Every day, roughly 217 billion business and consumer emails get blasted around the globe, according to Radicati Group Inc. Out of that mountain of messages, recipients open just a paltry 30.6 percent, per research from Epsilon Data Management LLC's Email Institute. That means every time you click "send," you're in a knock-down, drag-out fight to win the attention of recipients and ensure your message gets read. Here are 11 tips from a variety of sources to help you win that battle and ensure your emails are first class in every way.
1. Mailing List: Segment Your Audience
Research from The Rocket Science Group LLC (dba MailChimp) found segmented email campaigns – that is, those aimed at particular groups based on common characteristics – enjoy an open rate that is 14.3 percent higher than nonsegmented campaigns. Moreover, dividing your email campaign into two to six different groups of recipients will result in an 8.3-percent clickthrough rate on average, as opposed to a 7.3-percent clickthrough rate for nonsegmented lists. HubSpot Inc. suggests you base segmentations on common denominators such as geography, industry, or demography.
2. Sender Field: Pick a Long-term Persona
Choose a name for the sender field in your emails and stick with it. Analysis by GetResponse Inc. showed email recipients become accustomed to receiving missives from a given individual and are 43 percent more likely to delete an email from an unfamiliar sender.
3. Subject Line: Watch Your Word Count
The most effective subject lines run between six and 10 words long, per Retention Science Inc.'s study, which found subject lines of that length generate a 21-percent open rate. In contrast, subject lines with five or fewer words were opened roughly 16 percent of the time, and those with 11 to 15 words had just a 14-percent open rate.
4. Subject Line: Make it Personal
Consider personalizing your emails' subject lines. Per Campaign Monitor USA Inc., subject lines that include the recipient's name result in a 26 percent higher open rate. Also consider adding some urgency. The Email Institute says subject lines with terms such as "today only" experience a 22 percent higher open rate.
5. Mobile Devices: Format for Readability
Given that 74 percent of smartphone owners use their devices to check email, according to a Gartner Inc. study, it makes sense to format emails to accommodate these smaller devices. Furthermore, a report from BlueHornet Networks Inc. suggests that 80 percent of recipients will simply delete emails that are not optimized for mobile devices.
MAILING IT IN
6. HTML: Give Recipients a Choice
Following a few simple guidelines can ensure that your emails get treated less like junk and more like special deliveries.
Send and Sensibility
Using one consistent name for the sender field can result in 43 percent fewer deletions.
Say my Name
Personalizing your emails' subject lines can lead to a 26 percent higher open rate.
A Perfect Sending
The optimal time to send emails is from 8 p.m. to midnight on a Monday.
Thanks for Sharing
Supplying email recipients with social-sharing buttons makes them 300 percent more likely to spread your content.
Call me Maybe
Including a call-to-action button instead of a text link can increase conversion rates by up to 28 percent.
Using three or fewer images maximizes clickthroughs.
Less is More
For the highest number of clickthroughs, keep text to 20 lines or fewer.
The Social Network
Adding copies of three tweets from customers extolling your call-to-action offer can increase conversion rates.
HubSpot research found that 64 percent of people prefer HTML-based emails, while 36 percent favor plain-text ones. These preferences have stayed consistent since at least 2012, suggesting email marketers would be wise to give recipients their choice of both formats.
7. Text and Images: Aim for the Sweet Spot
While the perfect length of text or number of images isn't set in stone, Constant Contact Inc. reports that 20 or fewer lines of text with three or fewer images generally result in the highest number of clickthroughs. Additionally, HubSpot found that emails running between a total of 300 to 500 characters are likely to have the most clickthroughs.
8. Social Media: Make it Shareable
Emails with social-sharing buttons increase their clickthrough rate by 158 percent, according to Sarv Webs Pvt. Ltd. Overall, email recipients are 300 percent more likely to share your content via these buttons than any other means.
9. Call to Action: Add a Button
According to research from Campaign Monitor USA, using a call-to-action (CTA) button instead of a text link can increase conversion rates by as much as 28 percent. To ensure as many click on it as possible, HubSpot suggests emails include copies of three tweets from customers recommending the CTA's offer.
10. Timing: Send Missives on a Monday Night
The best day to send emails is Monday, according to Vendasta Technologies Inc., as recipients open missives delivered on that day at a 4.7 percent higher rate than the average. Furthermore, Experian Information Solutions Inc. found that the time of day that received the best open rate was 8 p.m. to midnight.
11. Testing: Try, Try Again
A preliminary test of your email campaign to select portions of your overall audience can increase your chances of a successful return on investment. MarketingSherpa LLC, for example, notes that the most popular items to test include subject line, date and time sent, layout and images, message, and call to action. Other variables can include HTML- or plain-text messages and the sender's name. HubSpot suggests judging results by tracking responses such as the clickthrough rate, conversion rate (i.e., the percentage of recipients who completed a desired action), and sharing rate (that is, the percentage who click on a "share this" button in the email).