Email marketing myths

There are loads of best practice articles, whitepapers and blogs out there.

Sometimes it gets confusing to see the truth from the myths. So I’m are going to dispel some of the myths for you.

“The subject line is most important thing for getting an open”

Actually no it isn’t, but it is an important factor that plays it’s part. There are actually other things to consider. Firstly, the biggest factor that determines if your email is opened, is actually the previous set of emails you sent to that subscriber. If they found nothing of relevance or value then they are likely to stop opening your emails no matter what you put in the subject line.

Secondly, it is often the ‘From Name’ used that has more influence, which is why we recommend using a ‘First name – company name’ combination which generally gets 20-25% more opens.

“10am on Wednesday is a great time to send email”

It might be this week, or in 2 months time, but the concept of a best time to send email is nonsense. By all means test this, but don’t expect your results to be too reliable or repeatable, especially as reader habits can change on a daily basis. Clearly avoid sending emails in the middle of the night, unless your target audience are Vampires, but don’t worry about scheduling emails for an optimum time. We recently analysed our data to see what times were the most effective with our clients. The results pointed to a number of results appearing as more successful. However it strongly depends on the nature of the email and the recipient.

“You cannot use the word FREE”

He is some FREE advice, yes you can! Junk mail filtering based upon keywords is very old hat now, so go ahead and use ‘free’ as much as you like.

“Gmail’s promotions tab is killing email marketing”

Research has shown it isn’t. Gmail implemented the promotions tab as a means of keeping some semblance of control with all the emails you receive. It helps a customer keep personal emails separate to commercial emails, making it easier to stay on top of everything. It’s probably had a small impact, but most people won’t notice anyway, and it certainly will reduce the amount of spam complaints as consumers no longer need to aggressively manage their email in the same way.

“You need to send more and less email”

There is always one person in the industry who insists it’s ok to send more and more emails, as it will increase the number of clicks you generate. That’s fine when measured in the short term, but in the long term you are going to fatigue your database. What makes this argument less convincing is when it comes from people who make money from sending more and more email campaigns.

Then there is another argument, that you need to send ‘less email’ – and this is often where you might be encountering junk issues at big providers like Hotmail and Yahoo. Be careful of this approach though, and consider if really that is going to help, or is it simply that you are on a shared IP with less desirable senders who are bringing you down? If thats the case, sending less email will actually do nothing to help.

“Deliverability is 100% down to your sending reputation”

If you are using a shared IP, your reputation is actually down to everyone else’s email as well. A good shared IP is great as it allows you to benefit from the reputation of other good senders. While a bad shared IP clearly leaves you with no hope of building a good reputation.

Thats why at GraphicMail we are very picky about who we work with to ensure when on a shared IP you are safe in the knowledge that you are sharing it with the very best.

Feel like I’ve missed something? Drop your question in the comment box or get in touch with one of our email experts today!


5 quick wins: Boost your email marketing now

We often talk about strategies that have a long term impact on your email marketing, yet these are not always something you can start straight away.

Perhaps you need data, perhaps you need time, or perhaps you need the budget. So here are 5 things you can do today to give your email marketing an immediate boost in performance.

From Name

Most brands simply use their brand name in the from line. Instead, try using ‘First name – brand name’ in an A/B test and you may see a 20-25% uplift in opens and clicks. Why? It just stands out a little bit more and adds a personal touch. It’s a quick and easy change which can significantly improve results, so it’s worth trying out.

Template Eyetracking

A tool we love is Feng-Gui. This replicates a eye-tracking study to show you where the eye is going on your template. It highlights things that you will miss, like getting no attention on call to actions or headlines. Run your emails through this for less than a £1 a time to open your eyes to a host of potential changes that can improve how your emails are performing.

What can you personalise?

Personalisation always works better than generic content. Yes many personalisation projects can get complicated but there are lots of things you can do straight away. This could be using the first name in the subject line, changing the hero image in your email based upon their gender or using something else you have stored against their email address in your ESP.

Re-send the email

It still amazes me how brands send an email and expect all responses to come from the first send. If you have an offer then send at least one reminder, even if you simply change the subject line or cut down on the content. Reminders can even generate more revenue, especially if they are close to the end of a promotion as the added urgency generates action right now from your subscribers.

Change your opt-in

We still see opt-in boxes that are far from optimised. Ideally you should have them pre-ticked so the customer doesn’t have to take any action with a clear message to prevent confusion for the customer. Additionally, be sure to to sell the benefits of receiving the emails, for example, how appealing is a call to action saying ‘Sign up for emails’, compared to, ‘Get Exclusive Offers & discounts direct to your inbox’. We have seen clients more than double opt-in rates from these simple changes.

So there you have it, a few quick tips to help boost your email marketing activity in the short term. For more information on how we may be able to help with your email marketing activities, get in touch today with one of our experts.


Gain customer reviews with email

Customer reviews are a great means of boosting on-site conversion rates.

I for one always read reviews for products I wish to purchase, and they have a major role in the decision making process. Getting customers to post reviews and share their opinion is often a challenge for many, however one main technique to collect the bulk of reviews is through post-purchase email. Here is my guide for maximising your review collection rates:

1. Incentivise

A review email which uses some form of incentive for leaving a review will always dramatically outperform ones that don’t. If discounts don’t suit your brand, then prize draws offer an alternative means of delivering that reason for leaving the review. Don’t forget you are asking your customers for their time, so an incentive will help.

2. Keep it simple

Your review email should only have one objective – to get a review. Do not try and achieve multiple things with this email, there are many other opportunities for this. Also, this means removing all clutter and distraction from your email, and having big, bright call to action buttons for taking customers to your review page.

3. Remind customers

As with all key campaigns a reminder will add a significant boost. Even if you don’t have a tight enough integration with your reviews provider to know if a review has been left, a good halfway step is simply only remind those that did not click on the first email.

4. Automate

Trying to manage the collection of reviews manually is not going to be manageable in the long term. Ensure you set-up a feed of orders, and the items they have purchased to your ESP so you can trigger the review request for the appropriate amount of time after their order has been dispatched.

5. Make it easy

Making it easy for your customers to provide you with a review is essential. Don’t confuse the customer and over complicate the journey by making it a long winded and complicated process. Instead, include a obvious link directly to the review page, or perhaps embed the review into the email itself.


5 Email marketing time savers

I’m sure many of you would agree with me that there are never enough hours in the day – time is precious to the modern day marketer and there is always more which we could be doing.

So here are a few email marketing time savers to help you reduce the time spent on day to day email issues.

1. The Seed List

By creating a seed list you are able to send your email campaign by a click of a button to a selected group of contacts before sending it to your actual email database. This enables you to test it across multiple inboxes and receive approval from those necessary. If you are using a system that makes you send a separate campaign, chances are you are spending many extra hours fiddling about getting tests out of the door.

2. Data Integration

There should be no need to spend time loading data for every send. For a one-off effort you should be able to define an extract from your system to your ESP, and then have this run on an automated basis, eliminating the chance of errors, and ensuring your data is always live. Not to mention the world of opportunities with trigger based emails this opens up for you.

3. Reporting Dashboards

The norm in the email marketing world is to have reporting at campaign level only. And once you get to a certain level of campaigns and tests this makes the reporting a major job.

When you dive into the deep analytics of your campaigns, email reporting can become a major task. When choosing your platform pick one  that provides all the data you need in one place. You don’t want to be using the old school method of copying figures from your ESP into your internal spreadsheets.

4. Content Feeds

Why manually craft content when you can automate it? GraphicMail provides you with the ability to pull content from the feed of your choice into HTML format within your email. This could be done with your Twitter or Facebook feeds, or even include the RSS feed from your blog to keep your subscribers up to date with all your latest content and news.

5. Segments

Different email systems have different ways of creating segments. We chose to make them a time saving feature so you can re-use them easily. For example, you want to send to all male customers, who have opened an email in the last year and have never purchased, we would have 3 saved segments that you simply tick. Then when we send the female version we untick the male segment and tick the female segment. This saves huge amounts of time over systems where you would need to create a new segment for each combination of those rules, plus it puts the data selections in the hands of less technical members of the team who are far more comfortable with ‘ticking’ than creating their own rules.


The do’s and don’ts of Email Marketing

Just like most things in life, email marketing has a number of do’s and don’ts which when followed, can significantly improve campaign performance.

There are too many to cover in one short blog, but here are some which I believe are due your full consideration when planning your email marketing campaigns.

DO send reminder emails

Time and again we see marketers launch attractive offers, achieve great results with their email and then simply stop. Not everyone failing to open the email will not be interested, we are all busy people with overloaded inboxes and sometimes it simply does not register. A general rule of thumb is to resend the email and you will get half the response again. In fact, sometimes you may achieve better results than the initial send as the reminder provokes that sense of urgency as the offer deadline nears.

DO cart recovery emails

With an average basket abandonment rate of around 70% , there is a growing need for retailers to include a well crafted cart recovery programme as apart of their email marketing strategy. A recent basket abandonment programme provided one client with a 5.7% sales uplift, and for a small amount of effort to implement the programme, it’s one of the biggest no brainers in email marketing for retailers.

DO send a welcome email

Your new subscribers are the most important people in your database. They will not only be the most engaged, but the most likely for you to annoy and switch off. Don’t simply dump new subscribers in with everyone else, put them into a separate tailored programme of emails designed specifically to educate them about your brand, and push them through key stages such as downloading your app, using parts of the site functionality or simply making that first purchase.

DON`T make subscribers think

Email is a medium where you have seconds to make an impact. While other channels such as your direct mail pieces can take lots of copy and detail, email works best when you cut to the chase and present your messages in bitesized, digestible form.

DON`T follow best practice blindly

I see the irony of this in a best practice blog article but the best email marketers follow their instincts for what is right for their brand, and not just follow the crowd. A prime example is around mobile and responsive design. Yes, we recommend if you had a best way of coding your template then a responsive email design would be better than not. But is that going to be the most important thing for you to do right now? Possibly not, as what you are sending, to whom, and when is more important. Don’t confuse the execution (responsive design) with strategy (Content, value and relevancy).

DON`T make it difficult to unsubscribe

Not many customers unsubscribe – maybe 0.2% each email. So there is no reason to make it hard to unsubscribe, it just creates agitation and gives customers the motivation to report you as spam instead. So don’t make people login, enter their email address or other take other jumps – a simple click followed by ‘Are you sure?’ is perfectly adequate.

Want to find out how we can help with your email marketing? Get in touch with one of our experts today.