Email marketing techniques working right now

Email marketing techniques working right now

Live from DMA 2011 Boston

What’s Working Now: Email, Online and Direct Marketing Programs: This session explores what offers work, what techniques work and what is driving strong direct marketing results now for email, social, mobile, emerging media and integrated marketing initiatives. Speaker: Jay Schwedelson, President and CEO of Worldata. Connect with Jay on Twitter at @schwedelson.

Things in quote marks are direct quotes. Other statements are paraphrased.

The skinny

“I figure since we can’t get any more people in the room, we might as well get started.” Jay warns us that he tends to talk quickly, and he’ll be sharing ideas that we can walk out and try.

What he said

Worldata executes more than 10,000 email and direct marketing campaigns each year, and all data is based on Worldata Research.

The importance of pre-headers

Do these really matter? A pre-header is the top line of tiny text above email creative. They need to be able to include text-based links. Why? Emails that use the first line of a pre-header for offer related information generate a 19% higher open rate than those that use this space for format issues or add to safe-sender list information.

Why? On your phone (and 30% of people are reading emails on their phones), subject lines have become the “from line” and the pre-header has become the subject line.

Bad: “If this email looks weird, view it in your browser.”

Good: “Come back to Cafe Express and get 10% off.”

Multi-touch campaigns are the future

One-time emails are a thing of the past. Multi-touch email is promoting the same offer, using multiple methods. Multiple offers multiple times are just multiple ways to annoy people.

For example, a multi-touch email campaign for a B2C might have this subject line: “15% off until July 4.” The week before: “15% off until July 4: one week left!” Then on July 4: “15% off: Sale ends TODAY!”

We don’t see higher unsubscribe rates, but we do get the benefit of higher performing campaigns. You’re building a sense of urgency. The great part is that each of those emails has its own trail. When you analyze the data, you can see that a 3X email drop—where nothing changes in the offer but the subject line or slight messaging—generates a 400+ increase in overall click activity versus a 1x drop. That’s click activity, not open rate.

More than 30% of click activity will occur after day 3 for B2C and B2B. And the value of those day-three clicks? People who hold onto your email to read it later really want to read it.

Quick tips for email marketing

  • Company name of recipient in subject line increases open rate by 22%.
  • Customer name in the pre-header increases open rate by 12%.
  • Re-activation emails (i.e. “We miss you” or “Where have you been”) generate an average “open rate” of 54% for B2B and B2C emails!
  • Optimal times for social emails (i.e. “Like Us” or “Follow Us”) are lunch time, 7-9 p.m. and early morning in some cases. This is different delivery timing than for regular acquisition or retention emails (which generally go out early morning—thanks to Groupon and Living Social). Why? Because those are times when you’re relaxed and doing social things. Remember, don’t send out “be my friend” emails if you don’t have a plan or value for Facebook fans or Twitter followers.
  • Top lists: “Top” lists generate a 48% higher click through rate as compared to general acquisition emails. You’re not even giving anything away—no offer here, unless you’re selling whatever the items on the top lists are. These are good traffic generator emails.

Which goal is your priority, click rate or abandon rate? Well, are you more likely to get 100% increase in click activity (from 1% to 2%) or decrease your abandon rate by 10% (from 90% to 80%)? Do something to your landing page and get that abandon rate lower. It is FAR easier to work on our abandon rate, and it’s pays off better.

Behaviorial emails: what to know

This is the delivery of emails to specific segments of people based on their actions they perform on a website, i.e. delivering emails to the user based on what the user does on your website.

Have you even gotten a “Take 20% off what’s in your shopping cart” email after you abandon a shopping cart? 24% of cart abandoners are gone for good. Re-marketing emails will not have an impact on these contacts. BUT, on average, “shopping cart” emails generate a 600% increase in click activity as compared to normal email programs. You don’t need complicated programs—you can use Google Analytics to be able to track things that you can create emails around.

If you send a “Behavior” related email within one hour of actual “behavior” unsubscribe rate goes up by 3000%. (Autoresponders not included.) “Do not freak people out!” They know you’re watching, but they don’t want to know you’re watching.

It’s not just shopping carts, by the way. “You forgot to download” or “Here’s the latest report” (since you read the last one) are good examples, too. Basically, look at what they look at, then follow up with another offer by email.

Landing page details to get right

To get the abandon rate down, these things matter:

  • Font styles: Use sans serif.
  • Font consistency: Don’t use a wide range.
  • Use copy that addresses the reader: Use “you” and “you’re” not “we” and “our.”
  • Underlines: Don’t use underlines in regular text, they’re expected on hyperlinks.
  • Justification: Don’t justify paragraphs of text to create equal-length lines. Always use left-justified text. Don’t center body text, especially bullet lists of varying line lengths.
  • No way out: Eliminate all unnecessary links. We’re not inviting people to go surfing and shopping. They should be directed to act now on the offer they responded to. “Severely limit any ability to go anywhere outside that landing page. … Same thing for your email, all links should go to your landing page. … Try to direct where people are going and how they’re getting there.”

Top 4 offers for consumers that get results

Targeting new and existing customers via email, Q2 2011:

  • Free shipping
  • Private/exclusive/secret events/sales
  • Discount off next purchase
  • Gift with purchase

Top 4 offers for businesses that get results

Targeting new and existing customers via email, Q2 2011:

  • Whitepapers (not as strong as previous quarters)
  • Industry report (not reports done by you; third-party independent report). Consider offering to buy people reports where you’re ranked well. Then the person who downloads the report can go to the decision maker and say, “I want to use this product/service because they rank well on this report.” Having an image of the industry report or whitepaper increases click activity by 21% vs those emails that don’t display image.
  • Product discount/trial
  • Web-based events (physical events dropped significantly in last 18 months—there’s no money for people to travel to events anymore)

Random side-point: If someone goes to a trade show, their company considers it important, and the decision-makers are the ones they’re sending. Also, anyone who still belongs to an association is a value contact, because companies aren’t paying for those now, either. Those are valuable lists to have.

Free tools to check out

  • Campaign Monitor’s templates
  • Emailology
  • See the landing pages of your competitors as you try to battle the abandonment rate
  • Moat: Type any keyword (such as “Verizon”), and you can see exactly where your competitors are running display ads and how often.
  • Convert Word document to clean HTML. “No funky characters ever.”

Audience participation

What are your thoughts on animation? It has existed for a while, but as consumers we don’t really like consuming multimedia or video that way. The question is, how does the video tie into your product or service?

How are email and social working together? Email and social have really not blending together well enough yet. Social guys love saying email is dead. But without email, there’s no social. You won’t know that someone wants to connect with you on LinkedIn without email. The social players want to kill it off. Facebook wants to kill it off. They want to

What are the best things if you’re building out your email list? Think about what you’re going to be doing with the data two or three years from now. It’s more than name and address. You might need their preferences, too.

Arienne Holland

Arienne has spent 20 years in communications, ranging from graphic design to journalism to PR to marketing and formerly Raven's Director of Marketing and Education.

Arienne has spent 20 years in communications, ranging from graphic design to journalism to PR to marketing and formerly Raven's Director of Marketing and Education.