Email Marketing – The CRITICAL Factors for Success
Success refers to achieving the objectives set for the campaign. Does the campaign deliver the required outcomes? The success of direct response campaigns is often talked about in terms of clickthroughs (the number of recipients who follow a link from the email through to the organisation’s website). But what really matters are results in terms of your original objectives. How many recipients click through and then take the follow-up action on the site such as purchasing a product, agreeing to attend an event, receiving a visit from a sales rep or entering a competition.
The CRITICAL factors for success refer to creative, relevance, incentive, timing, integration, copy, attributes and landing page.
Creative refers to the overall design of the email including layout, use of colour, images and copy.
Key issues to consider include:
- How is the email structured? Is the layout intuitive for the recipient?
- Where are the calls-to-action? What are the best positions for calls-to-action and how can clickthroughs be encouraged?
- How is the email branded? How should email campaigns and newsletters support the established brand and when should brand variants be used.
It will be no surprise to direct marketers that response rates for emails will be higher if they are targeted to the interests of individual recipients. A survey of several hundred email campaigns summarised in Email Marketing Weekly showed that the average response rate for non-personalised bulk emails was 4.7%. The response rate rose to 14.8% where the creative and offer in the message was personalised according to details such as name, interests, gender, age, purchase history and message frequency preference. Personalising 3 to 6 elements doubled the response, while personalising more than 7 elements trebled the response.
What benefit does the recipient gain from clicking on the link(s) in the email? Will the recipient be offered the chance to win something? Are you offering some specialist knowledge that will be of use to them?
Timing refers to when the email is received; the time of day, day of the week, point in the month and even time of year. It is generally recognised that B2B emails are best sent so that the recipient receives them during the working day. All of us have a full in-box to work through first thing in the morning, often containing SPAM and newsletters. It can help your email stand out if it arrives during the day. It is also generally thought that B2B emails are best sent mid-week since Mondays and Fridays are often the busiest days of the week. However, only testing can show this for sure.
Test the timing that works best for your audience by assessing the open rates for HTML emails at different times of the day and week.
This is looking at email as part of your integrated marketing communications. Are the creative and copy consistent with your brand? Does the message reinforce other communications? Does the timing of the email campaign fit with offline communications?
As part of an integrated campaign, emails often work best when the email arrives two or three days after a direct mail piece. The direct mail will have created awareness about the offer, but recipients may not have responded to it. Email can offer the recipient an immediate method to respond. – for example, it is easier to sign-up for an event using a web-based form than filling in and posting a card.
Is there a telemarketing function that could utilise and respond to the post transmission analytics?
Issues to consider with copywriting for email include the structure, style, tone and explanation of the offer together with the location of links in the email. If the recipient likes your offer from the subject line and the opening paragraph, then they should be able to click through straightaway. So in general, emails should always have a link in the first three or four lines and then this call-to-action should be repeated in the close.
The attributes of the email header include the subject line, from address, to address, date/time of receipt and format (HTML or text). Of these, subject line, from address and format are most important in influencing response.
The subject line gives you as few as eight to ten words to encourage the reader to open the email since with some combinations of screen resolution and email client that is all that there is room to display – everything else is truncated. So the offer should be clearly explained in the first few words of the subject line.
The conversion rate on the landing page can make a dramatic difference to the success of an email campaign, yet this is often overlooked in favour of the email creative. Testing and improving landing pages can pay dividends.