is relevant to your audience and beautifully designed, it will surely be attractive to your subscribers.

Should we be concerned about deliverability with such image-heavy emails? Do corporate spam filters keep these from getting to their intended reader?

If your email is 100% image-based, then you could run into some issues with spam filters or if your subscribers have images blocked. Unfortunately, there isn’t a magic image-to-text ratio, so some balance is usually best. Sending content that’s a nice blend of eye-catching images and relevant, useful copy not only helps make sure that your message is delivered, but also improves the chances that your audience continues to open and engage with it.

And if you’re worried about people or platforms that block images, there are a few things you can do:

1. Don’t put important written content in the image that isn’t included elsewhere in the copy. If images are blocked, your subscribers will never see it.
2. Always add simple and clear ALT text for each image. That way, you can get your message across even without the image.
3. And as Litmus suggests, consider stylizing that ALT text so it stands out. Adjusting the font, size and color can help engage readers who have images turned off.

What was the app you used to show the click map of where people were clicking on the Garden & Gun email?

Well, since you asked (shameless self-promotion alert!), that’s a click map that’s available in the Response section of every Emma customer’s account. It’s one of my favorite parts of the Response section because it allows you to see exactly where people are clicking within the context of the email itself. It makes it super easy to see how your audience is interacting with your content, so you can tweak your design before your next send.

The click map comes standard in the Response section of every Emma account.

Many of you also asked if we had more stats and data we could share, so here are a few more resources that we’ve put together that we think you’ll find useful:

12 secrets of the human brain to use in your marketing
18 email stats to know, love and quote at parties (don’t quote these at parties)
21 must-know email automation stats for modern marketers

If you have more questions or just want to keep chatting about brain science and marketing (we seriously can’t get enough), then drop us a line in the comments!

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