Tips to Strengthen Your E-mail Campaigns
Be mindful of designing your e-mails for the preview pane, where, Van Diest says, roughly 65 percent of e-mail users view their messages. Avoid calls to action within images and large blocks of text as you work toward scanability. Also remember to include a link to a Web-based version of your e-mail at the top of the message. And be sure to test e-mail campaigns in multiple browsers before sending to your list, namely Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari.
Nonprofits also should consider designing e-mails for mobile devices. Keep in mind that mobile readers are more likely to scan e-mails rather than read them. Include a compelling call to action in the first 15 to 25 characters of your subject line, avoid using top-heavy images and use alt-tags on images. And be sure to test messages on handheld devices.
Van Diest stressed the importance of testing, noting that testing:
- makes you smarter over time;
- can help keep you out of spam filters;
- ensures you get the most "bang for your buck" or at least the most predictable response; and
- allows you to develop a proven concept online before spending money offline.
Test metrics like open rates, clickthroughs and conversion, as well as elements like your header, message and timing. A/B tests test one variable at a time against a control, while multivariate tests test multiple variables within multiple versions of an e-mail. Van Diest said multivariate tests are best for when you're just starting out, and as you find a winning control piece, A/B tests can help refine it.
When testing, be sure to send all your e-mails at the same time, and make clear notes about what you're testing and which group is getting the control version. Also make sure your test groups are a significant quantity.
According to MarketingSherpa, 50 percent of people will open an e-mail in the first nine hours after they receive it; 75 percent of people will open it in the first 28 hours; and the remaining 25 percent may take several days to open it. They also report that the average e-mail campaign has its peak open rate in 14 days, Van Diest said.