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How to Test and Improve Email Marketing Conversion Rates

Email marketing allows companies to send personalized messages to each audience segment. Ensuring the efforts result in higher email marketing conversion rates requires testing and improving until you find what works for your customers. Here’s how to go from lackluster results to fantastic conversion rates and increased sales with 10 easy-to-apply steps.

1. Set goals early and often

Know what results you want before creating or sending an email. It’s much easier to measure effectiveness when you understand the objectives you’d like to achieve. Your goal might be to have recipients open and view the mail, or you might want a specific click-through rate if you aim to lead people to a sales landing page.

Setting multiple objectives per campaign is OK, including selling a specific number of items or bringing in a certain amount of revenue. Still, we recommend that each email has one main objective. Use the simple email formula to set your goals.

One Email = One Business Goal (for your business) = One Desired Outcome (for the user) = One Call to Action

Whenever setting a goal, use a S.M.A.R.T. format. You want something specific and actionable. Set a time frame in which you want to achieve the goal and ensure it relates to the tasks you’re taking on.

Read more: 13 Marketing Automation KPIs to Track to Propel Your Business

Another tip is to set reasonable but challenging goals. Constant Contact found the overall open rate was 34.46% and the click-through rate around 1.33%. Industries such as child care and dining saw higher than average rates. Manufacturing and technology industries garnered the lowest.

Understanding the typical averages for your industry gives you some benchmarks to aim for. You’ll want to set a minimum and dream goal for your email marketing campaigns. Plan to hit somewhere in the middle but strive for the higher end of the range. At the end of the day, industry benchmarks mean little if you are not happy with your email marketing conversion rates.

2. Start with an excellent subject line

Email marketing conversions are much more likely if your subject line grabs the user’s attention. Put yourself in the shoes of the average person scanning their inbox. The subject line might be the only thing they see if they’re going through and deleting random messages. Most people treat their inboxes as a social media feed — they scroll and occasionally click on an email of interest. However, if you grab them at that moment, they might open your mail.

Stick with actionable words and catchy phrases. Here are some examples of subject lines that work to grab attention. Use these as a springboard for ideas that are relevant to your industry.

  • Black Friday Bliss: Exclusive Deals that will Make Your Heart Skip a Beat
  • We Were Shocked to Discover This Secret to Living Longer
  • Reaching Out to Get Your Thoughts (good follow-up if they signed up for a drip series)
  • New Product Alert! Get Your Hands on the Coolest Thing Since Sliced Bread
  • Don’t Delay: Final Day to Get Our Lowest Price
  • Urgent! Your Discount Code Expires in 24 Hours
  • Open Now for Your Personalized Offer

Use the Free AI Subject Line Generator to get more ideas.

Read more: 6 Killer Tips to Craft Compelling and Clickable Email Subject Lines

Your headline should create excitement, generate interest, or set a ticking clock on a limited-time or availability offer. You want users to click on it now rather than two weeks later. If you fail to grab them, they may delete the email, or it will get buried under a mountain of other messages.

Try different versions for your headlines and conduct A/B split testing. Which wording has the most impact on conversions? A single word makes a difference. Nuances in language can make a word such as “Free” stand out over “Offer.” Make one change at a time and conduct more split tests to find the perfect combination for your customers.

3. Segment your audience

You can improve open rates simply by segmenting your audience and sending the right people messages and offers that apply to them and their interests. Stats on the effectiveness of grouping your mailing audience are everywhere — all researchers agree that segmentation leads to higher conversions.

It makes sense that offering people something they’ve already shown an interest in would lead to higher conversion rates. 

How can you break customers into groups that make sense? There are several ways to segment your audiences. You must decide what’s best for what you sell.

  • Classify by demographics such as gender, age or income
  • Collect data on past purchases on your site and separate by categories
  • Separate based on geographic location
  • Send new subscribers a drip campaign with welcome emails and special introductory offers

Send messages when they’re most timely. If your 20- to 40-something customers start buying early holiday gifts in September, sending out an email at that time might result in higher sales.

In a highly impersonal world, where consumers often feel they are just a number, adding personalization to your greetings makes a difference. Segmenting your subscribers allows you to send highly targeted, personalized messages they’ll be more open to receiving. Use their first name for added impact.

It’s important to note that you must keep your email audience secure to avoid ill-wishers from blasting your hard-earned audience with spam. The number of organizations targeted by ransomware hit 68.5% in 2021. Don’t lose all your hard work growing your audience by losing control of your lists or opening your subscribers up to hacking attempts.

4. Have something to say

You can improve your email marketing conversion simply by having something interesting to say that your audience wants to know more about. Dig deep and offer valuable, unique content so users will open your emails to learn more. Figure out what you’re an expert in that no one else knows as well as you do.

Why do some brands consistently go viral? It is usually because they understand their buyer personas. They also have a knack for saying things in an interesting or unusual way that resonates with their audience. Pay attention to current trends and see if you can tap into them to present an article from a new angle.

The content you provide must tie into your goals as a brand. For example, if you want to sell more winter boots, adding an article about ways to wear them with different outfits could be the key to higher sales. Consider the questions your customers call service agents with and answer them in your posts.

For example, you might get a lot of calls about the width and fit of boots. Adding a sizing guide to your website and sharing it on social media can answer those questions and create a more personalized user experience.

Create content about what your customers want to know. Your clues are in communication with customer service and surveying users to discover what they’d like to see more of.

Pay attention to what competitors include on their blogs and social media. You can find gaps and holes or write something even more valuable on a similar topic.

5. Try different calls to action (CTAs)

A study of over 90,000 CTAs found those personalized to buyer personas were 42% more effective than generic ones. The CTA is crucial to the success of your email marketing because it is the action that takes a reader and makes them a buyer.

Many factors impact a CTA button’s effectiveness, including the color, placement, and wording. There is a psychology behind colors and their emotional impact on readers.

  • Red generates excitement
  • Black looks elegant
  • Pink is fun and youthful
  • Blue elicits trust

Most people like blue, so it’s a fairly safe choice for most business types. They’re also used to seeing red for CTAs, so they’ll be drawn to a red button, knowing it indicates an action they should take.

Even the placement of the CTA can make a difference and should be tested thoroughly for maximum effectiveness. Should you offer details before the CTA? In some cases, yes. In others, you’ll want the button near the top of the email so people don’t have to wade through text and images to find it. Try various placements, and don’t limit yourself to putting a button in only one spot. It’s fine to place it at the beginning and end of the email.

You can run tests and apply future designs to what you’ve uncovered. Segment your audience and send a couple of different versions to each, tracking open rates and click-throughs to see the colors, wording, and placement most effective for your CTAs.

Run the tests over several campaigns to get a feel for what works with your customers, and then add the details to your brand style guide for future marketing emails.

Read more: 10 Tips To Boost The Effectiveness Of Your Call-To-Action

6. Go mobile-friendly

Most people access email from their mobile devices at least part of the time. Put yourself in the shoes of someone viewing your message via a smaller screen. Is everything readable? Does the CTA button resize to something manageable or take over the entire screen?

Nearly every email marketing tool lets you preview your message before sending it. They’ll offer the option to view it as it will look on a desktop or smartphone, but you need to take the time to test both in real life by sending emails to yourself and ensure everything sizes correctly and looks the way you want.

Consider how people interact with their smartphones. Is the button large enough to tap easily? Is it too big?

You should also ensure enough white space around the CTA button so they don’t accidentally click on something other than the intended target.

7. Time sending perfectly

If you don’t hook your users within 10 minutes, you may lose them altogether. The time you send out your message may be almost as important as your heading and CTA button.

What is the best time to send emails? There isn’t a cut-and-dried answer. The best time to send them is when your audience is online and active.

Some schools of thought say to send them on Tuesday or Wednesday around 10 a.m. However, your stats may show a different time is more effective. This is another place where you must run tests, dig into your email analytics, and decide what works best for your brand.

Some email service providers offer analytical data showing whether a certain time frame or day worked better for past campaigns. Digging into the statistics is helpful, but use your own judgment, too. You know your customers better than anyone. You can see if you sent an email out on Friday afternoon, your sales were higher than if you sent one on Monday morning.

Test different hypotheses and see what the results bring. A little attention to what drives results can help you choose the best time to send your messages. You may even find that segments of your audience respond best at various times.

8. Follow up

Conversions in email aren’t always linear. You might find that people don’t respond until you’ve sent them multiple messages. One thing that proves beneficial for most companies is drip campaigns and automated follow-up emails.

If someone signs up for news on new releases, send them messages in a specific order at various times. However, one of the most important things you must do with your email marketing to improve future sales is follow up after someone purchases or subscribes to your product.

Always thank people for their orders and tell them what to expect next. Attention to minor details, such as follow-ups, results in loyal customers who will buy from you again or convert to a higher plan. A current customer tends to spend more and be easier to sell to than someone new.

9. Track results

Determining email conversion rates is quite challenging for most small-business owners. Even with the help of email metrics, you might wonder why one campaign was more successful than another.

Two important metrics that you need to calculate is your conversion rate to customers — i.e., how many people convert to customers after reading your emails and Earnings per Email.

Tracking the conversion rates of emails is quite tricky. You can generate unique UTMs for each email campaign and check what the last and/or first UTM link clicked before someone converts to a customer was. That way, you can calculate how many people have engaged with your emails before becoming customers and which are your most effective campaigns. 

You get your Earnings per Email by dividing Email Revenue and Delivered. Example: If 20 successful messages generate $200, then your RPE for that segment is 200/20= $10.

Make only one small change at a time, so if revenues suddenly soar, you know exactly why. Tweak your emails until they hit the goals you’ve set for your brand. Be patient as you work through the process. It could take weeks or months to achieve your objectives, but the research and effort will pay off for years.

Never stop testing and trying new things. Your audience will change over time. As new users subscribe and your audience grows, so might their needs. So many factors impact how well an email converts. Stay vigilant and keep trying new things to see what your return on investment is.

Email marketing conversion rates matter

Finding the perfect mix of timing, wording, and offers takes time and attention to detail. Strive for a slight improvement whenever you launch a new email campaign. When you find a mix that works with your customer base, repeat it with future campaigns. Time and analysis will help boost email conversion rates and develop loyal customers.

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