Every year there’s a new barrage of articles stating that email is worn out, a dying or endangered medium, on the outs. But recent statistics tell a different story:
- email is nearly 40 times better than Facebook and Twitter for acquiring customers. (McKinsey & Company)
- 72% of consumers prefer communication via email. (MarketingSherpa)
- there were 93.1 billion consumer emails sent/received per day in 2015. (Radicati)
Consider this, consumers receive around 50 promotional emails a day(attentiv), that’s 350 emails a week, 1500 a month, or 18,250 emails a year. And remember, this doesn’t even include everyday communications with friends and family.
So while email is certainly not about to kick the bucket, the job of email marketers is getting harder as competition for space in inboxes grows. Here are eight do’s and don’ts to ensure you stay at the top of the inbox and top of mind for your customers.
Preview your Email in Different Inboxes and Across Devices
- 79% of consumers use their smartphone for reading email (Adobe). Now, this doesn’t mean that people don’t use laptops, desktops, and tablets for emailing, but as consumers have more and more devices at their fingertips, it’s important to be able to present a seamless email experience across all devices. A lot of email marketing platforms have preview capability built in. However, if you don’t have access to this type of testing, check out Email on Acid which allows you to preview your message across 48 different email platforms and a handful of devices.
Test, Test, and Test Some More
- Testing is the cornerstone of eCommerce email marketing and enables you to learn what resonates with your audience. A/B testing everything from subject lines, content, and CTA colors are key to creating high engagement emails. TeeTurtle, an apparel retailer and Windsor Circle client, used subject line A/B testing to increase open rates to around 60% (see the video below). When A/B testing make sure you track what changes are made and the impact, otherwise it’s easy to forget what you were testing and what you should test next.
Track your Progress
- Make sure you know what your average open, click, and conversion rates were before you start testing, and how those compare to your emails as you start implementing these strategies. Are you seeing higher conversions? Opens? Clicks? What patterns can be seen? Are there certain types of subject lines that are garnering the most engagement? Specific content? Simply putting results into an Excel document for review is a great way to collect this information and get daily, weekly, and monthly snapshots.
Include Unsubscribe and Manage Your Preferences Options
- First and foremost, it’s the law. The CAN-SPAM Act, signed into law in 2003, established rules for commercial email. It gives recipients the right to have you stop emailing them, and spells out penalties for violation of the act. Learn more here. Secondly, adding a “manage your preferences” option keeps your customers happy by letting them tell you how often they want to be contacted. Including this option allows the customer to be in control and select the number of times a week or month they want to be contacted by a particular vendor. While I’m on this note, make sure to create an unsubscribe page that calls out the “manage your preferences” link. It might just be the thing you need to live to send an email another day.
Send the Same Message to Every Person
- I know I say this a lot, but if you’re still sending every customer the same message, now is the time to start segmenting your customer list. Be diligent in who you are sending email promotions to. Customer segmentation and personalization dramatically increases email engagement. A report by Experian stated that personalized promotional mailings have 29% higher unique open rates and 41% higher unique click rates than non-personalized mailings.
An Email a Day….May Keep your Customers Away
- Hand in hand with the above “don’t,” emailing a customer more than once a day or even every day is overkill. Let’s remember, on average, consumers are receiving about 50 emails a day. Now, imagine if you, as the consumer, can say that of the 350 emails you received in a week, 5+ came from one retailer, not the best look for a retailer. Yes, there are some very large brands that can get away with this type of marketing, but as a general rule of thumb, let’s keep it to two to three emails a week. During high traffic times, like the holidays, a higher volume is more acceptable. One way to help keep all the moving parts in order, is to create an eCommerce email marketing plan to map out the number of touches each of your segments will receive each month.
Only Rely Only on Linked Images
- Images in emails are great, people love them and they make your emails look snazzy; however, not every reader enables images in their email. If you are only linking images, you are going to miss out on marketing to people who have “display images” turned off in their email settings. The solution is simple, for each image link, make sure there is at least some text that is hyperlinked to the same page on your site. It may seem redundant, but this tiny fix can help boost clicks.
Get Caught in the Spam Filters
- As spam filters become smarter and evolve, it’s important to make sure you’re doing everything you can to ensure your email is not getting tagged as spam. First and foremost, avoid using trigger words in your subject lines. Things like: “FREE,” “Buy Now,” “4U,” or “Urgent” are dangerous for your eCommerce email marketing. Get the entire list here.
While there are many ways you can impact your eCommerce email marketing performance, these 8 do’s and don’ts will help you rule the inbox in 2016.