The Inbox is a Battlefield: Here’s How to Win
There’s a reason advertisers refer to your inbox as a battlefield. It’s a place where hundreds of personal, professional, and commercial contacts fight for your attention – and few succeed past a simple subject line.
The golden rule of the digital battle (and any battle, for that matter) is simple: Without a strategy, you will fail. And the best strategy is one based on research.
At Zehnder, our research department looks at a lot of numbers, but puts three at the forefront of email marketing analyses: open rate, click-through rate, and click-to-open rate. What are these, and why do they matter?
The Three E-Mail Marketing Numbers You Need
Open rates indicate the number of people who open an email. Open rates are expressed as a percentage that answers the question: Of all the people who received this email, what percentage of them opened it?
If you’ve got a low open rate, consider changing one or more of the following things: subject line, sender name, and timing of your email.
For example, you could start testing subject lines with numbers in them (5 Ways to Improve Your Business) versus subject lines without numbers in them (Ways to Improve Your Business). You could test emails with the CEO’s name listed as the sender versus the company’s name as the sender. Test emails sent on Tuesday morning versus Tuesday afternoon. See what consistently wins and make it a part of your strategy.
Click-through rates (CTR) indicate the number of people who open an email and then click a link within the email. CTRS are expressed as a percentage that answers the question: Of all the people who received this email, what percentage of them opened it and then clicked on one of its links?
If you’ve got a low CTR, consider changing one or more of the following things: any of the above-mentioned open rate changes (because a low open rate could have in turn affected your CTR), as well as email content, layout, length, placement and type of links, and placement and type of calls to action.
For example, try testing article-length emails versus “teaser”-length emails; placing calls to action at the top of an email versus the bottom of the email; or sending a visual-heavy layout versus a copy-heavy layout.
Click-to-open rates (CTOR) indicate the percentage of email openers (not simply email recipients) who click a link in the email. CTORS are expressed as a percentage that answers the question: Of all the people who opened this email, what percentage of them clicked through? CTORs are considered a “gem” of a statistic, because they provide a more accurate measurement of the effectiveness of an email’s actual content, independent of its subject line and sender name.
If you’ve got a low CTOR, consider changing the above-mentioned content features for CTR (email content, layout, etc.).
For example, you could test emails with one call to action versus multiple calls to action; creating a multi-topic email versus a single-subject email; or placing links within images and copy versus links strictly within copy.
With these numbers (and resulting tests), you’ll be well on your way to shaping up a strong email strategy.
But there are a few words to consider before you hit send.
The Three E-Mail Marketing Words to Watch For
Mobile email viewership continues to grow; one recent study says that more than 51% of all emails are now opened on mobile platforms. When crafting your copy, images, layout, and subject line, think about how your audience will most likely be viewing it.
Spam filters can destroy your campaign if you don’t take the right steps to bypass them. Make sure to give your email everything it needs to steer clear of spam filters – like an unsubscribe link, clean HTML, a relevant subject line, and optimized images. Avoid spammy phrases (we’d list examples, but by doing so this email might just spam itself!)
Customization will make your email campaign even stronger. By segmenting your audiences into different groups, you can target them more efficiently and effectively. Not only will this likely lead to higher open rates, CTRs, and CTORs, but it can also help reduce your unsubscribe rate by giving specific audiences what they want and when they want it.
And the One Thing to Remember
Though analytics can provide in-depth insights into your audience’s behavior, it’s important to remember that in the end, numbers are just numbers – and mean nothing without context. If you’re collecting data on your email marketing efforts but not questioning or interpreting the data correctly, you might be overlooking or misunderstanding key information. When analyzing your email marketing results, be on the lookout for possible outliers and always ask yourself what the numbers actually mean in relation to your business goals.
And that’s how email battles are fought and won. Want some pros on your side? Get in touch and see what we can do for you.