Email marketing generates the highest ROI of any marketing channel. Email generates an average of $40 for every $1 spent. And, because email is an owned channel, you can communicate directly with your subscribers rather than relying on social media algorithms to surface your content.
We’ve worked with over 500 startups at Demand Curve, meticulously documenting growth tactics across all growth channels. Additionally, we incorporate lessons learned from our agency, Bell Curve, which collaborates with Outschool, Imperfect Produce, and Microsoft, to name a few.
To gain a better understanding of how to effectively use email marketing, we spoke with email marketers at this year’s fastest-growing startups. This post discusses their most profitable tactics, which capture 80% of the value with 20% of the effort.
If people don’t open it, nothing else matters
While the subject line of your email is critical, most marketers overlook it until after crafting the email’s body.
Increase your subject lines’ open rate by making them self-evident. You don’t want people to wonder why you want them to read your email. If the subject line is unclear or vague, it will be ignored by your subscribers.
One trick is to write in the manner in which you speak. Consider using informal language and contractions in your subject lines (it’s, they’re, you’ll). Not only will this reduce your character count, but it will also make your copy more readable.
The subject lines of your emails should be pertinent to your subaudiences. Segmented email campaigns generate 760 percent more revenue for marketers than untargeted email campaigns.
If you’re collecting emails from multiple locations on your website, the context for each will almost certainly be slightly different. For instance, subscribers who sign up after reading an article about ketogenic diets should receive emails that educate them further about keto and seed products that fit that lifestyle. Sending them vegetarian-specific information and product recommendations would be irrelevant and could result in them unsubscribing.
Segment your audience using tags and filters within your email marketing platform to ensure you’re sending relevant emails to the right audiences. Each platform will implement this differently, but all modern platforms should support this. Consider the following when writing your email subject line: “Would this email make sense to receive for this segment of subscribers?”
Your subject lines should be succinct and straightforward. Around 46% of emails are opened on mobile devices, which means your subject line must be concise enough to fit on a small screen while still conveying your message. A subject line can be approximately fifty characters long before it is cut off on a mobile screen.
Additionally, keeping your subject lines brief makes them easier to scan as your subscriber browses their inbox. By including emojis in your subject line, you can reduce your character count and simulate how friends communicate via text. By incorporating emojis into your subject lines, your email will feel less corporate and more personal.
Designing emails that get read
When a subscriber opens an email, one of three things can happen: the email is read, skimmed, or bounced.
Subscribers who read your emails are the most valuable, as they will consume the entirety of the email’s contents. Skimmers are only interested in the headlines and images you include. Subscribers who bounce will open your email, but if nothing immediately catches their eye, they will delete or close it.
You’ll want to design your emails in such a way that they minimize bounces, satisfy readers, and provide enough high-level information to ensure that skimmers understand your message.
To reduce bounces, choose an email design that is visually appealing and relevant to your brand. Consider the Casper email below. The background of a starry night and the moon illustration are directly related to the mattresses they sell. Email designs that are visually branded will help elevate your brand’s perception.
To optimize for skimmers, write headlines that are action-oriented. Utilize designs that direct the reader’s attention to critical elements. As shown in the Headspace example, the image of the rising sun directs your attention upward toward the headline and call-to-action button. Skimmers should be able to decipher the context of the entire email and take appropriate action without reading the body.
To increase reader conversions, meet the subject line’s expectations. Readers will be scanning your subject line for any promises or hints you made. Ensure that you fulfill this promise in the body. Strive to be as succinct as possible — just because they’re reading doesn’t mean they don’t value their time.
Call to actions that convert
Your body copy’s purpose is to direct readers to your call-to-action button (CTA). Your CTA is critical, as it is the mechanism by which you convert an email subscriber to a paying customer. To boost your CTA’s conversion rate, include a valuable promise in your body copy and headers that is only delivered via your CTA.
A good call to action copy typically begins with a verb that teases the reader about what will come next:
- Get your free sample.
- Redeem discount now.
- Browse the full inventory.
CTA copy that converts poorly is vague or inactive:
- Learn more.
- See inventory.
Your email should contain only one call to action. Any more and your conversion rate will suffer as a result of irrational decision-making. Ascertain that the page to which your CTA links satisfies the promise made in your body and CTA button.
Once the subject line’s focus is established and the desired outcome is determined, the remainder of the email should be written in such a way that it guides the reader step by step through the email, eventually leading them to the desired action.
It’s prudent to work backward from the action you want the reader to take. If you want them to click a CTA button, frame your subject line, headers, and body copy as a valuable promise that can be fulfilled only by clicking the button.
Consider the email experience from the perspective of all three subscriber types: readers, skimmers, and bouncers. Utilize visual and written prompts to communicate the email’s purpose to all three categories. Failure to do so may result in unsubscribes and revenue loss.
Email offers the highest return on investment of any marketing channel because you are communicating with a captive audience who has opted-in to receive communication from you. Email can generate six times the number of conversions as a tweet and is 40 times more likely to be noticed than a Facebook post.