Email Marketing Guidelines for High Conversions in 2017

Email Marketing Guidelines for High Conversions in 2017

However you put it, email is still a big part of any marketer toolkit. Actually, a study by VentureBeat in January 2016 found that email marketing has the highest ROI out of all marketing channels.

If you’re like me and you hate email, that’s a bit depressing…

You might be thinking: “soooo that means we can dust off our trusty newsletter and keep doing what we always did, right?”

Welp, no. And thank God. You can throw away your old, non-mobile email templates with justified text and with “me, myself and I” as the main theme. Scratch that. Burn it down, with fire.

gif with a simpsons character using a fire thrower to illustrate the "burn your old clunky newsletter"

We’re in 2017 for crying out loud. Let’s do email marketing like it is. Deal?

Let’s see together a few guidelines to do email marketing the right way!

 

Personalization is the way forward

Personalized promotional mailings have 29 percent higher unique open rates and 41 percent higher unique click rates than non-personalized mailings. (Experian Study)

We all have heaps of customer data lying around. The truth is, we hardly ever use it. And today the excuse that personalization is too complicated doesn’t work anymore. All email tools do it (admittedly some in a more advanced way than others).

Let’s see how you could make your emails feel (and be) more personalized.

Segment your contacts

The first step in personalization is always the same: Segmentation. (I wrote a beginner guide on visitor segmentation btw.)

Why? Chances are your contacts have companies of different sizes, live in different countries, work in different verticals (just to mention a couple of examples). And even if they do have all the same characteristics they are probably not at the same stage in your sales cycle.

Sooo, they might not be interested in the same content. Someone who just discovered your blog might want to buy your products right away or book a demo.

Or people living on the other side of your country might not be interested in the event you’re conducting in your city.

Make sure you send the right emails to the right contacts. Relevance is the name of the game. Just the act of segmenting your contact lists will improve all your metrics.

Ask the right questions

We just talked about segmentation. Do you know the easiest way to get information that’ll be useful for your email marketing?

Just ask your visitors. BOOM! Mind blown! (Don’t roll your eyes yet, bear with me)

  1. Brainstorm with your team on the information you don’t have and would need to personalize your emails
  2. Add these questions to the forms on your website
  3. Profit

TIP: A technique you can use to avoid overwhelming your visitors with a thousand questions on the first download is to use progressive profiling (see Hubspot’s article on this here.)

The usual email personalization suspects

Okay, so you have data. What can you use for your emails and what else can you personalize through your email software?

Note: these will vary depending on the software you use, I’d advise you look into their documentation.

  • Subject line: vary tone, style, vocabulary, length depending on your recipients
  • Pictures: one basic example could be for men/women but you can obviously go further
  • Copy (add their name, company or any other information you have on the recipients you can include)
  • Entire sections of content: you can also change drastically the content of your mail depending on the typology of your recipients

There is a lot you can experiment with. Start small, try things and get more complex progressively.

Think about time zones

You probably already tested when during the day you get the most opens (No? Why wouldn’t you? Go do it!).

But did you take it on step further and thought about time zones? If you’re like us, you have contacts from all around the globe. You might be sending mails during the night…

Make sure to send your emails at the right moment for each time zone!

Trigger-based behavioral emails

An example of this could be: you’re on an e-commerce website, you put items in your cart but for some reason, you leave the website.

The next day, you get an email from the website saying “Hey, you have items waiting for you in your cart. Was there a problem? How can we help?”.

That’s a trigger-based behavioral email. “Items in cart but visitor didn’t check out = send an email the next day asking what happened.”

You can do that with some email software or with a web personalization solution like ours (more details on our personalization product page).

And it’s not limited to e-commerce websites. For example, you could shoot an email to people who spent X minutes on your pricing page and viewed several times during the same week.

Possibilities are unlimited!

Be human

When I write newsletter-like emails, I always try to imagine writing to one friend or colleague.

Because I found myself sounding impersonal and boring if I don’t. I was writing to a list of contacts, not to humans and in a weird “newslettery voice”.

You’ll get perspective if you put yourself in the shoes of your recipients. Would YOU like to receive this email? Would you open it? Or just throw it in the trash?

We all get a crap-ton (at least) of emails every day. Everyone can send emails (and they do) because the technology is stupid-easy to access and use. So rise above the noise. Write emails people will actually like reading.

Spend more time on your copy, ask several people for feedback. Write them in advance, so you can come back with fresh eyes before hitting “send”.

Use real reply-to email addresses

Use real personalized email addresses to send your emails. Don’t use noreply@yourcompany.com or newsletter@yourbusiness.io.

Doing that discourage your contacts to ever engage with your emails and actually reply. You would miss nice emails like we got with our a/b testing email course, for example:

feedback by email possible because our automated emails are sent with a personalized address

Considering the fact that we’re all constantly bombarded by information (emails or otherwise) when people take the time to engage with your newsletter or drip sequence it’s not trivial.

You could miss future customers or brand advocates.

 

Make sure your emails look good on mobile

Desktop represents 16% of all email opens, webmail 30% and mobile 54%. – Litmus ”State of Email” (March 2017)

It might be painfully obvious but I’m sure I’m not the only one receiving newsletters who look horrible on mobile.

Most email tools allow you to preview what your content would look like on mobile, so…… do it.

Your text must be easily legible and your CTAs visible/working. A good way to ensure your emails look good on every device is to keep the design simple.

 

Spend time on your transactional emails

Every email you send is an opportunity to maintain, improve and deepen your relationship with your leads/users/contacts.

Even the receipts, notifications, content delivery after completion of a form, etc.

Spend time on the copy, design—do everything you’d do on any other email.

It can also be an opportunity for you to ask them something. You could try to ask them for feedback, if they want to subscribe to your newsletter, if they are aware you’re organizing an event, etc…
 

One CTA several times

Similar to CTA on web pages, too many choices are enemies of effectiveness. Focus on one main action for your recipients to take.

Make sure your CTA has a clear visual hierarchy (it stands out from the rest of your email) and that it works across all devices.

Don’t read this advice as “you can’t repeat the same CTA in your email”. In our emails, we usually link to the article 3 or 4 times.

Same thing with your button CTA. You can put it several times in the email. Make your images clickable and add text links too. As long as it doesn’t feel spammy and you’re consistent, multiply the ways your recipients can take the action you want them to.

 

Move away from traditional newsletters to drip sequences and marketing automation

“Join 3 billion marketers and subscribe to our awesome newsletter to get extraordinary content on things you most likely won’t be interested in!!”

If this sounds familiar—although I might have exaggerated a bit, maybe it’s time to re-think your approach.

For those not familiar, a drip sequence is an automated series of emails (as opposed to manually sending them). There are many examples of drip sequences on this website if you need inspiration.

screenshot of the emaildrips.com website

That’s something we’re pondering at Kameleoon. We looked at our emailing strategy and thought:

  • Are we sending too many emails?
  • Is staying “top-of-mind” a good enough argument to sending these emails?
  • People won’t be interested in everything we put out, we might be overwhelming them and damaging our brand image with irrelevant content. But the same content might also be relevant for others…
  • How can we provide more value to the right people?
  • Is the quantity of content produced actually hurting its quality?
  • Most of our articles (and to an extent other pieces of content like ebooks) only see traffic around the time we shoot our newsletter. Are we not using them to their full potential?

Not to say our emails and content in general aren’t performing well (they are actually doing quite good mind you) but we’re always trying to challenge the status quo. And well, you can always do better so it can’t hurt to try ?.

Our reflexion started with:

  • Why not create a library of topic-centered drip sequences (or automated email sequences, workflows, whatever you wanna call them) by both re-using older pieces and create future content around them. We give people the choice to receive emails about what they are really interested in.
  • Reduce the number of recurring emails we send to our entire contact base
  • Be more strict on removing un-engaged contacts

But:

  • Few people will actually make the effort to choose what they’ll receive. How can we make sure they still receive our content, what ways would we have to get them to take action?
  • How complicated will it get to manage as many drip sequences? Won’t it result in as many emails (or more) than what we currently have if people choose several workflows?

We ended with (so far):

On-boarding (not including our products)

  • Nurturing email series centered on the lead’s industry starts after her/his first download
  • Welcome email series with our best articles after someone subscribes to our newsletter

Recurring emails for everyone:

  • A bi-monthly content marketing focused with a new article as main topic (OR a new ebook when we applicable) + a complementary read (an interview for example)
  • A monthly “standard” newsletter with news, events, updates, etc
  • A monthly success story

Email sequences “à la carte”

  • Will be on our future “Kameleoon Academy” page along with our certifications
  • Leads will be reminded they can choose from these different series of content at the end of each sequences as well as punctual reminders across our content
  • Topics of said email sequences will be for examples: A/B Testing Mistakes, How to use Kameleoon, CRO experts interviews, CRO introduction for beginners, UX, etc…
  • Email courses with certifications

It’s still a work in progress obviously and we might amend it before implementing everything, but I feel like the thought process could inspire some of you or start a brainstorm session.

What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments!
 

Delete contacts who don’t care about you

Remove all contacts who haven’t open your emails in the last 6-12 months. “But…but I want to be able to say that I have a BIG……list”.

I hear that, but it’s actually hurting you.

If you send your emails to your list and a good chunk of your contacts doesn’t open it, inboxes like Gmail will start de-prioritizing your emails. They’ll get bumped into the promotion tab, or tagged “marketing”, get into spams, etc…

It also messes up your metrics. Your open and click rates will be skewed as you’re shooting emails to people who don’t care. You might have low open rates and think your emails are bad when in reality, the people interested loved them…

Do yourself a favor, cut the people not interested loose. Put them in a list aside (or delete them completely) and watch your engagement metrics go through the roof.

 
image of toy story's scene "to infinity and beyond"  to illustrate the potential improvement of the readers' email marketing metrics
 

Noah Kagan’s trick to boost open rates

What if I told you there is a trick you could do with your next email and add a nice +10% on your open rate…

Yup, I ain’t lying. And it’s pretty simple too.

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Send your email as your normally do
  2. Wait a few days, then send the exact same mail BUT with a different subject line.

That’s it. I tried and consistently got between +7% to +15% on my usual open rates. Pretty neat if you ask me ?

 

To clickbait or not to clickbait

There are 2 types of click baits. The first one is the one we all hate. Except if we’re Buzzfeed or all those websites you see shared on Facebook.

“You won’t believe what this 8-year-old girl did” or “This one weird trick got me 53,000$”, etc…

They are slimy, ad-ridden and most often than not (this is a biiig no-no) the title is totally misleading.

Don’t ever do that. It’s the fastest way to kill your credibility.

The second type of clickbait is when you make your title sound more sensational or controversial to get people to click on it. That you can do. The difference with the first type is your title corresponds to the content of your article. You just made it more attractive.

The best article in the world with a boring title won’t get any traction. And when I say “title”, it’s true for email subject line, social content, etc…

Make it short (remember, it will get cut-off on mobile so be careful) and write it in a way YOU would click on it (and be genuine).
 

Don’t reinvent the wheel, look around for inspiration

We’ve been sending emails for decades. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel every time. Look in your inbox. What emails did you like or what do companies you like with their emails. What do your competitors do?

You can also check websites like goodemailcopy.com for inspiration.

screenshot of the goodemailcopy.com website

 

Test, test and test again

You won’t know what works if you don’t test it. Same thing with your emails. Here are a few examples of what you could experiment with:

  • Don’t always send on the same days or times, mix things up, see what happens
  • Full design or plain text: depending on the type of email, the best design can be… no design at all
  • Long copy vs short copy
  • Emoji vs no Emoji
  • Subject lines: length, caps/no caps, personalization, emojis,…
  • Everything that is mentioned in this article 😀

 

Before you go…

A word of caution: start simple and get more advanced as you go. Don’t complicate things. The best emails are the ones you send.

Now then, what about your email marketing strategy? Are you trying new things this year? Tell us in the comments!

Jean-Baptiste Alarcon

Jean-Baptiste is Growth Marketer at Kameleoon. Aside from reading a lot and drinking coffee like his life depends on it, he leads Kameleoon's growth on English markets.