Email marketing: Our ingredients for success

Email marketing has come a long way with the rapid spread of smartphones and tablets. But what does this mean for your email sends? We’re taking a look at what’s happening in email marketing at the moment, and how we’re approaching email with our recipe for success.

Let’s start at the beginning with a few handy statistics:

838 billion marketing emails were sent in 2013
91% of consumers check their email on a daily basis
66% of online consumers have made a purchase as a result of an email

This shows email marketing is a valuable tool that connects businesses directly to consumers, but also highlights that it needs to be used carefully. We’re all subject to email overload and it’s impossible to properly consume every message in our inbox. We’re all selective in what we read and what we don’t. So, when you’re speaking to customers, it takes work to distinguish your marketing message from the background noise.

If you know how your customers consume email, you can use this insight to create more successful email campaigns. How, where, and why do customers open and click through on emails? It’s not a desktop-first game any more, that’s for sure…

The future is mobile

More than ever, people are opening their emails for the first time on their mobile.

Between 2011 and 2013, email opens on mobile devices increased by 30%. According to Campaign Monitor’s study of 1.8 billion email opens over the course of 2013, mobile is now the most popular place for the user’s first interaction, with 41% of opens. This means responsive is now no longer an option; it’s an essential.

This does not just impact on email design, but also how we need to approach email marketing as a whole. Let’s look at a few take-home stats…

The most common time to click through on an email is when it’s first received. Accordingly, with 41% of first-time opens, mobile has a higher volume of clicks than either desktop email or webmail.

However…

Readers are less likely to click through from mobile devices. 87% of clicks happen when a reader opens an email for the first time on desktop, but on mobile that figure drops to around 78%.

This means as mobile starts to take an even bigger percentage of the overall number of email opens, content needs to be better to motivate the same click through rate. It needs to become all the more tempting to get that first click in the bag.

But that’s not the end of the story…

If a customer opens an email for a second time from another device, often desktop, they are 65% more likely to click through. Campaigns therefore need to be optimised for a variety of devices.

One user habit that has grown is ‘triaging;’ first opening an email on mobile, then opening for a second time on another device, and clicking through from there. This practice shows that despite not clicking at first, customers value what’s being sent; they have a greater level of engagement with the content as they’re saving emails to look at from a more convenient device. But, this can only happen if the content is engaging enough to get them coming back. The only way to make these clicks count is optimise your emails not only for mobile, but desktop and tablet as well… a tricky business.

What does this mean for email?

In a nutshell, it’s becoming all the more imperative to engage customers with valuable, personalised content. People are now glued to their smartphones, receiving tens of emails every day. They use their phone as a primary tool to manage their inbox, but back this up with desktop and tablet use for consuming content in more detail. To really speak to customers emails need to cut through the noise and capture their interest, moving away from bulk email aimed at the ‘average’ consumer.

So the big question, how do you achieve this? Well, we have a few ingredients for success:

An engaging and personal subject line

We make sure our email titles are personalised wherever possible, or we else try to catch the recipient’s interest with something a bit intriguing.

A clear lead message or feature

We treat this like a billboard to clearly showcase exactly what we’re trying to communicate. No fluffy general messages here, we’ll always make sure there’s a clear reason that our emails are landing in customer inboxes.

An incentive to click

We make sure there’s something tempting to get customers clicking. Whether this is an offer, a new products on offer, or another incentive, we add a little extra draw for more engagement.

A modular approach that allows for a responsive design

Responsive is all-important, so we use a modular design approach which is easy to personalise to the audience, making sure our emails look great on every device.

A strong call to action

Customers always need to know exactly what to do next. Strong call to actions are essential to guide them onto the website, hopefully taking them one step closer to conversion.

Email is a complicated and noisy environment making it hard to get those all important conversions. As we’ve seen, it’s all about knowing customer habits and understanding how they’re engaging with your content. Balancing responsive email design, great content, and targeted customer data is the way forwards – with one eye on the future, of course…