Email Marketing Needs to Be Engaging in Order to Succeed. Here's How to Design an Email That Stands Out from the Crowd. (Part 3 of 3)

April 01, 2021 | Written by Kara Williams
Email Engagement for Success

Email Marketing Needs To Be Engaging.  Here’s What You Need To Know.

In Part 1, we discussed why email marketing is still effective and the rise in email users and engagement. To drive that point home, we’ll share a couple more facts. This year the average consumer will see 5,000 ads every day and 60% of marketing leaders plan to send more emails this year than last.

In Part 2, we covered how setting the right email strategy will help your message break through all that noise. Now we are going to turn our focus to content curation and email design.

Your email is only as strong as the subject line!

How will you grab the attention of your customers in as few words as possible? Less is more. Our research tells us that 3 to 5-word subject lines perform best when they integrate some sort of value or “reason to open.” Summarize what the recipient is going to read or see. Don’t be mysterious. Be compelling. Some strong examples:

  • Just a Thank You Note (And a 30% Off Coupon) — This subject line is simple, but it’s also compelling. Thanking your customers is a great way to show your appreciation, and a thank you gift to go along with it takes the appreciation to another level.
  • Are meetings even necessary? — Newsletters need to continually keep readers     on their toes to drive interest. Posing a question like the one above, makes us stop for a second to think and click-through to learn more.
  • Meet Our First Running Shoe — This simple and straightforward line clearly tells you what’s to come but in a creative way.

When developing your subject line, also consider preview text. Preview text should build on the subject line and should cover what the “offer’ is and why it’s important. Keep it between 50-100 characters.

Don’t be afraid to get personal.

Personalization is more than simply including “Dear First Name,” in an email.  Your email’s effectiveness depends on ensuring that the messaging and offers are relevant and personalized to the recipients’ needs at the time that you email them. Also, if there is an established relationship, create a deeper human connection. Send your emails from a real person (name and email address), not your company.

Email marketing automation is a powerful tool for personalization at scale. Automation coupled with list segmentation enables you set up customized workflows for your emails. It can be used for a wide range of functions in your email marketing campaigns, from welcome series emails through personalization, website activity emails, and even content optimization. Automation enables you to create timed sends precisely targeted to reach the right customers at the right time in their buying cycle and deliver personalized emails that help you stay connected with your audience through each step of their customer journey.

Be consistent, goal-oriented, and think like a journalist.

Before you write your copy, review brand messaging and tone guidelines – always stay true to your brand! Unless it’s a newsletter, emails should have one core goal or focus. All links in the email should drive toward the goal, and remember to be clear with your call-to-action.

When writing, keep your emails concise. Sub-headlines and bullets help break up the copy and make it easily digestible for the reader. Also, make your text links noticeable. We recommend at least one clickable link or button above the fold.

For educational pieces, think like a journalist. They follow a story structure where essential information is presented first.

The Inverted Pyramid of Journalism.

Design to stand out.

When designing your emails, use large and bold text to convey visual hierarchy, as this is attention-grabbing and helps your subscribers understand your content quickly and easily. Your design, color, and content should be on brand and above all relevant. Ultimately, it is far more important to ensure that emails are valuable to your reader than to be trendy. Here are tips that will help you nail your design:

  • Use only high-quality images: blurry or pixelated photos do not look professional.
  • Shoot your own photos: using stock images is always an option, but personal photos create friendlier vibes.
  • Add links to images: increase newsletter CTR by adding links to all images you use.
  • Keep the right image-to-text ratio: your newsletter may end up in spam if the amount of text is not in balance with your images. Professional email tools tell you this before you hit the send button.
  • Avoid large image uploads: newsletters containing heavy files are slower to upload and have higher spam points.
  • And while great graphics are important, don’t forget to include descriptive alternative text (alt tags) for the images.  Alt text is the text that is displayed by the email client if images are blocked. This way your still receives your message even if images are not showing and can be encouraged to turn on images to view your full email experience.

Run deliverability checks.

Did you know that the bounce rate of 10% and higher might be alarming? Here’s how you can stay out of SPAM boxes.

  • Monitor bounces as well as inactive recipients.
  • Consider sending a reconfirmation email to inactive subscribers periodically.
  • Test your emails’ visual look as a plain text version. Some users won’t see images in your email by default.
  • Make sure your email is designed for all devices.
  • Don’t include HTML forms, JavaScript, or embedded objects (like Flash).

Test and measure your results.

If you are not already doing so, it is a good idea to split test your email campaigns regularly. This helps to improve your effectiveness with every campaign you send. One easy way to get started is to A/B test two versions of the subject line, to see which garners more opens. When you test, use an average segment of your email list to get a good baseline, then roll out the winner to the full list.

Great marketing is based on real data, not guesswork. Never stop testing and adjusting. Here are the top metrics to keep an eye on for email success:

  • Open Rate (OR)
  • Click-Through Rate (CTR
  • Unsubscribe Rate
  • Bonuses
  • Conversions
  • Return on Investment (ROI)

In Conclusion,

Now you should understand why email marketing is one of the most profitable digital marketing channels and especially effective in maintaining customer relationships. Coupling a strong strategy with the best-practices listed above, will help ensure your emails stand out in inboxes and get results.

Want to learn more about how to integrate email marketing with your marketing strategy? Get in touch with us today and see how we can help.