At Engage we work with a lot of clients to deliver regular email marketing campaigns and we understand just how important they are for reaching the right people at the right time with the right message and have been able to see the positive impact this channel of marketing has had for our clients.

As with all Digital Marketing however there are always methods for improvement. Recently, Kissmetrics delivered a webinar on Email Marketing: How to Reap the Rewards of Taking a Holistic Approach.  There were a number of key learnings which could be of great benefit to our clients and yours.

Holistic Email Marketing asks you to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. You no longer want to just look at the email itself and how many opens and clicks it got, like any marketing activity you need to look at the full journey.

Step 1 of the journey

How did this person get into your email database? Was it a newsletter sign up from your website? Have they purchased something from you in the past? Did they enter a competition you ran?

Step 2 of the journey

Does the content of the email convey your message? Is it relevant to the recipient? Is there a clear call to action and can the customer take that action confident in where they expect to end up/where they are going?

Step 3 of the journey

What actions were ultimately taken on the email? Did some content work better than others? What content did the recipients engage with?

Step 4 of the journey

Where does the customer end up? Is it where they expected to end up with content that is relevant to the click bait in the email? Is there a clear call to action or direction to the next step on the conversion journey?

Every time we send an email we look at this journey from start to finish, follow the journey as the recipient would and ensure there are no disconnects in their expectations vs their journey. Our aim is to send the recipient on a journey that is smooth, clean, meets their expectations, keeps them informed at all stages and heightens the likelihood of a conversion. Any disconnect results in a poor user journey, a waste of your marketing budget and potential damage to your reputation.

The Kissmetrics webinar taught us 7 Ways to Ensure a Holistic Approach.
  1. Be a persuasion architect – Lead the customer journey. Be clear with your instructions and calls to action. This is where you want to go, this is what you want to do and this is the benefit of doing so. Have a hierarchy of activity within your email with your primary call to action given prominence of position and styling followed by your secondary call to action etc.
  2. Be a conversion optimisation expert – how can I gain learnings I can apply to all channels, how can I make the email better? Use A/B testing in your emails from your subject line, to language, colours of call to action buttons, images used etc. Learn from these until you are building the perfect email each time.
  3. Learn what makes customers tick – Use two strategically placed choices and update profiles based on choices made i.e. a restaurant could send an email with an offer on a romantic dinner for two and a family package. Update your database profiles based on what they interact with and use this to make sure you are sending the right message to right people in the future.
  4. Use conversion centred design principles – more on this later.
  5. Be passionate about continually testing and optimising your journeys and programmes
  6. Consumers want experiences. Be descriptive in the experience the visitor can expect from what you are selling them.
  7. Be customer centric, not brand centric. Think of the customer and what they want to see and how you can make it as easy as possible for them to move from step 1 – step 4 and convert.

email marketing

It is essential that before we send any marketing email we remind ourselves of what we are trying to achieve. The role of the email is simple; to convince/entice people to take the next step i.e. visiting the website and converting. Every action in an email should be considered a small conversion on the path to your large conversion.

Marketing emails are often created in the wrong order with people often beginning with the body, adding in call to actions and then drafting the subject line. For an email that works harder for you we suggest changing this order to:

  1. Write your objective for the email, what do you want your subscribers to do? Decide on your call to actions.
  2. Craft your subject line
  3. Create body of email

Doing it this way ensures that all content lends itself to your desired objective.

The importance of a subject line is often overlooked and but even this small element of an email campaign can have a major impact on small conversions. When writing a subject line we always think CURVE and aim to incorporate at least 2-3 of the below elements.

  • Curiosity
  • Urgency 
  • Relevance 
  • Value 
  • Emotion

E.g. Open me quick! I expire at 6 p.m. Pay day treat for you inside!

Using persuasive text within the subject line can help convince the recipient to open an email. From there it is up to the content within the body of the email to keep the user interested and moving along the desired journey.

In all aspects of the email the language, imagery and look is of most importance. “Research has shown that 90% of our decisions are made unconsciously” Douglas Van Praet, Unconscious Branding. We encourage action by using persuasive verbs throughout e.g. Choose, Explore, Act, Avoid, Discover, Save.

Within the content of the email there are some clear guidelines to be followed each time to optimise success.

  • The message in your email should be short and sweet. Picture your message like a newspaper article – the email holds the headline and the bullet points summarising the story. The landing page tells the full story. Use the email to whet people’s appetites making them want to visit your website to find out more.
  • The body of the email should describe the experience they have in store should they visit your website/take an action on the email by using emotive, descriptive words.
  • Use scarcity and loss aversion. People are more likely to act based upon loss (to avoid pain) then gain (gain pleasure) because loss lingers but gains are fleeting e.g. Only 3 days left to claim this offer, 20% off everything for the next 24 hours ONLY!
  • Use directional cues within your email. Explicit cues can be used such as an arrow pointing to a call to action or implicit cues such as a picture of a person whose line of sight is directed at a call to action. Humans instinctively look at human faces and naturally follow their line of site.

At this stage of the journey is where the holistic approach to email marketing comes back in to play. A lot of people measure the success of the email at this stage by looking at impressions and clicks. With holistic marketing the journey is not yet over so neither should be our efforts to increase conversions.

The landing page should always be relevant to the content of the email and answer any questions the recipient was left with from our headline summaries. On the landing page focus on one objective, don’t give multiple options for customers to get lost on an irrelevant journey. Be specific to the next actions you want the customer to complete and have them clearly positioned, remember be a persuasion architect. Tell them where and why - think about your call to actions e.g. instead of a Buy Now call to action use Add to Basket so people are clear that by pressing this button they are not committing to a purchase, they are moving to the next stage. Keep the customer clearly informed on every step of the journey.

Using the holistic approach and always thinking like the recipient is a quick and easy way to optimise conversions from your email marketing whilst maximising your marketing budget as there are no additional costs involved. Simple, small changes can have the greatest of impact and the effect of these changes are clearly measurable by looking at activity on the email, traffic to your website from email and conversions from your email traffic and comparing these to previous campaigns.

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