While many brands treat email marketing as a set-it-and-forget-it channel, it's important to continually optimize your strategy if you want to see great results in the inbox. With that in mind, here are nine things to stop, start, and keep doing to encourage more opens, clicks, and conversions.
1. Freaking out about unsubscribes
Despite what many people (marketers especially) would like to believe, not every person wants or needs what your brand has to offer. There’s also a chance that due to some sort of misunderstanding during the signup process, you gained a few subscribers who weren’t the right fit. Then, somewhere down the road, they realized you guys weren’t a match made in heaven… and that’s ok!
It’s much more worthwhile for you to spend time nurturing qualified prospects than to waste effort on folks who were never going to convert in the first place. When it comes to your email list, it's all about quality—not necessarily quantity. Besides, every unsubscribe provides an invaluable opportunity to really think about your email strategy and where you may have misstepped. Have you gotten overzealous with your send frequency? Is your audience opening on mobile, but you aren’t optimizing for the small screen? Is the content you’re sending simply not relevant to your subscriber’s interests?
Be brutally honest with yourself in these moments. That unsubscribe might just be the wake-up call you needed to do your best work.
2. Batch-and-blast sending
It's 2018, and this shouldn't have to be said, but here we are.
If all you ever do is send the same mass, generic email to your entire list of subscribers, you're missing the point of email marketing. The inbox is one of the most personal places you can connect with consumers (Where else do they actually ASK to hear from you?) so treat it with respect by using it to foster connection, not blast people with content they have no interest in.
3. Using irrelevant subject lines
4. Automating significant touch points
If you’re not incorporating automated messages into your email strategy, you’re missing out on some of the best-performing emails that you’ll ever create. Automation is a robotic-sounding word, but it really means sending timely, targeted messages to subscribers based on key actions or milestones: milestones like signing up, making a purchase, renewing a subscription, or even just having a birthday. Stuff that’s actually the opposite of robotic. Your subscribers want emails that are personal, relevant, and timely. Automation helps you create campaigns that check all three boxes and get some seriously great results, fast.
5. Utilizing A/B testing
One of the best ways to improve your results over time is continual testing, yet 53% of marketers never A/B test their emails. Even if it’s just a quick subject line test, every piece of data you can collect about your email audience will help you improve your strategy. And you should never stop testing, from sender names to email content to send times.
6. Experimenting with dynamic content
Dynamic content is the chameleon of modern marketing: It can change itself based on the demographics or preferences of the person who’s looking at it. It can be tricky to spot because when done right, the recipient just thinks the brand is really, really good at personalizing content.
Sounds pretty cool, right? That’s because it is. Dynamic content takes personalization to a whole new level by allowing marketers to target individual subscribers with different content from the same mailing. Rather than having to set up, design, and schedule separate emails for different groups, marketers can send it all at once, and the email automatically adapts for each recipient.
7. Segmenting whenever possible
Segmentation is an important part of virtually every successful email marketing program. Just chew on these stats:
• Segmented campaigns can lead to a 760% increase in revenue (DMA).
• 39% of email marketers that practice list segmentation see better open rates, and 24% see increased sales leads (eMarketer).
• 56% of people unsubscribe from emails due to content that’s no longer relevant to them (Chadwick Martin Bailey).
And remember: Smart audience segmentation goes beyond simple demographics like age or gender. It means segmenting by what they clicked on, what they bought, which show they just binge-watched…whatever you like. If you’re collecting the data, you can segment by it and start reaping the rewards.
8. Personalizing the inbox experience
According to our 2018 Email Marketing Industry Report, 61% of marketers are personalizing at least a quarter of the emails they send. But nearly a third aren't personalizing at all, and there's much more personalizing that could be done all-around.
As a consumer, what kind of experience do you expect from the brands you interact with? Do you prefer generic messages, or do you want to feel as if they've taken the time to deliver messaging that's relevant to you based on your location, interests, etc.?
It isn't tough to make your emails more personal. Connect your data sources with your email marketing platform, analyze what you have (what content does your audience like best, when are they engaging, in what channels, etc.) and use it to deliver a personalized experience to every subscriber.
9. Designing for the small screen
The importance of mobile design is impossible to ignore in the modern marketing ecosystem.
80% of people will simply delete an email if it doesn’t look good on a smartphone (Blue Hornet), a result no marketer wants to see. But if the same email looks beautiful on a smartphone, tablet, and desktop, then you’re in the presence of mobile design. Mobile design is all about making emails easier to scan and engage with on a mobile device. It relies on content that's large, easy to see and simple to consume, so use big, bold images, large fonts, and tappable call-to-action buttons.
You know that cliché everyone likes to reference about the definition of insanity?
Well, it applies to the inbox, too. Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results won't get you very far, so be sure to continually keep an eye on your email strategy. Stop practices that produce negative results in the long term, find ways to experiment with new ones, and maintain the ones that make up the foundation of a great email program.
About the Author
McKenzie Gregory is a senior content manager on Emma’s marketing team. A Nashville native, she can be found covering all things email on the Emma blog, debating hyphenation rules, and watching obscene amounts of Netflix without a trace of shame.Follow on Twitter More Content by McKenzie Gregory