With COVID-19 grinding in-person marketing to a stop, marketers are putting even more pressure on the original “king”: email. But with the renewed focus comes the responsibility to make sure you are executing with best practices in mind.
“Email marketing should address how you can make [the recipient’s] life better today, even if it is in a small way,” Dave Charest, director of content marketing at Constant Contact. “You can demonstrate urgency by positioning your products and services in a way that addresses new and changing customer needs, not by pushing discounts and products down their throat. Email marketing is all about sharing the information [the recipient] needs in the way they prefer it, which includes tone, length and time of day.”
Charest shared exclusively with MarTech Today his top 10 tips to create effective email marketing campaigns during the age of COVID:
Use a mobile-responsive template
“2020 has taught us that both small and large businesses need to communicate with their customers in different ways and more often than they have in the past,” said Charest. “The most efficient way to optimize content for mobile content is using a mobile-responsive template.”
This template ensures content can be simply viewed across device platforms, with over half of emails being now opened on a mobile device.
Do not be ‘overly sales-y’
“If your efforts seem overly sales-y, do not expect much engagement with your campaigns,” said Charest. “Taking a genuine and empathetic tone with your email marketing has always been something businesses should strive for, but it is especially true today.”
More than a numbers game
“Keep in mind that there are people at the other end of the message,” said Charest. “Shift from thinking about campaigns as a numbers game and focus more on establishing and nurturing real connections with customers.”
Clear call to action
Calls to action can be a wide range of tools for marketers, from QR codes to online coupons to phone campaigns. Regardless of the response platform, the call to action should be clear. Charest emphasizes that buttons and links need to be easy to find and click.
“Readers should know exactly what you want them to do after looking at your email,” said Charest. “And it should be incredibly easy for them to take that action.”
Remember screen real estate
All messaging and calls to action need to be brief due to limited screen real estate.
Subject lines also have to be clear and concise to fit on a mobile screen so it does not get cut off.
“Email content and design is even more important when designing for mobile,” said Charest.
Short subject lines
“Email subject lines should be no more than 4-7 words long,” said Charest. “It should include specificity, brevity, familiar language and personalized messaging.”
While brands have different levels of success in accomplishing this, Charest said the onset of COVID allows marketers to completely utilize tracking tools for email marketing campaigns.
Take a transparent tone
“One of the biggest changes we have seen since the pandemic is the need for transparency and authenticity,” said Charest. “Do not under any circumstances mislead the user, because they are smart. They know when you are being disingenuous and will not respond positively, maybe even unsubscribing from your list.”
Make sure your email content matches what is called out in the subject line. Content should never be confusing, even with children demographics.
Test subject lines first
High-volume email marketing campaigns means more leads, conversions and revenue. Subject lines are key for conversions and testing can be done manually or through a third-party platform.
Charest’s directions on manually testing subject lines:
- Narrow down the main point you want to convey
- Create a variation of your subject lines
- Lay out your own rules and barriers for testing, identifying what percent of customers will receive each of the two different email subject lines
- Run a test by distributing the email to both groups with different subject lines
- Analyze results after a few campaigns, do not count on the results of one singular campaign
“Having a third-party partner assist with this process can dramatically decrease the time spent on the exercise and provide richer analytics on how each subject line performed,” said Charest.
Make eCommerce easy
“Methods for making it easier for the user to shop online is one of the things our customers ask about the most, regardless of industry,” said Charest. “The biggest thing right now is the accessibility of eCommerce.”
Make sure you measure
Charest recommends always incorporating the basic benchmarks into the measurement of any email marketing campaign:
- Delivery rate
- Open rate
- Click through rate
- Conversion rate
For more detailed reports, he also recommends:
- Engagement over time
- Number of unsubscribe requests
- Bounce rate
- Email sharing rate
- Revenue per email
- Revenue per subscriber
“The best method to measure email marketing and subject line success are industry benchmarks and comparing results against your own benchmarks,” said Charest. “Additionally incorporating social media, videos and other dynamic content into email marketing campaigns are effective ways to meet customers where they live and deliver thumb-stopping content in a format they increasingly engage with.”