For those of you who missed it (and with 20,000 people registering for it I’m not sure who that may be) Hubspot’s Dan Zarella’s “The Science of Email Marketing” was a reminder that testing and optimization are a core best practice which will ultimately drive the success of any email initiative.
Not that the webinar was focused on testing. Instead, takeaways were presented with the caveat “this may or may not be the case for you” … which is another way of saying “test it and see what happens.”
Content was based on a mix of email data, Hubspot survey and focus groups results. Key takeaways include:
- Try sending email on weekends: Based on data of over 9 billion emails (yes, billion with a “b”) provided by Mailchimp, Saturdays and Sundays have notably higher Click Thru Rates (CTRs); this is coupled with said data showing unsubscribes peak on Tuesdays. These rates include both B2B and B2C emails (although given the volume, are presumably skewed towards B2C.)
- Send very early in the morning: Data layered over Hubspot survey results reveal while recipients report reading email throughout the day, CTRs peak between 6 – 7 am (localized). And while unsubscribes also peak in the morning, they also spiked late in the evening (when readership dropped off).
- Optimize your email for mobile: a bit of a no-brainer; surveys cited 80% of the respondents read email on mobile devices, highlighting the importance of making sure your email doesn’t look like scrambled eggs on mobile.
- Include reference data in your email: Make email searchable. Focus group participants report using email inboxes as an archive of ‘elite’, personal data, referring back to it on an informational basis.
- Use lots of links in your email: While this may be counterintuitive, Zarella says there is strong correlation between a greater number of links and higher CTRs. Data also shows lower unsubscribes as the number of links increase. (This may be, of course, because the unsubscribe link is tougher to find…)
- Serialize and label your email: Using continuity and content-based words such as “[this] week’s,” “newsletter,” or “digest” in the subject line leads to the higher CTRs. Conversely, the traditional “spam” words continue to hold true. [Bonus hint: monitor your spam box for common “trigger” words to avoid.]
- Give your subscribers special access: Focus groups find people like getting offers specific to them, offers with exclusivity built into them. Another no-brainer, but worth repeating.
- Send email from people they’ve heard of: Be it a celebrity name or a guru, people like receiving emails from names they recognize.
- Do not be afraid to send too much email: Unsubscribes are notably higher for organizations that send one or two emails per month; as the frequency of emails reaches eight the number declines.
- Your newest subscribers are your best: While most subscribers opt out shortly after first subscribing to an email, CTRs early on are also at a high – proving the adage “get ‘em while they’re hot.”
- Ask people to follow you, not forward emails: It’s not just using social media, but using it wisely. Survey data showed about 80% people either never or rarely forward or Tweet commercial email, even with the advent of ‘share’ and ‘tweet’ buttons. Instead, get people to follow you through Facebook, Twitter, etc. driving prospects to subscribe to your email.
- Make them want to get your emails: 70% of people report reading most or all of their email, and 58% have separate “junk” inboxes. Given that, Zarella stressed incorporating all the best practice takeaways detailed to ensure your message gets to people’s “good” email address, read, and acted upon.
The final takeaway, which predicated the presentation, is “Businesses are Consumers.” Survey data reported 88% of people not having separate work and personal email inboxes, blurring the line between B2B and B2C audiences and leading to some of the more counterintuitive takeaways.
The real answer: survey your subscribers and test. In summary: think through these takeaways; use them to test timing, subject lines, frequency, to maximize the value of your email strategy and initiatives.