Enabler provide best practice advice around email personalisation within your email marketing templates and B2B and B2C email marketing communications.

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Increasing profitability, maximising return on investment, improving market share etc, etc… Like any business, these objectives, as well as others, will be something that we all strive to achieve at one time or another… but how?

Well, if your marketing campaigns are not customer-focused and highly engaging, your business could ultimately be shooting themselves in the digital foot. This all comes down to having a good strategy in place that not only piques customers’ initial interest, but continues to nurture over time, ensuring they purchase again and again.

If a business is to grow, keeping those customers on board who have previously engaged or purchased is extremely important. One of the easiest ways to do this is to create a strong brand identity that makes your past customers think of your product first over any competitors. For example, when you want to find something out – what do you do?  Straight to Google – in fact it’s even become a verb in itself…!

What Does An Email Campaign Offer?

In today’s social media driven climate, we can spend hours updating statuses, engaging with tweets and hashtags, or even finding the best filter to showcase our big promotion. But even with all these social tools at our disposal, email marketing is still one of (if not the) most cost effective and efficient way of staying at the forefront of your customers’ minds.

According to a study by Workhorse, email marketing drives more conversions than any other digital marketing channel – including search and social.  With that said, it’s worth bearing in mind that content plays a huge part in how a person actually behaves when their smartphone notifies them of the ‘millionth’ email they’ll receive that day.

One of the big advantages email has over other marketing tools is its ability to provide personalisation.  Simple tools such as merge tags can help transform your marketing emails into something that feels far more personal. The table below shows examples of tags we have readily available in our own email platform, Enabler. These tags reference personal data stored within the system’s contact database:

By including a recipient’s first name in the correspondence and/or subject line, it takes your marketing communications away from an impersonal intrusion and into a more personal, friendly place which can be highly beneficial for improving your retention rates, with recipients feels that little pang of appreciation as they realise they are a valued customer. Think about it, we all appreciate that feeling of being welcomed or recognised when walking into our local shop or restaurant, and the same can be said when receiving an email, and goes way beyond just adding their first name.  That added personal touch should be added to all your content communications – from contacting a customer with special offers to wish them a happy birthday, to targeting communications based on their personal shopping habits can all go a long way to continually converting that customer.

Businesses who achieve high customer retention rates will see a better return on investment, it’s as simple as that.

Interesting Facts:

  • 81% of online shoppers who receive emails based on previous habits are likely to purchase as a result of that targeted email (eMarketer)
  • Email is 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook and Twitter (McKinsey)

So How Can a Business Ensure Customer Retention Via Email?

As previously mentioned, email content will be the main aspect to focus on in terms of grabbing your customer’s attention. Enticing emails that are informative and encourage the person to interact, gives greater opportunity to drive that person towards either a specific website, landing page or document.

A good example of this technique being used successfully is by the product review emails sent by Amazon after purchase:

Not only does it immediately get the customer interacting as it gives them the opportunity to voice their opinion, but it increases traffic to Amazon’s website opening up the likelihood of a repeat purchase or interaction with other products on their site. Additionally, redirecting traffic to specific pages helps with analysing data and segmenting customers into groups, which helps to avoid spamming them in future correspondence…no one wants to receive those dreaded unsubscribe notifications!

There are numerous ways an email can be built, but in order to maximise engagement a combination of the following formula is useful:

  • Unique selling proposition
  • Call to action
  • Product benefits
  • How it works
  • Personalisation
  • Loyalty reward
  • Thank you

Emails that contain some elements of this formula make it easier for your customers to engage, especially if the content stands out. Customers who regularly engage with your brand are more likely to show loyalty if you set them up for success with personalised content, helping to keep customer churn rates low.

In order to maximise interaction with your emails, consider devising campaigns separated five to eight emails; think of it as taking the consumer on a journey, covering aspects of brand explanation, benefits of purchasing and special offers. Without over exaggerating the direct sell, this method shows the customer an in-depth explanation of specific aspects of the campaign which helps to increase brand trust and ultimately persuades them to buy.

Examples of Sticking in Customers’ Minds

Prices Falling with Booking.com

January, or even winter on the whole is a time when many people look for their next holiday destination. While there are many sites out there, Booking.com have a very clever strategy of re-targeting users who have searched for places to stay in a particular area but have (for whatever reason) not made a purchase. The image below is from an email I recently received – from the personalised subject line to the informative content regarding discounted rates, the call to action immediately grabbed my attention reminding me I needed to book accommodation before it was too late. I ultimately did, furthermore receiving a 50% discount for my next booking which will be at the forefront of my mind for future trips, while keeping that lot from the Booking.com retention team happy as well!

Monetary Discount with Treatwell

Treatwell incentivise their customers by offering discounts for future bookings by leaving a review. Their reviewing system is user friendly and encourages a click through in order to receive the £5.00 discount, as well as including a deadline date which also encourages the consumer to act quickly to avoid missing out on the offer.

Free Delivery with UberEATS

Not only does Uber provide us with rides home at a push of a button, they now also bring us our favourite food through their UberEATS app (what would we do without them eh…..?!). Their offer of free delivery to app users is straightforward with a clear call to action (see image below), the smartphone gives the user an image of how to receive the offer, and the inclusion of a promo code gives UberEATS the ability to track and analyse user flow to determine whether the campaign has been successful.

So we can safely say that a business will benefit from implementing a high-quality email campaign strategy, focusing on providing content that invites their customers to interact with their emails. By creating content which either informs your customers about your products or offering incentivised click throughs will definitely help to keep retention rates high.

As long as your business understands its audience and gathers useful, relevant data, it will be able to connect with and apply targeted content to maximise customer interactions.

If you’re interested in putting your business at the forefront of your customers minds, why not join one of our Design Thinking sessions this year.

If you’ve read our previous blogs or visited our site before, you’ll probably have gathered that Enabler is a piece of email software. However, what you might have missed is that Enabler is more than just your bog-standard piece of email software, sporting sophisticated features which go beyond bulk sending emails. *Cue gasps and other associated shocked noises*

One of these features is Enabler’s Form Builder – you can use this clever piece of kit as a standalone form, embed it into a landing page or website, or use the form as a back-end tool for data capture. To demonstrate how effective these sophisticated Enabler Forms can be, I’m going to showcase a recent example from one of our clients, Real Estate Management UK Limited (REM) – asset manager for The Shard – where we utilised Enabler Forms in their Shard Lights 2017 marketing competition.

The Brief

Driving Engagement for an Iconic London Brand

Since 2014, The Shard has hosted a light show from it’s spire every December, aptly named #ShardLights, to celebrate the festive season. In 2017, Shard Lights introduced five colours into its show, rotating one per day with an array of visual effects including gradients, patterns and sparkles. These visual light effects occurred every 15 minutes, with an extended display on the hour which transformed The Shard into a spectacular visual timepiece for London.

Now, Enabler’s offices are based literally around the corner from this stunning London landmark, but not everyone is lucky enough to have such natural daily exposure to this amazing light show.

So, to ensure maximum engagement with The Shard during this time, the REM marketing team wanted to run a photography competition to encourage the public to take pictures of The Shard’s light show and share online using the hashtag #ShardLights.

As an existing Enabler client, the marketing team at REM gave our campaign management team the task of creating an engaging campaign with the following key requirements:

  • Hosting the photography competition
  • A way of collecting entries and associated entrants information
  • A trigger email going out post competition submission to recipients

 

 

Our Solution

We decided that the best way to achieve the goals laid out in the brief, would be to build a standalone landing page within Enabler which hosted the photography competition. We would then create a built-in Enabler form within this landing page, which would trigger an email to the recipient when completed to confirm that their entry had been received.

The Design and Build

For such an iconic London landmark, the design for the landing page was incredibly important. Our team of designers had to ensure stunning imagery of The Shard, provided by the REM team, was being used whilst also making sure all the relevant information was clearly visible on the page for entrants.

Here is the template webpage design before our specialists started the more sophisticated build:

When translating this design into the build, our developers took the simple static images within the email and transformed them into parallax scrolling images – this allowed us to display the full images without taking up too much real estate on the webpage.

The most important factor our development team focused on was ensuring the form on the frontend of the webpage was linked properly to the form on the backend of Enabler.  The REM marketing team were utilising Enabler’s database to house and access the data from submitted entries – so making sure the forms were linked was vital.

 

Using Enabler Forms for Data Capture

Enabler forms are extremely effective for data capture, allowing you to embed forms onto your website that connect directly into your marketing database. There are two main ways you can embed Enabler forms within an external system.

The first and simplest way is iframing, which involves taking a snippet of code that looks like this:

<iframe src="https://ue.enablermail.com/realestatemanagement/frm/index.cfm?id=A480A319-7983-4C4B-993D-E97064B7C7A5" width="750" height="500"></iframe>

You then embed this code within your desired webpages, which then displays your form exactly as it appears within Enabler – including Enabler’s styling and layout. This, however, wasn’t an option for the Shard Lights web build, due to the beautifully bespoke styling that was required from the form’s design.

Instead of iframing, we used the alternative method of embedding and Enabler form, which is the ‘Form post’ option.  Now, this is a much more technical way of approaching form submissions, but it does mean you can style your Enabler form exactly as you want on the frontend of your website.

 

Now For The Technical Bit…

To make ‘Form posts’ work, you have to tell your form to post submissions to Enabler’s servers. Each individual form field will have an ID associated with it, but all these fields will be stored in the same place in Enabler ensuring you can review and pull all the required data out at once. I’m not going to go into the super technical stuff because a) I leave that to my developers and b) you don’t want to hear it!

Once someone submits a form post, the message (seen below) displays on the website.

However, we also wanted to ensure that each entrant would receive an email confirming their submission as well (for added peace of mind that we had received their entry). To this end, we also triggered an email to go out each time a form submission was received, (as shown below), letting entrants know when the competition closed, and by what date they would be notified if they had won the competition. It also encouraged a social push for the competition for maximum social media traction, using the hashtag #ShardLights.

 

So, it’s all very well collecting this data and all these (hopefully) stunning images, but where would they all be stored? Now, usually with form submissions you go into the form, run a report and it shows you a list of text entries and what those entries said – however for a photography competition, we had to develop something a little different to display images…

If you’re sitting there thinking…”hang on that looks just like Enabler?”, then you’d be absolutely right. Our development team have created a bespoke image gallery where the REM marketing team were able to view all the images submitted at once (making it easier to select a winner), while also allowing them to click into each individual picture to see all of the details of the person who submitted the photograph.

Outcome

The competition ran from Monday 4th December 2017 until Sunday 7th January 2018, and received a total number of 871 entries. Some of the photos were absolutely stunning, and to be completely honest, some of the entries were basically close up selfies of peoples faces, but all in all we have some fantastic photographers out there parading the streets of London, and I don’t envy the REM Marketing Team having to pick a winner!

We had a fantastic time doing this project, it’s always great for our email team when we can really push Enabler’s functionality in ways that people wouldn’t expect from email software, helping our clients deliver beautiful emails alongside websites that really help them achieve their marketing goals.

Engagement levels like this also go to show the impact well thought out, well designed data capture forms can have on your marketing campaigns, and goes to show the importance of combining your data capture with your email marketing campaigns.

 

If you like what you’ve seen here or want to learn more about form functionality, please drop our Enabler team an email and we can talk about your next exciting project.

Email marketing has undergone some fairly dramatic changes in the past 10 years, both from a strategic and technical standpoint.  Gone are the days of sending mass emails to your entire database which include generic product pushes, which are about as inspirational as the ‘one size fits all’ label on a piece of clothing.  One of the driving forces behind this change is that it  is now commonly accepted by marketeers that segmentation and personalisation of email campaigns are the ways to drive higher ROI, brand awareness and loyalty.

So how do we make sure every email we send is tailored to the personal needs of our customers?  We believe there are three things that have to be in place for this to be achieved:

  • Knowledge about your customers – Without understanding your customers, how do you expect to give them relevant content?  How do you determine what is relevant to them?

  • Data – How do you implement the right email strategy without the correct data in place?

  • A fantastic ESP (Email Service Provider) – that enables you to implement and successfully deliver a decent targeting strategy. (See Enabler’s functionality to see how it could do for you)

 

 

Knowledge About Your Customers

Your customer knowledge can come from your existing databases looking at the data that’s been gathered from previous customer activity (i.e. through forms, surveys or events), or it could be gathered from the customer’s email behaviour (opens, clicks, unsubscribes). However, even if you are starting from scratch, there are ways that you can build up a picture of your customers.

When it comes to using your customer knowledge to create effective email campaigns, we would highly recommend a personas led approach,  where you create profiles describing a particular group of your target audience based on their shared interests.  Grouping together these valuable pieces of customer information, such as challenges, goals, needs, pains and responsibilities, will help you create a ‘character profile’ which you can use to tailor your marketing so that you offer a personalised, valuable service. This information goes beyond normal demographic data and provides real insight into the customer’s life. If you want to enhance your understanding of your customers, check out one of Pancentric Digital’s Design Thinking workshops.

 

Data

Having the data that enables you to achieve your customer personalisation goals is imperative. For tips on how to acquire data click here. If you want more information on how best to retain your current customers try this one. However you decide to get your data in place, we’re going to assume you have done a great job of it, and skip ahead to the part everyone is waiting for….’How do I turn my data into relevant, personalised emails for my customers?’.

 

 

Dynamic Content

Dynamic or ‘Conditional’ Content allows you to use your customer data to create one email that displays different, unique content to each individual email recipient depending on their customer data. As the marketeer, you set pre-defined rules based on your customer data, so the customer only sees the email content that matches their data. Without this in place, you would have to create multiple emails with every possible content variation of based on your customer profile data (which is messy and time consuming) or just bulk email everyone with one message (which isn’t personalised and far less effective).

Sounds a bit abstract, right? So let’s look at a live example coming to us from the insurance industry. Full transparency here, the example we’re going to show you is an Enabler client, but they are using dynamic content in exactly the right way, so are the perfect example of how you should use dynamic content.  The company in question are Petplan, and we will take you through some examples of how they have used conditional dynamic  content successfully in their automated quote and buy email campaigns.

Below you will see an example of one of PetPlan’s emails with elements of the conditional code sitting within the template. From first glance, it looks like a fairly messy, basic template, however I’m going to show you just how clever this template really is.

– Email Template with Dynamic Conditional Content in Place –

Everywhere you see the phrase {conditional:xxx}, is a section of the email that will change based on the customer it is being sent to. This means, as soon as this email gets uploaded into Enabler, all those sections will look completely different and, most importantly, 100% personalised for each individual customer. Conditional elements can comprise of text copy, images, or a combination of the two.

Secondly, wherever you see {recipient_x_number}, that part of the email will also change to include a personal detail about the customer. This could be anything from their policy ID number to their name (or in PetPlan’s case, the pet’s name. )

Now let’s take a look at what that email would look like for a customer. (For the purposes of this, we have set created a fake customer within the Petplan system).

– Email Template with Customer Data Controlling the Dynamic Content –

As you can see, this looks like a totally different email. You will notice that images and copy have sprouted in all areas of the email, causing the look and feel of the email to change.

Let’s walk through the different elements which change based on the dynamic conditional content set up within the backend system of Enabler:

  • Images – the co-branding logo, pet image, roundel, and plan details all change based on customer information.

  • Alt text – the copy sitting behind each of those images will change based on the image itself, providing a fallback option if the customer has their images set to not display.

  • Lists – the ticks and bullet points in the two lower sections all change based on customer information.

  • Copy – there are too many instances of these to point each one out, but everything from the pets name, down to whether a sentence says ‘need’ or ‘needs’ changes based on customer information.

  • Terms and conditions – depending on the co-branding on the email, an extra paragraph will feature in the terms and conditions of the email. This will not be visible if co-branding is not in place.

  • Cover section – this whole section changes depending on which plan the customer has chosen. For this example, I have not chosen a plan, so I’m seeing all the options. However, let’s assume I had chosen the Covered For Life® 12k option, it would look more like this:

The best part about conditional content within Enabler is that you have a fallback option. This means if for some reason not all the data is held about the customer, (for example they are not sure which plan the customer has selected as in the example above) they will see a default view. This can be carefully chosen depending on what next step we want customer to take.

 

Benefits of Using Dynamic Content

Aside from the massive time saving benefits from an email deploying perspective, this style of email set-up will also save time in the future. Imagine having set up one template per customer variation. Not only would you be wasting time creating and testing all those emails, but when it came to updating them, you would also waste a lot of time. Even if you had one line of copy to change in each email, you may have to do it upwards of thirty times. In these conditional templates, you make the change once, and can then generate mass tests from the one template. Similarly, if you need to add something new to the emails, you are doing it once, rather than across a large number of templates.

Petplan are really at the forefront of creating dynamic templates, both from a strategic and build standpoint that put their customers first. From an agency standpoint, this is something we love to see, and the templates are also great fun (for an email nerd anyway) to put together.

However you choose to do your conditional content, make sure your data is in place, you have a great ESP solution in place, and you fully understand your customers before starting to build.

If you are interested in following in Petplan’s footsteps and bringing your email campaigns into the future but your current ESP doesn’t provide the necessary functionality, why not switch to Enabler.

Emojis are everywhere…on social media platforms, blogs, text messages, and now they are even in movies. They are used by almost everyone – even your grandma (once she’s worked out how her smartphone works).  Although you personally might not use them, it is highly likely that someone has sent you an emoji on more than one occasion by now.

One platform where emojis are undoubtedly quite useful is email marketing; especially when your open rates are at stake!

With marketers making every effort to cut through the noise within the inbox and get their message seen by their target audience, emojis come in quite handy.  When used appropriately, these little emojis can be a huge help with increasing open rates.

Before choosing whether to use or ignore them, perhaps have a quick read about our experience with emojis and what we really think of them. There’s no stopping these little guys, with 56 new emojis moving onto your smartphone this autumn, so if you are thinking about using emojis within your email marketing we have some helpful advice…

The best way to really maximise the impact of these little icons and really drive increased engagement is to place them within your subject lines.

 

Emoji-Style Subject Lines

One excellent example of emojis within your subject lines is when they are used as an extension of your brand. For example, if you are a music company selling gig tickets, you could use a speaker emoji in a subject line:

Another attention grabbing example is the one I from travel agent, as shown below. The company was able to convey the call to action: Book a trip > Get on the plane > Enjoy the sunshine, all through the use of emojis.  With emojis taking up so few characters, they free up valuable space for this tech-savvy travel to convey their CTA hook: a ‘discount’ and sale’.

And here is my favourite one, from a fashion retailer who has taken email personalisation and targeted data to the emoji level. Not only did they send a birthday message, they also included a birthday balloon in the subject line:

Why Use Emoji Subject Lines?  They Help Boost Open Rates

There’s something about an emoji that simply makes people want to click. Why? The answer to that is actually quite interesting. According to TNW (The Next Web), when we see a face emoji online, the same parts of our brain react as when we look at a real human face hence the instant engagement with emoji. Our mood adjusts depending on the emoji’s association in our brain and sometimes we even mimic the emoji’s face expression subconsciously. At this point we engage with the emoji by opening an email/ reading an article or anything else that call-to-action (CTA) asks us to do as we empathize with these online avatars.

 

How To Use Emojis In Your Emails:

Inserting emoji is as simple as copying an emoji from a website/ document and pasting it into a subject line of your email. However to ensure the symbol displays correctly, make sure you test the email by sending it to yourself and your colleagues.

There are, however a few things that could go wrong when using emojis in the subject lines.  For example, the email client might not support emojis in the subject line, displaying the symbol ‘▢’instead.

The emojis will display differently depending on recipients’ operating system (see example right). Most browsers support emoji on iOS, OS X, Android and Windows operating systems.

For more info on emoji compatibility with emails and browsers, here are some helpful links:

Litmus – Emoji Support in Email

Can I Emoji – Browser Support

We’ve found a useful site where you can choose emojis and check how they would render within a different inboxes.

 

 

 

 

Emojis – Are They Good Or Bad?

 

It depends. As shown above, when used appropriately, emojis can convey emotions or act as an extension of your brand.  They also help shorten subject lines (1 emoji = 1 character), boost open rates and in turn click-through rates.

There is however, a risk of overusing or even misusing emojis. A big no-no for emoji use would be to insert an emoji within the main body of an email, especially if the context of the email is serious or has a professional target audience.

We also recommended to not replace words with emojis. The reason for that is the fact that recipients can’t always figure out what message the sender is trying to convey. For example a sentence ‘Have a Nice Day’, when used with an emoji would read as follows:

Everyone interprets an emoji symbol differently, so the question is – will your recipients correctly guess the word you are trying to replace? This is only a simple example but as you can imagine, the more complex the sentence the lesser chance the recipient will decrypt your message correctly.

There is also a risk that the emoji will not display at all or display as a question mark or empty box symbol and so the recipient would read ‘Have a � day. ‘

 

Think Before You Emoji

Emjois might seem like fun, but you should consider their use carefully.  You should avoid using them for sensitive or important matters as it may irritate or offend your recipients, as you could be seen to be trivialising the subject matter.

One recently unfortunate use of emojis that backfired was with an American politician who asked young voters on social media platforms to express their opinion on student loan debt using 3 emojis. What could possibly go wrong?  Quite a bit.

By using emojis in this fashion your target audience is likely to feel (as was the case here) that you are not taking them or the subject matter seriously.

You should also consider your brand and whether using emojis is appropriate for your tone of voice.  Some brands may be able to use emojis in the main body of the email copy, for example toys manufacturer or other brands that target younger audiences or millennials (apparently the latter are inseparable from emojis).

So always ask whether emojis are appropriate for your brand, and think carefully about the icons you choose and how you place them within your emails.

However you decide to implement them, please…

…use emojis responsibly.

With so much going on in a Marketing team, you will often find you don’t have enough time to get everything done.  You will have had days where you’re in back-to-back meetings, and still have a whole hoard of tasks to do by the end of the day.  This is where an automated system would be super useful!

Luckily, there’s a little thing called Marketing Automation that can step in.  The basic idea of marketing automation is to set up a system to perform actions based on triggers (i.e. if a customer clicks an email link it triggers a second personalised email being sent several days later).  Once the email automation is set up, it then runs in the background without any additional work required, making your life and workload a lot easier.

There are many people that would benefit from having a Marketing Automation solution, but from a sales perspective, here are the top three reasons to start implementing automated emails campaigns right now:

  1. You can have pre-defined marketing programmes cultivating leads for you, while you’re off doing tasks that require more face-to-face contact.

  2. It allows you to optimise your time efficiently and achieve your goals without missing a beat.

  3. It allows you to be at the forefront of email marketing trends, bringing your business into the 21st Century.

 

So how would you put a Marketing Automation plan together?

Here is a useful Marketing Automation Workflow for you to refer to when setting up your campaign programme:

 (Click image to download)

 

What you need to think about:

Planning is exceptionally important in the world of marketing automation, for many reasons. Firstly, the term ‘marketing automation’ has, unfortunately, become somewhat of a buzzword, where marketeers seek out automation software under the misguided impression that it provides them with the digital marketing wizardry to automatically generate new leads. This misconception leaves many marketeers with sophisticated tools to automate the middle of their campaign funnel, but no solution that actually generates new leads at the beginning of the funnel.

In your planning phase, you should get to know the system you’re using and plug any holes in your lead generation funnel, allowing you to get your automated ducks in a row.

Secondly, planning helps to prevent you from making mistakes when you set your programme live.  It will ensure you have fully thought through every possible step / action your customer may take, thoroughly planning out what components you will need in order to make your campaign run successfully as an automated system.  Sounds complicated, but its far from it (and if you get stuck you can always check with us).

For example, email templates, forms, surveys and website content – make sure the right links are in place, and test that the right automation is being trigger when an action occurs (i.e. a link is clicked).  There’s nothing worse than getting a beautiful automation programme set up, only to find your customers aren’t ending up where you want them to go because you’ve missed a step in your automation set-up.

You might think that I’m going overboard and stating the obvious when I say you need to plan out every step of your marketing automation, but if you really want it to run successfully with seamless automation, then planning really is the key.

To help you along, I’ve set up an example workflow of a functional marketing automation programme.  The example below demonstrates a ‘Welcome Programme’ for a new customer being added to a contact database, taking you through every automated step for every action or inaction the customer may take within the programme, including time delays.

 

 

Now you have had a look at how a Marketing Automation programme could work, I’m going to take you through some does and don’ts of the automation world:

Does:

  • Integrate your inbound marketing strategy with your marketing automation. Inbound strategy is all about providing valuable, aligned content, and this should not change at all if you start using marketing automation.  If anything, it should be enhancing your communications, as you will be able to provide the content your customer’s need, at the exact time they need it, without any manual input during the process.

  • Send relevant content to your customers, and make sure you are providing them with what they are looking for.  People make the mistake of trying to drive business objectives without actually considering the customer who is going through the journey.  This is arising trend within the industry, with many companies providing workshops detailing how to achieve a customer driven strategy.

  • Set up engagement and retention campaigns to keep your current customers coming back for more.  After all, it’s much easier to sell to someone who has previously bought from you.  Content marketing is an essential part of making sales, and automation can help you do this.  Make sure you’re keeping on top of your content and constantly improving it, making sure it’s more relevant to your customer’s as they progress on their automated journey.

Don’ts:

  • Set up Automation without planning first or thinking about what you want to achieve. There is no point setting up a complex automated programme without getting the strategy right first.  Don’t be that person.

  • Mass email customers.  This is literally the worst.  I have unsubscribed from so may brands over the years because they are emailing too much, and none of the content was relevant.  If nothing else, you will end up having your emails marked as spam, so just avoid bulk emailing.

  • Start before planning.  So I know I harped on about this, but it’s seriously important.  Don’t spend days or weeks of your life setting up an automation programme before you have taken the time to properly research and plan every step and action.  Plan – you won’t regret it!

I think you’ve got enough there to start you on your Marketing Automation journey.  If you want to discuss how Marketing Automation could work for your business, our Enabler team would be happy to chat you through our Automation software and how it could help deliver you deliver on your goals.

Inboxes around the world are bombarded by around 205 billion emails every day, so a strong subject line will make or break your email’s chances of being noticed, let alone opened. Discover how an irresistible subject line can help command the attention of your recipient and maximise your chance for engagement.

Write for mobile – short and sweet

On average, over 54%* of emails are opened on a mobile device, and a smaller screen means less space to display your subject line, which puts it in danger of being cut short. To avoid this, always ensure your subject line is no longer than 50 characters. This gives you approximately eight words to play with, which should be plenty to get your key info across, and grab the attention of your recipient’s interest.

 

Let’s get personal… Use their name

Okay, so this isn’t strictly a subject line tip, but it will certainly help improve your open rates. People are more likely to open an email sent from another person than from a company, so put their name in your message and get people curious about what you’ve sent them.
See our previous blog post dedicated to personalisation to find out more.

 

Make the most of the preview text

Most Email Service Providers (ESPs) allow you to edit the preview text that displays next to your subject line, and many recipients use this text as a quick screening tool to decide whether or not they want to open your email. If you begin your email with some interesting facts or an intriguing premise, you could mirror this in the preview text to hook the reader into opening the email. Alternatively, you could do more exciting things with your preview text, such as:

  1. Ask a question in your subject line and answer it in the preview text, e.g. “How Will Your Customers Find Your Website?” or “We’ll let you in on our secret tips…”

  2. Elaborate on the subject line, e.g. “Holiday Deals from £99” or “Go to Spain, Italy or Greece for a Bargain Price.”

  3. Give an incentive to open the email, e.g. “Valentine’s Day Sale” or “Up to 80% off Candles and Scents”

 

Make the recipient feel special

If you haven’t the data, never fear – you don’t just have to rely on the recipient’ name to make your emails stand out with personalisation. Emphasising “you” within your subject lines is a proven way to attract the attention of the reader, with phrases like “Exclusively for You” and “Your Special Selection” to give your subject lines the feel of a personalised message rather than a generic sales email. Done right, your recipient should feel appreciated as a customer and should spark enough intrigue to make them more likely to open the email to find out what you’ve chosen for them.

 

Be like-minded… Help readers to identify with your emails

People like to self-identify and belong to a group – that’s why all of those Buzzfeed quizzes about your favourite Game of Thrones character, or questionnaires about which Hogwarts House you are most likely to get Sorted into are so popular and effective at driving engagement. By segmenting your audience data into relevant categories, you can start identifying different demographics and audience interests that will help you shape your email copy and subject lines. For example, you could target your 18 – 22 year olds at university with “The Broke Student Guide to a Luxury Holiday.”

 

Inject some humour

If you make someone chuckle with your subject line, they are much more inclined to open your email to see what other giggles are in store. A classic pun is often a good choice, or you could take your recipient totally by surprise like Groupon did: “Best of Groupon: The Deals That Make Us Proud (Unlike Our Nephew, Steve)” Cheeky old Groupon did break the 50-characters-maximum rule here, but hats off to them for the wit!

 

Drive action by creating a sense of urgency

People check their email while on the go, and often see a message they intend to come back to, yet promptly forget about it. Don’t let this happen to your emails. By using targeted verbs (action words) in your subject line, you can help drive the recipient to do what you want them to do.  By instilling a sense of urgency, they are more likely to open your email as soon as they see it. Good examples could be “Go On, Treat Yourself”, or “Blink And You Might Miss Out…”

 

Use reverse psychology

‘Trick’ people into opening your email by setting them a challenge, such as “Bet You Didn’t Know This About…” or simply by telling them not to, like Manicube did: “Don’t Open This Email.”  Human nature means that most people will see this and be curious enough to have a nose – just make sure your content is actually worth the trickery, and maintain consistency between the subject line message and your email content so readers don’t actually feel tricked. One of the simplest (but rather unimaginative ways) of linking the subject line and email copy is by saying “Now that we’ve got your attention…” We won’t judge if you want to use it!

 

Incentives drive opens

If all else fails, offer an incentive in your subject line to encourage people to open your email. This might be the promise of a product sample, discount offer, prize draw, mystery surprise or anything else you can offer to get people to open your email (short of blackmail. Don’t do that.) Just try and avoid features which can trigger the dreaded spam filters – words like “Free,” “Click,” “Sale,” writing in ALL CAPITALS, and excessive punctuation “!!! <3”
See our blog on avoiding spam filters for more useful tips on this.

Hopefully this has given you some ideas to run away with. If you fancy a few of them but aren’t sure which would suit your business, try several different subject lines and perform a split-test to find the one that performs best.

If you’ve got a subject line in mind but you’re worried about potentially triggering spam filters, there are some free testing tools online that will give your subject line a score basenabled on how many spam-like elements it has. Subjectline.com is a useful one we would recommend.

If your mind insists on going blank whenever you look at the box for your subject line, give an automatic subject line generator a go. This one is really handy – just pop in your keywords, and it will generate loads of potential subject lines for you to choose from or tweak.

However you decide to formulate your subject line, a key thing to remember is that the tone and language should suit both your audience and the organisation you work for. . If it sounds drastically different from your usual brand voice, the effect will be jarring and strange; you don’t want people to think you’ve been hacked or have started sending spam.  If you’d like to start reaching out to your customers differently, consider it as part of a broader branding shift.

*According to report by Litmus in their 2017 State of Email Report.

In 2016 email marketing has become greater than ever before, and with such high volumes being sent it means it is now more difficult for your emails to reach its final destination – top of your recipient’s inbox.  Although there are some businesses that still align their digital marketing strategy with a ‘one size fits all’ notion, luckily most of our clients at Enabler know that when it comes to successful delivery and making sure your emails stand out from the inbox crowd, their email campaigns need to be composed differently.

We’ll show you what to pay attention to when preparing your email campaigns to ensure that you connect with your audiences, composing optimised content that’s engaging, relevant and looks great.

 

Are you talking to me?

In email marketing, having the right tone of voice to suit your target audience is crucial to a successful campaign.  There are varying factors you need to take into account when it comes to what tone to use, which will depend on things like gender, industry, job-role, subject matter etc.  If the email campaign is designed to be sent to a decision maker within the engineering industry, for example, they would probably respond better to a factual, technically focused email that’s straight to the point.  However, it’s a totally different ball game if you’re in the food industry where your email communications can’t always be direct product promotions. You need to keep your audience regularly engaged with different content, so thinking-outside-the-box provides a welcome distraction to just pushing your product, otherwise your audience will just switch off.

You also need to carefully think about the vocabulary that you use.  You need to know your audience and understand the sort of words they are more likely to connect with and respond to.  Don’t get too clever – using big sophisticated words might look good on an essay, but in an email it can make some people stop reading, especially if your audience is unsure of what the word means.

Innocent Drinks illustrate perfectly how to keep customers intrigued with their Friday morning email newsletter. In addition to sneaking in product-related information, there are always plenty of interesting, entertaining articles and sometimes a humorous take on recent affairs that’ll make even the grumpiest person smile on a Friday morning. Plus, with plenty of freebies hidden within the campaign, Innocent Drinks have managed to promote their brand/product with an indirect, fun email that keeps their consumers engaged and generates great response rates.

Why?  It’s relatable to their target audience.
If the same style of email was sent to engineers within the aviation industry, the response rate would be much-lower as the tone is completely wrong for that audience, which would have meant the amount of ‘unsubscribe’ requests would have been greater, which inevitably affects future deliverability.
The best advice is to know your audience, get to understand how they respond and choose your content and vocabulary appropriately to suit them.

 

 

B2B or B2C?  That is the question

Although both consumers, the main difference between B2B and B2C customers is the buying cycle, and this difference means your emails need to be targeted differently also.

B2B customers tend to take more time to make purchasing decisions due to the fact that there are usually several decision-makers involved in the process. Thus, your email content needs to be informative and consist of enough facts and key details to help all those decision-makers make a decision, and providing them with extra information which they can pass on is a great way to do that; such as whitepapers, case studies or findings from company surveys which in turn enable your company to be seen as an industry leader.

B2C customers usually make quick, impulsive and emotion-based purchasing decisions and they usually do not have to consult anyone prior to making a purchase.
One of the key differences between B2B and B2C emails is Send Time, and if you get this wrong it can have a huge impact on your response rates and ROI.  B2B customers are working customers.  Despite the workaholics who check their work emails at the weekends, most B2B customers are more likely to respond to email marketing campaigns sent during working hours.  B2C customers on the other hand will be checking their emails outside of work hours, which means the best time for response rates are during their commute (before or after work), lunch breaks, evenings and weekends. All of this means your send days and times will vary widely depending on whether you are sending to a B2B or B2C consumer, so again, know your audience and change your content and send times accordingly to maximise your response rates.

 

 

Prospective, New or Existing?   No two customers are the same…

Defining what sort of customer you are communicating with is a crucial factor that many marketers can sometimes forget when composing their email campaigns.  Prospective, new and existing customers all behave very differently towards the email content they receive, and the way that you communicate with them should also be different.  Think of it like a journey you want your customers to take; your emails need to be targeted appropriately with the right tone, vocabulary and content that will connect with your audience, encouraging your prospects to turn into new customers, and in turn (hopefully) they will continue the journey to becoming loyal existing customers.  Your tone of voice will change as your customers progress through the email journey and you start to build a relationship of trust and familiarity between yourself and your customers.  What you don’t want to do is send them email communications that stop the journey in its tracks with content that is irrelevant or inappropriately depending on the type of customer they are and the kind of relationship you have with them.  Any relationship you build you should look to maintain and develop further with your email communications, so compose your messages carefully depending on what stage of the ‘journey’ your customer is at.

Another key thing to bear in mind is that prospective customers will need winning over, so you don’t want to send them content that’s going to make them want to unsubscribe straight away.  If a prospect has approached you by subscribing to your emails, most customers would expect to receive a welcome or brand introductory email, so if you offer some incentive as a ‘thank you for subscribing’ – such as a white-paper, voucher or event invitation that would be of interested to the new customer and make them feel appreciated and start to build that relationship.  As they say… you never get a second chance to make a first impression so make sure you get the right message aimed at the right person first time.

Existing customers already know your brand and are actively doing business with you, but that does not mean you can rest on your laurels when it comes to your emails.  It is extremely important not to spam your customers by resending emails with identical content (which is a sure-fire way to get yourself spammed). Most email software allows you to segment customers into groups or categories meaning you can organise your customers and ensure you are delivering the right content to the right people.

 

 

Let’s Get Optimised – sizing up your emails for mobile

So we’ve talked a lot about the importance of using varying tones of voice, vocabulary and content to connect with your different customer groups, but another factor that is also important to consider is mobile optimisation.  ‘One size fits all’ doesn’t work for your customers, and it doesn’t work for their devices either.  Sending an email that looks great on desktop but is misaligned or poorly engaging on mobile or tablets can sometimes be disastrous for your campaign depending on how your users interact with your email communications.  Just because you designed your email on a desktop PC doesn’t mean your customers are going to view the email on desktop.  More and more consumers (both B2B and B2C) are engaging with emails on their mobile devices, so you need to make sure your content layout and calls-to-action are clear, engaging and correctly placed when viewed on a mobile device.  Most email software providers will allow you to view and amend the mobile version of your email campaign, and more sophisticated email software will even allow you to add or omit content solely on the mobile version while still retaining the original content on the desktop version.  This is a great way to ensure your emails look uncluttered on mobile and stay concise.

Understanding how your customers interact with your emails is vital.  Most email software providers will allow you to gather analytics on what devices your customers are using to view your email campaigns.  By looking at this data and learning what device-preference your customers have is really helpful in building effective, engaging email campaigns targeted at your customer base.  If over 70% of your customers have a preference for mobile, make sure you include mobile-friendly features such as ‘click to call’ links, and vis versa if their preference is for desktop don’t add too many features that are mobile-only accessible. Don’t disengaging your customers with an email that doesn’t suit the way they interact with your comms.

The key to your email comms is understanding your customer, what words and content they will respond to, understanding what relationship you currently have with them (and what future relationship you hope to achieve), and learning how your customers interact with and view your emails.

We are a race of individuals, so make sure your email communications reflect that.  Stand out from the inbox crowd with original content that also treats the customer as an individual.  Don’t be generic, be personable and relevant to your audience.  Once you understand your audience, you are more likely to create amazing content that will grab their attention and generate a successful campaign ROI.

Track your campaigns and learn from how your customers behave and interact with your communications. Remember, your data is the key to building better campaigns and better relationships with your customers.

As a marketer, there’s nothing worse than the frantic last-minute creation of new content or scrambling for a topic to post about. From erratic emails to hurried hashtags, when it comes to your marketing communications sometimes being reactive isn’t always the best philosophy. Proactively planning your communications ahead of time means that you will always have relevant reading at the ready. More importantly, your business objectives and marketing goals will benefit from having more focused communications that deliver you both richer content and quality results.

Sound good?  Then you need an editorial calendar! Allow me to give you an overview of what exactly editorial calendars are, how to create and use them, and a few tips for generating that sometimes-elusive content…

 

What is an editorial calendar?

Providing a bird’s eye view of your content, an editorial calendar is a fantastic tool to help plan your marketing communications for the year ahead.  It is hugely beneficial when it comes to planning cross-channel promotions as it enables you to consolidate your content planning in one place and maintain a consistent tone across your content. Upcoming industry events, public holidays and topics of audience interest will help inspire your content generation, and allow you to set up a posting schedule for your communications.

Your editorial calendar provides you with a clear overview of your communications, ensuring you maintain a regular active presence across all your communication channels, as well as allowing you to spot any gaps or missed opportunities ahead of time. Build a familiar identity through your calendar content by maintaining a consistent tone of voice, post frequency and choice of topics. By being savvy and planning in advance, you can get your content ‘in the bag’ ahead of time more efficiently, delegating content creation or research amongst your team so you don’t have to single handedly build your calendar.  Be creative and make sure you are using every suitable marketing channel available (social, email, blogs etc) to really maximise your communications effectiveness and achieving your marketing goals.  All-in-all, an editorial calendar ensures your marketing communications remain as time-efficient and engaging as possible.

 

 

Creating your editorial calendar

Start by deciding how you want to set your calendar up; some people swear by spreadsheets, whereas others like to use one of the dedicated tools available (more on these later.)
When you’ve got your format sorted, start by looking ahead and plotting in any industry events such as exhibitions or conferences, as well as internal events such as promotions, seminars, product launches, training or networking sessions your company is looking to deliver. Make notes of any content creation opportunities around these events, such as topics for articles, blogs, email campaigns, photo opportunities or subjects for videos.  Try to ensure you plan your content to suit a range of channels (e.g. social media, website, blog, email) and formats (e.g. article, infographic, video) in mind, so that your communications stay consistent without ending up in a rut with lots of duplicate content.
At this early stage, be sure to meet with others to share ideas, begin to delegate tasks and set deadlines, and keep each other up-to-date with progress going forward.

 

 

Tips for content generation

It’s important to establish the fundamentals of your content before you get posting to ensure that it’s all meaningful – your audience will be able to tell if you’re just posting for the sake of it.

  • Consider the purpose of your content. For example, do you want it to drive lead generation, increase sales, or present your company as a thought leader or raise brand awareness?

  • What sort of audience and customers are you looking to attract?  Think about their possible demographics and how to appeal to them in terms of topics of interest so that the content you post is directly relevant to them, and your time of posting and tone of voice are targeted appropriately.

  • Pin down the resources and skills at your disposal in the office; you may have copywriters, photographers, and designers who would be happy to get on-board and help boost the quality of your content…use them!

Now that you know where you’re going and what you’ve got to work with, you can start to plan your topics…

  • Link your products and services to seasonal holidays and events; ideally you should aim to produce more than just a generic “Merry Christmas” greeting message. For example, if you’re in the property industry link it to successfully selling your house in the winter, if you’re in retail highlight some amazing gifts you sell, and if you’re in the travel industry showcase some amazing holiday destinations for the winter.

  • Not everything has to be an article – remember that content “snippets” are great too – a series of ‘top tips’, for example, or an interesting fact of the week. A balance of light-hearted and informative will make your content well-rounded and broadly appealing.

  • Stuck for content ideas?  You can use HubSpot’s blog topic generator. Enter up to three nouns and let it generate related blog titles for you – it’s great for some quick inspiration!  For something more in-depth, you can use Buzzsumo to see the topics generating the most engagement in your industry and plan your content accordingly.

 

 

Tools and templates to get you ahead

For something simple, you could use an Outlook or Google calendar visible to everyone who will be working on content creation, or an Excel sheet (download HubSpot’s free Excel editorial calendar template – just fill in a quick form). There are however many excellent free or inexpensive tools available online that could help you be even more efficient and create something a bit more special:

 

CoSchedule – Editorial Calendar

This one has been developed by the guys at WordPress, so if you’re already using WordPress as your CRM you can add their editorial calendar as a plug-in and keep everything together. No need to fret if you don’t use WordPress – you can just access your calendar through the CoSchedule website instead. You can start by signing up for a free trial to see if you like it, and will benefit from a helpful tutorial that guides you through the set-up. The interface looks just like a calendar, and it’s very easy to use with drag and drop flexibility. To continue after the free trial, CoSchedule costs from $30 per month.*

 

Trello

This simple platform starts you off with ​​an empty board, to which you need to add ‘sticky note’ like lists and add your content information (topic, deadlines etc). As you begin to build up your lists you will see a calendar start to form, and you can easily shuffle things round by dragging and dropping if you rethink your strategy. It’s also fun and personalisable with different background colours, stickers and colour-coding. The basic version of Trello is free to use, though you can upgrade to a paid version from $9.99 per month.* if you need the extra bells and whistles, which include unlimited “Power-Ups” for your boards, a higher limit on the size of attachments, more personalisation options, greater security, and priority email support

 

Asana

Asana is a project management ​tool​​ which can be used for editorial calendars too. Start by setting up a project and titling it something gloriously imaginative, like “Editorial calendar”, then assign each member of the team their tasks/content to create, grouping each one under the project as you go.  Asana is great fun if you like ticking off lists, has a range of seasonal themes you can select from, and is very straightforward to use.

 

 

 

Hootsuite SproutSocial

These fantastic social media tools allow you to plot in your posts into a calendar with all your links, images and copy well in advance, so that your posts always go out at the exact time you want, creating hassle-free social media management.  Both platforms allow you to view all your social streams in one place, allowing you to view and respond to engagement quickly and efficiently. By planning your content in advance, these platforms allow you to be reactive where it counts, by identifying key influencers and potential leads, and turning them into customers. Gain valuable insight into your audience demographic and interests using the indepth analysis dashboards on both platforms, and helping you tailor future content more effectively to drive further engagement.

 

 

 

Whichever tool you choose, taking the time to set up your editorial calendar will equip you with a valuable asset in your marketing communications. It will allow you to tailor your content to your products and business objectives, and help drive consistent audience engagement. Even better, posting regular interesting content will help to raise your brand awareness, which in turn is likely to lead to more customers and boost your ROI.  This blog should help you get your editorial calendar off the ground, so now all you need to do is source your content and you’re away!

Happy planning! 

Ah summertime, that wonderful period of the year where people flee to sunnier climes to get their tan on. Unfortunately, for us marketeers this makes it harder to reach customers as the number of out of office notifications increases. Since we know this happens every summer, how can we adjust our email marketing tactics to ensure we’re being as effective as possible?

 

Don’t run for the sun

Most importantly, do not stop marketing just because the sun comes out. The months may be deathly slow but there are still opportunities to connect with your customers. Your emails may also be more likely to hit the target, as customers potentially have more leisure time over the summer and could be more receptive to your messages.

 

Embrace the challenge

The summer months are a great opportunity to do some testing, especially with content (here are some ideas). It might be time to employ user generated content and experiment to discover what your customers really want. Here’s one example of a brand who took advantage of the summer season and kept their customers interacting:

 

Feel at Home #holidayspam

Three were very clever with this campaign. Travellers are often wary of expensive roaming charges and so avoid using their phone for calls and data while abroad. Three also knew that people love to share their holiday snaps and brag about their experiences abroad. So they decided to tap into this behaviour and counter the fear by emailing customers to confirm there was no extra cost for using their phone in many popular holiday locations. This was a great tactic as it offered added value, solved a problem for customers and made them feel grateful to Three for keeping them connected while away. It’s exactly what any customer would want. Noone wants to pay extra to use their phone when on holiday.

Secondly, Three further encouraged sharing by using #holidayspam and designating 18 vacation destinations around the world where customers could upload and share holiday

pics – at no extra cost. The pictures could be uploaded to both Twitter and Instagram, essentially creating free advertising for Three. To further incentivise sharing, if the customers uploaded a holiday snap at one of these locations using #holidayspam, they were entered into a competition to win an amazing holiday!

In summary, they provided customers with a tangible benefit, made it fun and incentivised it with the chance to win a holiday… which they knew they’d want, as they’re already on holiday! They specifically designed the campaign around the idea of holidays and engaged customers at a time where they were less likely to interact with the brand. The video below shows just how well it worked.

 

 

The key element that I took from the success of this campaign was the mobile aspect of it. Gone are the days where people go to a foreign country and are no longer reachable. People take their phones everywhere and with an increasing amount of places offering free WiFi, emails are always accessible. With this in mind, it’s more important than ever that your emails are fully mobile responsive. Make it easy for people to interact with you. Ensure that your emails are mobile optimised and that any landing pages are too. Read more about making your emails mobile responsive.

 

 

Plan ahead

Over the summer, you need to innovate and work harder with your email marketing to keep your customers engaged. Luckily, much of this can be set up in advance if you use marketing automation. Whilst you might want to send your usual newsletters and one-off campaigns, you can also set up emails to run automatically when a customer meets a certain condition or a combination of conditions. This works particularly well during summer when you’re short staffed. For example, if you’ve set up a summer email campaign that includes a competition, why not include the competition into your welcome programme. This means that every time a new customer signs up to your list, they automatically receive an email telling them about the summer competition. Just remember to take it out of your welcome programme when the competition ends!

 

What about timing?

It’s also important to consider the timing of your campaigns. If people are on holiday, the location data you hold about them might not be so relevant anymore. With this in mind, it’s often better during summer months to do a campaign that could be applicable no matter where you are in the world and not worry so much about the time you send your campaigns. (Although, there’s nothing like doing a bit of send time testing over the summer months to work out what works best for your database). That’s why competitions are so effective, since you can enter no matter where you are. Campaigns that tend to work less well during the summer period (depending on your business that is) are in-store offers. Asking a customer to come into their local branch over the summer isn’t necessarily a great move as there is a reasonable chance they won’t be around to take advantage of it.

 

Let’s play a game

A clever content idea is to use games. There’s nothing worse than being stuck at an airport with nothing to do and brands should take advantage of this opportunity. Create a highly addictive, brand related game that you can push out through email to your customers. Just last summer, I noticed the game ‘Heads Up’ from Ellen DeGeneres being played at an airport by at least five separate groups of people. Games are a great source of data capture too; use a form at the start or end of a game asking your customers to enter their details so their score can be saved. This means you can build your email lists during a time where you thought your email marketing wasn’t going to be as effective.

 

In summer-y

It’s never too early to start preparing your summer campaigns. All the best ones I’ve seen have taken lengthy planning but it’s worth it! You also might want to take holiday yourself, so make sure you have your automation sorted before you go. Summer isn’t the time to abandon your campaigns, it’s an opportunity to get even more creative. Embrace the challenge and have a happy summer emailing!

Email is an excellent way of communicating with your customers and there are always ways to improve interaction. You may have heard the terms ‘AB testing’, ‘split testing’ or ‘multi-variant testing’ being batted around in the marketing world but what is it… and why should you be doing it?

A/B testing is taking two (or more) versions of something and displaying these different versions to selections of users to determine which one works better. The term can be used for many areas of marketing but I’m going to focus on email. With email testing, we look at open rates and click through rates to determine which variant of the email has performed the best.

Well-planned A/B testing can make a huge difference to the effectiveness of your campaigns.

It’s important to test because no database is the same as another and you can’t just rely on research by others and apply it to your own campaigns. Even within industries, there can be huge discrepancies between what works for one company and what works for another.

 

The first thing to do when planning an A/B test is to figure out exactly what you’re trying to improve. Are you looking to improve your open rates or click through rates? Are you trying to work out what type of email best suits your audience or are you testing content? Whatever you’re looking to improve, there’s a test for it. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

 

Subject line

This is one of the first tests I’d recommend running. It’s really effective for boosting open rates. You can try testing anything from the length of the subject line, to using your customer’s names, to referring to the offer in the email. Whatever you do, remember to make them different enough to notice an effect. The great thing with subject lines is that you can test multiple subject lines at once. I’ve run campaigns where we’ve tested up to 10 subject lines in one go!

Subheader

This is the first piece of text within the email template and sometimes also displays alongside the subject line in the recipient’s inbox, depending on the email client. If the first text in your template is ‘Click her to view this email online’ you’re missing out on an additional opportunity to get your message across to your audience.

Headline

As one of the first parts of your email the customer sees, this is a pretty good section to test. You can try posing a question or relating the headline copy to the rest of the email – it’s up to you.

Call to action

This is another section of your email to really dedicate some testing time to. It’s the part of the email which can determine whether your customer takes the action you want. You can test creative look and feel, or the copy itself.

Personalisation

Are you going to use your customers name within the email? How about relevant information? For example, if you work in the insurance industry you might include a policy number or the name of their pet (but maybe only do the pet one if you specialise in pet insurance, otherwise you’re headed down the stalker route!). Personalising an email can help engage your customers. This doesn’t work for all email recipients, which is why it’s perfect for testing. Read our blog on personalisation for more tips and ideas on this subject.

Creative

The layout of your email is one aspect with which you can have endless hours of testing fun. You may decide you want to put different sections of your emails in different places to see what gets more traction from this alternative placement in the design.

Testimonials

This is fairly simple. If you’ve got the testimonials to back up your product, why not try them out to see if they boost engagement?

Time of day

Timing is another effective variable to test. I’ve seen this have more impact with B2B than B2C databases, due to the flow of the work day. For example, some people prefer to check their emails on their commute or during their lunch break but are more likely to interact with them towards the end of the work day on the commute home. However, you may find that your B2C database prefers morning sends to afternoon sends, or vice versa. Either way, it’s an easy and effective aspect to test.

Imagery

Imagery is one of my favourite elements to test, mainly because it’s really interesting to see if customers are affected by imagery. If you have a picture of your product in there, how do users react to it? You can also test placement and quantity of imagery.

Amount of content

Content testing works especially well for blog based emails or newsletters. Providing customers with too many articles can cause a paradox. If there’s too much choice, to the point where the user feels overwhelmed, they may not take any action. However, in other databases you might find that the more content you include in these emails, the more click throughs you get.

Wording of offers

Choice of wording can be applied to almost any area in an email but the one I’ve seen work the best is copy surrounding discounts. Some customers may respond to ‘50% off’, whereas others may prefer seeing ‘£20 off’. How you word your offers can have a big impact on the click through rate, so this is an important consideration for those of you running promotional emails.

Overview

The key thing to remember when selecting a test is to make sure you only do one test at a time. In order to determine what has had the impact on your interaction lift, you need to know exactly what it was that worked. If you try testing subject lines and creatives at the same time, it’s very difficult to pinpoint exactly what made the difference and if one test affected the outcome of another.

The second thing you should do is work out who you are going to test on. As general best practice, I’d always test on a statistically relevant percentage of your data and then roll out the winning result to the rest. This ensures you are exposing the majority of your customers to the winning version.

Thirdly, make sure you’re always keeping a record of the tests you have run and what the outcome was. You can then use these findings, and apply them to subsequent campaigns. Having said this, if you find something that works don’t just stop testing that element. For example, if you find a particular style of subject line that engages your audience don’t just assume this will work for your customers forever.

Imagine you got the same style of subject line for all the emails you received in the next three months ‘Andrew, check out these new offers’…. over and over again. You’d get bored, we all would. When email subscribers get bored, they stop interacting. We call this having ‘list fatigue’ and it happens when brands tactics have gone stale. To ensure this doesn’t happen to you, make sure you keep on testing and trying out new things to keep your subscribers interested.

You may find several elements that work really well for you and you can keep these on rotation to use when the previous formula stops working.

A/B testing is such an interesting area of email marketing. It’s a chance to get creative with your emails and really get to know your customers, finding out what makes them tick and improving your results at the same time. I hope you have fun testing your emails and that you boost your campaigns as a result.  And as always, if you have any questions about this subject or what we do here at Enabler, get in touch.