Better Headlines and Other Ways to Improve Your Email Marketing

July 2, 2016

10:16 am

We call get emails we don’t want. Usually, we purchased a one-time item from a company, maybe a gift for someone, and we don’t intend to make a purchase from that company again. So, when we start getting emails, we delete them, mark them “spam,” or we open one and unsubscribe. You don’t want happening to you, so your email marketing campaign must work “smarter.”

Yet, many businesses are getting great ROI from email marketing, and it remains one of the best ways to personally reach out to customers and potential customers. Here are four tactics you must stay on top of.

The Headline is the Most Important Factor

People open two kinds of emails – those from friends and family they know, or from businesses they are currently engaged with (e.g., order and/or shipping confirmations). If you don’t fall into that category, then you have to find a headline that will make them open your piece of mail. If it is intriguing, there is a much better chance. Here’s what the research says: Make them vague and make them short. During President Obama’s first campaign, he sent out an email with a one-word headline – “Hey.” He raised $690 million from the responses. Instead of promoting a discount or special sale in your headline, come up with something shorter and intriguing. Considering that only 18-23% of marketing emails get opened at all, you have to compel with that headline.

Don’t Just Make Offers – Mix in Some Content

In the 90’s, email marketing campaigns focused only on deals and offers, and that worked. But now, not so much. Savvy consumers who want to buy something will just go straight to websites and compare prices and values, unless they have an established relationship with you. You can work on that relationship through email marketing, but the value of those emails must be more than deals. As Sabri Suby, Head of growth at King Kong marketing consultants says, “Relationships must be developed with today’s customers. You do that through all of your marketing efforts, and that includes email.”

If you add valuable content, you can even use that as your headline. If you are selling paint and deck stain, for example, how about an email explaining how to inspect a deck for termites or for stability? Make that the focus of your email and your headline, and then add you offer within the content. If you just keep churning promotions and deals to sell and sell, research shows you will experience about a 25% unsubscribe rate. And it’s hard work replacing those people with new targets.

Test Headlines, Colors, Buttons, Typography, and More

Split out your email list randomly – Test two different types of headlines and track the results; test two different colors; test two different typographies or button placements, shapes or colors. It’s cheap and easy to do, and you may get some valuable information about open rates.

Test days and times of your email blasts. Generally, evenings and weekends are best, because people are less distracted by work and other things. When they are in leisure mode, they tend to open more emails.

Segregate and Personalize

There are plenty of tools to do this these days. Your current customers’ needs are not the same as those leads you are just nurturing. Create different emails for these groups and use an email service to automate the sending. Also, personalize with those segmented emails by using the customer’s or lead’s name. You may end up with 4 different emails – that’s a good thing! Crafting different email content for targets in all stages of a purchasing decision makes them feel more important to you.

The most important takeaway is this: Just like any other content marketing strategy, it is all about the customer, not all about you. What do they want and need other than just a good deal on your product or service? Focus on those needs first and then show how you can meet them.

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Dianna is a former ESL teacher and World Teach volunteer, currently living in France. She's slightly addicted to apps and viral media trends and helps different companies with product localization and content strategies. You can tweet her at @dilabrien