Written by Ursula Fox-Koor and Jake Rose.
As the email experts at USGBC, we use a number of strategies to make sure our email marketing is effective and useful for the customer. Here’s a breakdown of what we do, and how you can use these strategies to enhance your own email reach.
Collect data on new contacts.
All email contact lists slowly shrink, as people change jobs, switch email accounts and unsubscribe. To keep your email list at its current size, you need to continually add contacts to your database to offset this expected attrition.
The data you capture from new contacts is as valuable as the email address itself. The more data points you have on each contact, the better you can target them with different messaging. Examples of data points we collect at USGBC are job title, company, industry, location and LEED credentials.
You can prompt users to fill out a quick form once they click the subscribe button. It should be simple—you don’t want to include too many fields, or you will lose them. Conferences and events are another easy way to get new email addresses; you should have the email address of every person who registered for an event, even if they didn’t show.
Use list segmentation.
Not everyone should receive the same message. Target your audiences, based on their data points, with different messaging. People will be much more receptive of your content if it is relevant to them. If you want to start an email campaign advertising an architectural conference, building contractors do not need to receive that message. A smaller, more targeted list is always better than a large list with no target. Think about what is relevant to people in different industries, with different titles, who live in different cities, and so on.
An easy way to clean up your deliverability and opens is to exclude those who aren’t opening your emails, or whose email addresses have hard bounced. Put these people into another segment. You way want to think about a reactivation campaign if they haven’t opened an email in a year.
Incorporate A/B testing.
A/B testing is a great way to figure out what makes your audience respond. This is the practice of dividing an email segment in half and sending the two groups different versions of your message. Make sure that you only test one variable at a time. If you are testing both your subject line and the time of day the message is sent, how will you know to which program to attribute success?
The most common A/B test is the subject line, but you can also A/B test the “from” name, the time of day and the content of the email itself.
Make it visual.
Our recent USGBC email subscription update campaign is a prime example of including a stimulating visual. Rather than listing the steps of the call to action, we showed them through a gif.
We applied the same thought process to our email template redesign. Here’s what we kept in mind before we made the new design:
- Feature the USGBC brand on top of every email; it should be clear who the sender is.
- Break up the text with bullets, icons, buttons, gifs, images or videos.
- Include a calendar reminder feature. This puts the event on the recipient’s calendar, giving the event visibility beyond the inbox.
- Include a teaser headline. This helps with the flow of the email and emphasizes your call to action.
- Be transparent with your branding. We took the footer as an opportunity to show the subsidiary brands under USGBC. This is also an opportunity to promote these brands.
Take note of these general tips for effective emails:
- Never write out an email address or a webpage or tell readers to “click here.” Embed your links. Examples: Write “Get in touch,” not “email us at firstname.lastname@example.org“; “Learn more about USGBC,” not “Click here.”
- Make sure your call to action is clear and placed “above the fold” (you don’t want your audience having to work to find it).
- Use the preheader text as a second subject line.
- Use active rather than passive voice.
- Include fun images and even GIFS to show rather than tell.
Apply all these tips to future email campaigns, and keep track of what you’ve learned. Continually test and improve your campaigns. You can test email color schemes, feature images, times of day, days of the week, etc. Have fun with it!
Email is a stand-alone tool, and is best used when in conjunction with other media. Posting on social or writing a related article are great ways to reinforce the message.