Email campaigns are a great way to reach your audience, whether it’s through monthly promotional messages or automated nurturing programs. Most companies have concerns about how many messages are too many and what content is relevant to their customers. The truth is that every industry and every audience is different. Although there are certainly best practices to lean on, the best way to determine what is right for your customers is through continual testing and close monitoring of performance metrics.
Keep in mind, it’s important to set benchmarks for individual types of campaigns, rather than bunching all message reporting together. Depending on the purpose of the message and the segment you have chosen to send to performance metrics can vary greatly. For instance, automated welcome messages tend to have much higher open rates than mass promotional emails because welcome messages are sent to engaged consumers at a relevant time, while a monthly promotional email is going to a larger group of people, many of whom may not be interested in the particular topic at that time.
The following are a few examples of what a change in numbers might be saying about your email campaign and suggested fixes for the problem.
Increasing Opt-out rates:
- You’re sending too many emails
- You haven’t set proper expectations about your email programs
Things to try:
- Test different sending cadences. If you’re sending weekly try sending twice a month, if you’re sending multiple messages a week, try sending just one message a week.
- Diversify your templates. Make sure each message has a purpose and each purpose has a template. Try a mixture of newsletters, branding, promotional and behavioral triggered messages each with their own layouts but with consistent branding elements.
- Create a preference center and make sure every email has a link to it. This gives the consumer options aside from opting-out. Let them narrow the types of emails they receive or determine how many they receive over a certain period of time.
- Send a welcome email when consumers opt-in to your email and let the consumer know what types of emails to expect and how often.
Decreasing Open Rates:
- Deliverability issues
- You’re sending irrelevant information
Things to try:
- Take a deeper dive into deliverability numbers for each ISP, if less emails are getting into the inbox it makes sense that less people are opening the email.
- Set up automated programs that are triggered off of consumer behaviors such as welcome messages or cart abandonment messages. This will ensure that consumers are receiving relevant emails when they are engaged with your product or service. Automated emails can also help with deliverability issues. This is because they go out on a more consistent basis and tend to have better performance metrics which looks good to most ISPs.
Strong open rates with poor click through rates:
- The subject line doesn’t match your message content
- The calls to action aren’t strong enough
- Poor template design
Things to try:
Lots of A/B testing…
- Subject line tests. If a subject line has a much different tone than you typically use, you don’t have to do a 50/50 test. Try sending the new subject line to just 20% of your audience to see how it is received and make adjustments from there.
- Call to action tests. Find out what tone works best for your audience. Typically, shorter more direct calls to action tend to have the best results but again, every audience is different, so don’t be afraid to try something new.
- Template tests. Some good places to start would be testing the amount of copy, call to action placements and design treatment of your calls to action. If a potential test comes to mind, don’t be afraid to try it out. Again, you can always send to a small portion of your list to test the waters. Even if it under performs the original template, you’ll come away with key learnings for future tests and designs.
These are just a few examples of situations you may see within your retail email campaigns. The best way to stay on top of these types of issues is to monitor performance metrics for every email that goes out so you can be aware as soon as metrics start to dip. Also, you don’t have to wait until you see metrics drop to start running tests. Once you’ve established benchmarks for a specific campaign it’s a good idea to do frequent testing in order to optimize your messages and keep them from getting stale. You’ll be surprised by how much impact one small test can have and how you can apply those learnings to other areas of your marketing programs. Happy testing!
Prepare for the August 2014 shopping search transition with Google Shopping and data feed optimization: