5 easy ways to instantly improve your email marketing

Here are five really simple tips which you can use immediately to improve your email marketing.

With opens on mobile devices now exceeding 50%, it’s vital to design with mobile in mind, while not forgetting desktop users.

Recent research shows that if an email doesn’t look good on mobile, many users will delete, or at worst unsubscribe.

All these tips will make your emails more mobile-friendly and help you produce succinct, compelling copy.

1. Use buttons for your calls to action

Buttons will always generate more clicks than text links, especially for mobile users.

Consider which of these is more likely to get clicked.

The 10th annual Comic Arts Festivals is taking place in Brighton next month, and you can register here to get your tickets online.

Or

The 10th annual Comic Arts Festivals is taking place in Brighton next month.

If you’re using a platform such as MailChimp, buttons are straightforward to add.

2. Keep your calls to action short and avoid friction words

This first example is far too long, and everyone will know it’s a link, so you don’t have to instruct them to click.

The second example is much shorter and reiterates the benefit.

Friction words are those that imply your reader has to do something they don’t necessarily want to do.

Common friction words include:

  • Download
  • Buy
  • Order
  • Submit

This example is for a free copywriting guide.

The second example reiterates the benefit. It doesn’t even need to state the need to download it – readers will know this.

3. Always include a pre-header

A pre-header is the summary text that follows the subject line when viewing an email from the inbox.

Many mobile, desktop and web email clients display email pre-headers to provide a preview of what the message contains before you open it.

Pre-headers deliver a seven per cent higher open rate, on average.

Pre-headers also come in handy if the subject line has been truncated as in the first example below.

In this example, which is landscape view on an iPhone, both the subject line and pre-header are visible, thus complementing each other perfectly.

In the examples above, without a pre-header, subscribers would only see “No images? Click here”.

4. Keep it succinct. Use short sentences and paragraphs

Subscribers are more likely to read and act on short and punchy emails.

After you’ve written your copy, re-read it, and remove any superfluous words.

We’d like to take this opportunity to thank all our customers for their business over the past year.

becomes

Thank you for your business in 2019; we appreciate it.

5. It’s not about you. It’s about them

I regularly receive emails from businesses headed “Here’s what we’ve been up to”.

Yawn.

Often, these include articles such as “Here are some websites we’ve built recently” or “We’d like to welcome John Smith to our accounts team. His hobbies are rambling and trainspotting”.

So what? How does this “news” benefit the reader?

Taking the second example, by all means, announce John, but explain the benefits for the customer. So it could become:

New appointment brings faster turn-round for your PAYE enquiries

We’re delighted to welcome John Smith to our accounts team. John has ten years’ payroll experience, and he will be your dedicated point of contact for PAYE enquiries. As a result our turn-round time for queries will reduce from 48 to 24 hours.

• About the author

Julian Wellings has 12 years’ email marketing experience and works with clients across the UK.

 

 

Why the plain text version of your e-newsletter is important

When you create your e-newsletter or e-shot, if you’re using an email service provider such as Mailchimp or Campaign Monitor, a plain text version is automatically created for you.

It’s vital to include a plain text version otherwise ISPs will assume your email is from an untrustworthy source and could block it as spam. Another reason is some recipients prefer to read in plain text rather than HTML.  In fact, some corporate email systems still use plain text as their default.

It’s also important that you then edit your plain text version, not just to aid readability but also to increase the chances of conversion.

Campaign Monitor have produced some excellent tips on plain text emails.

Read “How to turn your plain-text emails into conversion machines” >

Kind words from a client

I’ve been producing a monthly email newsletter for Winchcombe-based British Bespoke Auctions for three years.

Auctioneer Nicholas Granger with Bella the parrot.

Auctioneer Nicholas Granger with Bella the parrot

Following the most recent newsletter, I was delighted to receive this unsolicited testimonial from business owner Nicholas Granger.

I just wanted to write a few words to thank you for your positive input into our business over the last three years. You are always there when we need you, and as owner operator you understand our needs. You have taken our business email marketing from nothing to something amazing.

How to avoid your email marketing looking like spam

Have you noticed how spammers and scammers use personal names rather than brand names in the “from” section of their emails? Usually they’re female names.

Here’s a recent example.

Spam example

The reason why they do this is hopefully obvious. It’s so that the email looks like it’s from a real person.

My tip to avoid looking like a spammer.

Use your business name as the “from” name. 
If you use your own name, and not everyone on your list knows who you are, this may affect your open rate.  I receive a lot of email marketing emails done like this. Another option is to use your business name followed by your own name.  Eg.  From: [Expertise on Tap – Julian Wellings]

Email marketing – how NOT to manage your unsubscribe process

I’ve blogged before about why your unsubscribe process should be as simple as possible – ideally a one click process.

The screen shot below from Avid is a good example of how not to do it. Instead of a one click unsubscribe, where you click a link in the newsletter and it’s sorted, with Avid you’re taken to a web page with a myriad of choices. In fact it’s not an unsubscribe page at all – it’s a subscribe page.

Only on looking closely do you find a tiny unsubscribe link at the foot of the page. When you click this, it won’t process until you enter your email address. Again, with a one click process you should not have to enter your email address.

To summarise:

  1. Keep your unsubscribe process simple.
  2. If you want subscribers to be able to manage their preferences or interests, if you use an email service provider such as Mailchimp or Campaign Monitor it’s possible to add a link to enable this. Make sure the preferences are kept to a minimum.
Avid unsubscribe process

Example of Avid unsubscribe process.

Is your carefully crafted email campaign displaying properly?

Your email campaign might look great when you send it out, but what about when it reaches the other end? 

For example, here’s what happened when Twitter sent out a campaign promoting their new Twitter Ads product.

This is how it’s supposed to look…

twitter2

Below is how the email I received appeared in Outlook…
twitter1
  • The blue header “Business” which should be spanning full width, no longer is.
  • And the body text is no longer spanning the full width of the “You’re almost there” header above.
  • The footer content is displaying vertically rather than in a neat horizontal fashion.
  • Overall, the email is not displaying as intended, giving it a rather odd, disjointed look.
Imagine if this was a printed brochure or a press advert. You wouldn’t be too pleased if it ended up like this, would you? An email campaign should be no different.

To explain the technical reasons as to why this happens would take a very long blog post, however to avoid this sort of scenario I have a 21-point quality control check for every client campaign I send out.

TIPS
  1. If you’re doing your own email marketing, for example in Mailchimp, send tests to a minimum of Outlook, Gmail, AOL and Outlook.com (formerly Hotmail). For the latter three it’s free to set up email accounts with these webmail providers.
  2. Test on smartphones. Definitely on an iPhone and ideally Android as well . Also test on tablet devices such as iPad and iPad Mini if you have one.
  3. If all the above sounds a bit of a kerfuffle, why not outsource your email marketing to me, so you can get on with running your business?
  4. If you’re outsourcing your email marketing to another provider, ask them how they manage their quality control. For example do they have a 21-point quality control check like I do?

 

How BBC Radio 2 recognised the power of email to engage with listeners

BBC Radio 2 has recently launched Radio 2 Mail, a weekly e-newsletter with the strapline “Sharing what we love about Radio 2”

Radio 2 MailThese days the BBC has many ways of engaging with it’s audience ranging from phone ins, texts into programmes, and of course Twitter and Facebook. So, I found it refreshing that Radio 2 has recognised the power of email newsletters as an additional way of engaging with listeners.

And they’ve executed it really well.

The copy on their Radio 2 Mail web page is full of benefit statements and emotive keywords. For example:

Handpicked by our very own presenters.
Each week, a different presenter will round up their favourite moments on Radio 2.
They might even let you in on a few behind-the-scenes secrets!

The welcome email you receive after subscribing is warm and inviting, with a link to a video featuring four of the presenters. See below…

How could you use an email newsletter in your business to engage with your prospective clients and build brand awareness? I can help. Ask me how.

Example of Radio 2 Mail welcome email

Radio 2 Mail welcome email