Ask any digital marketing agency and they’ll tell you email marketing is and will always be of utmost importance because it’s one of the main ways brands connect with their audience. Email marketing, in particular, is filled with changing trends that need to be considered if you want a winning strategy.
With that in mind, two metrics to keep an eye on are open rates and click-through rates (CTR). These are excellent measures of engagement that tell you whether or not your campaign is going well.
Open rates tell you how many of your emails are actually being opened and is calculated by dividing emails opened by emails sent. CTR shows how many clicks your emails are getting based on the amount of people who opened the email.
Considering these two things not only show you how many people are opening your emails, but also how they’re engaging with them, it’s very important to keep both metrics high. To do so, there are a couple of things that will, without a doubt, improve your email open rates and CTRs. Here are five such things.
1. Segment and Personalize
First thing’s first: Are you sending every email to everyone on your list? If so, please stop ASAP. This is a sure way to push your subscribers to unsubscribe. Not everyone is or will be interested in every email you send. Plus, sending indiscriminately will likely annoy and push them away.
Instead, be sure you’re only sending relevant information to each of your recipients. The more relevant the email, the more likely they are to take an action you want them to take—such as clicking a CTA—which means high opens and CTRs. As to the how, it’s all about segmentation and splitting up your audience into different groups.
Similarly, more personalized emails are more likely to be opened as well.
A quick disclaimer: This does not mean simply using their name in the email (although using a first name in the subject line does increase the open-rate by 20–25%). Rather, it’s personalizing each email with tailored content that pertains to them and only them.
We are in the midst of a big data trend that’s placing more and more customer information into your hands. This means you have a wealth of information about what your users want and will actually purchase, so don’t let this opportunity go to waste.
2. Use Images
Humans are visual creatures. We’re drawn to imagery. Including imagery in your email has been proven to increase engagement including open rates and CTRs. In fact, a recent of study by Social Media Examiner found that 32 percent of marketers found visual images to be the the most important form of content for their businesses’ success. Sixty-eight percent of those studied said they plan to use visuals in all of their marketing activity.
However, don’t go overboard. As entrepreneur and marketing guru, Neil Patel warns, “Spam filters flag emails with a small amount of copy but a large number of images.” In other words, you better make sure your emails have at least one image for the biggest impact, but don’t overdo it to the point that it’s all imagery.
Note: Because images don’t always load in some email clients, include relevant alt text that will show up if the images do not (and which will also complement your SEO services as well).
3. Offer Social Sharing Options
We live in a world dominated by social media. Whatever your industry and whomever makes up your audience, chances are good that a majority can be found on one social platform or another. Luckily for you, this means adding a social component to your email will improve its chance of spurring an appropriate action from your recipient. In fact, emails with social sharing buttons have a 158% higher CTR than those without (2.4% CTR versus 6.2%), with the following CTR breakdown per platform:
- LinkedIn (7.9%)
- Facebook (6.2%)
- Twitter (6.2%)
- Google+ (5.3%)
- Pinterest (5%)
4. Get the Time Right
When it comes to email marketing, timing is one of the top factors that determines if an email will even be opened in the first place. Think about it—if your emails arrives when your recipient can’t take an appropriate action (or open it), do you really think they’ll mark it as ‘unread’ and save it for later? Not likely.
What you want is for your email to arrive at an optimal time, and research shows that the best time is nighttime. More specifically, emails sent between 8pm and midnight received the best open rate (across 3 continents: USA, EU and AUS). Not only did emails sent during this period show better open rates (about a 20% increase), but also higher CTRs and responses as well.
5. Test EVERYTHING
Finally, the only way of knowing what’s working and what’s not is by testing. To this end, A/B testing will be your best friend. As Patel puts it, “the advantages A/B testing provide are enough to offset the additional time it takes.”
A/B testing is a process of evaluating something–in this case email content–by sending a control email to one group, and the same email with only one variation to another group to test which version does the best with its audience.
This means testing everything,–from subject lines and preview text, to your layouts and CTAs–to make sure everything works like a well-oiled machine. Just don’t forget to choose one variable to manipulate per test; otherwise you may attribute an outcome to the incorrect cause.
Let’s Take a Second Look
Every single email you send out should have a specific purpose and goal—why are you sending it? With a clear goal in mind, you have to tailor that email accordingly and make sure the content and layout reflect it and are conducive for whatever action you want your recipients to take ( i.e. a CTR that gets them on your website).
Matthew Fritschle is a content writer for digital marketing agency Aumcore that specializes in SEO services. He writes on a variety of topics that range from SEO to email marketing.