From layout to conversion rates: the journey to a successful email campaign

Email marketing is a quick and efficient way for businesses.
According to Campaign Monitor email marketing delivers the highest ROI for marketers (40:1) which is much higher than social media.
Sounds great – but where do you start?
For many businesses, the first step begins with one of the many email service providers (ESPs) specialising in marketing and promotional emails. These include the likes of MailChimp, Campaign Monitor or Dotmailer to name a few of the biggest names. Each provides a complete solution for managing subscribers, working with email templates, running campaigns and reporting.
Alternatively, those looking for a bespoke solution might create their own email server and app.
I’ve got the software – now what?
The next challenge is to design and develop you captivating email campaign. Unfortunately, this is a bigger challenge than it might seem, especially as email clients – programmes such as Gmail used to receive and read emails – haven’t progressed as far as internet browsers to meet the latest web standards. This means that your carefully crafted designs may end up rendering differently for your targets depending on which email clients or device they’re using.
Email client market share in September 2018 according to Litmus Email Analytics:
  • Apple iPhone 28%
  • Gmail 27%
  • Apple iPad 9%
  • Outlook 9%
  • Apple Mail 8%
  • Yahoo! Mail 6%
  • Outlook.com 3%
  • Samsung Mail 3%
  • Google Android 2%
  • Windows Live Mail 1%
With that in mind, here are Tangent’s 10 best practices for designing and building your next email campaign:
  1. Your layout should be as clean and simple as possible, based on blocks across 1-3 columns. Those columns can then be stacked on mobile.
  2. Aim for a width of 600-800 pixels. This will ensure they look good in most email clients.
  3. Keep your HTML code as simple and clean as possible to be sure it will render properly in different apps.
  4. Use inline CSS to avoid overriding your styles by some of the email apps.
  5. Keep your image-to-text ratio low. Images are OK to include in your email marketing campaigns, but don’t send image-only emails with no text.
  6. Use web safe fonts that work across platforms, like Arial, Verdana, Georgia and Times New Roman.
  7. Avoid background images or background gradients. Also, don’t include any media files such as videos or sound, and stay clear of web forms and scripts like image carousels etc.
  8. Include unsubscribe and ‘view in browser’ links.
  9. Optimise for mobile. Make sure your emails are readable and load quickly on mobile devices, and that your links can be pressed easily with a thumb.
  10. Test your emails rigorously before pressing “Send”. Here at Tangent we use litmus.com to ensure that content is rendered correctly in all email clients.
Got it – now how do I tell if my campaign has been successful?
One of the great things about email marketing is the measurability of your results. Here are just some of email marketing metrics you can measure:
  • Open Rate – percentage of the total number of subscribers who opened an email campaign
  • Click Through Rate –percentage of subscribers who have clicked on at least one link in an email marketing campaign
  • Unsubscribe Rate – percentage of email recipients who unsubscribed from the future campaigns
  • Complaint Rate – percentage of your email recipients who marked your email as spam
  • Conversion Rate – percentage of your email recipients who completed your desired action (e.g. purchasing a product)
  • Bounce Rate – percentage of email addresses that was return by mail server (e.g. wrong address or no longer active)
  • Share Rate – percentage of emails which have been forwarded by subscribers
  • Campaign ROI – measure of the revenue compare to cost spend on the email campaign
  • List Growth Rate – percentage of email addresses that was increased since the last campaign
These metrics will allow you to determine the effectiveness of your campaigns; what worked in your favour and what needs to be improved to get the desired results.
My results are looking okay… how can I improve?
There are a number of things you can test to help improve the results of your email marketing campaigns:
  • Time – when you send your emails can have a significant impact on your open rates. It’s a good idea to avoid the early morning, the lunch hour, and after work because these are the times when people are likely to be cleaning out their inbox. However, the best times to send will vary from one email list to another, so test sending emails at different times of day and track your open rates.
  • Segmentation – splitting your prospects and customers into separate groups will allow you to send them specific marketing messages that target their personal needs and interests, along with their optimal opening time.
  • Subject line – research from Campaign Monitor found emails with subject lines that include the recipient’s name are 26% more likely to be opened.
  • Call to action text – using striking text related to particular offer.
  • Email copy and images – avoid long blocks of text as images are more eye-catching and memorable.
Successful email campaigns are engaging and relevant to the user. The frequency and the optimal time of day depends on your recipients, so it is paramount that you understand the target group. By following the above steps, you are definitely getting off to a great start. Now hit that “send” button.