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@ or at sign made of puzzle pieces on white backgroundThere are hundreds of tips experienced email marketers can give you. In this blog I’ll share three that you may not have heard before.

Hopefully, there’s at least one you can use.

Secret one: One email is never enough

We’ve all done it; it’s the classic mistake that so many marketers continue to make. We send one email and then wonder why nobody has bought the product, called the number or taken the trial.

Experienced email marketers know the best way to get the result you need is almost always to send more than one email. Just ask the team at LinkedIn, I must be on my 10th or 11th premium membership free trial email by now, and to be honest with each one I get a little bit closer to signing up.

If only they didn’t auto-bill your card after one month, they’d have snapped me up ages ago.

One business-to-business campaign schedule I’ve used many times before is structured as follows:

  1. Send the first email explaining the offer in full glorious HTML.
  2. Send a second follow-up email in a plain Outlook style from a named sales contact.
  3. Send a final reminder of the offer (day before the offer ends), again this can be from the sales contact. No need to go crazy with the design here.
  4. If you’re really cheeky you can even send a final email the day after the offer ends with a ‘special extension’. You’ll be surprised how many people go for this.

The most important thing to remember is that one email is rarely enough to convert your recipient into a prospect, so plan a series of emails that will help you maximise the impact of your campaign.

Secret two: Subject lines are less about creativity than you think

There’s a tonne of research into subject lines. If you had the time to sit down and read it all, and I probably have, you’d be left dazed and confused after it. Why? Well, you’d find there’s a huge range of results and most of them conflict. Short is best… No long… No, somewhere in the middle…

So what would an experienced email marketer do? Well, they’d test it, and they’d more than likely go for something short or long but not in the middle. They’d keep it simple and explain what the email is about and the benefit of opening it.

If you’re interested in the latest thinking on subject lines I really like this research, released by Adestra in July 2012. It’s worth a read, whatever industry you’re in.

Secret three: Above the fold may not be as important as you’re led to believe

The number one expert in usability, Jakob Nielson, tells us that only 20% of web visitors read below the fold, and the same metrics are typically true for email. However, what most studies don’t tell you is that you shouldn’t fear the fold.

Sometimes, placing your call-to-action below the fold increases click-through rate and it often improves lead quality too.

How can this be true? It’s pretty simple really. In some cases the reader needs a little more information before they’re ready to commit to the click. People also tend to drop out early in the process if they are not interested in what you are saying, but those that are interested will invariably stay the distance.

So what’s the key to click-through rate optimisation? Motivation and expectation are the two key influencers. If your reader is motivated to get what you’re offering and they have a clear expectation of the reward for clicking, they will click more often than not. That means whether your call-to-action is above or below the fold has little influence on click-through-rate.

Kiss metrics sum this up beautifully when they say:

Higher conversion rates have nothing to do with whether the button is above the fold, and everything to do with whether the button is below the right amount of good copy’.

They were, of course, referring to website call-to-actions, but as I mention above, the same principles apply.

Ian Creek

Published 24 October, 2012 by Ian Creek

Ian Creek is Marketing Director at Rokk Media and a contributor to Econsultancy.

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Comments (1)

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Peer Lawther

What's really worked for me is to spend time reviewing our emails in depth and finding out client behaviour, especially subject lines.

What words work to get the open? As an example we've found our clients like short-termist words rather than long term ambitions/hopes (perhaps unsurprisingly using "now" rather than something like "you can", for example).

We've also found an uplift by referring to the product they've got, rather than what the product solves, and that nowadays, replicating blogpost titles tend to work well ("7 ways to..." etc).

As long as we can optimise the subject line to get an open I don't care as much if it's creative or how many characters are in it. After all, the subject line has one job to do, to get the open, and that's it.

We get around 35% opens / 16% CTR with our emails, which is pretty good, but we're always searching for more ways to get the figures higher.

over 3 years ago

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