A guide to Email Marketing: Part 5 – Improving Your Email Marketing ROI

Email Marketing - Improving your Email Marketing ROI

Improving Your Email Marketing ROI

The first key to maximising email marketing ROI is to make sure you are engaging with the subscribers, in this post we will look at some of the things you need to consider.

The subject line is very important

Pay particular attention to the subject line of your emails.  Research by Chadwick Martin Bailey reveals that 64% of recipients choose to open an email based on the subject line.  Once again, it is important to keep testing the style and tone of your subject line until you get something that you know is engaging your subscribers.

A good starting point if you are looking for guidance on this, is the newsagents shelf.  Magazine publishers have been drawing us in to their publications with clever headlines on the front covers – and they’ve been doing it successfully for years.  You don’t really need to look at too many to get the idea.  Think about how you can present your topic in an engaging manner in the subject line, but keep split testing in order to refine your choices and really tune in to the style that gets the best response from your subscriber.

Keep on split testing

Split testing the subject line is only the start.  The ‘From’ address will have an influence on many people, so you should also split test what you enter here.  I have recently done some testing on a client’s email campaigns looking at the open rates when the email is sent from a male or a female sender; my test reveal 4% higher open rates when it is sent from the female name.  I have also seen reports that certain female names work better than others, so you may wish to really fine tune this area by testing different female names.

In my client’s case, the female name we used is actually a real person in the business, so we probably wouldn’t go any further by creating fictitious names.

You may also want to test using job title such as ‘From Gordon White, Managing Director, fatBuzz’ as opposed to just Gordon White.  You should also test the actual email address; this could be something like gordon@fatbuzz.com, or hello@fatbuzz.com, or info@fatbuzz.com.  Personally, I have found that the personal email address works best of all.

The one thing you should avoid at all costs is a ’NoReply’ address – before they even open the email you want them to read you are telling them that you want to talk to them, but you don’t want them to talk to you! 

Once you’ve established the best ‘From’ address, you should then start to examine the content in your emails.  You could send one email with bold ‘Calls to Action’, say, red boxes with bold white print, on the other version you may choose to tone them down, perhaps even different wording in the boxes.  All of these small things make a difference to the click-through rate.  Even the position of images, the size and colour of headlines, or even the size of the body text.  It’s only by constantly testing that you will be able to refine the design and deliver the emails that are most engaging to your subscribers.

When to send?

The best time to send will vary from industry to industry, and whether you are in the B2B or B2C sector will also have an influence.  You’ve guessed it already – split test when you send the emails.

Some ESP’s like MailChimp will make a recommendation about the send time based on your list and comparisons drawn from a selection of the 9 million other accounts they manage.  It is worth exploring this and perhaps even testing it against your own preferred times.

If you are in the B2C sector, you may wish to consider sending emails during peak TV viewing times; with around 70% of TV viewers dual-screening, you may want to use this time to catch them when they are online.

For the B2B sector, yes most people work Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm, but do they really have time to read your HTML Email when they’re at work?  Do they even receive your emails when they’re at work?  You may wish to test some emails at the weekend, perhaps a Saturday or Sunday morning when they have time to read your content – it’s certainly worth some testing.

Most reputable ESP’s will provide A/B Testing facilities that allow you to test ‘From’ address, Subject line, Content, and the Time that you send your emails.

How often should you send?

The first advice here is to remember the advice from the first post in this series – You are not your audience.  Marketers and busy professionals may not like getting lots of HTML Email, however the research shows that consumers actually quite like engaging on a regular basis with the brands they like.  Again, it’s down to testing.

Popular advice from email marketing professionals for consumer brands is that you should send an email at least once a week but no more than once a day.  You may think once a day (or even once a week) is excessive, however I’m subscribed to a few brands that I like and I get daily emails from them; I don’t read them all, but I do open them if I have the time.  The one thing I haven’t done is to unsubscribe because I know I like the content when I do have the time to read it.

For B2B companies, the research suggests the companies sending between 2 and 4 HTML Emails per month fair best.

My personal opinion is that as long as the content is interesting the subscriber will stay connected.  They may not open every email, but they will be happy to receive them and read them when they have the time.

Learn from the reports

Over and above the split testing, you should also learn what you can from the reports you get for each campaign.  Open rates and click-through rates are influenced by the things that you can split test, however there is a great deal more you can learn from the reports that will help you to improve the quality of your emails, and subsequently, the ROI of your Email Marketing activities.

Keep an eye on your ‘List Average’ for open and click-through rates; if you are testing and refining these should rise steadily, if they are dropping you have a problem.  Likewise, keep an eye on the ‘Industry Average’.  Your refined emails should eventually outperform the industry average, but if they don’t you may wish to consider subscribing to competitors mailing lists to see what it is that they are doing that you can learn from.

Pay attention to the subscribers with the most opens.  By exploring the profile of the people who open your emails the most, you can start to create subscriber persona which in turn will help you to refine the content you send to them.  Likewise, look at the people who didn’t open, they will also give you a good indication about the type of subscribers who are not well engaged.

Finally, pay attention to the top links that are opened, this will give you a good indication about the type of content that people are finding interesting.  Naturally, you should also look at the bottom of the list to see what they are not clicking on, perhaps you will want to drop, or amend, this type of content.

The next post, in a couple of day’s time, will look at Automation – Triggered and Personalised Emails. Please watch out for it, or ‘Follow’ me on LinkedIn by selecting the ‘Follow’ option when you hover over the ‘Connect’ button on my profile.

Meantime, if you have found this post interesting, please use the social share buttons on this page to share it with your online community, there’s a good chance that others in your community will find it interesting too.  Thank you. 

Previous posts:

Author: Gordon White


    How did you hear about us?