It doesn’t matter if you’ve been using email to reach your customers for years, or if you’re just learning the difference between open and click-through rates. Every business needs to be nimble when it comes to email marketing, and keeping customers clicking every day is a constant game of shifting, tweaking, and refinement. To help get you set up for success, we’ve put together 10 must-know tips for improving your email performance with your very next send.
1. Your Subject Line Is Everything
Never, ever underestimate the power and importance of the subject line. It’s the first thing your customers see, and it alone determines whether or not they’ll open your message. So, how do you grab their attention? What will reach them? Unfortunately, there are no easy answers or magic formulas here. Every audience is different, and crafting subject lines they’ll respond to takes some trial and error. But, there are a few ways you can run these trials smarter to help ensure success. Which brings us to…
2. Test Your Subject Lines Every. Single. Day.
You don’t have to send just one subject line and hope it works. In fact, that’s the worst thing you could do. Rather, you should be testing your subject lines for each and every email that goes out. A popular way to do this is called “A/B” testing, which allows you to send two different subject lines to part of your email list, and then send the best-performing option to the rest of your subscribers. Never tried it? No worries, MailChimp makes it simple. For the next email you send, think of two great subject lines.
When you create your new blast, select the “A/B” Split Campaign” option, and then determine how you want to split your email list – we suggest sending the A/B test to 20% of your subscribers. After a period of time, you’ll see which subject line performed the best, and you can send that version out to the remaining 80% of your list. Those are the basics, but I suggest you read A/B Testing in MailChimp: 7 Years of Successful Experiments to learn from those that have the data. Over time, you’ll be able to see what kinds of phrasing, numbers, and keywords your audience responds to best, as well as what they don’t respond to, which is just as important to know!
3. Segment Your Lists
Divide and conquer is always a great strategy in our books. Your audience is full of different views, tastes, opinions, and ideas, so why send everyone the same exact message? Segmenting your email list is a great way to make your customers feel like they’re getting individualized attention, and by delivering content specific to their tastes, they’re more likely to stay engaged over time. Getting your segments down may take a little research, but taking the time to really know your audience is essential to the overall success of your business.
4. Hone Your Voice — And Be Consistent
Customers like a business that speaks to them, and your message needs to always be consistent and on-brand. This helps build trust and familiarity, which is key for ongoing engagement. Take some time to really hammer out not just what your business does, but who your business is. Visualize what your business would look like as a person. How does he or she dress and act? What kinds of words do they use? What are their values, and what are their needs? That’s the tone of voice you need to be writing in, and that’s the voice that’s going to resonate with your audience every day.
5. Get Personal
Part of your overall email strategy is to check in with your customers every now and then. What are they up to? What do they care about this year, this month, this week? Customers love this kind of interaction — it helps them know they’re valued and listened to. There are also a ton of ways you can run with this. Try an email poll, asking your audience their opinions about two new products you’re thinking of bringing in. Or, send out a simple (and short!) survey asking them what they like about your business, and what they think you should improve on. You can even try running contests for anything from a discount code to a free trip. Have fun with it!
6. Keep It Simple
Focus is an important word here. A short, succinct subject line will always win over a verbose one. And, now that the customer has clicked through, they want to know right away what you’re trying to say. Don’t crowd the email with tons of pictures, or links, or different blocks of information, or your customer won’t know what the point of the email is. Simple and streamlined always wins.
7. Know What Works — But Don’t Get Stale
Even the most successful companies have ups and downs in their email performance. This can happen for a lot of different reasons, from time of year, to changes in market trends. Another culprit could be that you’ve been relying heavily on content that has worked well in the past. And, well, why shouldn’t you — that’s what your audience likes, right? Well, people also get bored if they see the same thing all the time. It’s a fine line between showing that your company is dependable and consistent, and showing that your company has nothing new to bring to the table. Don’t be afraid to change things up from time to time. Send out a totally new kind of subject line, or revamp the photography or images you show. Your customers will grow and evolve over time, and you need to show that you do, too.
8. Check Your Work In Different Browsers
That killer email you just built? It looks incredible in Firefox. But it’s all messed up in Chrome. And the links don’t work in Safari for some reason. It’s important for your emails to be tested on multiple browsers (and mobile devices!) to help prevent any embarrassing errors you might not have otherwise caught. But, don’t think you have to keep 10 browsers installed on your computer and have every kind of cell phone on hand. Sites like Litmus and Email on Acid allow you to easily view how your emails will look on a wide variety of browsers and platforms right from a single webpage. These sites also have a lot of other great testing and tracking features available, which can all help make sure your campaign is really ready for the big send.
9. Check, Double-Check, And Recheck The Details.
Along with viewing your work on different platforms, make sure you check all of the finer details on each and every blast you send. Have a proofreader or two (or three) comb through each email to look for typos. Test each hyperlink and make sure it clicks through to the right page – and make sure that the links work on different browsers as well. If you’re using click trackers, test to make sure they’re working, too. In fact, many companies will send test versions of emails to their employees, and ask that any issues be reported. Lots of eyes means lots of opportunities for errors to be caught. When in doubt, check and re-check. Once you hit that send button, you can’t take it back!
10. Make Responses Matter
There may be times when you get direct responses from your customers about your emails. Maybe they’ll tell you how much they love to get your emails every day. Or, maybe you’ll hear from a person who wants to unsubscribe. No matter what feedback you get, take it all to heart – and follow up. Tell that customer how glad you are that your emails make their day. They’ll be thrilled to hear from you directly, and trust us – they will tell others.
Make sure you learn from negative feedback, too. Reach out and thank that potential unsubscribed for their feedback, and ask what you could be doing better. Maybe that person liked your emails, but didn’t want one every week. Or, maybe the information wasn’t relevant to them. Use the information to refine your segments or your send strategy. Your customers will be happy to know that you’re listening to them, and you’ll be able to turn those negatives into positives if you’re not afraid to make changes where needed.
Excited to turn your emails up a notch? These tips may seem fairly basic, but often times these are the things that get overlooked – and make the biggest difference in your email performance. Got a tip for increasing email response rates? Tell us all about it in the comments below!