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Apr 21

How to Design Better Email Marketing Campaigns


In: Strategy Insights

We recently talked about why you should use email marketing to both generate new business and keep your customers coming back. Today we’re going to talk about how you can do that.

Responsive Email Design is a Must

With up to 55% of emails being opened on mobile devices, responsive design is no longer an option, it’s a necessity. If your email isn’t just as appealing on the small screen as it is on desktop, you’re going to be losing valuable conversion opportunities. Despite this, only 17% of brands are currently utilizing responsive design in all of their emails.

If writing HTML isn’t your forte, there are plenty of email design tools such as CoffeeCup that can help you create the responsive email elements you need without learning how to code. Many email marketing services such as MailChimp also have responsive designs baked into their email builders. However you get it done, make sure that your subscribers see well-crafted emails no matter what size screen they’re viewing from. And before you send any email, don’t forget to test it across multiple devices.

Creative Subject Lines Win Every Time

You’ve probably experienced this first-hand as you browse through the promotional emails that fill your inbox each day. An email with a funny, enticing, or informative subject line is going to pique your interest much more frequently than “Company’s Monthly Newsletter.” Don’t be afraid to get creative, (or even a little cheeky) depending on the email’s content, of course.

Another key component of subject lines is avoiding SPAM filters. Stuffing your subjects with words like, “FREE,” “Amazing,” or “Congratulations,” can mean missing the inbox altogether. You can find a comprehensive list of words that may trigger SPAM filters here.

What's in a Newsletter?

Before you create a newsletter campaign, ask yourself this: does newsletter marketing fit into your business strategy and make sense in your industry? Do you have enough content to make a newsletter worthwhile, or will you be filling your readers’ inboxes with fluff?

If you do believe you can create consistently valuable content for your readers, then learn to love Rule #1:  90% info, 10% promo.

Your newsletter should contain relevant tips, helpful blog posts, interviews with influencers, whatever makes the most sense in your space. Of course you can include sales, coupons, and new product information as well, but balance is the key to a successful email marketing newsletter. Give readers a reason to keep opening those emails each week. A well-structured campaign should establish your newsletter as a source of valuable information while also informing readers about how your products can benefit them. Rattling off a dozen product features is a surefire way to end up in the trash.

The other thing to consider before crafting your campaign is consistency. Whether your newsletter is set to go out once a week or once a month, be sure your readers know what to expect and stick to it. Nothing provokes someone to unsubscribe faster than signing up for a monthly newsletter only to find updates in their inbox every day.

Building a Welcome Workflow

While a newsletter should be helpful to both newcomers and veteran subscribers, a welcome workflow is a personal introduction to your brand. How many emails are needed will vary depending on what your site has to offer. An eLearning site may want to guide users step-by-step through all the different features and how they can achieve their learning goals. A restaurant may need just one or two emails to welcome new users to the list and mention their happy hour specials.

Remember, this is your first opportunity to establish trust with your new subscriber, and if your very first email is BUY! BUY! BUY! they may overlook future emails altogether. Feel free to include a soft CTA such as inviting them to download an eBook or learn more about an event, however.

Much like with your newsletter you also want to let people know exactly what they’re getting. Many times users subscribe to email lists unknowingly, or forget they even did it in the first place. Using strong branding and being upfront about what’s to come is crucial.

Expanding Behavioral Emails

Hopefully by now you’re tracking detailed user data on your site in order to make informed marketing decisions. If so, your email campaigns should already be expanded into transactional and event-based workflows. I’m sure you send an order confirmation when someone makes a purchase, but starting a workflow when someone abandons a cart, or watches a series of product videos can mean the difference in converting. Utilizing testimonials for specific products or offering exclusive discounts are key components at this point in the path to conversion.

Generally speaking, email marketing campaign best practices are the same whether you’re a large corporation or a tiny start-up. Every email you send should have an eye-catching subject line, be useful to the reader, and ultimately work to increase brand loyalty, or to help your customer on their way through the purchase journey. If your email doesn’t have any or all of the above, don’t hit “Send” just yet.


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UNION is a full-service digital agency. We create experiences that help brands thrive. We believe to be relevant in today’s marketplace, brands must lead with a digital-first philosophy. We craft engaging digital experiences and integrated campaigns that are built on strategy and driven by data. At the heart of what we do is help brands create meaningful and enduring relationships with highly connected consumers.

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