Email Marketing: It’s All About The Click-Throughs

April 21, 2015

email_marketing_click-throughsThere are those that think email marketing is dead, and then there are those that believe that email marketing is very much alive, yet has become the equivalent of the mid-dinnertime mispronounced-name cold call.

And then there is me.

I know that email marketing, when done well, is nothing like a cold call, and when done right, can be effective. In fact, it can be extremely effective. According to a study conducted by McKinsey and Company, email marketing can actually convert over 40 times more than marketing via Facebook and Twitter.

But if that’s not impressive enough, how’s this: Marketing Sherpa found that email marketing is producing positive ROI for 60 percent of marketers. Of that group, 32 percent have not seen ROI yet, but expect to in the future.

So what does that mean?

Email marketing has the potential to be an extremely powerful tool, but (and it’s a big but) to harness that power you must understand how to optimize your email marketing strategy.

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog on how to get your email opened; mentioning that open rates are a key to a successful email strategy. And though I do stand by my word, I don’t want to mislead you. Open rates are key; they are the first step to a successful email. An email has zero chance to convert if it sits in your inbox unopened, or worse, gets immediately deleted, or even worse, gets sent directly to your spam folder, never to see the light of your inbox again.

Get Your Emails Opened

Want people to open your emails? Work on these three things:

  • Send it right: There are so many articles on when to send your emails – however, so many of them are contradictory! The only way to know what works for you is to test, test, and test.

  • From Field: Your from field is your opportunity to present yourself to your reader, to show that you’re real, whether it be through your first name, last name, job title, or company. And unfortunately, as is the case with email marketing, there is no best way: Test.

  • Subject line: Keep it short; Don’t be spammy; make it unique: There’s a whole list of “best practices,” but again, make sure you test – because these practices are not always right and relevant for who you’re trying to reach.

So you got your email opened – congratulations!

Like I said, that is the first step to success.Though open rates vary by industry, there are some general benchmarks you can use to measure your success. Silverpop’s Email Marketing Metrics Benchmark study found that open rates in the United States averaged at around 20 percent, and Epsilon’s quarterly analysis found the average open rate to be around 27.4 percent.

Open rates vary, but unfortunately getting your emails opened — even though that puts you in the 20 somethingth percentile – does not equal success. Unfortunately, half of these opens are equal to only two seconds. Sad, I know.

So here’s the key: make sure you’re in the other half – the half where the email stays open, read, and potentially even clicked through.

Get Your Emails Read

I’m sorry to say once again that getting your emails clicked-through is not an exact science. Wouldn’t it be so nice if that were the case? Unfortunately, it’s not. However, there are certainly things you can do to swing the odds of a click-through in your favor.

  • Segment your emails: Ensure what you send is actually relevant to your readers. Don’t send readers in Washington state notifications of an event in Washington, DC. Jupiter Research found that sending relevant emails through segmentation drove 18 times more revenue. 18 – That’s huge, and unacceptable to disregard. But not all segments are the same; segments can be based upon demographics, conversions and life cycles. Test to see what works best.

  • Personalize your emails: Though readers have become more email savvy, there’s something about that Dear John style that actually works: Aberdeen Group found personalized emails improve click-through rates by 14 percent! But don’t get too comfortable too quickly; it’s not always a first name, it could also be a Dear Mr. Doe, or even including their company name. Know your audience and test.

  • Be digestible and actionable: Nobody wants to read a wall of text. You can quote me on that. Make it engaging, readable, and specific. Use bullets. Use identifiable key words. Use line breaks. Write your email as you would like to read it – so that you can understand its purpose clearly, and you understand your next course of action as well.

It hurts my marketing heart when people don’t see the value in email marketing. After all, it’s what I do. I know it works, it’s just a bit of a tricky beast to tame. Because, as you can see above, there is no one right answer; it is not Subject Line + Content = ROI. However, both the subject line and the content are critical parts to that ROI.

Don’t Be Afraid

The key is to success is to actually use your email as a platform for conversion. To do that successfully, your email must be opened and read. Follow the tips above for both. But above all – you must not be afraid to test. Test everything. Test subject lines, test from fields, test timing, test preview text, test email length, test personalizations, test segmentations. Test everything, and you will find what works.

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