I love online shopping, but a time came when logging into my email account meant bombardment by special offers and a soon-to-be overflowing trash folder. Sometimes a lucky few emails will catch my eye and be spared, but for the most part their contents are doomed to rot, forever unread, in my inbox. It’s unfortunate because many of these emails are actually from great websites and businesses.
That being said, email campaigns are still a primary marketing tool. Which means that it’s essential that you know what to do, and what not to do, when you launch your email campaign. In order to investigate exactly which strategies are the most effective, I “signed up” for the services of a sample of 20 websites and, believe it or not, actually read all of their emails. Below are the websites that used the best campaign tactics– and no, when I say campaign tactics I’m not talking about the 2012 elections (though I would like to take this moment to express my upmost approval of the Relatable Romney meme, which is hardly campaign related).
Considering their services, it is fitting that MailChimp boasts an awesome email campaign. And I would sure hope so, because I wouldn’t want to enlist email marketing help from a website that doesn’t send great emails themselves. With beautiful design and valuable content, MailChimp emails practically take the form of infographics. It’s important that emails engage recipients from the start, establishing that they will have an incentive to read your content every single time, and MailChimp does an excellent job. Since my registration, I have received an activation email (promptly delivered) and a number of “Getting Started” emails, shown below. I learn something new with every email, all of which provide me with tips on using MailChimp features and ways to improve my MailChimp experience.
StumbleUpon’s emails are clean and appealing in design, yet anything but boring. I received a welcome email and weekly emails all in a timely fashion. Every email encourages me to visit the StumbleUpon website, either with usage tips or recommendations tailored to my interests. Personalization is a simple and effective tactic that StumbleUpon capitalizes upon well– when I see the title “weekly recommendation,” I already know that I’m going to like the email’s contents.
As a shopping website, appearance is key, and GiltGroupe is wonderfully aware of this down to the very last email. Their emails look high-end and elegant, which convinces me that they must mirror the quality of GiltGroupe’s discounted products. Unlike its many competitors who send me emails multiple times a day, I have no complaints about an overwhelming volume of messages. In fact, I receive emails on a modest weekly basis. GiltGroupe special offers are often targeted based on location (see Gilt City). I would compliment Amazon on also taking advantage of this strategy with their “Local Deals” emails; however, I receive them daily and therefore developed the habit of sending them directly to trash.
All of the websites listed above deliver emails promptly and with appropriate frequency. I found that while some websites send an overwhelming number of emails, others don’t send enough. Surprisingly, some noteworthy startups didn’t send me a welcome email on time– TaskRabbit didn’t send me anything at all, and if I hadn’t made a spreadsheet, I would have completely forgotten that I signed up for them. Ideally, your emails should be consistent and well timed. Weekly emails seem to be a popular and effective compromise between spam and inexistence.
Though it may seem obvious or even trivial, adding design to emails helps grab user attention and present a particular image of your company. If I get a plain text email that isn’t from a personal email address and doesn’t concern administrative/billing matters, then I’ll be bored after I read the first sentence. Emails over 600 pixels wide that require me to side scroll seem sloppy. Good email design projects professionalism and gives your company/website the opportunity to show recipients that you stylishly mean business.
Finally, valuable content is what sets a great email campaign apart from a good one. In order to get the conversions you want, you need to know what your customers find valuable. Simply saying “go to our website” or “you haven’t logged in for a while” isn’t effective. Provide exciting news, videos, useful information, or benefits in your emails. Thinking about what motivated people to sign up for your services in the first place allows you to understand your users as a community. Is it because they want discounts? Rescue from boredom and the ability to explore their interests? To learn how to send email newsletters? Personalizing your emails for each recipient requires more advanced data analytics. Microsoft’s Bing is expert with deciphering individual customer preferences. Considering the masses of options available, it has become increasingly difficult for customers’ to know their preferences themselves. Bing developed an email strategy that “tailors emails to the recipient at the moment they’re opened.” By analyzing recipients’ online data and recent responses from other customers, Bing managed to boost conversions by 70% (for further detail visit this article).
When an email campaign does two of the above tactics and ignores one, it’s impressive how apparent it is. As long as you’re thoughtful about email frequency, design, and content, increasing conversions should be a breeze.