I want to start us off with a few statistics to set the stage on why we’re here. As of 2013, there are more than 3.2 billion email accounts in existence. That’s more than the number of facebook and twitter accounts combined. So for all the talk about email being dead, I think we can safely say that’s not true.
What is true is that it’s harder than ever to get your message heard by those 3.2 billion people.
On any given day, the average customer will be exposed to over 3,000 media messages, they will pay attention to 52 of those messages and will positively remember 4. This is why we as marketers need to become even better at capturing the attention of our audience and hopefully become one of those 4 messages that they remember.
I wanted to show a quick snapshot of my gmail account because it’s a great example of not only how many marketing messages I get in the span of three hours, but also how diverse they are. These subject lines are using promotions, exclamation points, all capitals – so this not only reminds us that there isn’t just one right way to do email marketing but also gives you an idea of everything we’re competing with.
One really important factor in ensuring that your email gets noticed, is to make it personalized.
As you can see, only one of the emails I received that morning is personalized – which makes it unique and hopefully stand out from all the rest.
If you have the data available – USE IT! People don’t expect that you really know who they are, so try to catch their attention when you can.
This email (which happens to be one of ours) is a followup for an event that I had registered for, but then did not attend.
It reads “Sure, there was plenty of innovation in the nation, but it was just missing that certain element of Langensand-ness.” This is a good example of how we used both the first and last name in our emails to give it a fun and personal feel. It’s important to remember that your audience is human and it’s okay to use humor in your emails.
Another good example of a company combining data and personalization is FitBit. In case you aren’t familiar with them, FitBit allows you to track your daily steps and has a great customer engagement model. They send out weekly emails detailing how active you were and also give you badges for milestones (like taking 20,000 steps in one day).
This email they sent at the end of 2013 details how active I was and also has a cute and funny anecdote about a squid – and prompts me to share my activity with my social network. This is a nicely personalized email that clearly states what I will get out of it, and also has a human voice.
This bottom half of their email dives into even more data – accompanied by pictures of rabbits. By using my own data and behavior, they are actively keeping me engaged and I’ve become a brand advocate of theirs. Whenever one of my friends is thinking about a fitness tracker, I immediately recommend them.
Aside from Personalization - Behavior is an important element to designing successful email campaigns that attract attention.
Companies are getting very sophisticated in how they listen for action on a website and then follow up with a relevant email later.
This study from MarketingSherpa shows that being relevant and engaging with your audience requires sophisticated targeting that combines online body language (like website traffic and browsing behavior) with lifestyle and demographic data (personas)
When behavioral cues are not used, email can be experienced as an interruption.
With the data and tools available to us, we can be even more sophisticated about how we communicate with our audience – and they have come to expect it as well. If you can trigger off behaviors and activities, you’ll be much more likely to grab your subscriber’s attention.
This email from west elm is a perfect example of listening for action on a website and responding with a relevant and timely offer. In this case, I had been browsing around on their site but hadn’t put anything in my cart. Clearly West Elm is using an active trigger campaign that probably looks at the length of time someone spends looking at an item, and then sends an email to remind them of it the next day.
It’s important for companies to keep their audience engaged even after they display just slight interest.
There’s a company called ThredUp which does online consignment and I think they have a very clever way of getting people to opt-in. When you land on their site, you have to pop in your email address in order to view their inventory. When I first heard about it, I was very interested to see what they had and didn’t give it a second thought when I provided my email address.
But just in case I wasn’t that interested, they also offer 40% off in order to incentivize someone to provide their email address. In both email and on your website, you should always be asking yourself if the offer is worth it – if you put yourself in the shoes of your potential customer, you can more clearly see if your value proposition is really worth it. So now that I had given ThredUp my email address, I was greeted with their welcome email the following day.
This email from their CEO thanks me for visiting their site, tells me a bit of background on the company and establishes a human connection.
It notes that I had not only stopped by the site yesterday, but also had not bought anything which makes it seem personalized. And it includes an offer code at the bottom. Sending a welcome email after someone has provided you with their information is the first step in establishing a trusted relationship.
The welcome email is also your first chance to make an impression – your audience is clearly interested (as they have opted in) and now is your chance to show them what you’re about. Like ThredUp, you can take the approach of providing background on your company. Or give you a sense of what their brand and message is like – as Chandon does in this email.
A good welcome email should thank you for opting in, and offer a discount to get you started.
Another type of email that is triggered off behavior is the abandoned cart email. This email from ASOS is a good example of triggering off a behavior, and then reminding me to act. If your potential customers are adding things to a cart, but not making the final purchasing step – you can use an email like this one to make it easy for them to complete the desired activity.
An abandoned cart email should be clear and concise – ideally with a picture of the product left behind and I’d actually make the banner at the top shorter so that you can see the left behind item above the fold.
Now let’s say you have a customer who has purchased something with you – but you’d like their return business. You can use reminder emails like this one from Instacart to re-engage with them and make it easy for them to purchase your particular product or service again.
A lot of people wonder how long a subject line should be. The truth is, there isn’t a magic number. I think the important thing to remember is not how long your subject line is, but more about what your subject line says.
Now that you have the framework of your email ironed out, and an effective subject line – there are a couple design considerations I want to touch on.
According to Top Rank, 64% of decision-makers read their email on mobile devices.
And according to lots of women in America – Chace Crawford is a cutie and definitely deserves to make it into a Summit presentation.
It’s not just decision-makers – mobile has surpassed desktop opens across the board. Now accounting for 51% of email
Now those of you who are already doing this might be thinking – okay Obviously – but according to Equinix, only 11% of emails are optimized for mobile. So if you are doing this, give yourselves a high five, because you’re in the top 11%.
The image alt tag is an important element of the email that you shouldn’t over look – it’s a second chance to promote information in your email. As you can see, the top version was an email sent without any alt tags, and the one below it has the call to action: Download the Social Media Tactical plan.
You should always have an image description so that there’s context when images are turned off.
Your potential customers are busy – and as I mentioned before, inundated by marketing messages. So don’t make it harder for them – this email from Piperlime is a good example of using a large font, graphic images, and the numbered list makes you want to scroll down and see the whole thing. Also, the whole email is a clickable link so even if you have trouble finding the call to action – you can advance to the website.
Whether your goal is getting someone to download content, attend an event, or purchase your product – the key to getting them to act, is to show what’s in it for them.
Explain A/B testing
How many links do you have?
Are they easily identifiable?
MAKE IT EASY (for your audience)
I can’t tell you how many times we have tested something that we were sure would perform one way – only to be totally blindsided by the result.