Email marketing is no new task, but not many businesses can claim they cracked the code on how to consistently engage their audience with email campaigns. Most professionals have multiple email addresses receive hundreds of emails a day – that means that it’s more competitive than ever to grab the attention of and engage your audience.
At the same time, we can all think of the emails that we consciously look forward to receiving. Whether it’s a newsletter with great updates, a specific brand that promotes generous discounts, or an informative email that is just valuable to read, these emails we love prove that there is still value to add through this marketing channel.
If you are navigating an email strategy, chances are you have some questions. If you have questions, chances are you aren’t the first person to ask those questions.
Here are common questions people have on email marketing, and ways to answer them.
The short answer is that it depends on your budget and what you need from the platform.
If you have a low budget and basic needs, MailChimp has a free version for up to 2000 email contacts that allows you to send simple email blasts. It’s fairly limited, but if you eventually need more functionality, they make it easy to upgrade.
If you want to focus on drip marketing and email automation, ActiveCampaign has a simple setup for complex campaign strategy. If you want to send emails based on actions taken on the website, based on specific timing, or create new segments based on triggers, ActiveCampaign may be for you.
If you want an in-depth CRM, email marketing, and lead nurturing platform with all the bells and whistles, you may want to invest in HubSpot. HubSpot costs a pretty penny, but they back that up with an extensive list of functionalities and courses to make the most of them.
To accurately answer this, you need to take a few things into account:
A smaller, more intimate audience will most likely have a higher open rate. Larger audiences that don’t have an emotional connection to the company may have a lower open rate. However, for both types of audiences, the more you consistently spend time and energy on the email strategy, the higher your open rate will be over time.
Open rate averages vary based on industry. For example, MailChimp reported that nonprofits see an average of 25.17%, while the health and beauty industry sees an average of 16.65%. This can be attributed to the contact’s emotional connection or personal passion for the industry, as well as the average content/information that each industry includes in their email outreach.
If you are known to send great discounts, exclusive deals, or sneak peeks in your emails, people may be more inclined to regularly open your emails. If they tend to be sales-y with no extra incentives to buy, you may find that people learn to skip over your emails.
All that being said, the average open rate for all industries is 21.33%.
Once again, many factors influence email engagement past the initial open.
To accurately break this question down, you need to acknowledge these factors:
As with most things, you get out of email content that you put into it. If your content is thoughtful, high-quality, and tailored to your audience, it will inspire more engagement from your audience.
If you don’t include enticing things to click, why would someone engage with your email? The Click-through rate is dependent on the number of opportunities to click, as well as how obvious that CTA is. An email that has a clear, inviting button at the top of the email may be more powerful than a small hyperlink in a paragraph. An email that has a larger number of CTAs may have a higher chance of offering information that grabs the attention of the reader.
Is your button CTA to just learn more about a product? Or is it to receive 25% off the product? If the reason to click has an incentive connected to it, like a discount, free product, or exclusive access to info, you may experience higher click-through rates.
These factors plus many more affect email open rate averages. That being said, the general open rate across industries is 2.62%
Subject lines are essentially the world’s shortest elevator pitch. You need to entice your readers with just a couple of words, and there is a thought process to go through to create an engaging subject line.
First things first, take into account your brand voice. No matter what the content is, staying true to your brand is a priority. A company that has a little more flexibility with formalities may be able to incorporate some more casual language. If your goal is to promote professionalism, you can’t include casual puns and emojis no matter what a blog post on successful subject lines tells you.
Next, look at the content of the email. If your readers can only take away one thing from this email, what do you want it to be? The answer to that question should give you the topic of your subject line. Whether it’s a new product, a reader story, or a special promotion, include (or allude to) the most important content in the email.
Once you have some base-level information using general best practices, leverage A/B testing to establish your company’s best practices. Test long subject lines vs. short, creative vs. direct, or any other styles you want to experiment with. Eventually, you will identify the secret recipe for a great subject line tailored to your email lists.
Best way to confirm your ideal send time? Test, test, test. Just as with Email CTAs, subject lines, and content, the best way to optimize your email sent times is through testing. A great place to start may be taking all the different options for average optimal send times, and see which option performed best for your list.
Not everyone will experience the same results for these “ideal” send times. Some send times are over-competitive because we hope to catch people when they are checking their emails for the day. For example, you may want to avoid sending emails on Tuesdays and Wednesdays between 8 am and 10 am. It’s easy to get your work buried by other emails during that time.
One recommended time is Thursday between 8 am and 9 am because HubSpot reported that emails sent in this timeframe reported a higher open rate.
It may take time to find your sweet spot on send times. Test mornings, lunch breaks, and evenings throughout the week to cover your bases and gain a clear understanding of what works for you and your audience.
With so many different style directions to head into, choosing the look of your email can feel overwhelming. Whether you want to be professional, simple, eye-catching, or a mix of everything, make thoughtful design decisions that relate to the objective of your email strategy. The design of the email should be born from the goal of the email.
If you want someone to read a B2B whitepaper, the email would look different than if you want someone to buy a wedding dress. Some offerings need to be incredibly visual, while others may benefit from a simple plain text.
If you’re at a loss on where to start, look at competitors in your industry. Sign up for various newsletters of related businesses to see what they are doing and what you can build off of. You can start a vision board of email examples you like. You can base this off of design but also note formatting, readability, usability, and content.
Conduct market research to identify what your audience wants to see in your email strategy. Just because you like a certain design doesn’t mean it will resonate with readers, so build off of your audience’s preferences over your own. For example, you may love the look of in-depth, colorful design, but if your audience just wants quick, skimmable value, plain-text email outreach may work better.
Once you have some possible options, A/B testing is the best way to start shaping the ideal look for your brand. Testing email length, formatting, content, and more will help you establish a template and process you can use and build off of to create a robust email strategy that is backed by data. If you spend time and energy building a strategy from start to finish without testing, your process may fall flat and you won’t have a good idea on why.
The toughest part of improving your marketing strategy is coming up with the right questions. Once you know what you want to investigate, the real fun begins! If you need more help answering your most difficult marketing questions, reach out to our team!