What’s Wrong With Email?

By Angelika Ilina

Email MarketingDuring a group discussion at an entrepreneurs’ event, a competitor pointed at me and said, “You do email marketing, right? I hate email. You know, those email newsletters companies send.” Quite offended, I thought to myself, “What’s wrong with email?”

Yes, it seems we are bombarded with email these days. Yes, email marketing gets a bad rap. Yes, some experts are boldly predicting the end of email marketing. Yet statistics say that email continues to be one of the most effective ways to get in front of existing and prospective customers and to drive sales. But not all email is created equal.

5 Eye-opening Email Marketing Statistics

If our competitor isn’t convinced, he doesn’t have to take our word for it. Check out these stats:

  • 77% of consumers prefer to receive permission-based marketing communications through email
  • 82% of consumers open emails from companies
  • For every $1 spent, $44.25 is the average return on email marketing investment
  • 44% of email recipients made at least one purchase based on a promotional email in 2012
  • By 2016, the number of email accounts will reach 4.3 billion*

Not only is email marketing here to stay, it is here to thrive.

Not All Promotional Email Is Created Equal

What makes an effective email blast? Here are five variables to consider:

1. Subject lines

64% of people say they open an email because of the subject line, according to Chadwick Martin Bailey. A 2012 report by Adestra said that subject lines fewer than 10 characters long had an open rate of 58%. To know what works for your subscribers, however, split test your subject lines to find out which ones result in higher open and click-through rates.

We did a 10-10-80 split test for one of our clients by sending an email with a shorter subject line to 10% of the email list and a longer subject line to another 10%. Our gut feeling told us that the shorter subject line would win, but what did the data reveal? Both subject lines actually had the exact same percentage of opens, but the longer one had more clicks, so we used it to send to the remaining 80% of the list.

2. Personalization

People like to feel special and unique, so a personalized initial greeting (for example, “Hi John” in a business-to-consumer email) has a huge impact on whether a recipient will read the rest of your email. Personalized subject lines also tend to have higher open rates, as much as 22% higher, according to Adestra.

The trick is to have correct data in your email marketing list. Errors in your data can backfire if you use an incorrect first name or company name, so be sure to keep a good list, or use default information to substitute in case you are missing data.

3. Text-to-image ratio

Your images won’t be viewable to all subscribers. More text than images means that the email will be smaller in size, readable on any email platform, download faster on mobile devices, and have a lower spam score. And, yes, people will read your text if you write compelling headlines, subheads and main body copy. Use images to compliment your copy, not the other way around.

4. Direct response marketing tactics

Once your readers open the email and read your compelling copy, use direct response marketing tactics to generate an immediate response from them that can be measured. This means you make it easy for readers to take action: to purchase, to RSVP to an event, to sign up, to download, or to click to read more. Your call to action must be clear, concise and prominent, and can be repeated more than once.

5. Mobile responsive templates

65% of all email is now being read via mobile devices in the U.S., according to Movable Ink’s 2013 report. Knowing your target market and checking your analytics will help you to know how many of your readers are using mobile devices. It might be time to invest in a mobile responsive email template, if you haven’t done so already.

Mobile responsive design for email is more difficult to code than for websites, so most marketing agencies aren’t doing it yet. One major reason is there are many email platforms on which your email template must look as intended. Not surprisingly, mobile responsive templates tend to be simple and clean with a good text-to-image ratio and prominent call to action buttons.

FedEx, OpenTable, Dropbox, and Twitter are doing it. Some of our clients have invested in it. Why not you?

What’s Wrong With Email?

Absolutely nothing. It’s quite effective if done right and the results are measured along the way. And depending on your business goals, it’s quite essential as part of an overall online marketing strategy.

*Statistics by Salesforce.com

Email Marketing

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