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Curve email marketing best practices for 2014

How great email marketing can grow your business

The growth of social media in recent years has led many people to believe that email marketing is in decline. However, this cannot be further from the truth; you just need to check your inbox to see that email is still thriving and as effective as ever.

Email marketing provides the most direct line of communication between you and your customers. It has the ability to increase conversions, build relationships and keep your business in mind when potential customers reach 'purchase mode'.

With advances in smart phone technology and mobile devices the importance of email marketing is set to increase too.

  • By the end of 2014 it is expected that there will be 30.9 million smart phones users in the UK (eMarketer).
  • Email usage on mobile devices has skyrocketed since 2011. Emails are now more likely to be opened on mobiles rather than desktops (Litmus).
First Quarter email usage on mobile devices 2011 – 2013 (Litmus).

First Quarter email usage on mobile devices 2011 – 2013 (Litmus).

With the increase in mobile open rates email best practices have transformed, yet many businesses have been left behind implementing strategies that just don't work.

We have found that through the implementation of our 3-step process we are able to increase the effectiveness of our client’s email campaigns enormously:

Step 1, Match content, with client needs and interests
Step 2, Clear, accessible design that gets into inboxes
Step 3, Persuasive structure, prompting immediate action

How to make your email work harder

Now you understand both the importance and effectiveness of email marketing we'll outline the technical and visual best practices that will increase the performance of your email marketing campaigns.

Email Best Practises for 2014

Brand Optimisation

Subject line – always use your brand name at the start of the subject line. Keep your subject lines under 50 characters in length. Having anything longer you’ll run the risk of words being cut off in some email clients.

From name – the from name should always include your brand name.

From address – use an identifiable email address. Do not use donotreply@yourcompany.com. You want your customers to talk to you (I hope!). You want everything in your email to encourage engagement.

Branded header – we argue that your brand logo should be used in the header area of your email design. Moreover, links to your social channels should be included here too.

Brand Optimisation

Preview text

Preview text is short snippet (or preview) of an email you can see in some clients before you actually open the email.

Usually limited to 100 characters or less, email clients such as Outlook and iPhone allow us to make use of this valuable space. The preview text should complement the email subject line and give a brief overview of the contents of the email. Doing this effectively dramatically increases open rates, especially on mobile devices.

If your email design does not allow for preview text to be easily added in it is possible to add in "hidden preview text".

Preview text

Personalisation

According to research by Newsweaver personalised email newsletters have a 57% higher conversion rate than those emails that are not. When initially building your email list make sure you ask for your customers names so you can take advantage of this.

Personalisation

Layout and Design

  • Always include a link to view the email in a web browser. This should appear in the header of your email design, below the preview text.
  • If you are sending out a content heavy newsletter think about adding a navigation bar to the top of your email.
  • Have your most important content at the top left of your design. Eye-tracking studies have found this is where users in the UK look first. Also, we have found having the main copy in the top left corner, rather than the top right, increases click-through rates dramatically.
  • Use panels to split up content.
  • Design your email in two columns so it can easily be adapted for mobile.
  • Use a mixture of in-text and graphical calls to action (CTA's). Moreover, try to use enticing copy to get email recipients to click-through (don't always use 'Click here').
  • The ideal width of an email design should be between 500 and 650 pixels.
  • Wherever an image is used make sure there is back-up 'alt text'.
  • We recommend you use web-safe fonts that can render in all email clients. Non-standard fonts can be used and do work in some mobile email clients, however make sure you always have a fallback web-safe font in place.

Content

  • Write your email copy in short sentences and paragaphs.
  • Use bullet points where possible.
  • Use bold type faces and headings to sign-post different sections and highlight key information.
  • Supplement the use of text by using imagary to help make your point.

Footer

  • Always include a clear Unsubscribe link in the footer.
  • It is best practise to include a line about why the reicpiant is receving the email e.g. "You are receving this email because you signed up for updates on our website".
  • Include a Forward to a Friend link and also social media links if not done elsewhere in the email.
  • Your company address and legal information should also be added to the footer.

Mobile

  • Create adaptive designs for your email. That work for desktop and for mobile devices.
  • Mobile email design should be limited to a one column template.
  • Never make a user scroll from left to right or zoom in. Having your mobile design at 320 pixels wide will make sure this is the case.
  • Design the mobile version of your email for fingers and thumbs in mind. Increase the size of calls to actions and emded links within key imagary.
  • Increase the font size for easier reading.
Mobile content

Testing

  • After your email has been built it needs to be tested across all the major desktop, mobile and web-based email clients. Each email client will render your email in a slightly different fashion so its important to make sure it works across each.
  • Run a spam test to make sure your email is not being caught up in subscribers junk folders.
  • Split test – In the initial planning stages of the email come up with two separate subject lines or two different versions of your email copy to test and measure for effectivess. Send out the different versions to a small amount of your overall database before you send the bulk out to the version that receives the most opens or click-throughs.
Layout and Design

That concludes our email best practices for 2014. So before you send out your next campaign make sure you have implemented all of our advice! Better yet, contact us and we will provide you with a free email health check.

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