Friday, December 13, 2013

How to Boost Open Rates of Your Holiday Emails

During the winter holiday season, your customers’ inboxes are inundated with promotions and special deals on top of regular newsletters and holiday correspondence. That means you have to work extra hard for your emails to stand out from the competition this time of year. Here are some ways to keep your open rates high amid the flurry of holiday email marketing.

Offer an incentive or benefit in the subject line.
Depending on your organization and email marketing goals, the incentive to open the email could be just about anything from a free download to a coupon. Even exclusive or super useful information can be a great incentive if you craft your subject line just right.

With so many other emails offering holiday deals and promotions, finding a good incentive besides coupons and sales can be tough--which is why the right benefit can boost open rates by a large percentage. To make this work, you have to really understand your subscribers and constantly test to find what works.

Use the right “from” name and address.
If subscribers don’t recognize the “from name” or don’t remember subscribing, they’re not going to open your emails. Make sure your “from name” is properly branded and easily recognizable. This means using your organization name as part of the “from name,” as in “Support at Email Contact” or “Jason Holladay @ Email Contact.”

Also use the most appropriate “from email address” for the type of communication you’re sending, such as support@yourdomain or returns@yourdomain.

Research and avoid using spam words.
It can be helpful to know common spam filter phrases and avoid using them, especially in subject lines, so your emails aren’t blocked by spam filters. While there are some high-offense spam words that will trigger spam filters, many words or phrases can be once or twice without negative consequences. But they can add up fast if you’re not careful, so it pays to know what kinds of words and phrases will trigger spam filters.

The best way to do this is to simply focus on providing great value to your subscribers. Always test your emails before sending to your list to see if any words are flagged as spam, then adjust accordingly.

Occasionally use power words in your subject lines.
The opposite of spam words, power phrases get subscribers’ attention and make them want to open the email. According to a study conducted by the Psychology Department at Yale University, there are 10 power words that, when used strategically in subject lines, can boost email open rates by up to 5%. Those 10 words are:

10. New
9. Save
8. Safe/Safety
7. Proven
6. Love
5. Discover
4. Guarantee
3. Health
2. Results
1. You

Personalize with the recipient’s name and words like “you” and “your.”
This creates the illusion of a personal conversation instead of mass broadcast from a faceless company, and it helps you answer the subscriber’s question, “What’s in it for me?” Personalizing also helps make your emails more useful and valuable, building trust so recipients are more likely to open your future emails.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

How to Plan Seasonal Email Campaigns

With the holiday season on our doorsteps, it’s time to plan an effective holiday email campaign. Ideally, planning for these campaigns should begin in August and September so you have time to refine them, but planning them now is much better than not planning them at all. Take advantage of the gift-giving nature of the season with these holiday email campaign tips.
Collecting data is the backbone of all good email marketing. Use both last year’s Q4 data and other information you’ve collected throughout the year to help you craft stronger subject lines, more click-worthy calls to action, and more valuable content. Email campaigns informed by data and testing always perform better than trusting a feeling or leaving success to luck.


The biggest aspect of a successful seasonal email promotion is timing. It’s crucial to send the right message to the right subscribers at the right time. Reviewing data, segmenting your list, and understanding the demographics of your customers can help you do this. Also make sure your promotions allow enough time for shipping and in-store visits.


How often you send emails plays a large role in your conversions during the holidays, but be careful not to email too often. Everyone wants that coveted space in the inbox. If you choose to email more frequently, make sure to include a range of emails--not just coupons and promotions. Heart-warming stories and content are particularly applicable this time of year, and they help build relationships and make you stand out from your competition.


If you have multiple autoresponders or email cycles going, consider deactivating them during your holiday promotions to avoid too much overlap in content or frequency.


Keep up the email campaign and various promotions to the last minute to take advantage of Christmas Eve shopping. Some ideas include reducing friction by offering easy gift choices and buying guides, emphasizing urgency with a holiday countdown, promoting accelerated shipping options, and featuring last-minute gift alternatives like gift cards and vouchers.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

What Elements Should You Include in Your Newsletter?

Knowing what components to include in your next email newsletter can be tricky, especially if you don’t yet have much data to indicate what content your customers and subscribers want. On the one hand, you want to offer exclusive, high-quality content they can’t find anywhere else, so they learn to trust you and want to engage with you. At the same time, your emails need to drive traffic and sales to support your business. It’s a delicate balancing act. If you’re unsure what to include in your email newsletters, follow these guidelines until you have collected enough data to decide if you should do something differently.

If your goal is to build trust, loyalty, and engagement:

Exclusive, high-quality, super useful content is the way to go. Include articles, tips, and tutorials that directly help subscribers ease their most pressing pains and solve their biggest problems. Tell success stories and anecdotes to connect with your subscribers on an emotional level and show them what’s possible. Share special news you’ve discovered or deals you’ve secured just for them. Use questions, polls, and surveys to get valuable feedback. These elements of your newsletter help customers get to know and like you, encourage them to trust you, and prompt them to engage with you.

If your goal is to send traffic to your website:

For this goal, you add links to the amazing content that builds trust and engagement. Include articles and tips that link to relevant pages on your website, such as products, tutorials, videos, instructions, or white papers. You could also include summaries of recent blog posts with links to the full articles or include a calendar element with links to each event. Individual email blasts separate from your newsletter can also effectively drive traffic to your website. The trick is to clearly convey the value of clicking each link. Be careful not to overwhelm your subscribers with too many options.

If your goal is to increase leads and sales:

High-quality, relevant content that builds trust and engagement is still very important for this goal, but it might take different forms. In addition to articles, tips, or tutorials that truly help your subscribers, consider including customer spotlights and success stories, which show customers what’s possible and illustrate how your products or services are helping others. Testimonials provide concrete proof of either your company’s trustworthiness or the usefulness of a particular product. One way to build engagement and get leads is to host events such as webinars or virtual product demos; include a special section to invite subscribers to participate. Don’t forget coupons, sales, special deals, and other promotions, but don’t overdo any of these elements, either.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Best Day & Time to Send Your Email Newsletter

Figuring out the best time to send your emails to increase opens and clicks is a tough question to answer. So much depends on your customers and your industry. Some of the biggest names in email marketing have conducted massive case studies to answer exactly this question. Here’s some data we found.

When subscribers are checking their email: 

Most people check their email first thing when they get to work and last thing before they leave. That means open rates are often highest from 8 to 10 am and 3 to 4 pm. Similarly, click-through rates tend be to be highest from 8 to 9 am, 3 to 4 pm, and 8 to 9 pm as people check their emails again in the evening. The lunch hour is also a popular time for your subscribers to check their emails.If your subscribers live in many different time zones, you’ll definitely want to segment your list by location so you can send your email newsletter at the best local time.

At the time your emails will be most visible: 

These case studies found that most emails are sent between midnight and 6 am so that subscribers see these messages first thing in the morning. While this has become a popular thing to do because it’s effective, the problem with this trend is that your emails can get lost in the clutter. Emails sent in the afternoon tend to have greater visibility, leading to more opens and clicks.

On the day your emails will be most visible: 

Tuesdays and Thursdays tend to have the highest volume of sent emails. So sending your email newsletter on a different day can also help increase its visibility. Overall volume of sent emails is lowest over the weekend, making emails you send on Saturday and Sunday more visible--if your subscribers read their emails over the weekend. 

In some industries, weekend open rates tend to be higher than during the week, and with the rise of mobile devices, no one ever really leaves work or logs out of their email accounts anymore. It might be worth experimenting with weekend emails, especially if you sell consumer products or services, but you have to know your audience. 

When subscribers are most interested in your messages: 

People tend to respond to different kinds of messages better at different times of the day. First thing in the morning, most people are open to any type of content or promotion. In the afternoon, between about 3 and 7 pm, many people respond better to financial, property, or B2B messages. In the evening, B2C emails often get the best responses as people do their personal shopping before a promotion ends. These timing trends vary widely by industry and niche. 

There is no one best time to send emails for everyone, but you can discover the best time for your subscribers with constant testing. Send your emails on different days, at different times, and compare the results. Once you’ve collected enough data, the results will speak for themselves.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

How to Write Email Calls-to-Action that Actually Convert

There’s lots to know about creating calls-to-action (CTAs) that work--copy, design, size of the button, placement on the page, and more. But you can boost your conversions by following a few copywriting best practices and guidelines.

Best Practices to Use in Every CTA

Make sure the CTA is well-aligned to your customers’ needs. If the subject of the email doesn’t match the offer, or if either one of them doesn’t match your audience, that mismatch creates a disconnect that confuses the subscriber, making him or her less likely to follow through. This is why keyword and customer research is so vital.

Make sure your calls-to-action deliver lots of value. Before subscribers will click the call-to-action in your email blast, they have to believe they will get some value out of doing so. Consider the top 2 or 3 benefits of your offer. Choose the most important one, and then try to distill it in as few words as possible. That helps you emphasize the value of your offer and strengthen its alignment.

Make sure your CTAs embody a sense of urgency. Subscribers are more likely to follow through when your call-to-action gives them a reason to act immediately. This is why so many offers have special discounts, seasonal sales, or limited availability.

Make your calls-to-action as clear and concise as possible. Vague and verbose language decreases the value of your offer, makes you seem less credible and confident, and leaves subscribers wondering what they should do next. On the other hand, clear and concise CTA copy cements the value of your offer, builds prospects’ comfort and confidence in you, and guides them exactly where you want them.

Guidelines to Experiment With

Use numbers in your CTAs. Numbers and data points are very specific, and have been proven to boost conversion rates. Numbers can also help convince subscribers of the value of your offer and your confidence in it.

Ask questions in your calls-to-action. Questions grab attention and interest, and many subscribers will click through just to find out the answer, giving you additional opportunities to help them convert.

Use endorsements and social proof in your CTAs. Testimonials, reviews, certifications, logos, badges, and other third-party endorsements make you more trustworthy and help alleviate subscribers’ fears, making them more likely to convert.