Six Characteristics Of Effective Email Campaigns

Despite the occasional apocalyptic prediction, email continues to be the cornerstone of email marketing. But it is increasingly difficult to execute great campaigns: those that look beautiful, render perfectly across desktop and mobile clients, and ultimately drive strong response.

I recently pored through thousands of email campaigns to compile the top 100 into an eBook. During the course of that project, a few themes common to great email marketing emerged.

#6 Remember the basics. It’s a fundamental email marketing tenet, but it’s worth reiterating: If your campaign’s aim is to drive responses, make your call to action clear and near the top of your email. Use techniques like multiple in-line links, linked header images, and linked pre-header text. Don’t forget to repeat your call to action after the body of your email so those who read through have a chance to click.



#5 Don’t be afraid of copy -- but pay attention to how it looks. Typeface and spacing matter.Effective emails don’t always need to be brief -- but if you’re including a decent amount of text, make sure you’re selecting a typeface and font that make it easy to scan your copy. Using narrow or small print, muted colors, and compressed layouts are sure-fire ways to lose interest before your subscribers begin to read.

#4 Make responsive design a priority. The majority of the campaigns I featured in the eBook are mobile-optimized, and a quarter are fully responsive. Since data suggest 43% of email is opened on mobile devices, it makes sense to prioritize a mobile user experience when designing your campaign.

#3 Even the best results can be improved. The ebook features name brands like Ikea that improved their open rates by more than 20% through A/B testing, thanks to a clever campaign run by UK agency Line. Another interesting test came from Shoes of Prey, which pitted the company name against an individual’s name in the from field -- and saw a significant improvement with the individual version. All of these brands had above-average open rates to begin with, but were still able to boost their performance by testing their subject lines.

#2 Know your audience. What works for your subscribers may end up being the opposite of what works for the majority of email marketing campaigns. Our eBook features a section on “nonconformist” brands that broke all the traditional best practices: text-only emails, buried links, emails comprised of clickable images, vague subject lines and more. On the surface, each newsletter looked destined to perform poorly -- yet each drove strong response. The lesson? Never assume that an unusual idea won’t work for your subscribers.

#1 Have great content. There are no shortcuts when it comes to creating true engagement. Certainly, you can apply tips that will help ensure your content gets delivered, opened, and read. But ultimately, the most effective measure you can take as a marketer is to make your content compelling to your subscribers.

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