Each day, 4 billion email users receive 300 billion emails. No wonder many people experience email fatigue, which makes it harder for marketers to build customer loyalty and increase sales via email. Although the rivalry is fierce, email is still one of the most effective marketing channels. For example, in the first half of 2021, conversions for ecommerce automated emails increased to 33.19%.
To create an email worth your subscribers’ attention, make sure that it either offers quality benefits or entertains the subscribers. Sounds easy, right? In practice, you’ll probably have to fine-tune your newsletter a dozen times to make it follow these two simple rules.
In this article, I’m going to make your email marketing journey a little less bumpy by sharing practical advice and illustrating it with examples. This article will be helpful for both newbies and experienced email specialists who are looking for inspiration.
We’ll start by looking at the elements of an email, showing both good and bad examples.
The Subject Line
Let’s start with the all-important subject line in emails. The rule of thumb here is that the first impression is the last impression.
I won’t be able to teach you here any spells that will hypnotize readers and make them open your newsletter. But can show you good strategies that are likely to improve your subject lines and increase your email open rate.
Tips and good examples of appealing subject lines
Keep your subject lines succinct. Remember that most mobile device users won’t see the whole subject if it’s longer than 25–30 characters. Also, a short and catchy subject line is more likely to capture users’ attention without reminding them of a teaser ad.
Personalize your subject lines. It’s a good idea to add a subscriber’s name to the subject line or congratulate them on a happy event (be it their birthday or the first purchase on your website).
Use your imagination to engage subscribers. I love using creative techniques in subject lines. They’re not just fun, but also effective. You can make an allusion to a popular TV series, refer to a recent event, or create suspense to intrigue your subscribers.
Offer benefits. If creative strategies puzzle you, don’t worry: you still can make your subject line catchy by offering something beneficial.
Cringe strategies you’d better never use in your emails
Avoid caps lock and don’t use a dozen exclamation marks in one subject line. Subjects that offer “90% LAST CHANCE SALES ONLY TODAY!!!!” not only make subscribers feel uncomfortable but are also likely to end up in the spam folder.
Emojis aren’t a magic pill that guarantees your emails will be opened. In fact, it’s quite the opposite: in some cases, they might harm user experience by making a subject line look impersonal and annoying.
Yes, I know I’ve recommended personalizing your subject lines, but don’t take personalization too far. Perhaps the “don’t overdo it” rule works for all marketing strategies.
Last thought: you can’t rely on a single metric (like open rate) to estimate the success of email campaigns, and the recent updates on Apple Mail Privacy Protection have demonstrated this clearly.
Images in Emails
The golden rule when using images in emails is keep the quality of visual information.
Did you know that about 40% of people perceive visual information better than plain text? That’s why maintaining the quality of your visual email content is a must. Let’s briefly discuss the basic rules and then dive into common issues connected with images in emails.
Rules of user-friendly images in emails
Keep the size of images in your emails small (not larger than 500 Kb, but preferably much lower). Otherwise, some of the users might fail to see the images because they’re loading too slowly. Use services like TinyPNG or iLoveIMG to compress your images.
Remember to adjust the size of your email banner to the width of the template for better user experience.
Consider image accessibility: make the text placed over images easy to read, and don’t forget to add alternative text (we’ll touch upon it later).
How to reduce the chance that your image gets blocked
Take care of your email domain reputation, as some email clients (such as Outlook) block images sent by “suspicious” addresses.
I’ll repeat myself: you don’t need high-quality pictures. Always compress your images to ensure your emails won’t get trimmed or blocked.
Test your emails before sending them to the whole email list. You can use EmailOnAcid or Litmus to check them faster. However, some businesses may need specialists to perform tests on real devices.
What if your images still get blocked by some email clients?
Sometimes your images may still get blocked regardless of your efforts (or they can simply fail to be displayed because of a poor connection). You need to be prepared for images not loading. Here are some tips to follow:
Don’t send the whole email in one or several pictures with no text.
Write ALT-text (alternative text) that describes the images. It’s not only about you playing safe, but also about your email being disability-friendly.
Add a link to a web version of your email in case the images won’t display for some reason.
The goal with your email content is to achieve unity of form and content. Let’s look at what that means.
How you should align your email copy
Never justify your email copy. Although some people find justified text more pleasant to look at, justification decreases reading speed. Also, justified text isn’t dyslexia-friendly.
You can right-align your contact details in the header or footer.
You can center the lines you want to emphasize.
I recommend using flush left alignment in all the other cases. Studies prove that left-aligned text is easier to read and remember.
Tone of voice
Your content’s tone of voice should be an integral part of your brand identity. If your style is generally light and friendly, you may confuse your subscribers by suddenly going all official. And vice versa: if you’ve chosen a formal communication style for your website, you shouldn’t switch to sending memes.
Note that the same style has different performances for various businesses. Sometimes you have to study your audience before you understand what communication strategy will build customer loyalty in your case.
Call to action
Make the purpose of your email clear and obvious. An obscure idea can confuse and tick off lots of customers, while a simple call to action builds trustful relationships not only with your loyal audience but also with those who aren’t ready to buy yet.
It’s best to use a verb (that is, an action word) for a call to action. Examples include “download”, “read”, “buy”, and so on.
Make your offer noticeable: mention it in the subject, add it to the banner, and elaborate on it in your email copy. This way, you can capture the attention of subscribers first, and develop your idea further in the email body.
However, you’d better not offer benefits in each and every email you send. Otherwise, there’s a risk that subscribers will get sick of or overwhelmed by your offers and stop paying attention to them at all. Keep your subscribers hungry with relevant content or announcements of future events.
Make content easy to comprehend and pleasant to read
- Simplify your email copy. Get rid of passive voice, compress your structures, and use verbs instead of nouns where possible.
- Get rid of officialese language, even if your tone of voice is formal.
- Make sure your text structure includes plenty of variety, including bullet points, lists, and numbers. This works better than a large block of plain text. It helps with scanning the email and keeping eyes focused on the text.
Two Crucial Email Features often Forgotten
Next, let’s look at two important features of marketing emails that are too often forgotten.
Layouts that adapt
It’s important that your emails display properly across a range of devices. In most cases, this issue should be handled by template designers who understand how to arrange the elements of an email so it’s compatible with most screen sizes and email clients.
Always check whether the content of your email is displayed correctly at least on a couple of devices before sending. This way, you can ensure that subscribers see important information and improve user experience. Also, you avoid ending up in the spam folder.
Analysis in email marketing
You have to study your email audience before sending high-volume emails. Otherwise, your emails will be ignored, or worse. One of the most popular and effective analytics strategies is audience segmentation — the division of users into smaller groups according to a certain criteria. For example, you may segment your audience basing on these factors:
Age: different generations usually prefer different content and offers.
Interests: if you identify interest groups, you’ll be able to make relevant offers.
Locations: various climate zones, languages, and traditions may have an impact on people’s needs.
Previous purchases: divide your clients by their purchase history and determine the features of your most loyal customers. If you know the basics of analytics, you can easily perform this study using RFM analysis.
Keep in mind that, if you have a large database or just don’t want to take a risk, you’ll probably have to hire an analytics specialist.
Let’s now look at examples of catchy emails that help brands build loyal audiences. This should provide you with some inspiration for your next campaign! These are some good email ideas you can take on board and modify for your marketing campaigns.
Welcome email: old but gold
Automated welcome emails can give up to 52.92% conversion! Also, a welcome campaign is a perfect opportunity to:
- learn more about your subscribers’ preferences and improve your offers
- share your story and answer popular questions
- help your subscribers see the value of this newsletter
- motivate subscribers to buy your products
Look at this welcome email by Magnolia Home: it’s eye-catching, and contains an offer that doesn’t go unnoticed.
Customer surveys in emails
You can send such an email at any step of the customer journey. There are plenty of reasons to include customer surveys in your email campaigns:
- customer surveys help you learn more about your audience and analyze this data later on
- they foster customer loyalty by showing that you care about your clients
- it’s a simple way to evaluate customer experience, your support services, and so on
Corporate anniversary email
A corporate anniversary email is one more type of email that helps build trustful relationships and tell more about your brand. Use corporate anniversary emails to:
- share your brand story and increase your credibility
- share your updates about new products or content
- introduce a special offer, sale, or discount
This email by Casper is a perfect example: it tells about their five-year anniversary and builds friendly relationships with subscribers. A discount is the cherry on top of this newsletter.
Partner email: mutual promotion
Partner emails allow you to meet new audiences and potential clients. When choosing a partner, bear in mind the specific traits of your target audiences. Have a look at the following partner email campaign by Capcom (developers of Resident Evil) and another franchise, Dead by Daylight, where they’re sharing their common updates and content.
Key Points to Take Away
Let’s now summarize what we’ve covered by presenting a list of the key takeaways.
Always make sure that your email campaign offers either benefit or entertainment. Choose between the two depending on your goals and capabilities at the time.
Stay consistent with your brand identity. No matter what you do, stay true to yourself, and your clients will appreciate your authenticity.
Don’t be afraid to try something new. If you don’t test, you’ll have nothing to analyze or improve. Try out different strategies to see what works best in your case.
Be open-minded and listen to your audience. I’ve already told you that there’s no magic pill or spell that will make users subscribe or buy. Show genuine care about people’s experience, expectations, and pain points, and they’ll respond to your offers.