By Author admin

Email Marketing Best Practices in 2018: What You’re Doing Wrong (and How To Fix It)

The DMA Marketer Email Tracker 2018 report uncovered some crucial areas that marketers need to improve in if they want their email campaigns to succeed.

As Dotmailer partners and email marketing experts, we’ve summarised the key takeaways of what marketers are doing wrong and provided solutions for how to fix these issues, so that you can ensure that you’re up to date with email marketing best practices in 2018.

Conduct Thorough Testing

What if I told you that there was an easy way to increase your deliverability and boost opens and clicks…but many businesses out there aren’t utilising it properly, if at all?

Really.

As marketers, but more importantly as smart business people, we know that all our decisions have to be informed by data. So why do half of organisations (47%) only test a quarter of the emails they send out?

Conducting thorough tests on your campaigns before they’re sent is our top tip for email marketing best practices in 2018, because right now almost a fifth of respondents (19%) believe that their company has no competence in email testing. And in addition, 15% of respondents reported that their businesses do not conduct email testing at all, an increase of 8% compared to the previous year.

If you’re not testing your emails they’re not optimised. You wouldn’t launch an advertisement without market testing it first so why would you hit send before thoroughly checking a campaign?

Testing should be an integral part of the email marketing process that helps you weed out strategies that don’t work, so you can avoid making the same mistakes over and over.

How do I get started with email testing?

Email testing involves a wide spectrum of activities both technical and creative, but don’t worry, these processes are straightforward to carry out and many can even be automated if you’re using email marketing platforms like Dotmailer.

These are the tests you should always carry out before you send:

Inbox and Spam Filter Tests

Open your most recent email campaign on your phone, and then in the browser on your laptop. It’s a completely different experience isn’t it?

Now think of all the different combinations of devices and email clients that your subscribers are using. The Gmail app on an Android, Outlook 2011 on a Mac, Yahoo! Mail on an iPad…

Just because a campaign renders well on your preferred email client doesn’t mean it will appear the same for all of your customers. If you want the experience to be seamless for everyone, a cursory glance at preview mode isn’t going to be good enough.

Avoid your messaging not getting across due to images not loading or text getting cut off by conducting inbox tests.

Dotmailer has Litmus tests built-in so you can see a screenshot of how your campaign appears on all major email clients before you send it out.

Litmus also provides a spam filter test which checks your campaign for red flags like a low text-to-image ratio and an overuse of trigger words so you can make the necessary adjustments and prevent the campaign you’ve worked tirelessly on from going straight to junk.

Email Marketing Best Practices 2018 - Inbox Testing
An example of inbox tests.

Split Tests

Split testing isn’t as technical or challenging as you may think it is. Platforms like Dotmailer and MailChimp make it easy for you to compare two or more versions of a campaign and determine which is the best for achieving your goals. This is an email marketing best practice as you can ensure the campaign you send out is the most optimised, and also capture data about what works and what doesn’t that you can use for future decision-making.

So what types of things can you split test?

Nearly everything in a campaign can be split tested, whether you’re optimising for opens by testing the effectiveness of a subject line, friendly from name, from address and preheader text, or trying to boost clicks by editing the content within a campaign like the layout, images and text.

And the best part is that this process is easily automated!

Simply configure the split test to send out the different versions of your campaign to a sample percentage of your subscriber list, wait a set amount of time and the version that best performed based on the metric you specified will automatically be sent to the remaining contacts.

Quality Assurance

So you’ve finally got that coveted clickthrough but wait… a 404?

It may seem like obvious advice but sometimes a final review will catch simple errors, like typos, that can make or break your campaign.

With Dotmailer, you don’t have to manually test each link as they provide the status of all included links on the confirmation page before the email is sent. From this screen you can ensure that your contacts will be directed to the right landing pages, and make edits as necessary. You also want to make sure that all the links are being tracked by Google Analytics for future reporting.

In accordance with email marketing best practices, other elements you should QA test are whether your pictures load. Corporate email filters are notorious for blocking images so especially if you’re a B2B business, you must confirm that you have alt text set in case your artwork does not appear.

Also remember to perform some test sends to check your dynamic content. You don’t want merge tags to show, and you need default text in place so that if you haven’t captured a contact’s information for that field, it isn’t left blank.

Dear @[email protected],     x

Dear ,                 x

Dear Customer,         

Combine Branded Content and Loyalty Scheme Content

The DMA Marketer Email Tracker 2018 report uncovered a major disparity between the content that marketers believe will help them achieve their campaign objectives, and the content that consumers actually like to receive.

While 36% of marketers uphold that content created by the brand such as videos, articles and magazines are important for accomplishing business goals, from a consumer perspective, only 4% of recipients enjoy these.

Instead, there is significant potential for B2C businesses to craft content around loyalty programs and related rewards. Currently only 15% of marketers find this content useful, compared to nearly a third of consumers (30%) expressing demand for it.

An email marketing best practice that we suggest is combining branded content such as new product updates, user guides and product reviews with loyalty reward campaigns. You can integrate loyalty programs like Smile.io (formerly Sweet Tooth Rewards) with Dotmailer, and then create segments and automated programs based on the rewards points consumers have earned.

For example:

  • Issue a monthly rewards statement to let customers know how many points they have and how they can redeem them. Use this campaign to promote new products that you have available.
  • Set up triggered emails that remind customers of vouchers and points that have yet to be redeemed and are about to expire to create a sense of urgency. Supplement these campaigns with favourable reviews for the products you want to push.
  • Announce exclusive deals and sales to your VIP customers and provide them with user guides detailing the benefits of the new products that they could be the first to own.

Boost Sign Ups With Competitions

Just like how leading a horse to water doesn’t guarantee that it will drink, you can’t just leave a sign-up bar on your site and hope visitors will take the initiative to subscribe themselves to your newsletters – you have to offer them solid incentives.

If you’re stuck wondering how to bring in new leads through this channel, you’re not alone. In fact, 45% of respondents saw their mailable list size stay the same or even decrease over the last 12 months.

So what can you do when previous email marketing best practices for increasing sign ups like providing free gifts or a small welcome discount no longer stand out enough to significantly improve your subscriber growth?

Similarly to how consumers reported that they liked receiving loyalty program reward content, this is also something that they would happily sign up for more of. Only 14% of surveyed marketers believed this was an effective method of gaining more subscribers, however the 46% of consumers who view this as an incentive to sign up highlight loyalty schemes as a promising method of boosting sign ups.

Another major opportunity for growing a subscriber list exists in the use of competitions where 30% of consumers reported that they enjoyed such content, but only 16% of marketers found it to be effective. This demonstrates a need for improvement in the way these competitions are run.

When designing a competition with the goal of increasing subscribers, one of the most important considerations is to offer a prize that is relevant to your niche so that you attract subscribers who will actually remain interested in your content once the competition ends. Sure millions would love to win the latest Apple product but your target market are the ones who would jump at the chance to win a ticket to the latest industry event.

Further, make sure that all recipients will derive some benefit from the email in which you announce the winner. Promote content that has been popular in the past and highlight the best that your website has to offer in order to retain all these new subscribers in the long run.

Email Marketing Best Practices - Boost Sign Ups with Competitions
Campaign Monitor has great tips for building your email list using contests.

Prevent Unsubscribes Using Preference Centres

In a similar vein, how can you hold onto the subscribers that you’ve worked so hard to gain?

A great way to discourage someone from unsubscribing completely is the use of a preference centre. These give subscribers the ability to determine the content they receive from you and how often they receive it,  which not only helps you retain contacts, but also allows you to target them more accurately.

Early adopters of email marketing best practices have set the benchmark as now 17% of consumers expect to be directed to a preference centre and 9% to a survey when they unsubscribe. However only 7% and 2% of businesses, respectively, provide these measures. When your unsubscribe button immediately cuts off all future contact you may have with a subscriber, you have foregone the opportunity to ask them why they no longer wished to receive your messaging.

The main types of preference centres are frequency-based and content-based, or a combination of the two.

With frequency-based preference centres, subscribers can opt-out of receiving your campaigns for a set time period, or receive less emails from you ongoing. With 77% of email marketers already believing that there should be general policies that govern how regularly they can contact a customer, passing the control to individuals to set the standard for this frequency is an effective way of keeping your customers happy.

Perhaps the most useful for marketers are content-based preference centres where subscribers can tailor the campaigns they receive by selecting their interests from a pre-determined list of topics. Essentially, they segment themselves for you and help you to deliver targeted campaigns that perform better.

Email Marketing Best Practices 2018 - Preference Centres

The preference centre is also a great avenue to promote your social media accounts as there are customers who may prefer to receive messaging via these channels instead.

Let’s do it!

With these strategies in place, you can reduce unsubscribes, improve the relevancy of your content, and overall achieve your email marketing objectives. Contact us today to implement these email marketing best practices in 2018!

acidgreen is an award winning eCommerce agency specialising in Magento, Shopify Plus and digital marketing with over 15 years of  industry experience. Our certified developers and digital marketers are highly qualified to create aesthetically pleasing Magento and Shopify Plus websites that generate the highest amount of conversions and provide the best ROI. Be sure to follow us on LinkedInFacebook and Twitteror give us a call to learn more about our services.

By Author Mark Binns

How To Write Effective Email Subject Lines

What comes first? The content or the subject line?

Ok yes, you got me there. Of course you should come up with the content first, but your subject lines should never be an afterthought you tack on after you’ve already written the rest of the email. Even if you’ve crafted the most engaging content ever, it will never see the light of day if it’s hidden behind a terrible subject line.

Across all industries, the average marketing email open rate in 2017 is 21.8%. What’s more, 47% of recipients open the email purely based on the subject line. You might cry, “Don’t judge an email by its subject line” but nearly half of your email recipients are doing just that.

Think of email subject lines like article headlines. How can you seize someone’s attention and sum up your content in just a few words. What will get you the most opens?

As certified Dotmailer partners, acidgreen have compiled a foolproof set of email marketing tips that will save your campaigns from a quick trip to the trash. So, if you want to see those open rates really fly high, read on!

Be Brand Consistent

All marketing efforts are an extension of your brand and your email subject line is no different. Before setting pen to paper, or fingers to your keyboard as it may be, reflect on your brand’s positioning, its overall goals and your target audience.

Even if this one line is the only thing that’s going to be read of your email, you want to make sure that you’re sending the right message.

First impressions last, so you want to start on the right foot with the recipients on your mailing list.

Communicate the Benefits

Each one of your email campaigns should contain content that is useful for the reader, and the subject line is where you communicate the benefit the recipient will receive by opening the email and giving you their time.

Whether your campaign is centred around welcoming new subscribers, an upcoming sale, or presenting useful information, the topic should be evident in the subject line so people know what to expect within the campaign.

Of course you can always put a creative twist on this. For example, an email subject line posing an open-ended question like “Is dark chocolate actually good for you?” is a great way to catch a recipient’s attention with the promise of more information once they open the email.

Having said this, always remember to avoid making false promises in your subject lines just to increase your opens as this is a surefire way to lose the trust of your audience.

Timing is Everything

How many Christmas-related emails do you think you’ll receive this season? We’re dreading the assault on our inboxes already but these emails work for a reason. Timing is highly correlated with relevancy.

Staying up to date with trending topics in your industry or even those in wider popular culture and incorporating mentions of these into your email subject lines is an effective way to stay relevant with your recipients.

Whether you like it or not, discounts and deals are one of the main reasons why consumers sign up for company mailing lists. You don’t want to fall into the trap of your recipients being accustomed to constant sales but if used sparingly, announcing a time-sensitive sale via email is a great way to increase email opens and clicks. You can further add to the sense of urgency within the campaign by incorporating a countdown timer.

Cutting down to the wire, sending the right email at the exact right moment can be the best catalyst for action. For example, an email at 3:00PM on a weekday with the subject line “Get food delivered straight to your office right now!” will be opened faster than you can say “afternoon munchies”.

Add that Personal Touch with Segments

Speaking of relevancy, personalisation is the best way to do it.

Personalisation is all about making the recipient feel understood and special. Using someone’s name in the email subject line was a cool party trick once but now it’s just the baseline.

You wouldn’t send the same texts to your mates and your grandma, so in the same vein, why would you mass send the same subject line to your whole mailing list? With Dotmailer’s dynamic content features, you can create targeted subject lines based on custom segments.

Contact and order data that you’ve captured including someone’s age, location, past orders, level of engagement with previous campaigns and more, should be factored in to help you write a more relevant subject line or even decide whether they should receive this email at all.

Personalise your email subject lines

 

The Medium is the Message

The devices and email clients that your recipients are using will affect the length of the subject line shown. In general, mobile phones in portrait mode show the least number of characters while desktop email clients allow you more space to exercise your creativity.

Dotmailer’s campaign reports provide a breakdown of how your recipients accessed your emails, so you should take this into consideration when crafting your subject line.

While there is no ideal subject line length that will suit all campaigns, studies have found that subject lines between 6-10 words have the highest open rate.

As such, it is important to keep your email subject lines concise and convey any pertinent information towards the start.

Emojis😍😍

If a picture is worth a thousand words, an emoji is worth 💯 characters.

Nowadays, you can’t get through the day without seeing an emoji and that’s because they’re a uniquely eye-catching and succinct way to convey a message.

Especially if your mailing list skews towards the younger generation, communicating with them through the visual language of emojis is a highly effective way to emphasise a concept or tell a story.

Are you an eCommerce company promoting a certain product with your email campaign? Feature a graphical depiction of that product in the subject line! There’s new emojis released every year so take the time to find the perfect one for your campaign.

Keep in mind that emojis display differently in different email clients which can change the tone of your message so always remember to test your campaign before hitting send.

Numbers are your Friend

Every businessperson worth their salt knows the value of solid figures and statistics when it comes down to the decision making process, so why would it be any different when a recipient is trying to decide whether or not to open your email?

Article headlines utilising specific numbers are proven to be effective and the same is true in email subject lines.

Including a piece of data in your subject line sets the recipient’s expectations of the email’s contents.

Compare these examples:

  • 5 steps to increasing your email open rates
  • 50 ways to improve your email content

A low number suggests a simple and straightforward process while a larger number indicates a detailed series of information. Either way, numbers lend you a sense of authority on the subject matter and leave a positive impression on the reader.

Numbers make for effective email subject lines
Source: https://zurb.com/playground/testsubject

Match the Tone to the Contents

As the blurbs to your email body content, your subject lines should complement the information inside. If you have an important company announcement to make, you don’t want to sound flippant in the subject line and have people ignore it.

Building on this, transactional emails receive 8 times more open and clicks compared to other types of emails, and as such the subject lines of these emails should clearly indicate the automated and functional nature of the contents.

For your marketing emails, you can have more fun.

Laughter is the best medicine so if it’s on brand, a humourous email subject line is always going to be received well. Everyone loves a good pun so take the time to come up with a creative one and you’ll be rewarded for your efforts.

When special events and celebrations roll around, emotions are heightened so it’s a perfect time for an enterprising marketer to capitalise on those. For example, charming and sweet subject lines work best around Valentine’s Day and you can throw in a few heart emojis for good measure.

Don’t Feed the Spam Filter

Ah, every email marketer’s greatest enemy. The junk mail folder.

Attention-grabbing for all the wrong reasons, email subject lines IN ALL CAPS or with an overdose of exclamation marks can be fatal!!!!!!!!!

Even if they do pass email client spam filters, they’ll likely be seen as spam by the human recipients and worse than going to junk mail, such behaviour could very easily encourage people to unsubscribe from your mailing list once and for all.

Dotmailer offers an inbox and spam filter test through Litmus to help you optimise your campaign but you can perform a preliminary check for yourself through avoiding spammy keywords.

Use Action-Oriented Verbs

The whole purpose of your subject line is to grab the attention of the recipient enough that it encourages them to take action and open the email.

Starting your email subject line with strong action verbs instills a greater urgency in the reader.

Compare the pair:

  • These tips will help you stand out in your next job interview
  • Stand out in your next job interview with these tips

The second subject line has you excited and galvanised for a reason! Sometimes, a simple rewording can be all it takes to boost opens.

Don’t Forget to Test

The last step is certainly not the least!

So you’ve followed all the steps and come up with what you think is the best subject line for your email campaign. But do your recipients think the same?

If there’s one step you can’t afford to skip, it’s this. There’s no harm in testing your subject lines. Dotmailer’s split testing functionality allows you to test multiple subject lines for each campaign so you can see what works and what doesn’t.

It might be as straightforward as adding an emoji or changing the length of your subject lines that really makes a difference to your open rate – you won’t know unless you try!

Over time, you’ll have a comprehensive understanding of the types of email subject lines that your recipients best respond to.

Bonus Tips!

 

Preheader Text

Often email clients will show a snippet of preheader text after the subject line, which they’ve drawn from the first fragment of text within your email campaign.

Hands up if you’ve ever used this to screen an email. We’re all guilty.

This is a prime opportunity to supplement the message in your subject line with extra information to entice someone to open your campaign.

Rather than thinking of them as two separate elements, using the subject line and preheader text together to communicate a message makes it immensely more effective.

Optimise your from name, email subject line and preheader text

Friendly From Name

If you’ve taken the time to perfect your email from the subject line, to the content, down to the last pixel in the template, you want to make sure you receive all the credit for that.

Before you hit send, check that your brand name, or individual name with your company or job title, is set as the friendly from name.

And that’s it!

These are our tried and tested tips for optimising your email subject lines.

Once you’ve gotten someone past the initial hurdle of opening your email, now your next objective is to captivate them with the content that you’ve teased in the subject line.

Want more help to craft email campaigns which actually convert? Contact acidgreen and benefit from the experience of certified Dotmailer professionals today!

_____

acidgreen is an award winning e-commerce agency  specialising in Magento, Shopify Plus and digital marketing with over 15 years of  industry experience. Our certified developers and digital marketers are highly qualified to create aesthetically pleasing Magento and Shopify Plus websites that generate the highest amount of conversions and provide the best ROI. Be sure to follow us on LinkedInFacebook and Twitteror give us a call to learn more about our services.

By Author admin

Dotmailer’s Effective Email Marketing Tips and Advice

Dotmailer is a leading marketing automation platform with effective email practice at its core. Recently, they produced a Best Practice Guide on 5 Tactics for Better Email Practice based on their takeaways from the 2016 DMA Consumer Email Tracker Report. 

To ensure a successful and effective email marketing campaign, we’ve covered some of their basic email marketing tips below:

effective email marketing tips
Dotmailer

One thing that is absolutely imperative to understanding effective email marketing, is to acknowledge that the email platform is more powerful and accessible (with the help of mobile and tablet devices), than ever before. Henceforth , as Dotmailer explains, a key prioritisation needs to be about the customer and their user experience.

Effective Email Practice

Do Not Alienate Your Customer

According to a report produced by Forrester, customers who experience, ‘disgust, anger, or a feeling of neglect’ during a brand interaction are around eight times more likely not to forgive that company’. There is an overwhelming amount of noise in the average consumer’s inbox and the idea is to delight your subscribers.

This is where the importance of segmenting comes into practice.

Segment your emails to relevant customers only- not every email will be suitable for your entire clientele list. Knowing this is fundamental to maintaining effective email practice. By doing so, customers will feel more comforted and assured that they are receiving personalised and meaningful emails that are catered directly to and for them.

This all falls under Dotmailer’s urge to exceed expectations. Do more than what is necessary.

Accept That Ghost Accounts Exist

By refusing to accept that the average consumer has more than one email address, you are being of great detriment to your company and its success. By the end of 2016, a total of 79% of respondents (Forrester) admitted to intentionally using a seperate email address for any marketing communication and more than half of customers confessed to keeping live but dormant ‘ghost’ email accounts… their reason for vacating that particular email account? Marketing overload.

effective email marketing
email marketing tips

 48% of customers professed to receiving anywhere up to twenty brands/businesses- what makes your message more desirable than the other 19?

‘What are your brand’s emails delivering that will keep you in touch with your customer wherever they roam?’ – Dotmailer.

In order to identify which customers are actively engaging with your emails, it is vital to maintain a clean database, which means:

  • Updating your customer details.
  • Cleaning your data free of accounts that have become unengaged/inactive for an extended period of time.

The matter of your campaigns success correlates directly with the cleanliness of your data.

Security 

The DMA report indicates that brand trustworthiness has hit an entirely new low. Be sure to promote your protective side. The distrust adopted by consumers has caused the result for increased regulation. The General Date Protection Regulation (GDPR) will officially come into practice in 2018, which will provide individuals with greater control over their personal data. Email marketers should anticipate and prepare for this change – reassure customers that they can trust you.

The easiest form of effective email practice is to be honest and open with your customers. Tell them, what data you are collecting and why you are collecting it/how are you going to use it?

Create a Preference Centre. Let your subscribers customise what they want to see e.g. volume, frequency and category of emails they want to receive from you.

Don’t Become Spam

It is a tried and tested fact that hiding the unsubscribe link within the depths of your email largely increases your chances of being sent to Spam- 35% of consumers are likely to send you/the sender to spam because they are unsure or irritated by your complicated ‘unsubscribe’ system.

Educate your customers on what the ‘unsubscribe button’ actually means. A lot of users complain that they still receive emails from your business- e.g. explain to them that unsubscribing from your mailing list will not stop transactional emails from coming through. This is crucial for effective email practice.

It is also worth reminding your subscribers of exactly how and when they signed up. Over a third of customers claimed they are unsure as to how/why they are receiving your emails.

Mobile Centricity

More than 50% of email use is now performed through mobile devices. Unfortunately this statistic does not match the rate of conversions made through mobiles, as only 8% buy directly from the phone.

email marketing tips
effective email marketing

The smartphone dominates everything for the millennial generation except for conversions. What’s going wrong?

This conveys a clear weakness in businesses mobile campaign strategy.

  • 31% of customers who open up your email on their mobile device will wait until they can purchase on their PC or laptop.
  • 22% would prefer to visit the store.

The statistics presented above reflects an opportunity for better mobile marketing. Businesses need to strategise and effectively work around taking their email marketing to the small screen effectively. That’s not to say that campaigns should be designed exclusively for mobiles- your email needs to be read easily on a variety of devices. Less is more and simplicity is fundamental to an effective email strategy.

Strategising for multiple devices will be time consuming and somewhat rigorous and testing is imperative, but the outcome will be extremely beneficial to your business.

Email is still at the top of the digital marketing chain, but this all depends on the best practice of responsible email marketers. More strategy needs to be done to avoid alienating consumers. Businesses can no longer get away with assuming their consumer is ignorant. Modern consumer’s are intelligent and empowered– it is their decision as to whether or not they want to be persuaded, so give them a reason to be.

Remember: Knowledge is King-

‘Knowing what consumers think of your communicating drives you to become an even better email marketer’- Dotmailer. 

acidgreen is an award winning Magento Australian company with over 15 years of web design and development experience. Our certified magento developers, digital marketing executives and designers are highly qualified to create aesthetically pleasing magento websites that generate the highest amount of conversions that provide the best ROI. For more information on how to get started with acidgreen’s magento design and development services, and to avail of a free quote on your magento websites, contact us today!