7.1 Increasing on-page conversion rates
There are two places landing pages are important when it comes to email marketing:
- Collecting leads.
- Getting customers to take action after they click through on one of your email campaigns.
The great news is that dedicated landing pages allow you to apply all of the conversion rate optimization strategies you read about around the web to ensure you get the best results possible.
To give you a leg up, the top three things you should focus on are:
1. A clear CTA (generally a big button)
It needs to be drastically clear what you customer should be doing once they hit your landing page. In this great example from HubSpot and Unbounce, there is nothing to do except enter your details and subscribe:
This is a great example of a dedicated landing page optimized to collect leads. On the other side of the coin, optimizing the pages customers see after clicking on your email CTA is also important.
This example from Amazon is a clever one and shows how important the combination of your email and landing page are:
By breaking down the call to action in their email, Amazon allow users to ‘skip a step’ when clicking-through. This flow dramatically increases the liklihood of engagement as it reduces the ‘clicks to wow’: the less your customers have to do to reach the end goal, the better.
2. Social proof
Social proof is about showing potential subscribers why they should subscribe by featuring prominent recommendations or recognisable brands.
Buffer nail social proof on all of their subscribe forms:
Ask current subscribers for feedback on how you can improve your email marketing and use the positive feedback as social proof on your landing pages. Double win if you can feature some prominent brands from your industry!
3. Collect relevant data but don’t go over the top
We’ve spoken a lot about segmentation in Chapters 3 and 6 but there is a fine-line between collecting too much information up front and reducing your conversions.
A long form often reduces conversions. A short form means you miss out on data that will let you send emails that convert highly.
The trick is to ask yourself what information will help me achieve my goals. A great example from KISSmetrics shows how this is done. They only collect one extra piece of data in this webinar registration form but that is the most useful and important piece of data in their mission to convert more webinar attendees into customers.
What information do you need to collect to send better emails? What can you leave out? How can you be creative about collecting extra data.
7.2 Getting more visitors to subscribe
In Chapter 2 we covered strategies to get more customers to subscribe once they were on your website. We talked about using Qualaroo, dedicated landing pages, recycling your best content and some other strategies.
…but what other tricks can you use to drive traffic to your website and, more specifically, the dedicated parts of your site where customers can opt-in to your email marketing.
Here are a few great ideas you can use:
1. Use display remarketing to drive traffic
Setup Perfect Audience or Adwords ReTargeting and start targeting customers that visit your homepage or blog but don’t subscribe to your email lists.
There are lots of strategies you can play with here but the general idea is to get these customers to revisit a dedicated subscribe page, an email course, some of your top content or simply to return to your site so that you can get their email via a popup or other engagement tool (as discussed in Chapter 2).
Display remarketing is cheap. For this reason it’s a good investment to get more emails. We have been using display remarketing to drive blog visitors that have not subscribed to pages like our email marketing course and guides like this:
2. Advertise on your own site
There are lots of ways you can use subtle nudges to drive people from one part of your website (where you might have high traffic) to another (where you have a call to action).
HelloBar is a simple tool that every online marketer should embrace. This can be a great way to drive otherwise ‘dead’ traffic from your home page, or specific posts to one of your subscribe pages.
Take this example from Neil Patel’s QuickSprout:
Using your own ‘display’ marketing is powerful as well. Take this example from the Vero Email Marketing Blog:
…or this example from the Unbounce blog:
3. Link to your dedicated pages from social media and other content
“Use every chance you get”.
Any time you publish content online, such as a slideshow, webinar, eBook or even just a Tweet you have the chance to drive potential customers back to your website.
Sending these readers to a dedicated landing page asking them to subscribe to more great content is usually a fantastic way to get more subscribers.
Linking to one of these pages from your signature or online profiles can also be a great way to drive traffic. Here’s a simple example from my personal signature:
It works surprisingly well.
Get your email channel working before investing in growing your social media presence. When you do grow a social network, your first task will be to get them to subscribe to your email lists, which will generate more customers than social media.
Via Brian Massey of Conversion Scientist.
Review our social media profiles and signatures and ensure they are up to date and link to a relevant part of your website to maximize conversions.
7.3 Responsive design
Responsive emails are emails that look great on mobile browsers alongside standard desktop browsers.
Email template design is not simple but investing in responsive design can pay off.
Over 60% of email opens now occur on mobile devices, so if you’re not optimizing your campaigns for mobile then you are missing out: in a world where more and more people interact with email on their mobile phones: on public transport, at lunch, over a coffee, wherever they are – responsive design is increasingly important.
Mobile opens have increased more than 400% since 2011, and about half of all emails are now opened on a mobile device. Marketers must adapt their planning and design process to account for the challenges and opportunities of smaller screensâincluding rendering testing. With the popularity of mobile continuing to rise and so many new platforms, devices and apps, it’s critical to understand how your emails look and perform on a variety of screen sizes.
It’s also becoming easier and easier to get right. Here are three ways to go about it:
- Get a responsive template from Themeforest: most templates on Themeforest there are already responsive so you can get a headstart by using or customizing a base template.
- Use the email marketing boilerplate: the boilerplate gives you a framework for creating HTML templates that work well on mobile devices. It provides a raw canvas for you to customize with a lot of tricks to get it right.
- Use Litmus to check and re-check your email campaigns is an awesome tool for testing your HTML email across a range of platforms you otherwise never could. You can view your email on iPhones, Blackberries, Nokias alongside desktop clients and make sure your templates look perfect.
Litmus recently blogged about an example from Tsubo. Using a responsive design (shown below) Tsubo were able to increase their click-throughts by 10% – an impressive impact for a few extra lines of CSS!
7.4 Deliverability: what affects it.
Deliverability is about ensuring your emails end up in customers’ inboxes, not SPAM folders.
Deliverability is a bit of a black hole for most email marketers: it sounds messy and seems hard to understand.
This isn’t without reason: it is a technical challenge and something that requires some trial and error to get better at.
Assuming you are double opting-in customers and that you are at least asking their permission to email them you should not have a hard time ensuring your emails don’t bounce, however, there are a number of basic rules you should follow to maximize your success. Three main things affect deliverability:
- Email content: the actual content of your emails is extremely important in determining whether major email providers will flag you as spam.
- Complaint rates: if customers continually mark your emails as ‘spam’ with their mail provider, you will ultimately suffer heavily in your email reputation and future emails are less likely to reach the inbox.
- Email volume: this is a relative measure. If you sent 0 emails yesterday and all, all of a sudden, send 10 million today this will reflect poorly on your domain and sending IP addresses. The best way to think about this is that Email Service Providers (ESPs) will likely act harshly: if they don’t recognise your domain and IP as safe then they’ll most likely consider your emails as ‘SPAM’. It is hard to blame them when you consider that 90% of email globally is considered SPAM. Smoothing your volumes and scaling slowly will be best for your long-term success.
- Domain configuration: ensuring you have the correct DNS records setup will give you the best chance of having your emails reach the inbox.
The place to start when it comes to deliverability is to look at as much raw data as you can. Two tools we use regularly:
Sender Score is an online service maintained by Return Path that helps you track (with an individual number) the current reputation of your domain and IP address. Simply visit senderscore.org, enter your sending IP and see the results.
Mail Tester is a great (free) little tool that helps you to see whether your email content is likely to be marked as spam. Using a series of filters employed by SpamAssassin (a common spam filter) it will break-down which components of your email setup are contributing to the success (or otherwise) of an individual email campaign. This is a must-check for any new campaign you setup if you are trying to troubleshoot deliverability.
A good analogy for your email reputation is your personal credit score. Obviously, a bad reputation will hurt you.
If you want a deep dive on the ins and outs of email deliverability, check out this great guide on Email Marketing Best Practices from Mailgun.
7.5 Images in emails
Using images in your email marketing can be a powerful means to help sell a product or idea. They are particularly useful in verticals where customers purchase based on emotion.
The downside of images is that up to 60% of customers now have images disabled. That’s quite a cohort!
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use images. It just means you should be savvy about how you use them.
Three things to remember:
- Design to support situations where images are disabled. This example from 500px clearly shows how this can be done. It’s as good looking (and as functional) without images enabled as it is with images enabled. Get smart and put your email design skills to the test.
- Use ALT tags correctly. If you have a HTML image tag you can include an attribute called ‘alt’. This allows you to define text that will be seen if the image doesn’t load. Mr Porter do a great job of using ALT tags in their email marketing. This is why they make over a million pounds a year from their emails.
- Use text instead of images everywhere you can. Although templates limit what you can do with backgrounds, having key sections of your email written in plain HTML text (rather than including headings as part of an image) is generally best practice. Here’s an example of an email that includes the heading as part of the image. Whilst it looks great, if images are disabled, this email is going to be one big white box. Food for thought!
The final point you should consider is your calls to action. At the end of Chapter 4, we shared the HTML code so you can create buttons for your calls to action that look stunning: without using images.