Forty years ago email didn’t exist.
Today, over 294,000,000,000 emails are sent every day.
With many a customer waking up to an inbox like this…
…it’s important to ensure you maximize every chance you get for conversion!
Enter email hacking.
By thinking outside the box and actually considering your recipient, their time and their mindframe you can get ahead.
So, to keep you ahead of the game, here are five email marketing tips and tricks from some of the best that will help you harness the power of every single marketing email you send!
1. Unsubscribe your customers for them
You’ve been told over and over how important your email list is to your business: “collect every email you can, at all costs!”
Last week the web was ablaze when The Next Web published this email as sent by Fab.com:
This is one of the best email hacks I’ve seen.
…because it’s considerate.
Don’t get me wrong, no matter how logical it is or how rational you are it’s totally natural to cringe a little whenever a customer unsubscribes.
Who could blame you for feeling apprehension that your hard-earned customers are going to unsubscribe en-masse?
All too often I talk to customers who are afraid to even send emails to their customers because they’re worried they’ll unsubscribe!
I’m the world’s number one advocate for smarter emails (i.e. send less and make ’em count) but the primary thing you should remember is: there’s no point having X,000 subscribed users that you never even email.
After all, you’re never going to make sales with that logic!
Similarly, you’re never going to make a sale to a customer that is completely disengaged.
Why not automatically unsubscribe inactive customers?
You’ll increase the overall value of your active customer list by removing those that never open or click your emails. Just like you want to be attracting the right customers, you want to be communicating with engaged customers.
Use your ESP’s webhooks to monitor customers that don’t open or click an email within 8 weeks.
Nothing happening? Unsubscribe them!
PS – all going to plan, this should be easy for Vero customers soon ;).
2. Think outside the box for your calls to action
Email has come a long way over the last 40 years. Thanks to HTML we can now do a lot of interesting things with emails.
Putting aside the plain text vs. HTML email debate there are certainly many cases in the wild where HTML emails rule supreme.
When you are using HTML emails consider every trick you can to maximize your conversions.
Let’s take this email from Amazon.com:
That’s not bad, right? Pretty short and sweet.
…but could Amazon improve their call to action with a little image and URL trickery. The outcome would be a call to action that is more enticing and direct. Here’s a mockup:
I think you’ll agree that not only does this scream ‘click me’ a lot louder than the ‘Review your product’ button but, after you do, you’re already invested in completing the rest of the review by actually writing a blurb (which Amazon requires for you to continue the process).
Either way: think outside the box! If you’re going to use HTML, how can you go to the next level?
Another fancy HTML email trick you can use is forms. Take this example from Google:
It features a HTML form inside the body of the email. This is a relatively underused trick and, although it doesn’t work in every email client, it’s a novel way of speeding up feedback that is worth testing.
All that sound too fancy?
Keep things lo-fi with this hack that Jason Fried picked up on recently from Zingerman’s:
You can’t get much simpler than that!
If all you need is a black and white or similar answer than take inspiration from Zingerman’s and make your CTA as simple as possible. I feel compelled to respond because of the novelty 😉
Where can you re-jig your calls to action to be sharper and more enticing?
Can you reduce your CTA to a numeric response? If so, try using images or the Ziggerman-style response to improve customer response.
Is it viable to use HTML forms in an email? If so, try it (make sure you use only basic form elements though).
3. Use different from addresses to build rapport
How many people work at your company?
I didn’t think so (although, there’s nothing wrong with that)! Businesses are usually made up of at least a few people and each person has a particular role.
Firstly, it goes without saying that you should email from an actual person: no more no-reply! PLEASE-reply, more like it.
The hack here is to try emailing from multiple members of your team.
Take my own welcome emails. Setting up Vero involves two real steps:
- Writing an awesome email to get started.
Neither of these steps are hard, as we guide you through them, but they are discrete and one is marketing-related whilst the other is on the product side of things.
…so something we’ve recently been trying that works really well is to send a number of emails from me, Chris, and others from our tech lead, James.
How can I help? from firstname.lastname@example.org
Track your customers’ actions and send better emails from email@example.com (i.e. install our JS tracking!)
I think the key reason this resonates is that it feels more personal. It’s a nice hack that will not only put you ahead of the ‘no-reply’ crowd but even give you a little edge on everyone else ;).
Setup multiple ‘from’ addresses in your email marketing software. Send the majority of emails from a single, central point of contact but send relevant emails from different members of the team to build keep your emails fresh and give your receipt a more personal experience.
4. The signature isn’t just for a name
No copy should be wasted copy.
The footer of your email is a good place to re-iterate a call to action or highlight a message.
Customers read things in this section. Rather than hiding your footer in tiny, 8px font, give it some prominence!
Take the weekly blog post updates from KISSmetrics:
The primary call to action is to get you to read the blog but they don’t just sign off with ‘The KISSmetrics team’.
They include a massive, fluoro yellow call to action to Get to know your customers.
I can only imagine that more than a few people click on that bad boy (it’s hard to miss it)!
Likewise, savvy marketers like Dan Norris from Informly use their signature to promote content
If you don’t want to use a widget like this just update your signature manually when you update your blog!
PS – don’t forget the PS (i.e. the postscript).
People are drawn to the PS like paperclips to a magnet.
Direct marketing gurus use this trick all the time. When I wrote about how customers actually read emails I mentioned the top three things you should remember when using the PS to re-iterate your call to action:
- Testimonials – add social proof to your call to action with a quote in the PS.
- Bonuses – give customers something extra to push them over the line.
- Be personal – treat the PS like you’re writing a letter: make a personal connection with your customers.
Add a call to action in your signature or the postscript. Be creative, test different styles. Don’t hide it down the bottom.
This is an easy win and can be applied to your day-to-day email signature and any marketing emails you send!
5. Make everything you can dynamic
It’s easy to spend a lot of time optimizing the BODY of your content but it’s worth thinking about the periphery.
Like the signature mentioned above, most emails contain multiple elements that you can play with.
Each of these is an opportunity in disguise!
Take this email from Net-a-Porter. In my experience these top menu items never change – but think of all the things Net-a-Porter could do!
Without going crazy (one-to-one customization is the future!) you could easily customize different menu items depending on what actions a customer has taken.
Perhaps an email sent to customers who have purchased three times or more contains a link to ‘Secret Pre-Launch Items‘ whilst an email to a customer who has never purchased contains a link to ‘Sale Items‘.
This sort of simple segmentation follows really successful segmentation strategies used by big brands. Check out this post on increasing customer lifetime value with email segmentation for more details.
Ever a good example, Amazon takes every chance it can get to make your emails dynamic. They watch everything you do and include images, links and offers that are really dynamic. The example above speaks for itself.
In my own little world I offer specific customers a little extra content in certain welcome emails if they haven’t yet activated.
I offer our 15 step email marketing cheat sheet to customers who need a little extra love – and it goes down well. I only show this to customers who a) haven’t downloaded the cheat sheet and b) haven’t yet created a campaign.
First and foremost: track data about your customers. Track their actions, track their attributes, etc.
Secondly, when writing an email, consider how you can use rules to alter your templates and give your campaigns that extra edge. Don’t just serve everyone the same template – get dynamic!
Growth hacker? Email hacker!
Remember – “there is no such thing as a lost customer”.
Tinker with your email marketing and use these ideas to really push the boundaries. When you’re automating your campaigns and emailing regularly little tweaks can make a big difference.
What email marketing hacks have you seen out there? What email hacking ideas have you come up with? Share your thoughts in the comments!