Email marketing tips and tricks

Seven ways to make your next campaign a hit

Chapter 01: What makes email marketing successful?

Why are the open rates and click-through rates on your email marketing campaigns so low? You've got a good product and a good message; where are the results?

It's probably not your message itself; it's how you're framing it. The most successful email marketers have learned to focus on the key points that give their emails the best chance of being opened—and once opened, of driving readers to take action.

What are the best email marketing tips and tricks used by professionals? They include:

  • Craft the right subject line
  • Be careful with CAPS
  • Build great buttons
  • Ask for a share
  • Don't forget the preview text
  • Time it right
  • Pick your sender name

Let's take a look at each of these in more detail.

Chapter 02: Email tip 1: Craft the right subject line

You've probably already heard one of the best email marketing tips: write a great subject line. But let's go deeper and look at some specific how-tos.

  • Stick to 50 characters or less. That will fit comfortably in the viewing window of most email programs.
  • Be descriptive and specific. If you're offering 25% off tennis shoes, don't say "sale on shoes." Say "25% off tennis shoes." The more color you offer, the more curious your recipient will be.
  • Be truthful. False promises may get a reader to open your email, but once they discover they've been duped they'll go no further -- and they may never trust you again.
  • A/B test. A/B testing simply means to divide your subscriber list in half and use different subject lines (the 'A' and 'B' versions) for each half. See which gets the most opens, then A/B test the winner against a new version in your next round of emails.

Here’s a big list of A/B Testing ideas for email.

  • Try something besides a flat statement. Ask a question, use a listicle (“8 email marketing tips”), try a testimonial (“Why Bill Gates balances his checkbook by hand”), offer a benefit (“Buy an investment property in 30 days”) or an explanation (“3 reasons why you have writer’s block right now”).

Chapter 03: Email tip 2: Be careful with CAPS

If you've ever seen an all-caps text message or email, you know what it's like to be shouted at. It can seem desperate: TRY OUR PRODUCT! So use capitalization sparingly.

At the same time, don't hesitate to drop in a few caps if the time is right. Suppose your company is hosting a conference in a few months. You might try a subject line like “STOP! Collaborate and Listen: A Day of Teamwork Training.” That's eye-catching without being obnoxious.

Also, consider whether you want to use title case (Each Word Capitalized) or sentence case (Only the first word capitalized) in your subject lines. If you want to be more formal and official, go with title case. To be more casual and conversational, it's sentence case all the way.

Chapter 04: Email tip 3: Build great buttons

Most emails end with an action item link: to visit a blog post, subscribe for emails, or sign up for an event. Here's a tip: linked buttons tend to work better than linked text.

People like buttons. And buttons catch your eye: they stick out as a nice, colorful contrast to the rest of your text. So instead of ending your copy with a hyperlinked “Read more,” try a big green or blue button with the same phrase. (You should A/B test your buttons as well to see what works best.)

Test your emails on your own smartphone to make sure they’re mobile-friendly. And a final rule of thumb (so to speak) for mobile devices: make sure your buttons are easily tappable by even the biggest of hands.

Chapter 05: Email tip 4: Ask for a share

Buttons are also a good idea for asking people to share your message, either by forwarding your email or through Facebook, Twitter or other social media platforms. One-to-one messaging is great, but the one-to-many messaging of a shared email is so much better.

But here’s the catch: Share buttons are everywhere these days, at the bottom of every last blog post, YouTube video and news article online. So you've got to find a way to make your share request stand out.

The best way to do that is to be direct. Don't cross your fingers and hope that someone will think about sharing; urge them to do so, politely but clearly, with a carefully-placed call-to-action button. For example:

“Have a friend or colleague who would benefit from this information? Share the love." (button)

Chapter 06: Email tip 5: Don't forget the preview text

What do you see when an email pops into your inbox? A sender name? Check. A subject line? Check. A date and time? Check.

What else? Oh yes, the preview text. This important piece, also known as preheader text, is one of the most-ignored email marketing tips and tricks. Preview text appears in the inboxes of some major email clients, including iPhone, Gmail, Outlook, Mail and Windows Mobile. Like this:

  • Subject line: Why Bill Gates balances his checkbook by hand
  • Preview text: Learn the practice that billionaires swear by

You don’t have a lot of words to work with. Gmail gives about 100 characters total between subject line (the example above is 90 characters total). iPhones are more generous: they offer 140 characters for preview text, regardless of the length of the subject line.

Chapter 07: Email tip 6: Time it right

This is one of the best email marketing tips that is often forgotten: You shouldn't just fire off your email whenever you finish it. Studies suggest that emails are better received at certain times of the day and week. While this varies by industry and audience, these are some good basic guidelines:

  • Open rates are highest early in the morning.
  • Readers also respond well to emails that arrive after they get off work –– between 7 and 10 p.m.
  • Avoid the middles of workdays and all weekends. If customers are looking for a distraction in the middle of their working day, they’ll seek one out. And no matter how good the offer might be, hardly anybody wants to read a business email on the weekend.
  • Avoid emails on Monday. Your email list subscribers are sizing up the week ahead, probably stressed with first-day-of-the-week issues. Wait for Tuesday or later.

Chapter 08: Email tip 7: Pick how you’d like your sender name to appear

The sender name can be just as important as a subject line. It's usually the first thing you see, in fact, so getting it right is crucial. Here are three points to remember:

  • Never send your emails with a generic sender name like "info" or "noreply." People want to read emails from other people, not from nameless brands or electronic entities.
  • Some marketers like to use a first name only -- like "Eva" instead of "Eva Lee" -- and it has been shown to be more effective in getting opens. But you'll have to decide if it fits your style and your brand.
  • Don't be too lengthy. Some email clients cut off the sender name after a dozen characters. If your name is Satchwell Henderson McGillicuddy III, you may just want to go with "Satch."

Chapter 09: Wrapping it up

Think of a marketing email as a machine with several moving parts: the sender name, the subject line, the greeting and text, the call to action, the 'share' buttons. Every part can be honed to maximize engagement. If you're running a small business, try these seven email marketing tips and then see how your open rate looks. Bet you'll see an improvement.

And if you'd like even more help with your automated email marketing, Keap has you covered.