It’s always tempting to put a catchy and interesting subject line just for open’s sake but let me ask you - does having a higher open rate really increase the effectiveness of your email marketing?
Email Marketers love stats and relish in the opportunity to report on their open rates. But did you know that open rates don’t really mean a lot these days? This is largely down to the fact that Microsoft Outlook doesn’t register emails as ‘opened’ unless the user clicks to download images. The other factor that gets email marketers excited is the ‘click through rate’. Whilst this is a better measurement of a campaigns success, I’ve still seen companies quote high click through rates only to discover that the increased number of clicks has come from people clicking to unsubscribe.
Just because it's email, marketers seem to forget the fact that our messaging still has to be targeted to avoid damaging the reputation of the brand. From personal research and looking at the effectiveness of our customer’s email marketing, I’ve seen that it’s easy to get a prospect to open your email. I’ve seen various techniques from mildly abusive subject lines through to creative personalisation.
The highest recorded open rate in history came from Barrack Obama’s presidential election email campaign. The subject line was as simple as it gets - ‘Hey’. The problem is that unless you are looking to convey a mass message to a sitting audience, the effectiveness of an email campaign is not built around just an open, but around a range of factors that communicate three important things – trust, interest and action. Let’s look at these factors in some more detail.
Trust is communicated in first instance by the Sender Alias. In other words who has the email come from? The Sender Alias is hugely important as this quickly tells the recipient who the email has come from. Do I know the individual or is it a generic info@ address, or at worse - a donotreply@ address? In order to build trust, avoid pseudonyms and sending from group addresses such as marketing@. Keep it simple, use the format Firstname then Lastname but don’t bother adding the Company Name in the Sender Alias.
The Subject Line conveys interest. In other words, is the receiver interested in your message? If the individual has no interest then you run the risk of the email being deleted, or more likely - unopened. Consider adding personalisation and make the content of the Subject Line short, snappy and to the point.
The body copy of your email is what generates an action from the recipient. The number of emails I receive that have no content shown in the preview pane, is unbelievable. This is usually the result of marketers trying to be smart with their pictures but it usually results in the email being deleted. Any text or imagery that is included within our email marketing has to give a clear call to action. We also need to consider ‘The Envelope’ or ‘Fold’ principle. In other words, where does the preview pane cut the email off? All relevant content with actions must be clearly displayed within the preview pane.
Finally, let’s not get too hung up on statistics that we can show off to our colleagues and managers, because the idea at the end of the day is to effectively promote the business and drive increased revenue. This made me think that it isn’t about getting everyone to open your email; it’s about getting the right person to open your email, with the right attitude, at the right time.
How many people engaged with your brand because of the email you sent out? How much real interest did you generate? From now on let’s be a little more honest with ourselves and remember what the purpose of what we’re doing is, to produce a good ROI.
Author: Steve Pailthorpe - Follow me on Google+