The Anatomy of an Effective Marketing Email

The Anatomy of an Effective Marketing Email

There are many ways to segment and customize your messaging to customers but often overlooked is the humble email, a medium that is still delivering a significant ROI for businesses.

According to the 2017 eConsultancy email marketing census:

  • 75% of companies agree that email marketing delivers good to excellent return on investment
  • Email drove £29 billion worth of sales in the UK in 2016
  • Companies do not do enough to measure their success
  • Only 30% of marketers consider themselves to be compliant with an EU law which comes into effect in 2018

With these statistics in mind, we've done the hard work for you and researched what it is that defines a successful email marketing campaign so you can not only focus on improving your key metrics such as open rate, clickthrough rate (CTR) and conversion rate, but also the hidden metrics that can give you an edge.

Are You On The List?

Before we get started on sending out emails, we need someone to send them to.

To that end, it is vital to push email signups and to make that process easy. Ideally, you'll provide a signup box that only requires a user's name and email address.

The Anatomy of an Effective Marketing Email

Signup forms should be hosted on your website (use a tool like HotJar to refine your user journey around these), your social channels and anywhere you have an online presence. Some retail stores have taken to emailing receipts in order to grow their email lists, others offer samples or checkout discounts to those who sign up. Many American stores will take dates of birth in order to send out birthday emails – many of which contain vouchers. 

From there, it is important that an expectation is set – does the customer know what to expect from you? Let them know roughly how often you plan to email and what those emails will contain. Otherwise, you will not turn that email into an open, a click or a sale.

It is then important to monitor the growth of your list and the rate at which those emails are actually being delivered.

According to the eConsultancy census, those figures are monitored in just 20% and 37% of companies, respectively. If you don’t know how fast your email list is growing, you cannot measure the success of your email marketing efforts.

Likewise, it is pointless to gather email addresses that are going to dead accounts, make sure to monitor your delivery rate and ensure that your emails are going to live accounts.

What Are You Trying To Do? And How Do You Do It?

Ross Callaghan, the head of digital marketing with insurance giant AIG says that the key to good email marketing is deciding exactly what it is you are trying to achieve with your email marketing efforts.

Or more importantly, what do you want the reader to do with the email? Some emails are pure sales others, like surveys are for customer data collection. 

The Anatomy of an Effective Marketing Email

Whatever yours is for, make sure the mail is focused on that.

“There’s two halves: getting people to open it (open rate) and getting people to click (click through rate). But the key is: Stay focused on what you want the customer to do,” says Callaghan.

But how?

“The main rule I follow is to always test as much as possible: different subject lines, different imagery or marketing messages.

“For open rates I personally have seen short subjects are better. One word can be really powerful for getting opens, so can saying something unexpected about your brand.

“The more out there you are the more opens you'll get.

“In terms of content, single marketing messages usually increase CTR.

“Use striking imagery where possible but always, always, always use a call to action.”

What Works And Why?

Take a look at this email from PayPal. Why does it work as a marketing email?

The Anatomy of an Effective Marketing Email

1. Image choice

The image is striking, evocative but simple. The 2014 HubSpot Science of Email report suggests that while people expect a rich, attractive email, as the number of images goes up, CTR actually goes down.

2. Subject Line

As Ross Callaghan mentioned, sometimes being a bit out there can affect the open rate. People generally aren’t expecting an email from PayPal telling them how to split money in a social situation. Most people find that process uncomfortable, anyway, so it’s a good way to make the email feel less about the product and more about the person.

3. It Adds Value

Even if this email is opened but not clicked through, the reader gains a measure of value. They are talked through the simplicity of the PayPal app and shown a potential use of the product, helping them to keep a lead warm even if they don't convert the first time. This can be done in many ways – show customers a new product, alert them to a potential saving or show them how to solve a common problem using your product.

4. It Inspires Action

The top and tail of the email directs the reader to “Learn about Sending And Receiving Money”. The email is designed to drive downloads of the app, but the call to action promises more than just that. They are clear and easily seen.

Monitor Your Mails

As with all digital marketing, analytics play a key role and Callaghan says that it's the little things that can make a big difference.

“Study your sent history for best times to send the email in terms of when people are engaging the most. This is more important for the open rate than anything else.”

The Anatomy of an Effective Marketing Email

A 2015 Hubspot study found that 11am on a weekday was the most successful time to send an email, but analytics tool will allow you to monitor that for your customers.

Tools like MailChimp give email senders an incredible depth of data about the success of their campaigns. This allows you to test different strategies and work out what works for your customers

And then? Callaghan says that the key from analytics is to turn opens into clicks and clicks into conversions.

“After you send an email try follow up with the user based on what they clicked. “

If you're serious about using email marketing to drive sales and signups you need to balance user design with what you're trying to achieve. Don't forget it's important to find the sweet spot between adding value and asking for something and a well-structured email campaign will deliver value to the customer as well as ROI for the business.

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