In 2016, hayWire joined the Red Branch Media family and we’re so happy to be here! Red Branch Media, is a full-service marketing and advertising agency that caters to assisting clients in B2B, Non-Profit, FinTech and more. The Red Branch blog features articles on marketing, design, leadership, HR topics, social media and so much more. This article originally appears on the Red Branch Media blog and is reprinted here with permission.
So you need to create an email blast, huh? There’s more to it than you might think. You don’t get to just slap some sentences together and pin an image on it. That is, not if you want email conversions and results.
Email is a hard business. You build an email, send it out, and you’re lucky if 10% of the people you send to even open your email. Don’t even get me started on click rates. But hey, don’t fret. There are few things you can do to make email creation a little easier on yourself. Take a look:
Tweet This: #EmailMarketing stress you out? These 5 quick steps will help!
1. Find an Inspire
A good design is essential to emails: 79% of people said content and design are the most critical aspects of email creation. However, you don’t need to create a new, groundbreaking, visually stunning idea to attract leads. You can just find an inspire!
Just browse through your own inbox – you may be surprised what cool ideas end up stuck there. Examine why you clicked on “25% off, Today Only!” or “The Chilling Secret That Causes Wrinkles” — if you opened something and read it, or took action, try to figure out what prompted you to do so. In email subject line writing, empathy is king. We also like to visit reallygoodemails.com to scoop up inspires. Here are three examples we like:
Tip: When looking for email inspires, pick something that stands out to you. If you would click on it, chances are others would too.
Your inspire should influence your content, your design, or both. Just don’t get thinking you have to follow it exactly!
2. Write the Copy, Subject Line First
Subject lines are all that matter. Well, not really, but sort of. That’s because if your subject line doesn’t compel your reader to open it, the rest of your email doesn’t matter, even a little bit. You lost your chance. No pressure!
So come up with good ones. Our boss, Maren Hogan, always says a good subject line is specific, short and gives people a peek inside the email.
Vague: Let us help you!
Specific: 15 Minutes to Better Employee Conversations
The latter one tells you how long, who and a benefit. The former could be from a spatula company or your Aunt and Uncle in Idaho. Who knows?
You can also experiment with “jolt” subject lines if you’re brave. A “jolt” subject line will up your open rates but could make people angry. Examples:
- Two Weeks Notice!
- Did you see that typo?
- Re: Your Accounting Error
All of these strike fear in the hearts of the reader and get them to open although they’re for performance review software, an editing app, and an invoicing system, respectively. Now copy…
If your inspire email was a little more design focused and a little less copy focused, writing the copy is going to take a little more effort. That’s okay! Did you know that 65% of senior marketing executives believe that visual assets are core to how their brand story is communicated? But don’t go thinking the copy doesn’t matter. It matters. You have to be engaging, concise and clear.
Tip: When writing copy, remove any unnecessary “that”s. They make your message bulky while adding nothing the message. Also? When talking about “they” ask yourself who is “they”. If you can use a specific term like “moms”, “Investment bankers” or “jobseekers” you go a long way to expressive copy. We find this guide helpful.
Explaining how good copy is written could take up an entire article, so for now here are a few pointers to get you started:
- Write to a specific audience: Who are you writing to? Buyer personas help focus your message.
- Personalize by using first names and “second person” verbiage.
- Match your subject line to your copy: If you promised a solution, deliver.
- Use a clear and engaging CTA. Use a verb, negative words or urgency to get that click!
- Stop Bad Emails Now <<< good
Write easily scannable content. Your paragraphs should be 1-2 sentences max and bulleted or numbered lists are helpful. After all that, you’re well on your way to writing engaging copy!
3. Design the Email
Once you’ve found an inspire you think is neat, you can model your email design after it. Don’t just copy your inspire- make it fit your brand, your voice, and your needs. Most importantly: Know what tools you have! Pasting together a header image, a paragraph, and a CTA button isn’t going to cut it. People expect more out of their emails.
According to Hubspot, 65% of users like emails that are mostly made up of images. So whether you work in CampaignMonitor, MailChimp or Hubspot, make sure you know how to use your email marketing system. Don’t have any experience? Just google what you want to do and the name of your selected email system and you’ll find blog articles, video tutorials and step-by-step guides to designing an email.
Tip: Go outside the box. Literally. Your audience sees dozens of square-shaped emails a day, so design around the box. Make it oval, make it asymmetrical. Make it interesting!
Want to know the most important part of email design? It has to be mobile optimized. More than a quarter (38%) of all emails are now opened on a mobile device. If it looks weird on a phone, you’re going to lose leads.
Tip: Don’t leave out what your audience is telling you. If you see higher open rates on text only emails, it might be time to drop the design chops off until later.
4. Test, test and test again
We’re all human, we make mistakes, and that happens. In email, you don’t get to make mistakes. Sorry, that’s just how it works. A blog can be edited, social media posts can be deleted or revised, and ads can be fixed. But once you send an email, you can’t take it back. It’s out there. If there’s a typo or a broken link in an email blast to 40,000 people, well… Let’s just say it doesn’t look good for your brand. That’s why we test.
Most email clients have the ability to send test emails. It’s in your best interest to take advantage of that. Send as many tests as you can internally. It takes some of the pressure off if you have a group of coworkers to send tests to. Even two pairs of eyes are better than one when it comes to catching mistakes. If you don’t have anyone else, make sure you still send yourself multiple tests. Take an hour or so between tests so you have a fresh view every time you look at it.
Tip: If you’re unsure how a design will work out, A/B test two versions of it. You can test it internally, or to your audience if your email systems allow.
Once you send a test with absolutely no flaws, congratulations! It’s time to schedule your email.
5. Send to the Right Lists
Sending an email to your entire list, or multiple lists, is generally a bad idea. It’s not a focused audience. Poor targeting results in lower open rates, click rates and conversions.
Tip: Don’t buy your email lists! Use opt-in lists generated from your own website or blog. This ensures you’re not sending to anyone who doesn’t want information. Plus, most email marketing software won’t allow purchased lists.
If you can, create an engaged segment in your lists (those who have opened your emails before), and send the majority of your emails to that segment.
It works- marketers have noted a 760% increase in revenue from segmented campaigns. Sometimes, however, you have to send to everyone. How else are you going to get those engaged customers? If you’re sending to your entire list, make sure your content is as general as possible so you can reach a varied audience. Just expect some lower open rates when you do.
It’s time to schedule your email. Research shows the best times to send are Tuesdays at 10am. Of course, we don’t want to all be sending our emails on the same day, so make sure you mix it up sometimes.
Prioritize your send days in this order:
- Tuesday: This is hands down the #1 best day to send emails according to the majority of the data from these studies.
- Thursday: If you send two emails a week, choose Thursday for your second day.
- Wednesday: While no single study showed that Wednesday was the most popular, it came in second place several times.
Tip: Keep in mind your send days might be different. We realized our newsletter got much more traction when we sent it on a Saturday morning and our audience is mostly B2B. When creating a workflow for a church, we realized we needed to account for the clergy’s time off, which was traditionally Monday. So studies are great, but match it up with common sense.
And then you’re done! It’s true, sending marketing emails can be stressful. It’s a high-stakes business! But there are tools and systems to make your life way easier. Good luck!