How to create emails that convert

When it comes to pushing your business forward your email marketing campaign needs to be about more than just looking good – it needs to convert too.

There is a huge amount of advice online about how to create an engaging email marketing campaign, but while engagement is a great initial aim you may find yourself wondering later down the line when you will start to see direct results from your messages in the shape of sales or some other conversion. Engagement is an important precursor to a conversion, but it is not always the goal.

To use a footballing analogy, Premier League side Arsenal often produce some lovely play but regularly fail to get the win – and several years without a trophy sticks in the craw for fans as much as players. So avoid Arsene Wenger’s dilemma and start to think about how you can make your email marketing services play well AND get the ‘W’ at the end.

Start with the basics…

Even though you are aiming for the stars with this campaign, that does not mean you can ignore the basics – you can have all sorts of wonderful ideas but if spelling, punctuation and grammar are lamentable, then people may not take you seriously. Beyond this ‘ground-floor’ consideration, you should also be keenly aware of the importance of a strong subject line and trustworthy ‘from’ field, as well as ensuring that your recipients actually signed up to receive emails.

Beyond that, the most useful advice is to ensure that you are promising something useful – both during the sign-up process and in the subject line – and that you deliver. Consumers feel like they have no time nowadays, so will usually seek to clear their inbox in a hurry – give them a reason to open the message. Also, ensure that it is technically functional, whether via a desktop PC, a tablet or a smartphone and no matter which email service provider they are using.

As you move beyond the basics, you should think about what it means to you to have a conversion – are you just after a sale? Or is a download your aim? Perhaps you are keen to get more people to sign up to your social media accounts?

Make improvements…

Once you have your basics in place, it is time to push onwards with A/B testing to refine the tone of your messaging and the quality of your subject lines among other factors. You may find that your messages connect better with your audience if they are more tailored to them, so think about including the recipient’s first name at the top and do what you can in terms of segmentation – it goes without saying that all demographics do not respond the same to marketing messages, so mix it up. Also, timing could also be crucial.

A key part of your process should be to have a plan in place, rather than simply sending messages as you come up with them. Of course, you don’t want every email to be a sales message as people can easily be bored by this approach. Instead, think about having a sort of editorial calendar where you use four out of five messages to build up your relationship with recipients (educating, informing, perhaps even surprising at times) and then use the fifth message to explicitly sell.

Going back to segmentation for a moment – it may be that your campaign should be different types of prospects, so think about changing your approach for someone who has bought from you several times compared with a person who only bought once. For example, someone may have only wanted something as a one-off, so they may not be a real prospect, whereas a regular buyer could probably be sent a higher frequency of messages.

One, two, three…

All of the above should help you improve your open rates and – if you are doing things right – keep your list clean, but this is only half the battle. After all, we want conversions. So assuming you have got someone’s attention, then next stage is to convert it into your chosen goal. You can use a whole host of incentives and explanations for urging someone towards your objective – it will range from industry to industry but generally revolves around exclusivity or a need to act now to protect themselves/their business. To analyse the area between an email ‘open’ and a conversion is essentially a three-stage process that goes beyond the initial email:

1. CTA – Your call to action should be simple and direct – and there should preferably be only one CTA on the email. Is it clear enough where they need to click? Are you persuasive enough?

2. Landing page – Once the person has clicked through, what are they met with? Preferably you should have a specific landing page set up that makes logical sense and which they can access on any device. So if they have clicked through due to a promise of a sale on jackets, they should be sent straight to the jacket sale.

3. Purchase/sign-up – The final test is whether they buy (or convert in some other unspecified way). Bearing in mind they have clicked through to the page, they are clearly at least slightly interested, so if they are falling at this hurdle then something has gone wrong. Either the process is not simple enough or they are not sufficiently convinced by the details of your proposition.

Whatever the issue along the one-two-three process, you are narrowing down the problem and can make alterations that help you improve the conversion rate of your email campaign.