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Marketing

Trailblazer Email Marketing Tips to Help You Think Outside the [In]Box

We asked 10 Trailblazers to provide tips on designing an email strategy to optimize the messages being sent to inboxes around the world.

Today’s customers are looking for new ways to connect, and marketing teams are reshaping their go-to-market strategies. However, email marketing is still a great way to engage with customers.

According to Statista, roughly 306 billion emails are sent per day. And LiveIntent found there has been an increase in email newsletter engagement during the COVID-19 crisis. 

Our Trailblazer Community works hard to craft ways to improve customer engagement, and email marketing strategy is one of their focused efforts. We asked 10 of them to provide tips on designing (or redesigning) an email strategy to optimize the messages being sent to inboxes around the world.

Let’s hear from our Trailblazers!

Patricia Babischkin | Strategic Consultant, ListEngage

Q: What’s one recent aha moment you’ve had when it comes to email design?

A: Never forget that email isn’t about you – it is about your customer.

This isn’t what they can do for you, but what can you do to serve them. When you put your customers’ needs ahead of your own, your metrics will rise, your customers will become advocates, and your joy in what you do will be unmeasurable.

Najee Bartley | Email Developer, U.S. Bank

Q: What’s one tip for creating an amazing email most marketers may not know?

A: Reduce the need to scroll.

I believe many marketers do not know that scrolling stinks! If a reader has to scroll down to read your emails they are working too hard. Keep emails short and to the point.

Q: What’s one change you’ve made to your email marketing strategy since March that has made a big difference during this challenging time?

A: Use an empathetic approach.

Right now, we are moving forward with empathy at the forefront of our campaigns. We have slowed down marketing campaigns to focus on helping our audience feel reassured and safe about their finances.

Jen Kazin | Principal Marketing Automation Strategist, Greenkey

Q: What’s one tip for creating an amazing email most marketers may not know?

A: Use a “preference” center instead of a single unsubscribe link.

Many companies use a scanner to check email links to see if they have been blacklisted because they are known to be malicious. It can also check the effect of clicking on the link in a "sandbox" or an isolated virtual machine to establish whether it is malicious before allowing the email to enter the network. A preference center will prevent corporate scanners from unintentionally unsubscribing the email recipient.

Q: When you design a new email nurture, how do you decide how many emails to send?

A: Base your email cadence on your customer lifecycle.

Think of your typical customer purchase cycle and profile. If your product is more transactional (like clothes), multiple emails per week might make sense. For a longer purchase cycle, consider biweekly emails and keep in mind the meaningful touch points to send the right content at the right time.

Tigh Loughhead | Founder, RentBoost

Q: What’s one tip for creating an amazing email most marketers may not know?

A: Tell a story with email.

People are hard-wired to digest a narrative, and successfully creating context builds a lasting connection to a brand. Tactics solely intended to drive open rates and clicks are often counterproductive to real customer engagement. Unique emails craft tales before sales.

Amanda Luanglath | Marketing Manager, Amazon Business

Q: What’s one tip for creating an amazing email most marketers may not know?

A: Build segmentation that is aligned with where your prospects are in their journey.

If you’re sending a follow-up email to prospects who signed up for your webinar, build a layer into your list that accounts for where they are in the buyer journey. This opens opportunities to build content that better connects with your prospects and drives higher conversions.

The messaging sent to someone whose only touch has been signing up for a webinar would be very different from a message sent to someone with an open opportunity in Salesforce. This allows you to engage in a conversation with your prospects, rather than delivering a general message that talks at everyone regardless of their existing relationship with you.

Natasha Martin | Salesforce Marketing Cloud Product Manager, Love’s Travel Stops

Q: What’s one tip for creating an amazing email most marketers may not know?

A: Use interactive content, live content, or anything that makes your email stand apart from others.

Beyond that, make sure your personalization strategy is robust enough to serve content to customers that reflects the way they interact with your brand. If it’s not relevant, you’ve lost their attention.

Kaleem McGill | Candidate Experience Specialist, Kelly Services

Q: What’s one tip for creating an amazing email most marketers may not know?

A: As marketers, you need to make sure that you are making space in your journeys for reentry at different stages.

Customer behavior (especially now) can be unpredictable. If you see that the path is not panning out the way you want it to, adapt and change it at points where you see lack of progression.

Q: What’s one change you’ve made to your email marketing strategy since March that has made a big difference during this challenging time?

A: Nurturing at different stages.

I have learned to let people spend some time being nurtured at certain stages in their journey. People want as much information as possible before making a decision, and you need to be willing to build more brand awareness before you expect them to close. When things are more stable, they will remember the time you took and the authentic connection you made.

Lucy O’Brien | Marketing Manager, Tidewater Community College

Q: What’s one change you’ve made to your email marketing strategy since March that has made a big difference during this challenging time?

A: Think strategically about evolving needs.

There can be a temptation to make big decisions and knee-jerk changes when something this monumental occurs, but a marketer’s strength is strategically thinking through evolving needs to ensure email communications remain relevant and timely.

As we work through the ongoing impacts of COVID, we’re relying more and more on our segmentation strategies to adjust our email messaging on the fly and focus on finding those communications that really speak to students and prospects.

Brent Patrick | Senior Marketing Manager Scale Computing

Q: What’s one change you’ve made to your email marketing strategy since March that has made a big difference during this challenging time?

A: Examine existing segmentation.

COVID-19 is affecting customers, partners, and prospects each in their own unique way. Because of this, we have been forced to look long and hard at our existing segmentation and make major updates there.

We know our content, especially during this time, should be helpful and not opportunistic –and our email strategy should reflect that. A part of that is sending timely emails to hyper-targeted segments we can serve during this time.

Alex Stanton | Consultant, Slalom

Q: What’s one tip for creating an amazing email most marketers may not know?

A: Almost every marketer knows they should test, but many may not realize this is not “one and done.’’

Single emails, nurture campaigns and even autoresponders need to be continuously tested.

Testing implies the use of analytics, but most marketers stop at open and click rates. In more mature contexts using solid attribution models, a marketer could tie campaigns to revenue and test with ROI in mind. Here are a few tests to consider:

  • How detailed should my segments be?
  • Should the call to action be an HTML button or text hyperlink?
  • Should the layout have a colorful header or be blank?
  • What is the best length for the email? (word count, number of paragraphs)

Take a page from your high-school biology course – apply the scientific method. Test one thing at a time. Measure. Log. Repeat. Be curious, prepared to be surprised, and embrace change!

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We appreciate our marketing Trailblazers for taking the time to share their wealth of knowledge on taking an empathetic approach and maintaining a personal connection with customers. We hope their experiences can help you strengthen your email marketing strategy in the months ahead.

To learn more about how to get the most out of your email marketing strategy, check out our on-demand webinar: 20 Email Best Practices To Implement From Home.