8 Science-Backed Email Marketing Techniques to Increase Conversions

[Guest post by Mary Ade]

That email marketing works is not contestable. You just may want to take your performance a notch higher and that is where this article comes in. It discusses data-backed strategies for getting more value from your email campaigns. Read for more.

1.- 53% of emails are opened on mobile. You’re better off optimizing your emails for mobile.

Mobile email wasn’t a thing to worry about a few years back. Now, it’s a force to reckon with. More than 50 percent of emails now get opened on mobile devices, according to this Litmus Research. If you have an email list of 50,000 contacts, this means 25,000 (or more) will view your emails through mobile devices. Now, that’s huge and you definitely want to take advantage of that to boost conversions. You definitely don’t want your emails looking wonky on mobile devices. So, how do you optimize your emails for mobile opens?

Optimizing Your Emails for Mobile Opens

Are you in a situation where you’re scratching your head over this mobile email thingy?

Are you wondering if there is a science to this? Worry no more as Litmus has got you covered.

It discusses 6 tips for getting your emails ready for mobile opens in this Hubspot post. It specifically mentions:

  1. The use of larger font sizes (as it makes your email easier to read on a small mobile screen)
  2. Applying a single column layout (as it works for petite screens and boosts content clarity)
  3. Making use of shorter and concise copy (which is easier to scroll on mobile)
  4. Optimizing your emails to be viewed without images (to get your emails past image-blocking software)
  5. The use of centralized call-to-actions (CTAs) which are touch-friendly (for effective results)
  6. The placement of vital information and CTAs in the upper-left corner of your email (to get a subscriber’s maximum attention).

Email Science

2.- Behavioral emails have a 152 percent higher open rate. You’re better off optimizing your triggered emails for maximum engagement.

Triggered emails are sent based on a consumer action, like filling a subscription form, abandoning a shopping cart, not attending a webinar signed up for, etc. They often provide a personalized experience – as they’re based on a recipient’s online behavior – and tend to have higher open and click rates.

When compared with standard emails, triggered emails have a 152 percent higher open rate. The lesson? Get a way to effectively use triggered emails to convert prospects into patrons. These numbers are too huge to be ignored.

Recent statistics by Epsilon Email Benchmark reports tow the same line. It reports triggered open rates were 61.7 percent higher than business-as-usual emails in the second quarter of 2016. Even though it’s a dip from the 78.7 percent recorded over business-as-usual in the second quarter of 2015, triggered click rates continued to do well, reporting 141.6 percent higher than business-as-usual.

Epsilon concludes with this piece of advice: “In the email channel, marketers should leverage triggered messages as often as possible, which consistently outperform standard business-as-usual message in engagement, to deliver personalized email marketing.”

How then do you proceed with behavioral emails as an online retailer? How do you ensure your subscribers get the right emails at the right time?

How to Optimize Triggered Emails to Boost Conversions

Chad White is the author of “Email Marketing Rules: A Step-by-Step Guide to the Best Practices that Power Email Marketing Success.” He’s also Research Director at Litmus. He’s an outspoken advocate of email marketing done right. He believes the right use of triggered emails can be used to separate the men from the boys when it comes to great email marketing.

While noting that some brands already drive a huge chunk of their email marketing revenue from behavioral emails, he believes “technology improvements are making it much easier to collect and analyze customer information and behavior and then use that to send personalized, segmented, and automated emails.”

He made these observations in an interview published on the Rare Blog.

For brands looking to boost engagement with triggered emails, it’s crucial to check up the following recommendations:

  1. Segment your contact list (according to browsing behavior, purchasing power, or other relevant data gathered through asking)
  2. Offer your subscribers value (by sharing links to blogs, white papers, helpful industry events, trends and surveys as well as webinars. You want your subscribers to feel empowered and ready to conquer their ’world.’ You want them to feel extremely good and ask why they’d not subscribed to your website sooner)
  3. Focus on relationship-building (by sending holiday or birthday greetings to gain top-of-the-mind awareness as opposed to sending transactional emails)
  4. Personalize your email campaigns (by including personal details of subscribers or reminding them of products they abandoned while shopping). You can also humanize your brand by sending messages from an individual – a marketer, sales representative, or president of your company – rather than just an organization.
  5. Set email delivery times (by deciding how often you want to send emails without setting your contacts on edge as sending too many emails within a short time frame may not be the best option. Sending infrequent emails is also not going to help your brand. Having a healthy balance is important)
  6. Track email performance rates (by analyzing open rates, conversions, and revenue. This helps to tweak your campaigns, learn lessons which you can apply, and generally boost your email marketing revenue)


3.- Emails with images enjoy high click through rates. You’re better off adding visuals to your emails. Not only to break your text but to get more people to act on your content.

Constant Contact conducted a research that supports this. It discovered “emails with three or fewer images and approximately 20 lines of text result in the highest click-through rates from email subscribers.” This conclusion was reached after analyzing over 2 million emails from its customers.

Now that you know, how can you make use of pictures in your emails? The Next Web recommends testing emails across browsers and mobile devices to ensure images render as intended, segmenting email campaigns so that the various groups receive different images, improving email formatting without meddling with user experience, speeding up email load times by using smaller images, and generally being hands-on and strategic (instead of reacting to every new development).

4.- Automated email campaign leads to 92 percent boost in email revenue. You’re better off automating your email series as they’ve been proven to work.

Dormify is an e-commerce business that serves young adults. It basically provides them the resources to make the best of their apartment or dormitory space. It makes space styling tips and inspiration available for purchase and has quite a following.

Due to business growth, Dormify discovered two challenges in driving effective email communications. It discovered emails being sent by the brand weren’t targeted. They basically followed the traditional batch-and-blast approach which made it difficult to address the needs of the various audience segments.

Second, it discovered the lack of an automated email marketing series. To get around these issues, Dormify introduced a 3-part campaign which included a welcome, basket abandonment, and after-purchase series.

Results showed the email audience converting at almost twice the site average. This then led to a 92 percent boost in email income.
Reading this and wondering how to make the most of automated emails? Here are some recommendations to try:

  1. Expand your reasons to reach out to customers (intending and existing). Be creative. Be proactive. Let your imagination run wild. You may consider subtle marketing messages during holidays, birthdays, or a simple appreciation for buying). These might not necessarily be promotional or transactional messages but they often are powerful in reaching out. As they tend to create a relationship/bond with your target audience. This bond creates an emotional attachment which your business can leverage on (for future and current sales).
  2. Send relevant automated series only. You definitely don’t want to send a series of emails to people who’re just not interested. Ensure to send targeted emails to targeted people at the right time (as this gets them to act on your content).
  3. Optimize your customer journey through mobile. Smart marketers do not only optimize their emails to look good on mobile. They also hone them to boost conversion rates. Why they go to great lengths with this? They know more than half of emails now get opened on mobile. You can also emulate them by using automation to engineer one-to-one communication with customers. It all starts with being ‘mobile-first.’

5.- Inactive subscribers produce 7 percent of total business income. You’re better off re-engaging your inactive contacts to increase email profits.

Mailchimp analyzed over 6 billion emails in 2015 and found that inactive subscribers are still important to your business (if you know how to treat them right). Specifically, it grouped contacts in terms of being active, inactive, and non-subscribers alongside the percentage of income they each generate for a business.

Active contacts, it said, produce 37 percent of total business income by the fact that they engage with your email messages after subscription. The inactive are people who do not engage with your email campaigns after subscription. They still generate 7 percent revenue. Non-subscribers, on the other hand, generate 56 percent of total business revenue. They were not subscribed before ordering.

The long and short of this is:

You stand to increase business revenue by re-engaging inactive contacts.

Tim Ferriss shows this is possible through a series of experiments he performed to reactivate the contacts on his email list. Tim never emailed his subscribers from the get-go. He just got their details and that was it. He preferred the use of social media when it came to keeping in touch. At a point, he realized those platforms were too intense for the kind of engagement he wanted. So, he decided to implement an email marketing campaign. The problem? He had never emailed his subscribers even though some of them had been on his list since 2007.

He got his team involved. Several experiments involving subject lines, send frequency, email capture forms, send times, et al, were conducted. And the result? 50 percent plus open rates by newer contacts and less than 24 percent open rates by older subscribers. Now that’s awesome and proof that it’s possible to re-engage inactive subscribers.

Do you need help with this? Please check out these tips to re-engage inactive subscribers.


6.- Providing free gifts leads to high click through rates. You’re better off giving valuable stuff away.

It could be just about anything, templates, ebooks, cheat sheet, blog posts, checklists, interviews, discount codes, riddles, et al. They tend to perform extremely well as revealed by Bluewire.

You can also implement this. Get some valuable stuff up, give them away, and see what happens. Ensure to test and track performance so the insights garnered can be used to improve your offerings. Ensure to offer incentives that are relevant, helpful, and instantly usable for your target audience. You can also set up a landing page specifically for the offer.

7.- Customer reviews are trusted 12X more than descriptions that come from manufacturers. You’re better off using customer reviews. You can solicit such from existing consumers.

A survey of United States mom Internet users arrived at this conclusion while noting that video reviews were growing in popularity.

How Your E-Commerce Business Can Benefit from Reviews

You must devise a consistent system for garnering reviews, like Amazon. You may not implement on Amazon’s kind of scale but you need a strategy that works.

As this ConversionXL article suggests:

  1. It may involve getting on the phone with your customers and nicely asking for reviews.
  2. It may also involve politely prompting heavy users of your app for reviews (ensure your app works great before asking. Annoyed users are of no use when it comes to dropping reviews).
  3. It may also involve picking up from negative reviews (as it’s a golden opportunity to turn an angry customer into a raving fan)

It goes without saying that consumers trust their peers when it comes to reviews and product recommendations. You’re better off making use of this valuable resource to really get your e-commerce business ahead.

8.- Personalization Leads to Higher Open Rates. You’re better off personalizing your emails to provide an outstanding user experience.

Mailjet conducted a survey which concluded that personalization and maintaining an updated email list are essential to higher open rates.

We all love to feel special. When you personalize emails, you’re sending a strong signal to your subscribers that you value them individually. You can personalize based on past preferences, past purchases, resources viewed in the past, time, location, et al. Technology has improved to make this possible. Advancements are being recorded on a daily basis. What seemed impossible before is now possible in the world of data and personalization.

Tips to Assist with Email Personalization

  1. Segment your subscriber list from the get-go. Ask questions that would enable you to group your subscribers according to their preferences. Ditch the batch-and-blast mindset. It pays to group your contacts.
  2. Employ the KISS principle. When it comes to personalization, don’t complicate issues. You can start simple and improve with time.
  3. Use an email service provider that captures the online behavior of subscribers. This provides insights which you can leverage on (to improve your campaigns and boost conversions). An email marketing tool like MailRelay can help with this.

Wrapping It All Up

Email marketing is an extremely powerful tool in an online retailer’s arsenal. The good thing is the majority of email owners check their inboxes on a daily basis (source) and prefer to receive emails, more than any other medium (source). Email marketers only need to convince recipients to open their emails and that is not difficult. You just need to have a customer-centric approach to your email campaigns. Make the customer the hero. Make it all about them. It’s rewarding, profitable, and entirely scalable to do so.

So, which of these techniques are you going to apply right away? Avoid procrastination. Get started before you’re ready. You can always build brick-by-brick, little by little. The trick is to stay consistent.

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