Email Best Practices for Higher Open Rates and Conversions

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StrategyWe spend so much time trying to connect (“touch”) with our prospects and clients that you want to ensure the information actually reaches them.

Regardless of what you send, and how you send it, it needs to be consumed – opened, read and, ideally, taken action on.

While I love direct mail and know that, when done correctly, it gets opened and consumed*, fact is whether from a budgetary, time constraint or laziness standpoint, most business owners only send emails.

Given that fact, let’s start with email best practices:

Subject Lines

The subject line has one job: Get the email opened.  Period.

Show Me Leads analyzed approximately 260 million emails from 540 different campaigns and discovered:

  • Subject lines with 6-10 words had about a 21% open rate.
  • Subject lines with 5 or less words had about a 16% open rate.
  • Subject lines with 11-15 words had about a 14% open rate (note that of the 260 million emails analyzed, 135 million (52%) fell into this category.

While the numbers are closer than I thought they’d be, the study shows that the best results come from subject lines which are:

  1. Short enough to be read, even on mobile devices and
  2. Long enough to incite the potential reader’s curiosity such that, in the midst of 15 competing emails, yours is the one she reads.

Who’s It From

When choosing who to make your emails from, “the sender” field, keep in mind that the goal here is to reinforce the trust you’ve built with your subscribers.

Depending on the relationship you have, you’ll want to either have this be your name, product or service-based (e.g., “Escalate!” for members of our Escalate! Community) or campaign-based.

Personally, I recommend your name as it denotes a certain familiarity.

Email Calls to Action

Regardless of whether you want readers to click over to an information (sales) page, click to continue reading on your blog or take another action, one thing has become clear in recent years:

Your Call to Action must be easily doable from mobile devices.  Not everyone has a “big” phone, iPhone 6+ or tablet.  Some still have smaller screens.

Combine that with 46% of all emails first being read on a mobile device and you have real incentive to ensure your calls to action are visible and clickable.

Best way?

Have a button with hyperlinked text:

Read More Button

And note that not every email needs to have a firm call to action.  Because we’re “nurturing” our community, it’s important to educate, entertain and keep-in-touch without always asking something of them.

Nurturing Through Segmentation

Last week we discussed ways to segment your list:

  • Psychographically
  • Demographically
  • Based on their relationship with your business

All 3 are valuable and to the extent you can combine and drill down further, it’s even better.

If you’re just getting started with segmentation, I recommend creating “nurtured segments” based on the topics your prospects, clients, customers and patients are interested in.

Once someone enters a new “segment”, you can add them to specific lists in your social media so they see related content specific to them in their inbox and on their social media.

Sample Segments to Start With

  • Opened/Clicked through an email
  • Attended an event (or you met them at an event)
  • Fills out a specific form (like an application to work with you)
  • Downloaded content from a specific landing page
  • Past customer who hasn’t bought in 3 months (or 6 months)

There are hundreds of things you can segment on – it all depends on your systems.

You’re likely nodding your head, “this makes sense” you’re thinking, but is it worth all the effort?

Marketo tested and measured their lead nurturing program and found the following:

Marketo Tested Lead Nurturing Program

So the question again, would taking time to set up some segmented lists be worth it?

HECK YES!  A 147% increase in click throughs?  All day every day!

Now what?

Once you’ve segmented your list, use the segments. Too many people segment and then ignore the segments.

The segments are where the highest engagements live.

Step 1: What segments can you track?

Step 2: Which programs, products or services do you offer/can you offer that support the segments you can track?

Step 3: Which segments will you/can you prepare content for?

Step 4: Build out the nurturing (content, online/offline).

Step 5: Ensure that you’re nurturing/following up both online and offline.

Step 6: Rinse and repeat.

Clients, Customers & Patients

Once someone becomes a client, customer or patient, it’s time to move them into a new level of nurturing. The ultimate goal moves from investment to increased service and monetization through Extreme Client Care™ and retention.

Types of activities to consider based on your business/practice:

  • Sending a handwritten welcome note or welcome kit (if kit, have items that are both branded with your business and not).
  • Offer bonuses designed to enhance the client’s experience.
  • “Up” the number of offline touches: birthday cards, holiday cards, thinking of you notes/articles/books, periodic surprises, care packages as appropriate, etc.
  • Periodic gifts of other programs, products, services or books that make sense for where the client, customer or patient is in their work with you (can be highly leveraged e-courses).

The goal here is to do all you can to guarantee client success early by educating your clients and enabling them to get the most out of your product or service. It’s a win/win as this will extend their lifetime value with your business.

Sadly, many business owners overlook client nurturing. Once the client has invested, they move on to the next lead.  Years ago, I belonged to a 5-figure mastermind group of 6 women. After dinner during one of our retreats, the host approached a colleague and said to her “Are you in for next  year? If not, I need to move to the next person on my list.”

Client nurturing?  Nope.  The host lost 5 out of 6 members that year (that’s over $100,000 in highly profitable revenue) with most of us cutting off all ties.

Client nurturing isn’t a “nice to have.”  It’s critical to your long-term success.

As always, read, take and implement what resonates and leave the rest.  🙂

* Earlier this year I did a direct mail which cost $252, including postage, promoting a specific program.  End result was $1,970 in revenue or $7.82 received for every $1 spent.