The Secret To Successful Email Marketing: Return Path APAC Director

The Secret To Successful Email Marketing: Return Path APAC Director

Return Path regional director, APAC, Theo Noel, believes there is power in marketing via email, and off the back of a new report, has revealed some of the best ways to get more engagement and higher response rates.

For the last few years the most successful email marketing promotion in Australia has been Click Frenzy. It will be on again this year, including the first ‘Travel Frenzy’ in October. Click Frenzy, promoted as ‘The Sale That Stops a Nation’, offers special deals from dozens of retail brands in one online marketplace for 24 hours.

Return Path has used its Consumer Data Network to analyse last year’s Click Frenzy to discover what tricks and techniques work best in email marketing. The results are published in a free report, available here.

The report analyses data from a number of major Australian and New Zealand email promotions that operated during Click Frenzy. Their campaign data was aggregated to produce performance benchmarks, providing a comprehensive review of what worked and what didn’t, who were the winners and losers, and examples of best practice.

Which subject lines work best? When is the best time to send email? What types of offers are most effective? The findings are illuminating.

We believe these findings will help anyone running an email campaign achieve maximum deliverability and subscriber engagement.

Getting higher response rates

  • Subject line: Most people access emails on mobile devices, where subject lines are cut to around 35 characters. The metrics show that shorter subject lines (e.g. ‘Heads Up On Click Frenzy’) generate stronger subscriber engagement than longer ones (e.g. ‘Click Frenzy EXTENDED! – Enjoy FREE shipping storewide until midnight tonight!’).
  • Pre-headers: A pre header is short summary text that appears in the email subject line after the main heading. A 35 character subject line is restrictive in communicating offers, so using a pre-header to present extra information can be an effective alternative. It keeps the subject line short and to the point, while giving subscribers extra information without the need for them to open the email.
  • Incentive type: There are three key types of incentive used by most email marketers: ‘dollar amount’, ‘percentage off’ and ‘free shipping’. Our analysis shows that ‘dollar amount’ and ‘free shipping’ give the best read rates, and that ‘free shipping’ generates the lowest spam and complaint rates.
  • Key words: The use of certain words and phrases can influence subscriber engagement. Emotive, colourful, and time-specific keywords can generate improved read rates and lowered complaint rates. One strong word is ‘ends’ (e.g. ‘Offer ends today’), despite the spam rate rising when it is used.
  • Capitalisation: Capitalising all or part of your subject line may offend some subscribers– it is like shouting at them. The most successful Click Frenzy participants used capitalisation only to draw attention to their offer, by targeting specific words or phrases for emphasis.
  • Time sent: In Click Frenzy’s email campaigns, subscriber engagement was greatest over weekends. That is when consumers generally have more time to review emails, digest content, and act. (Note that the opposite is true with B2B marketing).

Keeping people engaged

Those tips are very useful, but the real key to continuing email marketing success is keeping customers engaged beyond your first contact with them. An essential starting point is the sign-up process.

Every journey has a beginning, and email marketing is no exception. The sign-up process is the perfect opportunity to make a good first impression and set expectations. New members should be provided with a clear indication of what emails they will be sent and when.

To further establish trust and provide transparency around future communications, Click Frenzy participants clearly state their third party share policy and their privacy policy as a part of the sign-up process.

Additionally, Click Frenzy uses a double opt-in procedure that requires new subscribers to activate their membership by clicking on a link sent to them. This ensures only valid addresses are added to their membership base, and further adds trust.

That then needs to be followed up with continued engagement throughout the year, by delivering personalised promotional email campaigns to segmented subscribers. Segmentation is important – don’t send everyone the same message. Frequent buyers might need one message, occasional buyers another. Or males vs females.

Segmentation is a great way of keeping people engaged, and making them feel they are receiving special treatment. Which they are. Another effective initiative is a ‘reminder to act now’ email, which creates an urgent call to action when an offer is due to expire.

Email marketing is an inexact science, but if you follow some of these simple rules your campaigns will be more effective.


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