A study by the Relevancy Group found that untargeted emails increase costs by as much as 3.6 times over targeted campaigns, and personalizing emails – a simple feature that most email vendors offer – increases the open rates by 30%.
These are not shocking numbers, nothing that hasn’t been reiterated at every email marketing session you’ve ever attended, yet, many communications directors are not taking advantage of smaller, more targeted campaigns, and a simple mail merge feature to import contacts’ first names onto the first line of an email, likely because email professionals forget to tell us exactly how to implement these tactics to maximize e-marketing efforts.
If content is king, the communications channel is queen. Email can be a highly-effective means of communication, because most people are plugged into email 24/7, and even if a message is headed to the trash file, it’s likely that the recipient will at least see the email before discarding it. As such, it is imperative that messages are carefully targeted for the audience. This may mean changing the value message for different demographics; don’t send the collegians the association is hoping to attract as “young professionals” or “student” members the same membership email that the “lifetime achievement” members are receiving. Their needs are different, and the association that carefully hones in on these differences and crafts the messages accordingly will stay afloat and thus see more email opens and click-throughs.
Too many external links in your email give the reader too many opportunities to be distracted. Sticking to links to your product or registration pages, sharing buttons, and forwarding links is a good practice. Keep in mind that forwards can open a whole new demographic to target: if you notice that, increasingly, communications personnel are forwarding the email to HR or marketing personnel, it is worth considering broadening your reach to include others in similar positions. Similarly, collaboration across departments within your own organization will be key to crafting interesting, relevant emails. Silos can hinder the success of an association, especially if one department is working on something that could prove particularly valuable to the membership.
The unfortunate reality of email marketing is that everyone’s doing it. Your message will need to push past the noise in the inbox. Concise, meaningful subject lines and body copy yield better results. Consider that an email preview pane shows approximately 32 characters of the subject line, and most mobile platforms show 20-35 characters. The meat of a subject line should be conveyed in 25 characters (and if you can achieve that, maybe you can move the entire subject line to fewer than 35 characters consistently!). The effectiveness of subject lines can be easily tested by sending variations to small sample groups over time, and using the format that works best.
A lot of readers will be checking email from mobile devices, and this audience should be considered when crafting them. Always send out a text version with the html email – and test the html version to make sure it looks okay — for those who have pictures disabled or are reading from a mobile device.
Once the audience has actually opened the email, they need to be provoked to action. The most overlooked factor in email messages is tone. Think of emails as magazine covers: they should be beautiful and inviting, and should not make the reader frown, or feel an air of condescension. Action verbs should be replaced with benefit adjectives and nouns to lead. Instead of telling people to “register now,” suggest that “Early bird registration is 20% off until next week.” It’s okay to lead with a call to action in print, but it’s not such a great idea in email. Try replacing “please” with “kindly.” Avoid using words like “issues” or other tone/diction choices that may single the audience out, or point out a problem with the individual.
Other tips include embracing testimonials and using navy blue text, Arial 10pt font. It has proven inviting. Experts say Arial is more humanist than other fonts, and embraces the mood of the end of the last few decades, making it more familiar and relatable to readers. They also say to never, ever use Times New Roman in an email.