Email marketing and marketing automation is a top-performing marketing channel for driving sales and repeat purchases.
If done correctly, you can achieve higher than industry average open, click thru and reply rates! This is the typical performance of email campaigns for ourselves and each of our clients:
This specific campaign was aimed at getting our subscribers to the reply to the email, of which we received a 35% response rate. Not bad for a list of 7k subscribers!
In this 2 part series, I’m going to show you how to create high performing emails, like ours, that will result in more revenue for your business!
Here we go!
Write & Test Subject Lines
The subject line of your email is one of the most important elements. It tells the recipient what to expect if they open your email. Because of this the subject line can make or break your email response rate.
If the subject is compelling, your recipient will open the email and engage with your brand further. If the subject is not compelling you’ll probably end up in the trash – or worse – in the spam folder (gasp!).
Instead of guessing at which words you should use to make a subject line very interesting, begin with a little research and then do some a/b testing.
Dan Zarella of Hubspot has conducted extensive on the most effective subject line words. The top 10 words include:
Other runners up include: tips, video and news.
If any of these words relate to your email content you should be sure to include them in your subject line tests.
So, let’s dig a little bit into what testing your email subject line entails. The majority of email software programs include basic a/b testing for email campaigns.
A popular feature to a/b test is the subject line since nailing it can mean opening big opportunities for your business. In this type of a/b test you write two separate subject lines and select a segment of your list to test them on.
For example, if I was preparing a weekly email newsletter I might a/b test these two subject lines:
A: Read This Week’s Top Marketing Posts
B: Don’t Miss the Top Marketing Posts From This Week!
When conducting an a/b test you don’t want to send to your entire list. You want to select a percentage of your list (around 25%) to run the test on.
Once you have a clear, statistically relevant winner from the a/b test, you would use the winning subject line to send the email to the remainder of your list.
Test Your Sender Name
Along with subject line, the sender name is the other component of your emails that recipients see before they open your email.
While typically not as important as the subject line itself, the sender name a recipient sees can impact an email’s open rate.
In most cases an a/b test of the sender name is very basis:
A: Name of a person (Greg Shuey)
B: Company name (Stryde)
Another option would be to test First Name of a Person + Company Name. For example: Greg @ Stryde.
In theory a recipient might feel more compelled to open an email from option A (name of a person) because it has less of a mass-marketing feel.
Additionally, if the name of the person used is very high profile the name alone could generate enough interest to compel a recipient to open the email.
However, using the company’s name can have value for this same reason – if your business is a brand favorite of the recipient, he or she may open the email just to see what you have to say.
For these reasons alone, it is important to a/b test the sender name on your email to see which one actually results in more opens. Guessing will only lead you down a murky path of “what if?” and potentially poor results.
Create & Test Your Call to Action
Okay, once you’ve got a handle on creating really compelling subject lines and you’ve figured out what Sender Name your recipients like, it’s time to dig into the meat of the email.
Just like on your website and landing pages, the call-to-action in your email can highly affect what percentage of your viewers click.
Not too surprisingly, according to HubSpot, nearly 16.5% of people convert when the word “free” is used in the call to action, while just over 15% convert when the “free” is not used. That’s a 1.5% conversion rate difference, which can have a big impact depending on the size of your list.
Of course you shouldn’t use the word “free” if what you’re offering isn’t free, but if it is – shout it out loud (or at least test using the world … and maybe get a little crazy by bolding it!)
If you’re including a button call-to-action (which you probably should) there are certain words that convert better than others when it comes to email marketing.
HubSpot’s studies show buttons with these words generate the most clicks:
- Click Here
Try a/b testing a couple of these against each other to see which work best for you.
Test Your Content & Format
HubSpot research shows that people prefer to receive HTML emails to Plain Text which is great news since it means you have the opportunity to get creative with your emails.
Additionally, 65% of people prefer emails that are mostly images to emails that are mostly text.
With this research in mind, you should carefully craft the content of your emails. Pay special attention to the placement and size of your call to action (keep it above the fold so that it is viewable without the recipient needing to scroll), the headline and any images you use.
If you’re unsure of what to a/b test you might consider these items:
- Button color/size
- Call to Action
- Layout of email
Ideally, your headline will coordinate with the subject line and your offer. You can change the wording for the purpose of the test, but don’t veer too far off course.
You’ll also want to take into consideration that many people consume email from their mobile device, so making sure that you optimize your emails for mobile devices is critical!
Test Your Sending Date and Time
Different kinds of emails perform better at different times of the day. Additionally, what works one time won’t necessarily work every time after (for example seasonality impacts response rates). This is why it is very important to a/b test your sending dates and times.
Research by Kissmetrics shows that in almost all instances 10pm – 6am is The Dead Zone for email. However, there are varying times during the day that work best for B2B or B2C emails.
6 to 10am: The Consumer AM: During this time period consumers allow themselves to be distracted by offers on clothes, live events, restaurants and other consumer goods.
10 to Noon: Do Not Disturb- Consumers are focused on work during this time period.
Noon to 2pm: The Lunchtime News- Consumers choose to spend time reading news and magazine alerts during this time period.
2 to 3pm: In the Zone- Post-lunch consumers focus on work although they may respond to email offers relating to financial services.
3 to 5pm: A Life-Changing Afternoon- Job-related apathy sets in and consumers start thinking about their personal situation. During this time period emails related to property and financial services more than any other type of promotion.
5 to 7pm: “Working Late”- This is the time period when most consumers open B2B promotions as well as holiday promotional emails.
7 to 10pm: Last Orders- Consumers are more likely to respond to promotions during this time period now that they are off work. Clothing, sports and gym promotions work really well here.
In addition to selecting the right time of day to send an email, you will also want to choose the best day.
Research shows that open rates are highest in the early morning (around 6am) and highest on the weekend. Click through rates are subsequently also high on the weekends during the early morning hours.
If you are using emails to market to B2B recipients it makes a lot of sense to test sending on a weekend vs a week day. It could be that recipients are responding to B2C emails on the weekends but want to receive work related emails during the week.
What Are You Waiting For?
Because email marketing is still the most effective marketing channel, there is no reason to hesitate when it comes to testing your email campaigns.
By testing different variables you will be able to increase the open, click through and conversion rates of your emails and improve your business metrics.
So quit ignoring your campaigns potential and get started today!
More tips coming in Part 2 next week!
How have your email campaigns done in the past?
Do you have any questions or additional tips you think we should include in Part 2?
Let us know in the comments below! We’d love to hear from you.