If Email’s Broken, Why Aren’t You Fixing It?

Call me naive, but I don’t understand why any company should still be experiencing poor email open and click through rates. Let’s cut to the chase: Successful email marketing consists of four parts: The List, the “From” line, the “Subject” line and the Creative. However, the most fascinating article I’ve read recently about how to design more effective emails comes from Red C, a direct and digital marketing communications agency based in the UK.

Call me naive, but I don’t understand why any company should still be experiencing poor email open and click through rates.

Let’s cut to the chase.

Successful email marketing consists of four parts:

  1. The List (don’t get me started on the importance of this!)
  2. The “From” line
  3. The “Subject” line
  4. The Creative

Any reader of Target Marketing, or student of direct marketing or email marketing, should know how important the list is—in fact, if you’re not spending any time on list strategy, don’t even bother executing an email campaign… period.

The “From” line can be easily tested. (One of our client’s gets better open results when emails come from their parent company, probably because the parent company has a stronger brand presence among the target audience.)

I’ve written plenty about “Subject” lines. (No more than 40 characters INCLUDING spaces… please!)

And there’s also lots of information out there about best practices when it comes to email creative. However, the most fascinating article I’ve read recently about how to design more effective emails comes from Red C, a direct and digital marketing communications agency based in the UK.

They recently completed an eye-tracking study. it doesn’t tell you what people say they look at, or plan to read, or what they like. Instead it tracks what people actually look at, in what order, and for how long.

The Red C report “10 Inbox Secrets devotes a single spread to each “A-ha!” finding, and provides examples and analytical insight into that key finding. My only recommendation (before you print the article) is to choose “landscape” as the type is pretty darn small when printed in “portrait” mode.

My biggest take-away?

The importance of the opening screen—readers typically focus their attention at the center of the page while it loads, and then orient their attention from there.

Red C recommends combining irregular shapes, graphics and text elements to sustain attention, and also offer recipients ‘pathways’ down the email via text or graphic devices. They suggest you AVOID the temptation to use a press ad structure and design in ‘screenfuls’ which are viewed too quickly and don’t provide enough visual encouragement to scroll down further.

I encourage anyone responsible for email marketing to study this report in detail. Eye-tracking studies don’t lie—they provide helpful insights to understand how readers actually consume emails.

Then don’t be afraid to challenge your creative team to re-think your current email design so you can increase message engagement and, ultimately, click through rates.

Can You Capitalize on DIY?

If high-end Swarovski Crystal and YouTube marketer Dynomighty can hit home runs with the same marketing strategy, it’s something every online marketer should think about. The strategy in question is do-it-yourself (DIY) community marketing. DIY projects get popular with consumers when times are tight, and are they ever tight now. These very different marketers are both benefitting from the buzz, brand interaction and organic customer rewards that DIY communities create.

If high-end Swarovski Crystal and YouTube marketer Dynomighty can hit home runs with the same marketing strategy, it’s something every online marketer should think about. The strategy in question is do-it-yourself (DIY) community marketing. DIY projects get popular with consumers when times are tight, and are they ever tight now. These very different marketers are both benefitting from the buzz, brand interaction and organic customer rewards that DIY communities create.

Last week I mentioned Dynomighty, which has had great success with earnest, compelling YouTube marketing. The other thing Dynomighty’s hit on is DIY marketing for its Mighty Wallet. The Mighty Wallet is made from Tyvek (often used in express mail envelopes), which, along with being nigh indestructible, is easily written on and decorated. In fact, Dynomighty sells the wallets in various blank colors (in addition to a ton of designs) for buyers to decorate themselves DIY-style, and encourages them through The DIY Mighty Wallet competition on its Facebook page. The first contest has already been won, another one’s launching June 15.

Dynomighty’s DIY contest reinforces a product benefit — the ability to customize its wallets — to get users to follow its Facebook page, and encourages them to make something they’ll want to show to friends. All for the cost of the creative and a $500 shopping spree. That’s great for a small, gorilla e-marketer like Dynomighty, but luxury crystal brand Swarovski Crystal is doing the same thing in a more formal, international way befitting its own reputation.

Create Your Style with Crystalized – Swarovski Elements is Swarovski’s international DIY blitz that combines in-store demonstrations, contests, conventions, tie-in products (namely crystal jewelry design books), social media marketing and other initiatives to promote the Crystalized line of DIY jewelry supplies. From its Facebook page:

“CREATE YOUR STYLE is the global creative community of CRYSTALLIZED™ — Swarovski Elements, the ultimate crystal brand. It connects like-minded people with a passion for expressing themselves through personal design. CREATE YOUR STYLE has devoted itself to the creation of an inspiring and interactive platform where crystal aficionados from all over the world can exchange creative ideas and obtain advice from experts while getting design and style tips as well as information on international competitions and whatever else their creative heart desires!”

The Swarovski product line is specifically made for DIYers, but the strategy is very similar to what Dynomighty is doing: Promote social networks based on the exploration of your product’s benefits, create product evangelists and reward consumers for interacting with your brand. Swarovski puts a lot more money into its program, but both are attracting followers.

It’s a tactic that can be applied to many products at varying levels of resource commitment. If you sell shoes or clothing, challenge customers to customize fashions. If you sell electronics, build a community around installation and optimization. If you sell collectibles, share techniques for users to make their own, and offer supplies to do so. When your product becomes a hobby, enthusiasts become more committed to your brand and they’ll try to spread that fever to like-minded individuals. DIY is really a breed of highly contagious viral marketing.

How can you create a DIY movement among your customers?