While making New Year’s resolutions can seem cliché, it’s always important to set goals, both personally and professionally, to strive to do better. In the last year alone, there have been numerous industry changes that have changed the way we do email. From the surge in effectiveness of marketing automation to the unleashing of the beast that is Outlook 2016, it’s important to pause for a moment to set goals for how to improve your email marketing efforts in the coming year.
So, without further ado, here are 9 email marketing resolutions to ensure your 2016 campaigns are better than ever before.
1. Use the double opt-in method for list building.
Building a robust list is critical to your mailing strategy because without an email database, you have no one to send to! However, using the single opt-in method to grow your list, and grow it fast, results in cutting corners. Many marketers have a knee-jerk reaction to choose the single-opt in method because they want to gain as many leads as possible but list health is about quality, not quantity!
MailChimp tested single vs. double opt in methods by taking a random sample of 30,000 users who’ve sent at least 10 campaigns. Check out the results below:
The double opt-in method garnered a 72.2% increase in unique opens. Additionally, double-opt in lists have a 114% increase in clicks compared to the click through rates of single opt-in lists. When it comes to list size, sometimes less (a smaller, more engaged list) is more.
2. Eliminate clickbait subject lines.
Anything to get an open, right? Wrong! A Return Path study looked at more than 9 million emails and found that emails with clickbait-like words in the subject line had lower read rates compared to emails with similar content that avoided clickbait words.
For example, the use of “Secret of” resulted in an 8.69% decrease in read rates compared to messages containing similar content sent under different subject lines. The word “shocking” accompanied a 1.22% decrease in read rates as well.
Check out Return Path’s graph below breaking down clickbait keywords you should steer clear of:
On top of clickbait subject lines underperforming, this technique also breaks the trust between reader and marketer. Don’t make the mistake of using a subject line that doesn’t reflect what’s actually inside the email. Even if this tactic feels like an easy way to get an open, it may just as easily result in an unsubscribe, too.
Now that you know what to avoid, check out these 5 tips to create compelling subject lines to get your creative juices flowing.
3. Take the time to implement better preheader text.
In 2016, let’s all make a promise to not make the rookie mistake of displaying the basic preheader text seen in Real Simple’s email below:
Preheader text, also known as the Johnson box or preview text, is the short summary copy that follows the subject line when your reader is viewing your email in their inbox.
With 93 billion marketing emails being sent each day, don’t waste this valuable section of real estate with a generic phrase. Your preheader can be the difference between an open or your hard work going into the trash.
Here are some preheader text ideas to kick start the brainstorming process:
- Give a content overview
- Elaborate on your subject line
- Tease with an incentive/offer
- Personalize your text
These are just the tip of the iceberg for ways you can draw your reader in. For a closer look at preheader strategies, take a peek at 5 Preheader Text Ideas to Increase Your Email Effectiveness.
Need to learn how to code a hidden preheader? We’ve got you covered on that front, too!
4. Stop sending entirely image-based emails.
While images in email can be extremely beneficial, your graphics should work in unison with your supporting copy. If you rely only on images to get your message across, image blocking could become your biggest adversary. Some clients still block images by default and if you send an email that heavily relies on images, it can end up arriving in the inbox like this:
Yikes! Also, just using one giant image in an email can create a slow loading time for your reader. With attention spans clocking in around 8.25 seconds, this delay risks losing your reader to another of the hundreds of emails in their inbox.
And finally, we’ve found that emails with 500 characters or less are more likely to get flagged as spam. While an entirely image based email could exceed 500 characters because of meta tags, CSS styles, etc., this just adds to the long list of reasons that primarily image-based emails are not a good idea.
5. Know what mobile-friendly really means.
Smartphones, tablets and mobile devices have infiltrated almost every aspect of our lives. In fact, 82% of people use mobile phones to check their email and the average person checks their smartphone 150 times/day.
Mobile marketing is evolving at break-neck speed, so it’s critical to use responsive design in your templates. However, don’t make the mistake of thinking that’s all you need to do optimize a mobile reader’s experience.
First and foremost, make sure you follow a content hierarchy when designing and writing your email. That means putting the most important information (call-to-action, incentive, etc.) in the first couple of sentences.
Also remember to write subject lines and preheader text that are short enough to be compelling on mobile devices. While different mobile devices display a different number of characters, an optimal subject line length is around 40-50 characters.
Other elements that will make your email more mobile-friendly include:
- Make your buttons touchable with a minimum target area of 44x44 pixels.
- Have your text display at a minimum of 13px so your reader doesn’t have to pinch and zoom.
Finally, an often overlooked, but important component of optimizing your mobile-readers’ journey is having a responsive landing page or website. This example from GetResponse shows how a landing page SHOULD look on your mobile devices.
It would be a shame to get a click-through, but then direct a reader to an ugly, non-responsive page. Conversion lost. Solve that issue easily by remembering that email is just one part of the customer journey.
6. Keep wearable technology in mind when designing your email.
Wearable technology devices have been around for quite some time, but the buzz around them and their effect on email spiked when Apple unleashed the Apple Watch in April of 2015. While the actual impact of wearable technology on email has been a bit underwhelming, it’s still important to keep this technology in mind when designing your campaigns.
The most important thing to remember for devices like the Apple Watch is that they only display the plain text version of your email. This occurs because the device considers the HTML too complicated. So, optimize your campaigns by not relying too heavily on images and by including impactful plain text messages that will entice the reader to jump on their phone or computer to view the full email.
7. Invest in dynamic content software to increase relevancy.
Relevancy is one of the most important elements of a successful email campaign. In fact, relevant emails drive 18x more revenue than broadcast emails and 56% of people unsubscribe due to irrelevant content. So how do you ensure that you’re providing relevant messages to each and every one of your readers? By leveraging dynamic content in your mailing strategy.
Dynamic content tools use data about your subscribers to automatically define segments that are as small as a handful of people with key similarities, or even just one person with unique interests. AVARI—a company that has recently become part of the LiveIntent platform—saw an average lift in click-to-open rate of 73% for emails with predictively personalized content versus emails without it.
Use dynamic content in email to increase your click-to-open rate by using the following data/behavior of your readers:
- Purchase cycle
- Past purchases
- Subscriber behavior
- Countdown timers
For a more in-depth look into integrating dynamic content into your marketing strategy, check out our blog on the 10 Best Ways to Use Dynamic Content in Email.
Dynamic software is no longer the future, it’s the present and leveraging this software in 2016 will be the key to running a top-notch email program.
8. Make 2016 the year to test all your emails before sending.
Properly testing your email campaign before you send it can make or break the success of the email. Unfortunately, some marketers still think that testing their email by sending a test to their iPhone or Gmail inbox will do the job, but this isn’t always the case. Why? Because every email client’s rendering engine is NOT created equal.
Almost every email client displays HTML differently because each client has its own unique way of interpreting HTML. This is why your HTML code can render horribly in some email clients (ahem, Outlook), even though the very same code displays with pixel perfection in another inbox.
Below is proof that even companies like Google sometimes fail to properly test their email… the results of which can be pretty ugly.
With an ever-increasing number of popular email clients, the introduction of the beast that is Outlook 2016 and the way Android continues to strangle responsive design, it’s critical to ensure that you preview your email in the most popular inboxes BEFORE you send.
Do this by giving Email on Acid a spin free for 7 days. This trial allows you access to unlimited email, web page and spam testing, so you can send with absolute confidence.
9. Integrate your email and social marketing efforts.
Many marketers think that email and social media are entirely different channels and should be treated and planned for as such. This couldn’t be farther from the truth as these channels can—and should—work together in unison.
To start the integration, capture email address on social media channels. Even though the number of active users on social media is constantly on the rise, 77% of consumers still prefer to receive permission-based marketing through email. So use the engagement you already have on your social media channels to convert fans into email subscribers, and then email subscribers into customers.
Do this by offering marketing guides or a collection of coding tips on channels like Twitter and Facebook and require an email address to access the content on your landing page. It’s a super simple quid pro quo that most readers are more than happy to oblige.
Below is an example of this tactic used by Curalate. Curalate tweeted this link to their guide on “8 Photos Your Brand Should Share on Instagram.”
When you click on the ad, you arrive on a dedicated landing page where you submit your personal info (including your email address) to gain access to this guide.
Another awesome way to use social and email together is by uploading your email list into a paid advertisement system like Facebook for Business. Then, when you send out your next paid ad, you can set up a targeting rule to choose to exclude someone already on your list. This allows you to enhance your lead gen efforts, while not paying for ad impressions for current customers.
These are just two examples using these channels in unison. But there are many more! Remember, too, that people want to consume information differently. While I’m partial to email (of course), some subscribers would rather browse through their social feed than connect in their inbox.
What email resolutions have you made?
What email strategies and techniques are you planning to start, stop or do even better in 2016? Share your email goals in the comments section below!