Characteristics of an Effective Email Campaign

For small businesses with limited resources and are just about to introduce a new product, email marketing is one of the most effective ways to reach out to potential customers at a higher engagement and conversion rate than any digital medium. Consider the following numbers: Effective email campaigns have a huge return on investment. For every 1$ you spend, you can expect an average return of $42. Email is the main driver for small businesses for customer retention and conversion. In fact, according to Emarsys, in 2018, 81% of small and medium-sized enterprises relied on email as their primary customer acquisition channel. On average, emails have an open rate of just 21%, but welcome emails have an average open rate of 82%. This means, if played right, you can use your welcome email as an opportunity to slip in helpful information about your product to gain more interest in it. We will be discussing how to gain the most of your email campaign now that you are aware of how the numbers appeal to this mode of marketing.

Despite being cost-effective, launching effective email campaigns takes planning, time, and experience to succeed. To get effective results in your email campaign, you need to know your customers and how they will read what you have to say. Here are the essential characteristics of an effective email campaign that will work in any size of business.

 1.  Knowing Your Subscriber and Building Your Email List: Start with an Objective.      

Having started a business and launching a product means you know your target customer. The next step is how to entice them to share their email address with you. Later on, how to draw them into reading the emails you send them. How should the tone of the email be like? To answer these, you need to think of an objective.

An example of an objective is (which is one of the general objectives for an email or marketing campaign in general): “To Be Able To Supply The Best Product That My Customer Needs and To Get The Product To Them In The Simplest Of Ways.” That is, the objective should be clear and compelling enough for your customers to spend time reading your emails.

Moreover, your objective should be incentive-based

          How to do this? Based on what your product offers, you need to concentrate on your purpose of sending emails to your subscribers. Let us go back to the question I noted earlier, is your e-book promising enough for your customer to subscribe? Having a solid objective can help you create capture forms on your page with the right incentive.

2. Cleaning Your Email List

          After building your email list in the first process, now it is time to consider weeding out unnecessary and invalid email addresses from your list. This will help you get your emails only to your target audience. Hence, this will make your efforts more efficient by not wasting time on drafting emails for invalid email addresses. 

          Now let us think ahead. To make better email content, we need to know our subscribers better. This can be done by providing a link in your welcome email to the landing page of your website that will allow your target customers to fill out relevant details. Cleaning your email list will let your email manager do segmentation. That is, the email list can be grouped in batches were specifically targeted content can be sent. Moreover, this can allow the personalization of emails which gives a better conversion rate than non-personalized emails. An example of a preference portion on a landing page in your website is shown below from IBM.

3.   Having Great Subject Lines

           The headline is what catches the attention of your email recipient to make them read what the rest of your email wants to say. Your email subject lines need to be compelling, creative, and your tone should make your business more relatable to your audience. You may add humor, compliments, or mention referrals (if applicable). Note that at least four different scenarios will define how you execute your subject lines. We need to have specific subject lines for cold emails, follow-up emails, email subject lines after no response, and subject lines for meeting requests. Make it personalized if possible but do not give too much information away.

4. Compelling and Easy to Read

             Now that you caught your audience’s attention by opening your email, you need to keep them interested in reading on. The tone of your email should be conversational and tailored to your chosen audience. You may place images and videos as these can increase your email’s appearance and click-through rates. Just make sure your call to action is prominent and smartly placed.

 5.  Your Emails Should Be Relevant to Your Customers

           Cold-sounding emails might make it marked as spam and thrown away. For your email to sound relevant, you should make sure that you do your homework thoroughly about your target audience. One way to do this is to study your audience’s demographic data such as probable age, occupation, gender, and location to use content and tone appropriately. Another way is to have a system that can track subscriber activities as they go through your website. You can create emails automatically for subscribers that have a specific interest in your site.

 6.  Personalization

            Note that no one wants to be treated like a robot when they open their emails. There is a 56% possibility that people unsubscribe to emails if they think their emails have irrelevant content. Give an impression that you are trying to engage in a one-on-one conversation with your subscribers. Aside from using a conversational tone, add value to your email by providing insightful information (such as relevant content) without sounding like a sales pitch.

 7.  Your Emails Should Have A Clear Goal

         Your emails should have a point. The goal should be visible from your subject line and in the first two lines of the body of your email. It should tell you what you want your customers to do. A pointless email will lead it to be sent to spam. 

8.   Use Triggered Emails and Email Automation

         Triggered emails include autoresponders, confirmation emails, welcome emails, and transactional emails. These numbers show their open rates: Triggered e-mails: 47%; Autoresponder e-mails: 33%; Newsletter e-mails: 21%; RSS feed e-mails: 25%; (note: baseline is <19% open rate for North America). The reason for this is timing: triggered emails are sent right when a prospect is interested in your business. The content for the triggered email should be a more detailed welcome with a special offer from your business once they enter information in the preference section of your landing page.

 9.  Landing Pages

            Landing pages are, by definition, a place in your website where your audience is led to after they click on your online campaigns. The purpose of the landing page is to collect relevant information (note: preferences) in exchange for incentives such as an e-book or relevant content. Make sure these are simple and easy to use with little to no distractions. Note that the tone, color palettes, themes, and overall look are the same as your emails. Note the example from Slack below: Once you click a link in the email, it will lead you to a landing page on their site that has no clutters and will show you to do what the company wants you to, that is, share your contact information.

 10.  They are Sent at the Right Times

          The timing of sending emails is not an exact science. Sending on weekends is a given as few people open emails during that time (but some products can be offered to specific customers even on weekends). That is why knowing your demographics and customer behavior is critical. 

            In a study by Brafton in 2013, 55% of users open their emails on desktops, with only 25% opening their emails on their mobile devices. People usually open their emails during worktimes despite the increase in mobile device use. There exists, therefore, a sweet spot in sending emails for most products and services if your target audience is determined to be in their offices. Here below are data from Mailchimp showing open email rates.

            Based on the numbers above, the best times are to send emails on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays between 12 PM and 5 PM to have the best chance of being opened. For days, Mondays will see your audience swamped with many emails accumulated over the weekend. Moreover, people are tired at this time after the weekend. Fridays wouldn’t be as good as the other weekdays because people would have itchy feet.     

          If you consider your audience more closely, the advice can be wrong. Note that many of those who own mobile devices will open their emails at night—especially the younger and tech-leaning market.

           And if your industry is into entertainment, then Friday is the best time to send your emails. The key to determining the time in sending your emails lies heavily in how you know your market, and the best way to resolve this further is to test.

11. Compatible with Mobile Devices

          Note the steady rise of mobile device use for opening emails below. Suppose you consider maintaining a high open rate. In that case, you need to think that the emails you send are compatible with as many screen sizes as possible, especially for mobile devices. This means your images, templates, and text should work well with mobile devices as much as they do on desktop. A considerable spike has been happening for the last year as many more people work remotely or out of their offices, which means the opportunity to use mobile devices is wider.

           Consider also that some market segments do not use desktops often, especially your younger consumers or if you are in the entertainment industry.

12. Measure Metrics

             One way to determine if your email campaign was effective is by tracking three different metrics: Open Rate, Click-through Rate, and Unsubscribe Rate. The advantage of tracking the performance of the reception of your emails can adjust how you send them. For example, if your open rate is low, you need to consider if your subject line is not relevant enough to your chosen market.

            It could be the times you send your emails or if you need to consider tailoring your emails to mobile devices.

           Low click-through rates, on the other hand, if open rates are high (something like >25%), means your call to action might not be prominent enough to be seen. Most importantly, if your unsubscribe rates increase, it could be a case of having content in your email irrelevant to the audience you are sending your emails to.

13. Resend Your Emails

Note, you need not annoy those who already opened an email and did not respond.

Segment your list of recipients and resend only to those who did not open their emails. This works! AlchemyWorx has a study that there was still an 11.0% open rate for emails that were resent.

14. Testing

           Now it is time to test them once you have access to metrics and know how to construct your emails from the subject lines, contents, landing pages, and CTA.

             As warned earlier, the traditional times garnered from the study may not work for all market segments. Moreover, some subject lines can work for some people, and you need to make sure you got that right. First, you may select two segments of 50 people each to test and study the resulting open and click-through rates. Testing is critical if your email campaign aims to send emails to a market of more than 500 recipients, and getting a 10% higher open rate will make the effort of testing worthwhile.