You don’t need a marketing degree to try something new or to test out different ideas. And sometimes we get so caught up in what we should be doing that we forget how simple it can be to actually do something.
Here are a few things to try with your email marketing so that you can find your own sweet spot between someone clicking the delete button and someone becoming your customer or advocate.
There’s no shortage of advice for how to compose an effective subject line. We’ve dispensed our own advice on the topic.
You can study the application of power words all day long but unless you try something with your audience you’ll never know what they respond to.
We’ve discovered some odd truths in our time, like the fact that the word “free” doesn’t work for us. Sounds like it would be a no-brainer, I mean who doesn’t want something free? Well, not everyone. I suspect that people have been so bombarded by those types of offers that they’re a lot more skeptical than we give them credit for.
But you wouldn’t know that unless you tried out different variations when it comes to your own offers. Maybe your audience eats up the word “free”. Maybe they like “offers” but hate “deals”.
Play around with the language you use. Try different sentence lengths. See whether statements or questions work best.
You can do that with one email campaign by splitting your audience up into groups, each of which sees a different subject line, or you can try it across multiple campaigns to see which ones were most successful.
Any email program will let you pop someone’s first name into the greeting line of your email. This is one place that you can get creative because by now we all know that anyone can address us by name and as consumers we’re no longer impressed.
So how can you mix it up a bit?
Vary the style of your greeting, from the typical “Hello [name]” to a conversational sentence like, “What do you think of all this snow, [name]?”
Use a person’s name first, last and in the middle of the sentence. Or use their name in the second sentence or even the last. After all, you want a rapport with your readers and nothing kills a friendly conversation quicker than speaking from a script.
This can be as simple as testing plain text vs. HTML or just as simply testing different layouts.
Don’t get stuck in two-column thinking. Website after website after blog after blog after email after email has a content area plus a sidebar (guilty!) but that doesn’t mean it has to be done that way.
How about… ready for it? Full width. Gasp! Imagine no sidebar at all. Give it a shot. We send out emails in just that format – no sidebar, almost no pretty pictures, and yet they consistently get good engagement rates. Notice I didn’t say good open rates. This is an aside, but opening is not nearly as important as what one does after opening. You can bet we tackled that subject, too.
There are plenty of things you can do with your format. From photos to text to anything in between, single column, quadruple column… so many possibilities! Once in a while we throw a photo at our readers just to see what happens. The truth? Not much! They seem perfectly content with reading.
Just be careful not to go schizo on your layout. You don’t want to be mixing it up so much that you make your readers’ heads spin. If you’re not splitting your audience into segments then try different layouts slowly. Keep one for a while. Then switch and test results. Repeat.
When you work in an online environment there is no such thing as nine-to-five. Your nine may very well be someone else’s five. We have readers across the globe so when we send an email at 9AM Eastern/New York time it arrives at 9AM for a mere fraction of our audience.
You can mitigate that by choosing to send based on your reader’s time zone. Then you can be reasonably assured that your email will arrive within the same window of their day as yours.
Or you can just try sending at different times. We’ve found that for certain clients, sending an email first thing in the morning jacks up their unsubscribes, but for another, that 6AM send is golden.
Try different days of the week, too. In part, your industry will affect your success with certain days. Some businesses need to give their readers that Monday morning fix and others have to show up just as the weekend is starting. The only way to know is to try something.
First, consider what your audience might be doing at any given time. If you know them then you can make an educated guess. Will they be hammered by email in the morning, eager to delete anything that hits the inbox? Are they snoozing through lunch and looking for something entertaining? Do they perk up at 8PM on Saturdays and enjoy hanging out with a good newsletter and a cup of tea? That’s up to you to decide and then test away. Watch for a jump in unsubscribes or a dip in open rate. Keep an eye on responses, conversions and interactions. Then figure out what works better than what.
Calls To Action
You have a call to action in your emails, right? You’re not just writing for the sake of filling space with words.
Even if your email is strictly conversational or newsletter-y, you still want to get into the habit of including a call to action in every single one. It doesn’t have to be a sales pitch but your readers should know that you’re sitting there at your keyboard with bated breath waiting for their response.
“Please reply” can go a long way toward getting someone to do that, especially since so many marketing emails come from the inconceivable “ do-not-reply” address. Ask a question. Make a bold statement. Ask your readers to weigh in.
Whether it’s a sales pitch or a conversation, vary the words you use. Get a thesaurus. Your email marketing will thank you. Buy, purchase, “grab it” or any other combination of “gimme your money” phrases can have different effects.
Vary the placement of your calls to action. Is your sidebar being ignored? Are you losing people before they get to the end and your “get this awesome thing I’m offering” punch line? Or are you pulling readers along only to let them forget that you asked them to do something, oh, about sixteen paragraphs ago?
Try asking more than once. See how that goes. Switch it up. See what changes.
It’s Even Easier Than A/B
Splitting up your email list into segments might seem like a roadblock. You may think you don’t have enough people to conduct a good test or maybe you’re not quite comfortable with your email program yet. But don’t let that stop you from testing out different ideas. Just do it slowly, over time.
The first five times you email your subscribers, use their names at the beginning of your greeting. The next five? Try it at the end. Or mix it up in the middle. Check your stats and see if there has been a noticeable trend. Keep going.
It makes the marketing more fun. It keeps your audience more engaged and avoids the email blindness that can happen when people see so much of the same thing over and over and over…
And you might just uncover your own secrets to good email marketing. You never know what will work until you try!
How about you… have you ever tested something small in your emails that you’ve found makes a difference? Anything you’d like to try in the future? Get creative and let me know!