Email marketing can be monotonous for the marketer – day after day after day, come up with another valuable email for your audience.
To help you break free from the monotony and get your next great email marketing idea, step away from the email service provider or marketing automation platform for just a moment and read on for examples from Adorama, a job search website for voiceover actors, farm, and software platform.
This article was originally published in the MarketingSherpa email newsletter.
In the day-to-day trenches of sending email after email to your list, it can be easy to overlook a crucial fundamental for each email you send – does it have a clear objective? And have you executed on that objective?
To help you nail down that objective, you can watch The Goal of an Email is to Get a Click: How to improve a direct sales email by clarifying the objective from MarketingExperiments (MarketingSherpa’s sister publication).
And once you have solidified that objective, spark your next great email marketing idea by reading these quick case studies to discover how your peers have improved their email performance.
Adorama was concerned its broadcast emails might be suffering from fatigue and could benefit from personalization. The challenge was finding a solution that would speak to customers more directly and boost response without being overly burdensome and complex.
Creative Sample #1: Camera and electronics retailer’s email before personalization
“Alchemy Worx created banners to be inserted on top of the broadcast emails referencing brands recipients had previously purchased: Canon, Sony and Nikon,” said Allan Levy, CEO, Alchemy Worx.
Copy in the banners said the offer specifically included products for those brand buyers. The team split tested the template with brand-specific banners against a template that had no banner but was otherwise identical to them. Both the messages with and without banners were sent to tens of thousands of recipients, making the results statistically significant.
The specific tailored banners brought the customers who received these e-mails to landing pages for an exclusive sale for buyers of that brand, where their product preferences were served to them as top choices and priority items up top. The general audience was sent to a random assortment of products.
“For example, the Sony customer was directed to a page that had Sony items positioned at the top, while Nikon customers were brought to a page with Nikon items at the top, and so on. Many photographers live in a specific camera ecosystem so it was critical to speak to them directly through their interests,” Levy said.
Creative Sample #2: Camera and electronics retailer’s email after personalization
“Finding an easy way to personalize emails for our repeat customers was critical in helping to drive continued success and bring in additional revenue,” said Gvantsa Green, Vice President of Marketing, Adorama. “While it sounds so simple, it makes all the difference to customers and can help increase order volume and engagement for brands. By promoting those brand names which consumers were familiar with and comfortable with at the top of our e-mails, we were able to turn around statistically significant results that were enough to make personalized, branded banners a regular part of Adorama’s e-mail program moving forward”
The template with the banners achieved an 18.25% boost in revenue per mailing, a 25.33% lift in average order value and a 20% increase in engagement metrics over the template without banners.
“Through testing, you can develop a simple, easily executable way to personalize any email program and significantly boost key performance metrics. With the clear positive effects it has on email performance, it is important to identify ways to incorporate various forms of personalization into our everyday communications with customers,” Levy advised.
Each month, 50,000 people receive drip campaigns from Voices.com. While open rates were decent, the team felt there was some low-hanging fruit.
To organize the work, the team’s Email Channel Specialist Jenna Hass organized all the copy into a single Google Doc and grabbed screenshots of what each email looked like. “This really hits home when you see each email as chapters in a story. Honestly, some emails seemed out of order, which we needed to fix, too,” said David Ciccarelli, Chief Executive Officer, Voices.com.
The team held a two-hour working session to focus on the drip campaign. They started with the purpose of the entire email sequence, which they defined as establishing trust, building a relationship and educating their audience on how to get started.
The first change, which took less than five minutes, was changing the sender from a generic email address – firstname.lastname@example.org – to the company’s Customer Experience Manager Silvana Cordoba. This small change alone improved open rates from 28.75% to 43.63% for the first email, and the average open rate increased from 22.49% to 27.42% for the four-email welcome series. “We were shocked, but in hindsight, emails that come from a person are routed to Gmail’s primary inbox and avoid the often-overlooked [Promotions] inbox. It’s likely that other email service providers treat messages in a similar manner.”
Then, the team moved some emails that were sent later in the drip series to earlier on in the sequence to correct the order. In a couple of instances, two emails were combined and they even cut an email out entirely. “Be ruthless with the intent to deliver value with each message,” Ciccarelli said.
They also read the copy out loud. “While the longest part of our session, it was certainly worth it. We found dated terms, concepts that lacked context and mixed metaphors. Edit in line and re-read out loud. Once it sounds good, it’ll be received well by your prospect or customer,” he said. Visually they aimed to make each image have stronger messaging than the stock images used prior. Better copy and better design with refreshed hero images improved click through rates as well.
Creative Sample #3: Email sequence for job search website for voice over actors
Soluna Garden Farm is a small farm in Massachusetts specializing in herbs, flowers, tea, and spices. “Prior to the pandemic, most of our sales were in-person – at our retail store, our stall in the Boston Public Market, and other area farmers’ markets,” said Amy Hirschfeld, Co-owner, Soluna Garden Farm.
When COVID-19 closed down those options, the farm did not have a single retail outlet to sell its products. They started a new subscription offering to get farm products to customers even during the pandemic and announced it with an email campaign.
They had steadily grown the email list for years and had a regular newsletter and email marketing but pivoted to speak to an online-first audience. The very first email caused the farm to sell out – what normally would have taken a season to sell in-person was accounted for in a single day thanks to email marketing.
The team continued to promote the subscription through email marketing and are now seeing open rates of almost 25% and click rates over 10%. The success led the team to redesign the farm’s website making it easier for customers to not only find the farm online, but also subscribe to its email list and buy products online.
“Our story shows the value of connecting and staying in touch with customers online,” Hirschfeld said. During the second quarter of 2020 when the pandemic hit and the farm had to close both retail locations, online sales increased by more than 500% because the farm was able to reach customers through its email list.
“Without our email list, I'm not sure if we would have survived. My advice to other small businesses powering on through the pandemic would be to do whatever you can to keep growing your list,” Hirschfeld said.
“Our emails were arriving at the promotional tab in Gmail, which reduced our open rate,” said Borja Prieto, Head of Growth, FROGED. The software platform had around a 30% open rate with a 10% to 15% clickthrough rate (CTRs).
The team tried to use plain text emails with very simple calls to action – plain old-school links. The same email started to get around a 60% open rate and 35% CTR.
“Send plain-text emails from a real person within the company and use his/her signature. What the recipient receives is like a one-to-one email, and if you manage to send very personalized content, you'll win,” Prieto advised.
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