Here’s what you need to know for email marketing success in 2018
The holiday season isn't completely over! Columnist Scott Heimes shares four emailing tips to help you improve your results in the inbox for New Year's Day and beyond.
The holiday season is just winding down, and email marketers are looking for every opportunity they can draw on to make their New Year’s offers stand out. While we can’t guarantee opens, we can offer readers a few data-driven tips and tricks that just might increase your chances of success in the inbox.
Here are four emailing tips your organization can deploy now and put to use in 2018:
1. Perfect your subject lines
Subject lines are one of the most difficult things to get right. Marketers like them to be long and accurate, but readers like shorter and punchier. In fact, according to our 2016 holiday season data, the subject lines with the most opens were only about seven words long. For 2017, that number was four.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that four words are better than 10 in your particular email campaign, but it does mean the quality of your subject line is what matters. What makes for quality? Short, accurate subject lines making a unique offer — such as same-day delivery — to the customer.
What doesn’t? Well, we found emojis don’t perform well in the subject line, as well as the terms “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday.” In 2016, we found emoji-laden subject lines performed 5 percent worse than subject lines without.
That’s not all. Readers tend to ignore personalized emails during the holiday season. For 2016, we found the open rate for personalized emails came in at about 15 percent, compared with the open rate of 17 percent for unpersonalized emails.
To sum it up: Be short and unique with your subject lines, and don’t rely on easily deployed holiday clichés.
2. Respect the reader
Take five minutes and imagine what your subscriber’s personal inbox looks like right now. Done? If you really thought about it, it probably looks busy, with a lot of unread emails making fantastical holiday season offers. It’s tiring for your reader, the subscriber. Your email will struggle to stand out in such an environment.
So, it pays dividends to respect your readers and their time. Avoid sending high-volume, high-frequency emails to your lists. There are several reasons to avoid this, not the least of which is the damage it does to your brand’s reputation with Internet Service Providers (ISPs).
Instead, take the proactive approach and ask your recipients what sort of engagement they want.
Giving your readers options — even a cool-down period until after the holiday season — communicates that your company actually values its subscribers and wants a long-term relationship with them. It also gives you the opportunity to nurture quality leads, boosting the likelihood of a buy from an interested consumer.
3. Curate your lists
Engaging with your readers is also a great opportunity to keep your lists up to date with the most interested subscribers. This provides you with the opportunity to identify and cull low-quality leads, such as subscribers who have never interacted with your emails.
Marketers should keep an eye out for subscribers who consistently engage with emails. High engagement may provide your team with the opportunity to reach out and directly ask what level of engagement these interested subscribers are comfortable with and if they’d be comfortable with receiving specialized deals.
4. Plan for next year now
The time to plan for next year’s holiday season is now. Look at what’s working well and what isn’t, and evaluate how your emails are performing overall for this season. This can help you prepare the 2018 holiday season campaign with better metrics and better lists.
And don’t be afraid to look to past years as well. You may find some interesting trends among highly engaged subscribers that can help you stand out from the pack in 2018.
Remember to experiment and have fun! The holiday email season can be a stressful one for marketers, but understand that the inbox is a hyper-competitive arena this time of year. Take the time to plan out your actions for the next holiday, evaluate your results, and start considering what actions could improve your results next year.