Did you know your body has approximately 640 muscles? In any given moment we have access to millions of voluntary movement combinations; the movement combinations are endless. Miraculously, our bodies work, and they work incredibly well for how much information is being passed and managed from mind to muscle.
Just like our bodies, email messages also have a large number of moving parts (luckily far fewer than 640+) that need to be toned and strengthened (or optimized) over time. By focusing on the muscles of your email marketing campaigns, that is, the components of an email message and by systematically testing and honing each to maximum efficiency, we marketers can make the most of our email campaign investments.
But before we can give our email marketing messages a workout, we have to understand the components available to us. Let's examine each email marketing message muscle to understand what levers comprise a well-designed email message.
Also known as the "from line," this is the name subscribers will see when they receive an email message from you:
The sender name or from line is the outward facing name subscribers will see and can be considered the mask for the reply-to email address.
The art of the subject line: what every email marketer obsesses about. While not the only thing thorough email marketers are compelled to obsessively test, the email subject line is one of the most researched and discussed components of email marketing messages. Email subject lines appear here:
Why such intrigue with email subject lines? Email subject lines are, in tandem with the sender name, an email's only hope for being opened. It's your first impression, your hook, your very own mini-billboard.
Think accuracy, brevity, and branding. Excellent subject lines are:
Aside from these general qualities, here are more specific best practices every email marketer should employ.
Subject Line Length (SLL) Another oft-discussed topic is subject line length (SLL). The rule of thumb is straightforward: limit your subject line to 50 characters or less as subscribers see only the first 38-47 characters.
Dynamic Insertion Back to making your emails personal, address each subscriber individually with dynamic insertion. Any good email service provider should allow you to dynamically insert any field of content available in your contacts' profiles into an email subject line or within the email content itself. For example, instead of sending subject line, "Michael Jordan Steaks Just Launched a Brand New Site!" to your subscribers, dynamically insert their name at the beginning to send a subject line like "Amber, Michael Jordan Steaks Just Launched a Brand New Site!"
Spam Keywords There are certain words you should never use in your subject line in order to reduce the chance of being blocked as spam. Here is a partial list (a general Google search for email marketing spammy keywords and the like will result in many lists):
|buy now||call now||no investment|
|apply now||great offer||make $|
Use your common sense and do your research before sending a subject line that may be blocked by spam filters.
Case Be careful when using excessive or repeating punctuation and capitalization. This can cause you to be blocked by spam filters.
Test, Test, Test Always a/b test every subject line, measuring the conversion rate of each. Strengthen this muscle as it will become your very best friend in maximizing your campaigns' ROI.
Given these best practices, you should be able to easily identify good and bad subject lines:
Here are some email marketing ideas to get your creative juices flowing.
You've made an excellent first impression at this point. Your subscriber has successfully been wooed and has opened your email. What do they see now that they've passed the first threshold?
Moving from your mini-billboard to your storefront window, a well-designed email will include a pre-header. Before your subscriber sets foot in your store, s/he will look to see what sits at your storefront window, especially if the email does not fully render as a result of default setting for image-rendering. A pre-header looks like any one of these:
Image and analogy source: blog.getresponse.com/increase-your-emails-impact-part-1-preheader.html
Moving from the pre-header to the header, the header is the first part of your email's content. It's the part of your email template that does not change from email to email (and generally only changes across email message types or campaigns).
Examples of email headers include:
As you can see, an email header is much like the base template for your website-it includes the navigation, logos, and other content you wish visitors/subscribers to see consistently across all touch-points in their experience with your brand.
Again, while there may be best practices, there is no substitute for a/b testing. Test, measure, optimize, and repeat.
Once your subscriber moves past your storefront into your store, the heart of your email, your content and images, you're on the line to deliver what has been promised thus far in your short courting relationship with your subscriber (from sender name to header). As is true with most email marketers, your email campaigns naturally result from strategic email marketing campaign born out of unique content you believe is relevant, useful to your subscribers, and useful to you (that is, it results in a referral, assists in driving retention rates, or results in revenue).
Here are some email send types and events that are great opportunities to trigger email sends to help generate ideas for your next email campaign:
Links are the gateway from brief conversation to a full on relationship. Provide links for subscribers to click through to your website not only to increase traffic to your site, but to learn more about your subscribers. Their click activity can tell you a lot about who you're talking to and can assist with list segmentation. A dry email sans links is
Don't forget to mine your click data! Once your sends gain momentum and your subscriber base grows, support your campaigns by strategically designing navigation in order to produce insightful click data.
You now have a sender name (from line), subject line, pre-header, header, and content for your email message. The next component covers how you showcase your content. Depending on the kind of content you are sending, a well-designed email can come in many forms and should always aim to generate a click and, afterwards, provide the least amount of friction between the transition from email to website:
Which one is best? All of them are the best. Each serves its own strategic purpose and has taken into consideration the content offered, the brand's attributes (those outside of the email message-the site, offline advertising, the personality of the company), and the conversion funnels of concern. Okay, okay, we know it can be tiring to hear the answer, "It depends," so we'll pin down some best practices here for you to apply to your email marketing messages.
What you should not do:
Here is what you should do:
The cousin of the pre-header, the footer is critical for compliance reasons and for user-experience reasons. A footer is generally automatically generated by your email service provider; if it is not, make sure to include this requirement at the development stage.
Every email you send should automatically be converted to a version viewable in a browser (a hosted version). Your email service provider should automatically create and link to a hosted version of your email message. In the event that this is not the case, make sure to ask your designer and developer to insert this into your email messages.
If you can, also include a link to a lite version also hosted and viewable a browser. The lite version should be designed to allow those on smartphones to click through and view a readable, easily digestible, well-organized email message. This is typically not a service provided by your email service provider and must be completed at the same time as you are producing your standard email message.
To read more on the SEO value of the hosted versions of your emails, visit the eBoost Consulting article, "Get Free SEO Links Just for Hitting Send".
A well-designed email allows invites your subscriber in through your storefront window, into your store (your email), and then allows them to reach out to friend to share how amazing their experience is with your or to share the cool discover or learning they just had while in your store (your email message). Forward-to-a-friend functionality integrates social media into your emails.
The email looks like this:
And then a page similar to this loads:
And then my friend receives this email with the person who originally shared the email as the sender name (this increases open rates):
While not truly part of an email message, setting yourself up for success in your newly established relationship requires careful consideration of both new subscribers and inactive (dormant) subscribers. There are several key terms you need to know as an email marketer in order to obtain and maintain the highest quality email list possible.
|Opt-In||An opt-in or subscription occurs when a person submits his/her email to a company, website, or individual, thereby giving them permission to send them email communications.|
|Single Opt-In||Also known as an unconfirmed opt-in, this is an email subscription process in which a person submits his/her email address to a company, website, or individual and in turn receives an email confirmation of their subscription at the email address provided. No action beyond is needed by the new subscriber beyond initially entering his/her email address.|
|Double Opt-In||Also known as confirmed opt-in, this is a more stringent method of confirming email subscriptions. Here, a person submits his/her email address to a company, website, or individual and in turn receives an email asking them to confirm that they do indeed wish to receive your email communications by providing a unique link which, when clicked, allows your email service provider to know that this person has not only subscribed, but also confirmed their subscription. We strongly encourage (and at eBoost, require) all email marketers to employ this method.|
|Opt-Out||To opt-out or unsubscribe means the subscriber lets the company, website, or individual know that s/he no longer wishes to receive email communications. This ties back to the CAN-SPAM compliance measure: always include an unsubscribe link in your email footer.|
Why does the opt-in method matter? The opt-in process (and its ability to maintain an email list of integrity) affects multiple parts of your email marketing campaign:
Each muscle of an email marketing message carries its own weight, purpose, and functions. Each one can be strengthened (that is, optimized) over time to produce maximum efficiency and the highest ROI for your efforts now and in the future. Although we have reviewed the core components of an email marketing message, it would be irresponsible of us to not point you in the right direction for next steps on learning how to create successful email marketing campaigns.
When you have digested and applied the best practices above, start by familiarizing yourself with these topics:
Jen Morris, eBoost Consulting and Amber Scott, Consultant, eBoost Consulting
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