Perfect Your Email Content Strategy: 12 Easy Steps To Drive Engagement and Sales23 min read
Email marketing can be a risky business.
Put yourself in the eyes of the customer. How many times have you deleted something because it looked like spam? Or even just out of principle, because it was an unsolicited message?
Let’s have a brief look at my junk email inbox, just out of interest.
Yikes. You get the idea.
Now, there’s a definite difference between interested marketing parties and deliberate phishing attempts. 90% of these links, if not more, are blatantly trying to steal details from people. So these are the types of methods you want to avoid.
But, whether you’re a small business, just starting out, or an internationally acclaimed corporation which operates across the globe, everyone benefits from a good email marketing campaign.
- Email marketing has one of the the highest ROI rates compared to other content strategies
- Subject lines are not something to be overlooked. Between 30 – 50% of all emails are opened based on subject line alone.
- The average open rate for emails in any industry is 21.33%, so be realistic with your goals.
- Create buyer personas to get to know your audience. And don’t be afraid of analytical tools which will give you a deeper insight into demographics.
- Make sure your language is emotive, passionate, and persuasive. You’re a human, at the end of the day, not a robot. Make your customer feel as welcome as possible.
- Keep on top of your metrics so you can continuously optimize your content. Test out various features if you’re uncertain about something.
1. Get people to sign up to an email list
Let us start by saying that email marketing has frequently been shown to produce the best ROI (return on investment), so it’s definitely not something you want to ignore. Organic search via SEO? Online advertisements? All of it pales in comparison to the abilities of a well-constructed email content strategy.
So, whether online or in store, make sure people are aware that:
- You have an email
- You have a signup form for a mailings list
With some companies, the only way to get a receipt is to provide an email at the checkout. That’s an excellent start for you as a business, as it opens a means of communication. Along with this digital receipt, you can give customers the option to subscribe to receive exclusive perks.
Let’s say you wanted to buy a new pair of Converse. This is what you’d see after putting in your details at the checkout on their website.
A few pointers here:
- The customer is asked to provide an email so that they can keep track of their order. This promotes a feeling of safety and security, as they are kept in the loop about their purchase.
- The customer is given the option to tick a box which lets them sign up for news and offers. This increases the chances that they will be a return customer, as they will be incentivized to spend more.
- Whilst it’s mandatory to provide an email, it’s a choice to sign up for anything additional. This means that your customers don’t feel forced or coerced into signing up for something they don’t want to be a part of.
As a final note, do not buy email lists. Leave that for scams and phishing bots. If your content starts showing up unexpectedly in peoples’ inboxes, they’ll know what has happened. And then you can say goodbye to any shred of credibility or trust you’ve been trying to build with your target audience.
2. Create clear, catchy subject lines
If someone receives dozens of emails a day, they may not have time to look through them all individually. This is where your subject line comes into play.
By stating what the content of your email is about, you can save your customers time and allow them to bookmark things to come back to later. It’ll tell them if you’ve sent an email newsletter, or if a thank-you for being a great customer with rewards inside.
Email subject lines are like headlines for articles. You don’t want to clickbait, but you don’t want to waffle. There’s a nice middle-ground you should find. And when it’s estimated that between 30 – 50% are opened based only on the subject line, it’s definitely worth putting some time and effort into making one that’s as effective as possible.
Let’s take a look at some examples from British clothing retailer, New Look.
Right away, email subscribers can skim over the subject line and know exactly what type of content is inside. A little bit of introductory text, known as preheader text, gives you just a little bit more of an opportunity to expand on the subject line
New Look’s subject lines let you know:
- Branded clothes are now in stock
- An expectation of prices (£8.99 = $11.07)
- Offers are available (frequent 40%-off deals)
- Basic advice from style guides
- Any ongoing partnerships or opportunities in your area
They’re nice and short and easy to read so you can make that split-second decision to open the email or leave it.
There are multiple factors which affect your subject lines, such as knowledge of your target audience and demographics, but we’ll get into that in a moment.
3. Incorporate calls to action (CTA)
CTAs work wonders for your digital marketing efforts. And it’s so easy to incorporate them into any aspect of your strategy. In short, a call to action is a prompt to encourage your customer to do something. It often uses verbs in an imperative style like, ‘give’ or ‘click’, designed to spur the reader to action (hence the name).
When it comes to emails, you can offer a plethora of CTA options: discount codes, checking out special offers, or leaving reviews. These are all designed to boost your overall engagement statistics, and get more people interacting with your content.
Remember to link your social media in the bottom of your emails. Because you may have some avenues of contact that people aren’t aware of.
CTAs work well with both long and short emails. But shorter emails have the added benefit of drawing people in further to your content. For example, with a short email it’s easier to send people to a landing page so they can find out more. The email acts as a teaser for what’s to come. Then, once they’re on your website, it’s easier for customers to explore.
You can also provide specific rewards for people who are certain to engage with your content. For example, a surprise reward that isn’t granted until a customer reaches your landing page is a fantastic way to incentivize them to visit again.
Here, in the welcome email you receive from Modkat, the CTA is in the form of the ‘Shop Collection’ button. It’s discrete, unassuming, and fits well with the branding. It’s helpful to note that your CTAs don’t have to be large, overly aggressive buttons that dominate the screen.
4. Automate where possible
There are a lot of emails in business. It can be a nightmare to keep track of. This is why you need to get to grips with marketing automation.
Within any business, automation can help when it comes to:
- Welcoming and onboarding
- Shipping information and confirmation emails for transactions
- Goodbye messages when someone unsubscribes – “we’re sorry to see you go”
- Weekly announcements or promotional emails
- Calendar rewards, such as a birthday exclusive offer
- Response emails to a problem – “we’ll get back to you as soon as possible”
Putting everything together can be quite time consuming when you have to collect all of the information and make it look appealing to potential customers. So using templates, like the ones HubSpot has available, and setting a schedule for when everything is due to be sent out can be an enormous help.
Just be sure to keep a personal element, even when your delivery system is automated. It can be very off-putting to be noticeably sold things by a robot. There’s always a place for that human element when it comes to marketing – it’s how we connect with one another properly.
5. Know your target audience
Accurately knowing your demographics is a huge asset for your email content strategy. Take a look at how other brands advertise their products with this in mind. Fashion brands in particular are excellent examples, since they have a very clear idea of their audience due to their ability to section and segment their clothing options.
For any content marketing strategy, creating a buyer persona can really help a team visualize who they are directing their products towards. Think about more than just a customer’s age and gender. What are their values? Why would they choose your brand over another’s?
For that matter, what is your brand awareness like? Do they even know you’re an option?
You need to have a good level of introspection to properly market towards your target audience. Are the values that you uphold going to match those that your customers look for?
If you want to create relevant email content, you’ve got to have an in-depth knowledge of your customers. A superficial glance at what they may enjoy or what will attract them can come off as insincere. Research in this department will give you the best chance at creating high-quality emails that hit the nail on the head.
- Look at your competitors. Who are they appealing to? Your main competition in the market will show you a lot about where your own marketing can improve. Are there areas that your competitors are missing out on, creating a niche in the market you can direct your attention towards?
- Conduct surveys. Ask any current customers for feedback so that you can know how appealing your marketing is to them, and what you could do to improve. Customer satisfaction surveys are a quick and easy addition to any email – even something as simple as ‘rate us from 1-5’.
- Make use of online tools. You have free access to tools such as Google Analytics. You can track trends in the marketplace, see who is visiting your site based on their Google profiles, and generally get a better sense of who you need to turn your attention towards.
6. Make your content engaging
Colorful, engaging content that fits the theme of your branding will keep people interested.
Be aware of how your audience is going to receive and read your emails. There are a few tips which cover every aspect of content-creation which are still important here.
- Break up your text. Big old paragraphs will be awful for engagement. Break up whatever you write into nice, small, bite-sized chunks of text that are easy to read over and skim through quickly.
- Use pictures. If you have a product to advertise, show it off! People want to see what they’re being sold.
- Be bold. Highlight the parts that you wish to draw attention to. Make use of interesting fonts and colors (provided that they fit with your brand’s style).
- Personalize. Stagnant, emotionless emails won’t do anything for your engagement. If you want people to interact with you, you need to show a bit of character. Make use of your brand’s voice to connect with people on a more personal, human level. The email may be delivered by a machine, but that doesn’t mean you have to write it like one.
For example, Papa Johns’ emails do very well when it comes to visual engagement.
We’ll break it down further:
- The bold colors draw people in, particularly with such vibrant shades of red.
- You’re given an image of the new pizza so you can see what it is you’re ordering.
- Their partnership is topical to the times, and helps build excitement for an up-coming event.
- This also builds subconscious links in the mind of the customer that Papa Johns’ is the go-to place for pizza when it comes to the United Rugby Championships.
- Oh, and look at that. There’s a nice little CTA button at the top where you can ‘Order Now’.
All in all, it’s a pretty great email.
You can incorporate other forms of media as well, such as videos. Videos in emails have been shown to increase your CTR by 300%. So, whether you want to plug your webinar, or provide an extract of your podcast, videos are the way to go.
7. Use persuasive language
We don’t mean to drag you back to ninth grade English class. But you need to pay close attention to the words that you’re using, and the semantics, synonyms, and associations that come along with them.
Consider the following questions:
- How emotionally charged is your language? Your content should make people feel something, so they’re not just being spoken to by a computer.
- Are you correctly using modal verbs like should, would, could, can, or must? One or two can be a good marketing tool and helps develop a sense of urgency. But overloading your content with them comes across as demanding or desperate.
- Are you making your product seem like a necessity through words such as ‘need’?
- Do you put the customer at the center of the equation?
- Do you demonstrate how your product can help them or improve their life?
Don’t waffle on with your sentences. Short and sweet does the trick. Even though there are many types of emails and many techniques you can use, some general rules still apply to create the best piece of content possible.
Alongside this, make sure that what you say is relevant to your product or pitch. Stay on topic to keep people focused. If you have news, save it for a newsletter or give it a dedicated email update. Don’t randomly tack it on to the end of an email about upcoming offers.
8. Test and optimize your content
There’s a lot of trial and error when it comes to marketing emails, but that’s okay. There are ways around this that can speed up the process. One of them is A/B testing.
This is when you send out emails with one or two differences to one another, and then record which one received the most engagement. Then, you can implement a long-term change based on your results.
And don’t be worried about sending out a bunch of tests at once. Just make sure not to get confused with which ones pair up.
Also think about the frequency of your emails. Do you find that bi-weekly, weekly, fortnightly, or even monthly emails bring in the best results when it comes to interaction? You don’t want to swamp users with emails, but you don’t want to leave them abandoned, never to hear from you again.
These things take time and you won’t see results instantly. Having a bit of patience with your strategy will help you in the long-run. You’ll train yourself to wait for a good selection of results rather than jumping to conclusions based on insufficient data.
Even then, the whims of customers can change quickly. Constant testing and optimizing will provide the best results over a longer period. Unfortunately, you can’t expect one thing to work and then stay working forever.
9. Measure your metrics
There’s no point sending out emails if you have no response. Metrics are incredibly useful when it comes to seeing how you can optimize your content and create an effective email strategy.
Consider the following questions:
- What is your open rate?
- What are your click through rates (CTR)?
- What are the unsubscribe rates from your emails?
- How many people download the content you offer in emails?
If you don’t have confident answers to these questions, or don’t like what you find, then it’s time to implement some meaningful changes.
Start by thinking about what you want your metrics to be – realistically. A study found that the average open rate for emails in any industry is 21.33%. That may not seem like a lot, but when you consider the sheer number of emails that are sent daily, it adds up. Set a benchmark for an open rate of around 20%, and go from there.
What do you want your email marketing channels to be for, anyway? The most common answer to that is lead generation. This accounts for roughly 85% of all email marketing. So, once you’ve got that idea straight in your head, you can work towards making that goal a reality.
In the meantime, you also need to keep an eye on your customer relationship management (CRM). When it comes to e-commerce, this means tracking your online interactions with customers and how you keep them engaged throughout their time with you.
Consider investing in some CRM software such as Mailchimp or Sendinblue to collate data on your audience which can be analyzed and incorporated into your email marketing strategy.
10. Don’t forget about mobile functionality
People are constantly on the go. So you need to make sure you’re good to go with them.
High functionality and deliverability with phones is essential. It’s no good if the content you send out can’t be accessed via mobile devices, or if certain features aren’t available. In 2022, HubSpot found that 46% of emails were opened on phones. Only 10% were on desktop computers. That is an enormous percentage of people you’re potentially ignoring.
Always render out your content on a variety of screen sizes to make sure that, when it lands in your customer’s inbox, it will look perfect no matter which device they may be using.
Shorter subject lines are a good idea on mobile because of the limited space on a screen. But remember, the amount of characters displayed will vary depending on which phone provider someone’s using. Apple iOS displays double the amount of characters than Android on their native email apps, so be sure to appeal to both.
11. Reward your customers
So, congratulations! You’ve done your best, and now you’re rewarded with a nice stream of customers buying from you.
Wouldn’t it be nice to give something back to them for their support?
Everyone loves a bargain. And email-exclusive offers such as discount codes, specialist access, free shipping, or early access to new products are all incentives to keep loyal customers coming back for more. When word gets out of these fantastic deals, more people will get involved and stick around to increase your conversion rates.
As with any business, it’s easier to maintain customer loyalty than it is to attract a brand new audience. Once customers find a brand they like that works well with them, they’re more likely to come back and spend more.
In fact, 49% of customers agreed that they had spent more thanks to joining a loyalty program. And 54.7% of customers stay loyal to only between one and five brands, going so far as to spend more with them even if there are cheaper options available.
At the end of the day, it’s just nice to say thank you to the people who stick by you and give them even more incentive to stay.
12. Follow up with customers
Following up with customers can mean one of three things:
- Getting in contact with a customer who hasn’t interacted with you in a while
- Contacting a customer for a product review , or general feedback on the B2C (Business to consumer) process
- Reminding a customer that they have items in their cart they haven’t bought yet
So, firstly, let’s look at trying to get back in contact with someone.
Return customers are fantastic. It shows that they like what you offer, and keep coming back for more. It means they trust you.
When a buyer suddenly disappears, it can be a little disheartening. But this is another aspect of email content marketing where automation can help. If your servers haven’t detected any action from a customer for a while, it can be worth sending a small prompt to their inbox.
Take Twitch, for example.
Okay, I’ve been busy. So I haven’t been able to tune in to watch my favorite streamers in a while. To make sure I was still around, Twitch sent over a little reminder email. It taps into that warm, fuzzy feeling inside of you, knowing someone’s reaching out to reconnect. (Even if that someone is an automated robot service.)
Now onto point two: getting feedback.
It’s a daunting challenge, gathering meaningful, actionable feedback from customers. More often than not, they just want to buy a product and be done with it. But taking the time to extend a questioning olive branch is always worth it.
This is one such email from shapewear brand, Shapermint:
It’s cute, energetic, and simple. All you have to do is choose a rating – just at the click of a button. You don’t even have to type anything. And they offer an incentive for taking part, in the form of 20% off.
Finally, we come to abandoned cart emails.
Anyone and everyone can get suddenly busy at the drop of a hat. We don’t always have time or remember to pursue an order from start to finish. Often, something we were eyeing up just gets left in the cart.
An abandoned cart email brings attention to these sad, neglected items and encourages the customer to finish off their purchase.
Perhaps your customers genuinely did just forget about it. Or perhaps they thought “no… I really shouldn’t”. This email could be just the thing to seal the deal, and make that sale. Particularly when over 40% of abandoned cart emails are opened—a huge amount, compared to usual open rates.
So there you have it, folks. Follow these steps to create the best email content strategy you’ve ever seen. It’s not as hard as it looks. And the passion you have for your craft can come shining through better than ever before.
Fortunately, you’ve got an enormous collection of examples to draw from. Just take a peek in your own inboxes, and you’re sure to find some form of email marketing that isn’t trying to steal your information. (Seriously, don’t go there.)
Take the best bits you find and adapt them to suit your own needs. And remember, even the best strategy can be improved as time goes by. Don’t just let it tick over by itself. Play an active role in your email content creation, and your customers are sure to thank you for it.
What email marketing tips do you swear by? Are there any here that you haven’t tried yet? We hope these can boost your strategy to greater heights – so let us know how it goes!