Boost Email Engagement by Optimizing These Variables
Everyone goes around talking about how optimizing email marketing metrics results in more customer engagement, right? ...No, not in your circles? Well, as a smart marketer you know that this sort-of geeky pastime results in real gains, such as better open rates and more sales. Now that you've mastered the difference between email click-through rates and click-to-open rates, things get really exciting!
It's a good possibility that you run similar campaigns throughout the year, perhaps a sale. Even though there are different offerings each time, there are still ways that you can leverage this ongoing stream of data to optimize your next campaign . . . and the next . . . and the next. Even the smallest tweaks, such as changing the color of the button that you're using, can make a big difference in whether customers make a decision to convert. Ready to dive in?
Send Dates and Open Rates
Not surprisingly, there are certain times or days of the week that your audience is most engaged. If you read somewhere that Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2 to 4 p.m. in your current time zone are the best times to send to your particular audience, consider it a safe bet that this is a broad generalization. Finding the best time of the day and week for your audience can require multiple rounds of testing, because what you're looking for is not just the best open rate, but also the best click-to-open rate—meaning the highest possible engagement level for your audience.
If you're only sending emails twice or three times per month, it can be pretty tough to suss out where this ideal metric lands. This is where A/B testing is your friend. Try sending to half of your subscribers on Tuesday mornings and half on Tuesday afternoons, for instance. Open rates, in general, tend to be better earlier in the week, but not by a huge margin. Oddly enough, click-through rates tend to be best on Sundays and worst on Saturdays. When you think about the flow of your week, this probably makes a lot of sense!
The best layout for your email really depends on what you're trying to accomplish. For instance, if you're driving your audience to a single call to action, a one-column email has been found to be most effective. Don't take our word for it, though—test it! Create two versions of the same email and only change the layout. If you have a better overall outcome (not just opens and clicks, look at conversions!), then consider sending that email layout the majority of the time.
Big, Juicy Buttons
Ooh! A button! Let me click it!
That's essentially what our brain says to us when we see a button, especially one that is attractively designed and highly visible to our lizard brains. While it's true that we humans love to click things, it's also possible to optimize everything about a button from its size, location within the email, color scheme, and verbiage. Text links are okay within an email, but having too many of them can be distracting.
You can test this by sending two versions of the same email: one with plenty of text links within the body of the content, and one with minimal scattered links and one very clear call to action button. This even floats down to the exact placement of the button within a line of text. Buttons that are on the right are more likely to be clicked, since people read left to right (assuming you're writing in English, of course). See how the banner below puts an image on the left and the text and button on the right?
Your Recent Past
Knowing your history isn't something that ended in grade school, for sure. While as digital marketers we always want to look ahead to the Next Big Thing and are easily distracted by anything shiny, understanding where we've been is incredibly important in helping optimize email marketing campaigns. This means getting out the fine tooth comb and poring over data from campaigns past, such as opt-out rates, spam complaints, and even how long it took your audience to disengage with your messages.
Looking through this information at a deep level provides valuable insight. For instance, wouldn't you like to know that nearly 65% of your users opted out of your email list after receiving the fourth email? That tells you that you only have three, or a maximum of four, emails to really capture their attention. Instead of spinning out your brand story over several emails, in this case you would want to come right to the point and hit the prospect with the value proposition early to keep them interested and coming back for more.
When you're looking back through opt-outs, spam complaints, historic open rates, and past A/B tests, it can feel a bit overwhelming. Fortunately, if you're sending emails on a regular basis, you can optimize for one or two key metrics at a time, adopt those principles, and pick another dimension or two to focus on for the next round. The most effective marketers are those who are always looking at—and always questioning—their results.
Did you miss our other metrics post on click-through and click-to-open rates?