Improve your email marketing in 2016

The choice of digital channels is ever increasing, but email marketing continues to be one of the most effective. So, how can we improve the performance of our email campaigns?

The email marketing landscape is constantly changing, meaning we need to be smarter with how we approach our campaigns. The most notable change over recent years is undoubtedly the increase in mobile usage. Research and statistics vary wildly, but on the whole, more people view emails on a mobile device than they do on a desktop computer.

How does this change user behaviour? The quick answer is that we’ve got a shorter window of opportunity for our emails to grab the recipient’s attention, meaning we have to be much smarter with our campaigns.

Mobile performance

We need to make it as easy and encouraging as possible for the recipient to engage with our emails. The obvious point is to make sure our emails look good and perform well on mobile devices. We can do this by making sure they are responsive, so they display constantly on devices with any sized screen. The other point is to make sure the emails are ‘light’. Keep image sizes right down, and make sure the emails can still convey their message and calls to action even when embedded images haven’t loaded.

In an Email Marketing workshop I held recently, I was asked about animated gifs in emails. The reports and case studies I have read showed, in most cases, that they improved email click-throughs. A word of warning, however; animated gifs can easily have large file sizes. I received a very nice looking email several months ago, but it had five gifs embedded in it, each with a file size of between three and seven MBs. When gifs are loading they are jumpy and just not nice. Even using broadband I got very bored very quickly waiting for them to load, and didn’t stick around long enough to find out what the email was about. On mobile I dare say the drop-off rate from that email would’ve been even higher.

Segmentation and personalisation

These are not new techniques, but they are effective ones. Sending the consumer emails that are relevant to them will unsurprisingly improve performance. With the right data, segmentation and personalisation can be simple and effective. Examples of usable data for this could be purchase history, browsing habits on your website, consumer location, and even behaviour with previous email campaigns. MailChimp recently published some results on the effects of list segmentation. They conclusively show that opens and clicks are increased and unsubscribes reduced.

Content is still King, but with more people viewing emails on mobiles devices than ever before, our content needs to be efficient. It needs to be quickly understood, easily digestible, and have a clear call to action. By using segmentation and personalisation we can tailor content more accurately and increase conversions.

A/B split testing

This is one of the most powerful tools we have at our disposal as email marketers. What better way to increase the performance of our campaigns than by using the volume of recipients in our mailing lists and the performance data? It’s simple; we make one variation in our email and send it to half the mailing list. The remaining half of the list receive the other variation. We can then clearly see from the data if that change had any effect. Ensure you only make one change at a time, however! If you make multiple changes then it’s much harder to identify which change made the difference.

What about video?

2016 is being touted as the year video in emails will become more commonplace. There is an ever increasing thirst from consumers for video across all channels, and email could and should be able to satisfy that. Email client support for video is constantly improving, but is still, for me and our current clients, a little too far off. I’d recommend looking through several of your previous campaigns’ reporting to see which email clients your recipients are using, and make a decision from there as to whether it is a safe bet to use video.

We can help you

We offer tailored Email Marketing workshops for businesses. Contact us to find out more.

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