New Study offers what works in email marketing

A new study highlighted in DM News offers clear evidence that strong visuals and offers personalized by recipients past behaviors leads to the highest open and click-through rates.

Here’s a great example of great visuals in one email by VRBO – they have multiple eye-catching images that all have the same theme – plus spiced up with great offers.

SUBJECT: Plan your leaf peeping excursion

But more importantly than visuals is to make the email about THEM. Send something that they care about – and just maybe they’ll click-through. Check out how Amex catch’s the eye with just the subject line.

SUBJECT: JOHN MURPHY, You’ve Got ✉ : Some News About Your Card 

Benefits of Integrating Your Email and Social Media Strategies

When it comes to audience building, personalized communication and sharing information quickly and efficiently, not much beats email and social media. In fact, at the end of 2014, a survey of business leaders showed that social and email would be these two channels would be the most likely to see an increase in investment in 2015; social media is predicted to grow as a channel by around 37%, and email is expected to jump from 3% growth to nearly 10% in 2015, thanks in large part to improved personalization.

Why are these impressive jumps in growth occurring? One reason might be the high ROI of email. Although email’s response rates may not be ideal (around .12%), its inexpensive nature means that it still sees an ROI of around 28.5%- an impressive amount when compared with direct mail, which only has a 7% ROI. Email is also the most popular activity on smartphones and other mobile devices, with 78% of 18-44 year olds reporting that they use their mobile devices for email.

Meanwhile, there are currently 2.08 billion active social media accounts in the world, representing 23% of the world’s population, and the average social media user spends over two hours per day using social networks. A 2013 study also showed that on average a Facebook like equates to an extra $22 spent on the company (however, keep in mind that this is likely to vary greatly by industry).

With these two channels exploding, marketers are realizing that they might be able to harness the power of email to improve their social media reach, and vice versa. Traditionally, however, the crossover between email subscribers and social media followers isn’t usually very high. For example, a recent study found that out of one company’s social media followers, only around 50% were also subscribed to their newsletter. Similarly, crossover between social media sites is also limited; only 5% of that same company’s Facebook fans were following them on Twitter, while only 40% of the company’s Twitter followers were also Facebook fans.

On the surface, email and social media are very different channels with very different purposes; email is typically considered a mid-funnel channel, while social media often sits at the top of the funnel. But how can marketers leverage each channel to improve the other?

Using Social Media to Grow Email

While social media may seem like the best way to build your brand awareness and capture new fans, capturing your social media followers’ email addresses is still the best way to own your audience. Social media audiences are “leased” rather than owned, and nothing exemplifies this truth better than Facebook’s declining organic reach. In 2014, Facebook ended the free ride they had been giving businesses and brands in order to reach their audience for free, and marketers were left scrambling- and paying- to enjoy the reach they once enjoyed for free. You don’t own your Facebook audience- Facebook does. This makes capturing email addresses (a truly owned channel) more crucial than ever.

First, make it easy for your followers to sign up for your email newsletter. Many email clients provide an app that can be linked to Facebook, allowing Facebook fans to easily sign up for email newsletters. A seamless, simple process will encourage your social fans to follow through with the sign-up process.

Next, use your social media channels to offer followers previews of your premium email content (ReachMail has a social media sharing tool that allows you to easily post your messages to your company’s social media pages). Email newsletters are more suited to long-form, original content, while Facebook or Twitter posts are better for short, pithy updates. However, your Facebook and Twitter channels are great avenues for previewing your exclusive email content, and offering those previews can encourage your social media fans to sign up for your newsletter.

One impressive example of these two strategies succeeding comes from KFC and the launch of their Double Down sandwich. During this launch, KFC implemented an email sign-up widget on their Facebook page and sent an email to current subscribers encouraging them to share an email pre-announcing the Double Down. KFC found that the email was shared more than 12,000 times on Twitter and Facebook alone in just 24 hours, and thanks to the social media shares and the traffic to the email widget, opt-ins for email subscriptions rose 30%.

You may also choose to incentivize newsletter signups. Many e-commerce retailers provide incentives of 10-20% off a purchase in exchange for signing up for an email list; however, you can also offer other incentives, such as exclusive content, free samples, or sweepstakes entries. For example, online tea retailer Teapigs offered 10% off of a purchase via Facebook in exchange for an email sign-up, which led to a 30% increase in newsletter sign-ups.

Remember the statistics we mentioned earlier about how email is now the most popular activity on smartphones and other mobile devices? 45% of all email opens occurred on mobile platforms in 2014, while 30% of consumers report that they exclusively read their email on mobile devices. Even worse, 69% of mobile users report deleting emails that aren’t mobile optimized. Therefore, it’s imperative that your emails are optimized for mobile use.

Using Email Marketing to Grow Social Channels

Facebook and other social media sites are traditionally seen as top of funnel marketing channels best-suited for attracting new customers and increasing brand awareness. But in fact, Facebook has been proven to be less than ideal for creating new customers; around 84% of Facebook fans on company pages represent current customers, meaning that Facebook is best suited towards keeping existing customers.

Email, meanwhile, is seen as more of an ‘owned’ audience, managed and controlled by the brand for the purpose of moving leads down the sales funnel. However, with a twist on the tactics discussed above, you can still use email marketing to grow your social channels.

The most immediately successful way to use your email list to grow your social channels is simple: add buttons to the bottom of your emails directly linking to your social pages. This cross-channel promotion has been shown to lead to a 325% increase in new Facebook fans on the day of the newsletter (the reversal of this cross-channel promotion is also a smart strategy; a Facebook wall post encouraging subscription to the newsletter led to a 225% increase in new subscriptions compared to the average daily sign-up rate).

Don’t be shy about using these buttons in your email list. The more often a button linking to social media is available to an email subscriber, the more likely the user is to take advantage of it. Other places to put the button can include on the confirmation page after they sign up for the email list, in welcome emails, and in customer service emails.

Another ReachMail feature you can take advantage of here is our autoresponder. If you’re already sending a welcome series, consider adding one email specifically inviting your new subscribers to join you on each of your social media channels.

Incentives also work for increasing your social channels. Use your email list to send our notices for sweepstakes and other promotions, and you’ll see your social media likes and followers rise.

Koyal Wholesale, the world’s largest supplier of products for weddings, integrated their social media presence into email campaigns to great success. Their email list had over 200,000 subscribers, and by including their Facebook and YouTube content in these emails, Koyal Wholesale achieved a 12% lift in their emails’ open rates, a 10% lift in conversion rates, and ultimately a 16% lift in revenue.

Using your email marketing list to grow your social channels- and vice versa- is a win-win situation. However, a word of caution: marketers should be careful to remember what each channel’s specific purpose is. While keeping your channels’ goals set to their specific strengths and purposes is important for successful cross-channel promotion, the fact is that using one channel to fuel the success of the other is a smart marketing strategy. By integrating your email and social media strategies, you can increase your brand’s reach, adding to your leads and moving them down the sales funnel.

Stay away from these email villains!

Designing a marketing email is sort of like hiring a marketing team that’s going to run your entire promotional effort. Each different design element you could possibly add to your email promotion package is like a distinct character of their own and while some of these characters are great, professional and very effective, others are just losers who will only sink your better elements.

Fortunately, knowing which characters to avoid doesn’t have to be a game of guesswork. We’ve done most of this work for you by creating a public enemies list. Here’s a quick introduction to The Five Killers of Good Email Design.

If you can’t view the video in the iFrame above, try this link below:
Check out the video here.

1. Mr. Loud Colors

What’s wrong with Mr. Loud Colors? Quite simply it’s that he’s like the guy at a business meeting who dresses completely in pink or purple. He may have something serious to say but nobody at all is going to hear it because they’ll be too busy wondering what’s up with his suit.

Don’t make this mistake with any of your campaign materials, from mail-outs to landing pages and any other pages in your marketing funnel. Even if you’re selling flowers, stick as much as possible to softer colors that don’t distract from your actual written or audio message.

Instead, use more neutral colors such as white, gray, blue and other low key shades that offer style but don’t call more attention than what you’re trying to actually say.

2. Mr. Distortion

Mr. Distortion, just like Mr. Loud Colors, is a problematic character, but in his case, he’s like the guy that acts professionally sometimes and completely loses it on other occasions. Avoid this problem by always testing your emails.

In other words, when you create a well-designed, professional email campaign that seems to work, go ahead and actually make sure that it looks equally professional and as you designed it regardless of what email system it’s sent to.

Be sure to test across all major clients, including Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook, Hotmail and whoever else you notice your clients using. Check each email to each client thoroughly and fix errors as necessary. One good way to minimize the chance of problems is by keeping your email structure as simple and straightforward as possible (while still keeping your message interesting). This may seem tedious but it can save you from hundreds of customers not reading your messages.

3. Mr. Red X

Mr. Red X is the kind of guy who shows up because you didn’t carefully explain your message even in places where it didn’t seem necessary, especially when you have images in your emails.

In other words, when you’re creating your next email marketing message and decide to include some images without having bothered to explain each with an alt tag (a text description that describes your image), Mr. Red X will appear, literally, as a red X, if your clients have image display turned off in their email. Thus, instead of a piece of engaging copy describing your equally engaging image, all these subscribers will see is Mr. Red X.

4. Mr. Pixels

Mr. Pixels is a character who thinks he looks good, so more of him must look better. Sadly, that’s just not the case.

In other words, Mr. Pixels is the guy that shows up when you take nice looking small images and try to resize them into something larger. Instead of what you wanted, what you get is an ugly, deeply pixelated mess that looks unprofessional.

Instead, stick to the original sizes of your images and if you’d like bigger photos, then upload pictures whose natural pixel size is large enough.

5. Mr. Wordy

Finally we get down to Mr. Wordy, possibly one of the worst and most insidious characters in your campaign. He thinks he’s so charming that he can’t shut up and stop showboating with too much copy and imagery. And instead of impressing, all he does is talk your customers right out of your email without them ever clicking on anything.

In other words, don’t overload your email body with too much copy, too much unnecessary description and too many images. Instead, remember the KISS principle (Keep It Simple Stupid) and get to your point as smoothly and quickly as you can.

So now that you know who these five dangerous characters are, you also know who needs to be kept away from your email campaign.