Sometimes it only takes a small tweak to switch a campaign from flailing failure to a storming success. But how in the know are you on those killer email marketing no-nos? Do you know where to look to make that switch? Here are our top five to help you on your way…
No-no Number 1: Your subject line doesn’t reflect your content
People don’t like being tricked or misled, so being coyly ambiguous or outright misrepresentative is a mistake. A good example is, “It’s finally here!”. That type of subject line tells a reader nothing about what’s in your email, which ends up making it scattergun at best, and at worst will you an unsubscribe. When a reader has been enticed to open the email, if they then don’t immediately connect your brand will start to disappoint.
But being ambiguous isn’t the only mistake you can make. Marketo tested two subject lines to see just how much impact a less engaging subject line can have; the results were eye-opening. They used:
“Your Marketing Automation Checklist” and “Are You Evaluating Marketing Automation?”. The first one is clear and specific. The second, however, is purely suggestive without any clarity on what a reader can expect in return for clicking. What did Marketo find? No surprise, the first subject line had:
- A 14% higher open rate
- An 80% higher click-through rate
- A 58% higher click-to-open rate
QED, as they say…
Our top tip: Be clear about the content in your subject line, but front-load it with ‘gift-to-reader’ words such as ‘Ten Top Tips on…’ or ‘5 Best…’.
No-no Number 2: Forgetting that ISPs are watching… because they are
It’s important to keep your sender reputation has clean as possible. The obvious big no-no is to find your domain on a blacklist, but things like spam complaints come into play too. Keeping your email list in tip-top ‘I’m wanting to receive your emails’ condition is paramount, therefore, because an unsubscribe is better than being marked as spam.
But is that all there is to it? No. You also need to beef up your levels of email engagement… because the ISPs know. Build your reputation with them, and your emails are far more likely to head straight to a primary inbox, than be filtered off to a spam folder. The good news is a canny email marketer has some great tricks up their sleeves to help achieve this. For example, by staggering your mail batches and sending to your most engaged subscribers first, ISPs will see high levels of engagement at the beginning and are more likely to let more of the historically less engaged ‘through’ in the next batch. Another trick is to segment your list by type, such as subscriber importance, engagement and purpose. If you then assign a different sending IP to each type, the less successful segments won’t then tar the more successful.
Our top tip: Keep your sender reputation as positive as possible by being mindful of the type of engagement that the ISPs monitor.
No-no Number 3: Neglecting to re-engage
On the face of it, neglecting to re-engage subscribers who have ‘switched off’ simply suggests that you don’t make sales or get them to respond to the call-to-action you’ve set. But as you’ve seen from above, not seeking to re-engage is a graver error than that. Those ISPs are watching; your sender reputation is at stake here. So that means there’s a lot to gain from implementing a well-considered re-engagement strategy.
The old adage that it’s cheaper to keep an existing subscriber than it is to market to gain a new one stands true, but you also gain in other ways too. There will always be a certain percentage who, once they’ve switched off, will remain switched off. It’s far better to pinpoint those regularly and simply remove them from your list. Plus, a re-engagement campaign gives subscribers the ability to opt-out or unsubscribe themselves if they want to. This will not affect your sender reputation, where on the other hand being marked as spam does.
Marketo did a useful test of the effect of a re-engagement strategy and they found that their re-engagement email actually woke 238% more subscribers up than a standard email. It also achieved a 70% higher open rate, a 325% higher click-to-open rate, and a whopping 621% higher click-through rate. So never underestimate the power of a re-engagement strategy.
Our top tip: Make re-engagement a priority, not a ‘if we can get to it’ activity.
No-no Number 4: Believing how your content displays technically… doesn’t matter
Yes, we’re talking images, screen size and resolutions etc. An email isn’t deemed to have been opened unless someone downloads the images; and many email clients don’t do that automatically, you have to request the images to download. Therefore, if you include your call-to-action as an image (eg. a button) then you’re far less likely to enjoy a positive outcome. Including it as an HTML button (that’s just HTML and CSS code) is a better option, for it will display automatically in the email and your response rate will be vastly improved.
But it’s not just about images. People use many devices to view your emails as they make their journey towards your call-to-action. Marketo reckon 65% start on a smartphone, so it’s critical that you optimise your contact for mobile. But what does this entail? First step, make sure you include a piece of code that works out the reader’s screen size. This then enables you to set code to present your information with the right breakpoints and the right sized font. Let’s face it… you want your call-to-action to be above the fold, so don’t miss this trick.
It sounds wearyingly tedious but making the effort here will pay dividends. Marketo reckon you can improve unique clicks by up to 27%, click-through-rates by up to 28%, and click-to-open rates by up to 31%.
Our top tip: Prioritise testing across multiple browsers and devices to ensure your messages display well.
No-no Number 5: Taking the wrong approach to testing
Carrying out testing on potential email campaigns isn’t a new idea, and any digital marketer worth their weight in gold knows it’s important. But there are still some common mistakes that are made which can have a negative impact on the success of a project. Three gotchas to check up on are:
- Testing for more than one thing at a time – Using too many variables in one go simply muddies the picture you get back from your testing. Sure, it’s tempting when you’re short of time, but don’t do it. You simply can’t be sure what’s affecting what if you take that approach. Be patient, do it properly, one change at a time.
- Not using a large enough sample – The larger the sample size the more likely you’ll get a representative response upon which to make your decisions. Too small, and your vision might be skewed by chance.
- Not being systematic about when you send out your tests – Timing matters, so it makes sense to normalise the times you send tests out to ensure comparisons are valid.
Our top tip: Celebrate every little tweak you discover you need to make… Your smile will be even broader once the results are analysed.
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