Before you can wow with your email copy, you must first hook your audience.
Email marketing can be hit or miss. While you can labor over your copy and toil over accompanying graphics, ultimately your message may still go unread. We’re all inundated with email these days. How can you best position your campaigns to break through the noise? Although sometimes treated as an afterthought, your email’s subject line is actually one of the most important tools you have for boosting open percentages and increasing your CTRs (click through rates). Let’s look at some of the ways you can optimize your subject lines to make your email campaigns more widely read and impactful.
Keep it Simple
It’s easy to overthink subject lines. Although it’s good to take a strategic approach, always remember simplicity. Generally, subject lines should be short and should not mislead or overpromise anything about your email’s contents. The consequences of not doing this can be dire, as you can annoy your audience or even alienate them from future campaigns.
Research and Wordsmithing
Because subject lines should be short, each word you select matters a great deal. You don’t want to leave anything to chance here, which means you’re going to need to do some keyword research. Whenever you write a subject line, use words that are relevant and align with your audience’s needs and intent. There are many different tools out there — both free and paid — to help marketers choose the right words. Find the one that will work for your organization and use it to look closely at several metrics, specifically search volume and search intent.
As the world has gone digital-first over the past couple of decades, it has become ever easier to create and disseminate marketing campaigns. Yet while these changes have brought about an unprecedented level of convenience and productivity, personalization and human connection in marketing has become increasingly difficult. Still, there are ways you can add personalization and warmth to your subject lines:
- You can insert your recipients’ names into the subject line.
- You can refer to other types of personal information – such as the cities in which your recipients live.
- Flip the focus of your personalization efforts back on yourself by personalizing your sender address.
Emojis and Numbers
Sometimes words, however pretty they may be, are simply not enough. To command your readers’ finite attention, you may also want to consider using emojis or numbers to break up text. This does carry a bit of a risk, however, as emojis may be considered inappropriate with certain audiences. That said, if you are writing a fun or celebratory-type email, leveraging emojis can enhance the impact of your email and encourage more people to open it.
Numbers function differently. If you can naturally weave figures like percentages into your subject lines, you may attract more people to open your emails. Numbers simply stand out more than additional text, and for many audience members, they may help them more quickly understand your email’s contents. Beware, however, of overloading your subject lines with numbers – as this can come off as “spammy.” And never include a misleading figure. Your audience will not appreciate the deceit, and you will appear untrustworthy and unprofessional as a result.
Follow the Tried-and-True
There are several tried-and-true marketing methods that you can build your email subject lines around, which, when paired with some of the other tactics here, can be especially powerful.
- Scarcity: Few things motivate human beings more than the fear of missing out. By framing your email as containing something like a limited-time offer, you speak directly to that primal fear and can give your recipients the push they need to open your email and engage with your content.
- Curiosity: Similarly, you can treat your subject line as a sort of teaser for the email’s contents. Give just enough information to spark interest with your target audience but allude that the truly valuable information lies within the message’s body copy.
- Timeliness: Finally, there is always timeliness. By conveying that your email contents are time-sensitive, recipients are less likely to ignore it or tell themselves that they will circle back around later.
Toward More Effective Email Marketing
Raising brand awareness and forming valuable customer connections isn’t easy. In a competitive environment, businesses need to ensure they are maximizing the value of all their marketing methods and strategies. As we’ve written before, email marketing is still a viable, low-cost way to promote your products and services. But to gain positive ROI, its essential to optimize every aspect of your messaging. And that includes taking a hard look at your subject lines and doing everything you can to make them memorable.
Email campaigns are not dead. Here are some best practices to make the biggest impact.
Since email was invented in the 1970s, tremendous change has occurred in the marketing world. Despite this, the tried-but-true email campaign remains a rock-solid tool to get your message out, spark awareness for your services and grow your customers and prospects. Here are some best practices for putting together an email campaign that will “wow” your audience.
Before you start writing, you first need to dig into the quality and integrity of your list by asking yourself a simple question: Did you organically compile your contacts, or did you purchase a list?
Purchasing a list is rarely smart. For one thing, you cannot assess the validity of the contacts until you send your first campaign. Plus, the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 includes numerous rules for how companies can or cannot market via email. Violating the CAN-SPAM act can result in serious consequences, so you want to be sure you’re compliant.
Subject Lines are Crucial
In a previous blog post, we mentioned that email subject lines are incredibly important. Remember to keep them short, with concise language. Do not use excessive capitals or unnecessary punctuation.
There are a variety of other techniques to build a great subject line around, including urgency, timeliness or special offers. It also never hurts to personalize them by tucking the recipient’s name or other personal information into the text of the subject line.
Prime the Pump
The average person is now exposed to somewhere between 4,000-10,000 ads in any given 24-hour period.[i] Because of this, people are much less likely to respond to a cold email from a business that they do not know.
To overcome this challenge, make your email campaigns part of a larger strategy. Market only to people you know or, at the very least, people who have explicitly agreed to give you their contact information.
You should also use other marketing channels like social media to raise your prospects’ awareness of your brand. Even better, conduct personal outreach! If you have a list of contacts, reach out and connect with them on LinkedIn before sending an email. Do whatever you can to ensure that when your email shows up in their inbox, they are going to be intrigued and excited rather than annoyed and apathetic.
Remember the Buyer’s Journey
A best practice with any marketing campaign, email or not, is to meet people where they are. Not everyone is always in the buying mindset. Instead, prospects need to be guided through the “buyer’s journey,” a multi-step process where people move from being aware that they have a problem, to considering potential solutions, to finally making a purchasing decision.
On a practical level, that means that your initial email should be conversational and helpful, sharing thought leadership or helpful advice that is not related directly to your business. After that, you can gradually transition into discussing your offer, always reinforcing how it will help solve your prospects’ problems.
To prepare for this type of outreach, make sure you have collateral that you can attach to your emails. For example, if you are raising awareness for your agency, you could include a thought leadership piece about the benefits of title insurance, before transitioning to something like a brochure that lists your services in the second or third email. Keep trickling information out and always include a strong call to action encouraging people to get in touch and talk further.
As you might suspect, there are a variety of best practices you’ll want to implement when preparing your email marketing campaigns. In addition to what we’ve discussed here, there are a lot of additional tips that can help you also improve the visual design of your emails. Try to incorporate as many best practices as you can. After that, you’ll be in a great place to capitalize on the power of email marketing and start converting mere recipients into reliable customers.
[i] How Many Advertisements Is a Person Exposed to a Day? (gradschools.com)
Develop more valuable connections to your prospects with a well-written and optimized newsletter.
Are you looking to ramp up the marketing of your small agency? If so, consider making an email newsletter part of your toolkit. It may be tempting, especially these days, to think that email is no longer effective. Guess again. According to recent data, email marketing has an average ROI of $42 for every dollar spent. 80 percent of professionals say email is an effective tool for customer acquisition and retention.[i] Get started with your newsletter marketing and start building sustainable demand by implementing the following best practices.
Subject Lines are Key
It is hard to overstate the importance of your email’s subject line, as prospects need to open your email before they can read it. The subject line is essentially your best opportunity to sell the reader on your email’s contents, so you need to make it count. Some main points to remember are to keep your subject lines short, convey the email’s main point or thesis, and avoid using characters like excessive exclamation points, which increase the possibility of your email getting stuck in a spam filter.
Emphasize Your Value Proposition
With any marketing strategy, it’s critical to make it primarily about the customer, not your business. The same idea holds true for your newsletter content. People will open and read your newsletter only if they understand there is something in it for them. Think about how you can deliver content that is exclusive, educational and actionable. For instance, your agency could put together a helpful video explaining how consumers can help keep their escrow funds safe from scammers and include it in your newsletter. You could even solicit participation from your audience, asking them to submit their own topics to be covered in a future newsletter.
Optimize for Readability
Having strong content is only one-half of the equation; you also need to ensure that your newsletter is laid out in an aesthetically pleasing way. Keep your sentences and paragraphs short. Use strong, active verbs. Whatever you do, do not neglect including images. Nothing will turn readers off quicker than encountering walls of text within the body of an email. Many email marketing platforms now include free graphics that you can easily insert into your newsletter, and several sites offer stock photography either for free or at a relatively low cost.
Stick to a Schedule
Amidst all the other responsibilities that come with running an agency, making sure that your newsletter goes out at roughly the same time can seem challenging. Yet it is important to prioritize consistency if you are going to maximize your readership. Sending your newsletter at the same time will make it feel more professional, and it will also help you stick out in your recipients’ crowded inboxes.
Toward More Meaningful Customer Relationships
The marketing landscape is growing ever more complicated, with marketers having access to a variety of different channels and technology. But sometimes tried-and-true methods remain the way to go. Despite being decades old, email is still a viable marketing method that belongs in your arsenal. And when executed correctly, an email newsletter can help you build more meaningful and valuable customer relationships.
[i]10 Email Marketing Statistics You Need to Know (Updated 2021) (constantcontact.com)
Recently, a lot of marketers have found themselves playing in a different sandbox than the one that they may have been used to in the past. The old sandbox consisted of a hybrid kind of marketing, one that relied on both digital and physical platforms. As our world continues to shift for the foreseeable future, more and more of that physical marketing becomes irrelevant and marketing teams find themselves competing in a digital landscape.
There are a lot of benefits to shifting focus to digital. While there are still costs involved in online marketing, they’re often less. However, it also means competing with literally everything else on the internet at any given time. What we present to our target audience has to be put forward in an interesting enough manner that their attention can be pulled from the thousands of other options calling for them at any given time. That’s a tall order!
Shifting your marketing behaviors can be a difficult pill to swallow, but remember that it doesn’t all have to happen overnight. It’s also important to remember that this might not be forever. Right now, we’re in a constant state of adapting. Here are some tips for taking the plunge into this new landscape.
Focus on Engagement
We’re not just talking clicks here. Right now, one of the best things you can do for your marketing is to keep yourself accessible. Schedule live chats or seminars, or even create an online forum. These things may not have been considered to be standard marketing in the past, but right now it’s all about getting that attention. Accessibility will go a long way to set you apart from the rest of the pack.
Keep Your E-Blasts Interesting
You know what’s exhausting? Endless mailers. You know what’s even worse? Endless cookie-cutter mailers. Cutting and pasting information into the same email format you’ve sent forever might be the easy route, but it’s not going to get you the engagement you want – especially not right now. Give your audience a reason to click on your newsletter! You can utilize anything from small giveaways to something as simple as a snappier intro. Make your readers feel like you’re making an effort to connect.
Avoid Platitudes and Watch Your Frequency
We’re all getting inundated with marketing from across industries telling us that everything’s going to be okay and that our best interests are being looked out for. You don’t need to be that person. No one wants to hear platitudes all day long. We’re far enough into our current global situation that we’ve all pretty much figured out what we need on an individual basis. Focus on what you’re bringing to the table, and don’t overwhelm your email list with correspondence.
If you find yourself constantly digging for information to include in your marketing or other digital correspondences, lower the frequency of your newsletter. The people you’re reaching will appreciate that a lot more than a halfhearted information aggregate.
Keep on your Toes
As things change, change with them. There’s no sense in wasting your money on ad space or physical marketing that isn’t working for you. The future’s more uncertain than it has been in several generations. While it can be hard to accomplish, do your best to just go with the flow. Keep with the digital marketing while it makes sense, but be prepared to incorporate the physical back into rotation if the marketing landscape calls for it.
Focus on What Works Best You can read all the advice columns out of Forbes you want, but no one knows better than you do about what you and your audience are looking for. Use the advice of the experts as a spring board, and then do your best to make something unique out of your marketing. Not only will this set you apart from the crowd, it will also give your audience more of a reason to engage.
Would you be surprised to know that 99 percent of people check their email every day?
With a statistic like that,
it’s not hard to see why email marketing is a go-to for marketing campaigns.
What’s confusing, though, is that sometimes, email marketing ROI can look a
An unsuccessful email campaign
in a world where opening emails is such a big part of people’s lives can be
confusing, and brings up an important question:
Where is the gap between consumers checking their email
constantly, but not clicking on your brand’s message?
As you consider the value of email marketing, consider this — 73
percent of millennials prefer email communication when receiving marketing
material. Ultimately, the problem may not be the marketing channel,
but the message delivery. So, is email marketing dead? Or, is there
something that can be done to enhance the email marketing experience — for
consumers and marketers?
A marketing strategy makeover
might be necessary for a struggling brand. Email marketing as a marketing tool
isn’t dead. But some email marketing practices are, such as impersonal email
address lines, violating General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), ignoring
user experience, and not tracking metrics.
If your brand’s email marketing
strategy is currently struggling with bringing in high ROI, it could be that
your strategy hasn’t been improved to reflect how email currently works.
Ultimately, if you’re not
catering to your audiences, or if you’re not using metrics to appropriately
measure and improve your email campaigns, you’re likely missing out on ROI —
not because email marketing is dead, but because your strategy is outdated.
To improve your email marketing
ROI in 2020, here’s what to retire:
1. Impersonal subject lines
Email marketing starts before
readers even open the email. Subject lines can make or break open-rate, a
metric that tracks how many subscribers open your emails.
messages makes readers feel connected to what’s being sold. Generally, making a
subject line personal can be as easy as noting the holiday season or asking a
question to get readers thinking.
Think about what in your email
is the “must-know” takeaway, and create a short subject line that
taps into emotions to get subscribers clicking.
2. Ignoring GDPR standards
GDPR means making sure the reader gives clear, unambiguous
permission to receive marketing emails. Full compliance with GDPR ensures
that sending marketing emails is legal.
GDPR was created so consumers
know their data is protected and being used by brands they have trusted with
personal information. They opt-in to emails they’d like to receive from brands
they’re interested in.
This is good news for marketers
because it means your email campaigns will only be sent to users who are
genuinely interested in your marketing messages. It also ensures your email
marketing messages are compliant with the law.
3. Using templates that aren’t mobile-friendly
The world is mobile now. Many
people check emails from their phone.
Emails that aren’t
mobile-friendly are probably raising your bounce rate exponentially due to poor
user experience. Because it’s so easy to click away from something that’s
unappealing, emails optimized for mobile should be an important step in the
The Apple iPhone is the most popular method for opening emails.
For some audiences, marketing emails that are stellar for mobile should take
priority over emails for desktop, so the majority of readers don’t get turned
away from desktop-friendly templates.
4. Poor email design
It’s imperative to take time
designing emails that delight readers.
Emails lately have gotten snazzy. From animations to
GIFs, and even embedded full-length videos, businesses are dipping their toes
into exciting email marketing efforts to pull readers in.
Emails that have quick loading
time, bold CTAs (Call to Action), and colorful visuals typically perform best.
An email newsletter with long
paragraphs, the same-old template and a CTA that hasn’t changed in years are
less than exciting, and probably leave readers clicking out of that email.
5. Not strategically using metrics
Tracking metrics helps fill in
the gaps when looking where to improve marketing efforts. They break down the
behavior of email subscribers.
Metrics collect data on how
many people are interacting with emails, when they are, who they are, and for
how long. All of this information is important to know when planning because
they lead to important marketing decisions.
Metrics save time by reporting
on what’s working and what isn’t. To begin tracking metrics, consider what
email software you use. Many have reporting and tracking built into their
tools, as well as information about how that data is collected and interpreted.
Ultimately, the reasons you may not be seeing results, is not
because email marketing is dead — it’s because of how you’re
email marketing. So, before you turn away from email marketing as a whole,
think about ways you can improve your strategy to compete.