All About Email: An Essential Guide to Email Marketing Success


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Email is the most prevalent means of communication today – are you utilizing it to your full potential? This presentation from Jessica Langensand covers the major trends in email including design, mobile, personalization, and A/B testing.

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  • 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. 
  • The first way to be more targeted and engaging is through personalization
  • 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.
  • If you can utilize data that you’ve already collected about someone, you can create a truly 1:1 feeling. This data could be – their purchasing history, a site they visited, or in this case – the distance I traveled in 2013.
  • And finally, you can use firmagraphic and demographic data to make an educated guess about what might resonate with your audience. For example, your message to someone in healthcare, is most likely going to be different than how you would market your product or service to someone who works in government. By segmenting effectively, you can create targeted emails that result in higher engagement.
  • A great way to increase reelvance is to focus on effective segmentation. Expanding further on the healthcare and government distinction, we can even get more granular with segmentation. For example, a marketing practitioner is going to have different wants and needs than the CMO, and we would therefore be able to send a separate, more relevant message to each.

    This analysis compares how engaging an email is to the size of the send. And we defined the engagement score by compiling things like email opens, clicks and replies.

    What you see is that there is a direct correlation between the size of the send and engagement. More to the point, smaller sends are typically more engaging than large ones.

  • Another key part of being relevant is targeting based on behaviors. Things like your role, or industry tell us what you might be interested in, behaviors tell us what you ACTUALLY like.
  • This data from MarketingSherpa shows that triggering and segmenting emails based on behaviors are the top two tactics that marketers can use to increase email engagement.

  • So what we do on our marketing team, is listen for behaviors. We listen for what events do you attend, what content do you download, what web pages you visit. And these behaviors tell us specifically what you’re interested in.

    Some examples of our interest streams are email, social, content marketing and technology. So when we see that you have a specific interest, we pull you out of the default stream, and place you into the stream that matches your specific interest.
  • So the results of using behaviors in order to increase relevance are pretty compelling. Here are email engagement statistics for standard nurture versus nurture triggered by behaviors to determine interest. You can see there is almost a 60% lift in terms of open and click to open rates.

    And there’s a huge lift for click rate, which is a much more meaningful conversion rate than the open rate, assuming of course there is a call to action in the email. For click rate, we saw around a 150% lift, or 2.5 times better performance compared to the click rate of the standard nurture.
  • 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.
  • Here’s an example of a triggered email that we send out after someone attends one of our demos. It’s important to follow up after someone exhibits a behavior – not only to reinforce that you think of them as an individual, but also so that you make yourself available to continue the conversation.
  • 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 – like lingering on a product’s page for a while.
  • If you’re a frequent online shopper, you’re probably familiar with the abandoned cart email. This email from Adidas 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 a clear way to make a purchase.
  • So now that we’ve covered how and when to send emails, I want to dive into a few design considerations.
  • You have a lot of control when it comes to building your emails. A few key things to keep in mind are: what font to use, text size, colors (this may depend on your brand – as you can see, we use a lot of purple), where you will have your logo and how you will incorporate images.
  • 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.
  • It’s not just decision-makers – mobile has surpassed desktop opens across the board. Now accounting for 51% of email. This means that marketers need to be thinking about how their emails look on every device.
  • 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 first email was sent without any alt tags, and the one on the right 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.
  • 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.
  • Now that we’ve covered designing your emails – I want to cover a really important (but also fun!) topic, which is A/B testing. In case you’re not familiar, A/B testing is when you take an email or a landing page and modify one variable to see which one performs better.
  • This page was for a $30k per plate dinner that Obama was holding back in my neighborhood of Palo Alto,CA. This experiment tested two parts of the Obama campaigns splash page: the “Media” section at the top and the call-to-action “Button” – so keeping in mind that the call to action here is to RSVP for a dinner, which button would you think performed best?
  • This landing page from Performable is a good example of a button color test. Everything on this page is identical, except for the color of the buttons. Now, how many of you think you’d be more likely to click on a green button? And red?
  • 21% more people clicked on the red button even though the pages were exactly the same in every other manner. The important thing to remember is that they didn’t have to increase traffic in order to increase results. This is the basis for why A/B testing is so important for your business.
  • 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.
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