Email marketing is the bread and butter for most of the marketers when it comes to engaging with their prospects and customers. Emails can be segmented, personalized and automated while maintaining the relevance to the conversation going with the customer. Yet in order to maintain the effectiveness in your email messaging, it is important to understand the value addition you do for your subscribers.
We had the opportunity to talk to Daniel Burstein (Senior Director, Content & Marketing, MECLABS Institute), where he gave insights about optimizing email campaigns and the impact of each email element on the increase in the conversion rate. Here you can learn about the importance of optimizing your email marketing campaigns and how to craft your email messages to improve conversions, based on a methodology based on 20 years in the research and testing.
Optimizing email campaign is a process
Email is a communication mechanism between two landing pages. The first landing page/form is the opt in to convince the people to interact and have a communication with you. Second landing page comes into picture when an email achieves the goal of raising the interest of the subscriber and the landing page guides / provides additional information to them. So, the overall process to follow in an email campaign is:
- You capture email address of relevant prospects
- Have them open your emails
- Interest them to click on your Call to action
- Provide further information in Landing Page
So, the hierarchy to follow while optimizing your email campaigns is:
Email Capture > Email Opens > Email Clicks > Landing Page
Providing Value addition to your email capture
The role of an email capture form or any other opt-in methods is showing the prospects that it is worthwhile to have a conversation with you about the problems you are currently facing. Additionally, the email capture tool needs to show the prospects that there is more value compared to the cost of subscribing.
While your subscribers are not paying any money in order to be added to your mailing list but the cost, in this context, is their email address and the risks or fears involving sharing email address, since email marketing is infamous for spamming. The cost of taking some time out of their schedule to look at your email.
So, you have to provide enough value to the subscriber on the lead capture page, to overcome the cost of them subscribing.
Ideally you start with collecting the name and email address when your prospects subscribe. Now you send a welcome email that requests them to complete their profile. This helps you gain refined information about your subscribers. At this moment, you may experience slight friction as most people might not be willing to share their information and by conveying that you will be able to serve them better with polished email copy, you can reduce the unwillingness considerably.
Additionally, depending on your industry and what you offer, you can also perform progressive profiling wherein the page that your subscriber visits will progressively ask them to fill a new form field every time they visit it.
For example, first visit collects the first name and email address, the consecutive visit asks for the company name and employee strength. The next visit asks which products they might be interested in knowing more about. This way you progressively collect additional information about your subscribers and it is only possible when you have reasons for the subscribers to visit you repeatedly.
Optimize your emails
In case of emails, in general, there are lot of factors that weigh in, with regards to the performance and efficiency. Yet, the optimization of emails becomes easy when you simplify it, that an effective email manages to get 2 actions from the subscriber.
- 1st is your emails getting opened
- 2nd action is you trying to get some of the openers to click the call-to-action button
What prompts someone to open an email?
The first element that impacts the open rate is the From name or the Sender name. When you receive an email from someone you know, the chances of you opening the email is greater. Sometimes marketers tend to forget that emails were not marketing mechanism from start but used as a communication channel, and so need to humanize by adding a recognizable From name.
Tip: Always have a recognizable From Name.
The other important email elements affecting open rates are the subject line & the preheader. Every marketer worth their salt knows that subject lines and pre-header text together need to act as the hook for someone to open the email to read further. Yet what needs to be understood here is that since every email marketer will try to create suspense using their subject lines, it is difficult for your subject lines to give enough value to the open rate when competing with other in a crowded inbox. While other factors also come into effect, sometimes testing your subject line would be as simple as just looking at it from a crowded inbox and figuring out what would stick out.
This is particularly challenging because most marketers tend to analyze their subject lines when they are setting an email up in their ESP or email platform and it looks so great and compelling. But that is not how the email will be experienced in the subscribers’ inbox and so, always send a test email to someone in your team and ask them to what they feel about the subject line when surrounded in a crowded inbox.
Tip: Send an email to a crowded inbox and deduce how effective is your email subject line.
One of the hidden element in your emails that severely boosts the open rates is valuable and helpful content. While a recognizable From name and curiosity raising subject line impacts the open rate, when you send 3 emails with content that your subscriber is expecting to help, the 4th email will opened not solely due to subject line and From name.
Tip: Send quality content that your subscriber look for and your open rate will improve automatically.
thing to do is go up. If you see the other email your stick above that and that grabs email can put your stick about or talk like, you know messaging effectiveness. just get specific sure. It’s email conversion here is reduced which is that.
How to make someone to click or take action in your email?
The click-through rate of your email solely depends on the effectiveness of the message you convey from your email. Once your subscriber opens the email, you need them to take action and that purely depends on the effectiveness of the messaging. MECLabs have formulated an equation about how to optimize the email copy effectiveness.
- eme: Email messaging effectiveness
- rv: Relevance to the consumer
- of: Offer value
- i: Incentive to take action
- f: Friction elements of the process
- a: Anxiety elements of the process
Relevance to the customer
The level of relevance you can include in your email copy is based on the information you have about your subscribers. With different information that is collected, you can segment your subscribers into multiple lists and understand what they might be interested in.
For example, if you are in Travel and Hospitality industry, you ask people to subscribe to different list based on their location they are interested to travel to. Based on the responses, you split your list into 3 segments namely Florida, California, and Hawaii. Now when you send an email featuring information about theme parks or places to explore on a small budget to Florida mailing list while you send a separate email featuring a list of resorts or luxurious travel packages to the Hawaii mailing list, you are providing relevant information to your subscribers.
Additionally, you realize that people interested in traveling to Florida are more interested about the budget while the people belonging to the Hawaii mailing list are more interested in the luxury aspect. This way you optimize the next email copy to show the price of different packages in the Florida email list while you focus on highlighting the luxury for the those in Hawaii email list.
As we discussed earlier about optimizing the email capture, by gradually collecting different information, you build a customer profile of your subscribers and this greatly helps in providing relevant information.
Offer value is the value proposition for why your subscriber should take action. This is a great opportunity to test what matters more to people and what they going to click through. MECLabs conducted a test on the offer value while promoting a Content piece for B2b audience.
In one variant had a different information about the piece of content which the subscriber can click and see it.
In the second variant, the subscriber jumped right into the content with the email copy featuring couple of paragraphs and the subscriber can click to read more. This way the subscriber were reading a portion of the actual content and this variant had higher click through rate compared to earlier as the subscriber was understand the value of what they would gain when they click. While this may change from case to case, the offer value is exactly what the subscriber is looking for, they are bound to click.
Incentive to take action
This is the often-abused tactic by companies, and this is why most countries have stringent SPAM laws. Instead of the incentive and offer value to go hand-in-hand, companies abuse the incentive when they don’t have a good value preposition. While getting free shipping or huge cashbacks are a great incentive, companies often throw such incentives when their product don’t have great offer value. The incentive needs to be complementing your offer value.
Friction elements of the process
Friction and anxiety (discussed later) are two factors that reduce the chances of the subscriber clicking the call-to-action button. Friction are involuntary factors that reduce the user experience for the subscriber.
Broken layout and loading speed are two main frictions that can affect the conversion rate. No matter how relevant the offer value and the incentive may be for the subscriber, if they cannot read the email, it behaves as the retardation force in the conversion rate. This is especially possible when your emails are not responsive. Your CTA button would be rendered small enough to be non-tappable in mobile devices or even worse, if you have an image-based CTA button and the images are disabled, then the subscriber may not be aware of the button and will not click it.
Anxiety elements of the process
Anxiety elements are retardation force that is man-made. It indicates the fear or anxiety that your subscriber will experience when they are not sure about what they are getting into when they click the CTA button. This can also happen when the landing page takes forever to load and the subscriber may drop out mid-way.
You can reduce that by setting clear expectations on what would happen when they click the CTA or what they can learn on the landing page.
What metrics should be considered while optimizing
The metrics you should check depends on the KPI (Key Performance Indicator). One method which tends to be good for the email itself is the CTR. Open rate can be informative but it’s not always 100% accurate. Open rate is calculated with a pixel is download when you open the email and it wont be possible when the images are disabled or when viewed in the Outlook preview pane.
Click rates, on the other hand, are more accurate as it denotes that someone took an action and so it is more effective to measure. It is applicable when calculating the revenue. Depending on your goal, click rates are also subjective. Click-through rates is also a good metric to measure. Imagine the goal of your email is get the customers to book a ticket. The incentive you provide is a free iPad via sweepstakes. You will observe a lot of people to click but how many actually book a ticket is crucial.
On the hand when you send another email, as a part of A/B testing, stating you have the best train tickets in the world and observe a dip in the click rate then the incentive was good but the offer value was not good enough.
But as we stated earlier, email is just a medium between two landing pages so, the actual metrics to measure would be how many people are interacting on your landing page and that would define the fine line between the quantity v/s quality.
Ultimately you could be driving less people to your landing page. You can have an email that gets less clicks but because of higher quality email message, they’re actually taking the action and they are buying the product, right? That means that your email campaign are getting optimized in the correct direction.
So, that’s what we call method of optimizing the Email campaigns by increasing open rates with sending relevant emails and boosting click-through rate with calculating the email messaging effectiveness.