10 Email Optimization Tips
Email optimization needs to be an essential piece to your overall marketing strategy. I’m sure along the way you have wondered what you can do to improve your email campaign performance going forward.
“But I’m not an Email Marketing Expert!” You may say…
Have no fear, with some standardized practices you can see results that will strengthen your organization for years to come. In this article, we will outline 10 practices you should adopt that will improve your email optimization strategy.
1. Never Email to Purchased Lists
Sending email blasts to purchased lists completely negates all of your email optimization efforts. If you take anything from this article, it must be this particular point. In the past, you may have done this, thinking it will be a great quick-fix to generate some buzz about your company. However, there is no quicker way to get your emails flagged as spam and ruin your email reputation and deliverability than to use a purchased email list. There are several reasons why purchased lists are a cardinal sin for email marketers.
First, emailing your contact lists is based on the premise that your contacts gave you permission to email them. Did any of the people on the purchased give you permission? Of Course not. Not a single soul on that purchased list is expecting to get email communication from you, and not one of your emails will be welcomed.
Second, Email Service Providers (ESPs) and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) track email lists. Trust me, if you do send to an email list, you aren’t the first or only person sending to that particular list. ESPs and ISPs can track this, and they will flag you as spammer. You want to avoid being flagged at all costs and the first way to avoid that is to NOT send to purchased lists.
Email Marketing shouldn’t be focused on getting fast results. It should be a long-term approach that builds your brand and audience engagement. Be patient, and engage the contacts whom actually want to hear from you. When you focus your approach on quality, customers, and contacts, you will see real results.
2. Set 1 Goal Per Email
With the one exception of sending a newsletter, your email should have only one goal in mind. The best email optimization strategies drive all actions and motivations towards this singular goal. Whether it’s getting your customers to sign up for a seminar, download a tutorial, or promote your hottest new product; your email should direct your audience to complete one specific action. Too much choice can be debilitating, and your email analytics will not be able to properly gauge the ultimate performance of your email goals if you have more than one. When you are creating an email, always think: “What is the purpose of this particular email?”
3. Don’t Prioritize Metrics Over Your Main Goal
Metrics are important, however, are you sending an email to promote a store sale, or are you sending this email to achieve 20% opens and 6% clicks? Don’t lose sight of the main objective. KPI’s are vital data, but email optimization focuses on goals rather than individual metrics. Metrics are important to gauge an individual email’s performance, and often give cues where to improve individual aspects of your email. You could be seeing low click rates and open rates because of other factors such as, email list decay rather than your specific campaign was not effective. Always prioritize your main goal, then let metrics aid in improving your message.
4. Consider Your Subject Line Carefully
Your subject line can make or break your email. If you write a bad subject line, your email won’t be opened, or worse, it will end up in the spam folder. One of the best email optimization tactics is to write a subject line that teases the content of the email without giving up too much information about your content. Avoid being too “salesy,” but use verbs to engage the contact. You will never accomplish your main goal of the email if the user never opens the message, so give them a reason to open your email with a strong subject line.
5. Be Sure to Use Preview and Alt Text
Many devices and clients render preview text in their inbox. Use the preview to provide more teaser information to convince your contact to open your email message. You may think ALT tags are for website optimization only, but they also play into email optimization as well. There are certain email clients that may not render any of the images in your email, so your image alt text should be as descriptive as possible since it will be a placeholder. Providing email alt text also improves email message spam scores and should always be used. Additionally, there are many clients that don’t render HTML emails, so you will need to have a plain text alternative.
6. You Should Prioritize the Quality of your Email List Over its Overall Size
What do you think is better – a contact list with 50,000 contacts that yields 7% opens and 1% click-rates, or a contact list of 10,000 that has a 40% open and 6% click-rate? If you think the latter, then you are correct and well on your email optimization journey. Ultimately, your ideal contact list consists of engaged contacts that want to receive your emails and interact with them. While the larger list can show bigger numbers at the slightest uptick, remember, you will also run into issues like list decay, and have a harder time directly targeting your audience. Quality beats quantity, and you want to focus on the contacts that engage. When you have a large stagnant list, run a re-engagement campaign to see which contacts are still interested. If they don’t bite, its time to remove them from your list.
7. Mobile Email Optimization
If you are not optimizing your emails for mobile devices, you may as well throw in the towel. Email optimization experts make beautiful emails for ALL device sizes. In many instances, people use their smart phones to view their emails more often than using their phone to make calls. Over half of all email messages sent today are viewed on a mobile device and that number is only going to increase. If you don’t optimize your email for mobile devices, expect contacts to stop opening your messages, and ultimately stop interacting with your emails altogether. There are many examples of email services out there where you can make brilliant looking email messages that use responsive design to format your message for a smaller screen. When you adopt an email optimization strategy that keeps up with email viewing trends, you see your campaigns succeed for years to come.
8. Use Personalized Tokens when Available
If you are using an email design program like MailChimp, Hubspot, and so on, you have the ability to use Personalized Tokens. The positive to using tokens is that they allow for personalization that lets your audience think the message is just for them. Additionally, using tokens often aids in preventing your message from being flagged as spam. When your message is tailored to your contact, it looks more like a conversation, enticing them to take action and interact with your message. This is an advanced email optimization technique, and given the state of digital marketing these days, should be considered a requirement. Alas, I must mention that you need to maintain good records in your contact list in order to use personalized tokens. Should you send a message with a token and that contact’s name is wrong, for example, you may alienate the contact. Contact list hygiene and upkeep become increasingly important as you leverage email personalization.
9. Vary Email Sending Time to Achieve Peak Audience Engagement
There is absolutely no universally perfect time to send an email to your contacts. No two industries, companies, audiences, etc., have the perfect time that sending email messages always works and is always effective. Your company or organization is unique, and it’s your challenge to find the best time when users will interact with your email communications. The only way to find this out is to test. A solid email optimization strategy includes testing, monitoring results, and tweaking campaign variables to obtain peak performance. Vary the time of day to see when you get the best engagement numbers. What times of day do you achieve your main goal at the highest rate? During your variation, KPI’s are appropriate to gauge what time of day works best. Once you find your ideal time, use it, but if you see your numbers decay overtime, it may be time to test again. Remember, your contact list is ever changing and so are their habits. Its important to stay in tune with those habits to stay successful.
10. Segment Your Email Lists When Possible
One of the biggest ways to lose engagement and contacts is to send messages to those not interested. This is when it is important break up your email list into segments. The starter segments you can create are segments based on buyer personas and segments based on your contacts buyer life-cycle. When you take the time to narrow your audience down to a list that would actually be interested in a specific message, you will see immediate results. List segmentation is another requirement for an advanced email optimization strategy. Would you email a contact a message trying to sell a product that they just bought? Of course not. The audience matters, and when you take the time to pinpoint recipients, you will see greater engagement, increased metrics and goal completions.
Email Optimization Summary
The best email optimization strategies include these 10 tips and more! While this is not the definitive list of items you can adopt to improve your email marketing strategy, it certainly is a great place to start. Just remember, email optimization is all about the long haul, and taking the effort to do things right will always pay off.