This week, as part of our Effective Email Marketing series, I’ll be talking about optimising your email content for better engagement.

These days, inboxes are being flooded with marketing emails – in fact, 40% of email addresses receive more than 100 marketing messages a day.

This means it’s more important than ever to stand out from the crowd, and to do this, your content needs to be relevant and targeted to each subscriber. When the right people receive the right content, you’ll get higher engagement rates and fewer unsubscribes.

Maximising open rates

Think about why you last opened a marketing email. It probably had a strong subject line – one that gave you an idea of what the email was about and made you want to find out more. It’s likely you also recognised the sender and knew you’d given them permission to email you.

Your subscribers will go through a similar thought process when deciding whether to open your marketing messages. So how can you address each of their concerns?

Subject lines
You’ve targeted your content for each subscriber, so make sure the subject lines are targeted too. Personalisation is a great way to do this, whether it’s using the subscriber’s name, acknowledging a recent purchase or simply mentioning a product or service they’re interested in.

subject lines on mobile

Remember to consider how the subject line will appear on a mobile device.

Long subject lines tend to get cut off, so it’s a good idea to keep things short and make sure the most important content is mentioned in the first few words.

Sender name
This one is simple – make sure your subscribers know who the email is coming from. Your email marketing software should give you the option, either in the individual campaign or in the settings, to set a sender name which will appear in the “From:” line of your email. Choose something easily identifiable, like the name of your business.

It can be tempting to use the name of someone from your company to make the email seem more personal. But unless the sender is well-known to your subscribers, it’s more likely to confuse them or look like spam.

sender name - good vs bad

Opt-ins
Higher open rates (and increased engagement) will happen automatically if your subscribers actually want to receive your emails. If you send out several different types of emails (e.g. a monthly newsletter, weekly sales updates, and VIP offers), allow subscribers to choose which types of content they’d like to receive.

Increasing engagement

If you’ve targeted your emails effectively, your subscribers (should) want to engage with the content. But if it’s too difficult or the next steps aren’t clear, they’ll probably give up. Make sure there’s a clear call to action in the email – whether it’s checking out a product, clicking through to read the rest of a blog post or completing a survey.

Then, think about the customer’s journey after they’ve clicked through, and make sure each step – from landing pages to follow-up emails – is consistent and mobile-friendly.

Don’t forget to include sharing buttons for the social networks that are key to your brand and audience, and make them prominent, so it’s easy for readers to share the content with their friends.

Minimising unsubscribes and spam complaints

What makes people unsubscribe from your emails? There are a variety of reasons but some of the most common include:

  • You’re sending them too many emails
  • They don’t know who you are or don’t remember subscribing
  • Your content isn’t relevant to them
  • They can’t choose what content they receive

updating preferencesMost of these issues can be solved by giving your subscribers more options.

If it’s easy for them to tell you how often they’d like to receive emails and what content they are (and are not) interested in, they’ll be less likely to unsubscribe completely. Make sure there’s a clear link to change their preferences – don’t hide it in the fine print at the bottom of the email.

The same goes for your unsubscribe link. This may seem counter-intuitive, but when an unsubscribe link is difficult to find or the process requires too many steps, it’s often quicker to hit the ‘report as spam’ button.

Spam complaints mean more than lost subscribers – they also damage your sender reputation, which can affect email delivery rates in the future. The best way to minimise complaints is to make sure you’re only sending to people who have opted in.

Looking at an email from your subscribers’ point of view is key to optimising your campaign. Relevant content is a must, and with a few simple tweaks like personalised subject lines, clearer calls to action and more options, you’ll see better engagement rates and fewer complaints.

Check back soon for tips on designing and writing an email that’s mobile-friendly and works toward your campaign objectives.