LeAnn Wilson McGuire Writing her Right Brain column

Right Brain

Email is one of the most effective mediums in marketing. But it’s not magic. You do have to follow some standard procedures for it to work. Whether you’re new to emails altogether or you’ve just realized your email strategy needs a face-lift, we’ve got a few recommendations to get you moving in the right direction:

  1. KEEP IT SHORT

This is pretty much the rule of thumb for all things email. Subject line, headline, body copy, call to action – whatever it is, keep it brief. In today’s world of skimmers and scrollers, attention spans are short and people are distracted. You have just seconds (sometimes less) to grab their attention and convey a message. Yes, I said “A” message. As in one, singular message. Do NOT tell them everything.

There’s a popular saying in the marketing world that goes something like, “A good ad does one thing well, two things not well and three things not at all.” It’s true for emails too. Print it out and tape it to your wall. Get it tattooed on your arm. Do whatever you have to do to keep yourself from cluttering up your email with multiple messages.

NOTE: Obviously, newsletters are different because they are aptly-named letters about news, so multiple messages are okay there. But even your news should be short. Think blurbs, not articles.

  1. PERSONALIZE AND CUSTOMIZE

Guess what? People don’t care about you or your product/service. You know what they care about? Themselves. On the bright side, you can easily capitalize on the world’s inherent narcissism by personalizing your email campaigns. If you have a detailed contact list with first names, you can code a mass email to start with “Hi, WhatsYourName,” and everyone on your list will see their own name and receive a little shot of dopamine to their brains.

Research shows personalized email messages improve click-through rates by an average of 14% and conversions by 10%. And emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened. Now that’s worth a little extra coding, am I right?

But personalization isn’t just adding in a contact’s name. It’s about creating custom experiences tailored to a person’s individual preferences. That means knowing Jen is a woman so she gets the email promoting a new line of bikinis while Rob is a man so he gets the swim trunks. It could also mean segmenting your contacts based on behavior – You got Lisa’s email address because she downloaded your Gardening Guide, so you send her a coupon for planters or shovels. Or interest – DJ is a web developer so, even though your project management software works for all industries, you send him specific messaging about how it can help a web agency.

  1. TRACK IT

In order to compile the kind of data that will allow you to personalize messages in the ways described above, you’ve got to track your website traffic. At the very least, put tracking code on every clickable button/image/word in your email. That way you can see how many people your email is pushing to your site and if they are exploring further.

Don’t forget to analyze your email results. Pay attention to your open rates and click-through rates and look for patterns to see what parts of your email people are responding to. Do subject lines with emojis perform better with your audience? Do emails with a blue call-to-action button have higher click-through rates? Test your copy and design to learn what works best for each of your audiences.

  1. JUST SEND IT

Let’s talk optimal send times. You’ve probably heard that studies show Tuesdays and Thursdays before noon perform best. The thing is, other studies show other things. If you dive into research on email performance, you’ll find some say B2C emails are best received on weekends and others say all emails perform best during the workweek. Some suggest inboxes are overloaded on Tuesdays (now that everyone thinks that’s the best time to send), so you should actually avoid the clutter and try a Thursday.

The truth is, discovering the optimal send times for your audience is a part of creating a customized email experience. So you’re going to have to do some testing and find out what’s best for your specific market.

The most important thing to remember is: Send it! If your email isn’t ready to go at 10 am on Tuesday (or whatever your optimal send time is), just send it Wednesday. What matters more than your timing, your creative and even your messaging, is your ability to get in front of your audience regularly. Email is one of the best tools out there for reaching your target market and keeping them engaged. So come up with a strategy, implement some A/B testing and push SEND.