The beautiful thing about email marketers is that they measure everything and frequently share their data. Recently, MailerMailer analyzed 1.1 billion emails from 56,000 campaigns run during 2014 in 33 industries.
Here’s my interpretation of their results in four observations.
Mobile Rules. Almost three in every four emails are opened on a mobile device. Smartphone users check their phones 60+ times each day. Mobile open rates are higher than average. Clicks are lower because the phone has become a default boredom avoidance device. Consumers want to know what’s coming in, but don’t necessarily want to engage or interact in the moment.
The implications are: 1. Email must render properly on every mobile OS. 2. Put the most important content first. 3. Make a clear and directive call to action. 4. CTA buttons must be big, bold, colorful, and fat-finger friendly.
It’s a Speed Round. Email is a fast-acting, stimulus-and-response medium. In a typical email transmission, opens peak after the first hour of delivery. Half of the response comes in the first 5 hours after delivery. By 15 hours, three-quarters of all opens will happen. By 48 hours the game is over, with more than 90 percent of all expected response completed.
Context and concise copy matter drive response. Marketers need to time their shots and forecast response in a tighter time frame. Ask yourself: What do I want consumers to think, feel, and do, and when do I want them to do it? Then plan accordingly. Focus on what people normally want and intercept them in the process of getting it. Edit out anything that doesn’t impact fast engagement.
There is evidence that emails sent on Mondays or Fridays between 6 p.m. and 2 a.m. drive the biggest open and click rates. People generally open emails in the morning as part of their daily routine and work through them chronologically. Emails that are waiting for them in their inboxes get a 3 to 4-second scan and sort to determine what gets read and what gets deleted.
Urgency and Deals Drive Opens. Subject lines play a disproportionate role in driving opens. Messages of 28 to 39 characters, medium length, with words signaling offers or deals (free, sale, deals, coupons, newsletter, or events) or time-sensitive cues (today, this week, weekend, daily) prompted the most opens at 12.6%, a full point above the 2014 average open rate of 11.6%.
Subject lines are billboards. They must be simple, clear, immediately understandable, and intuitive. And they must instantly communicate what’s in it for someone to click. Forget about sophisticated word play, puns, allegory, metaphors, alliteration, clichés, or witty turns of phrase. There’s nothing subtle or shaded about a subject line. If an eighth grader can’t get it in an instant, rewrite the subject line.
Ask Early and Often for Clicks. Click rates have steadily declined over the last few years, probably because consumers aren’t engaged or motivated by what they find when they open an email. And while many factors impact click rates, relevance, utility, clarity of messages, and directive mechanics are the most important factors.
Many marketers believe that a single call to action yields the most click-thrus. But there is growing evidence that different or multiple CTAs do better. Messages that contained 21 or more links drove click rates of 2.1%, a 100 percent increase over messages with 1 to 5 links. This might be a testament to the prevalence of eNewsletters or the widespread use of sale emails with long lists of products and deal options. It also might signal a consumer need for choice and options.
The guys at Which Test Won hypothesize that “when it comes to clearly giving your users relevant and distinguishably different choices more may actually be better.” In a recent test where 2 CTAs beat a solo CTA, they made a distinction between actions that require different levels of effort or commitment (e.g., deposit versus play). By “using distinct CTA buttons to get your users to perform different tasks,” two sets of consumers can find something to click on. Low commitment or lower-friction terms for CTAs or on buttons drive more clicks deeper into the conversion funnel.
Email marketing is a process of continuous measurement, observation, and improvement. I hope these observations will add to your optimization efforts.
Danny Flamberg, EVP Managing Director of Digital Strategy and CRM at Publicis based in New York, has been building brands and building businesses for more than 30 years.Prior to joining Publicis, he led a successful global consulting group called Booster Rocket, as Managing Partner. Before becoming a consultant, he was Vice President of Global Marketing at SAP, SVP and Managing Director at Digitas in New York and Europe and President of Relationship Marketing at Amiratti Puris Lintas and Lowe Worldwide.