38 posts categorized "Copywriting"

3 keys to improving your customers checkout experience

How often have you abandoned a checkout due to a confusing and difficult experience? Unfortunately this is more common than it should be and we lose customer's during the checkout process. In fact you're average abandon rate is around 80%!

Plan to Engage recently  hosted a webinar with conversion expert James Critchley of cloud.IQ and provided 3 keys to leverage in order to prevent abandonment of the shopping cart process. 

 The 3 Keys discussed are based on BJ Fogg's Behavioural Model which shows that 3 elements must converge at the same moment for a behaviour to occur: MotivationAbility, and Trigger.

Fogg Theory


In this webinar we detailed each of these elements and look to see how we can apply this model to our customer's checkout process  in order to refine and optimise the experience, resulting in increased conversions. 

Interested in seeing more? The please view the slides of the presentation below, alternatively you can watch the actual webinar here. 

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Blending personas and personalities to optimise conversions in email marketing [Part 2]

Making your emails more relevant by appealing to different reader personalities

In Part 1 we introduced using Personas for Email marketing based upon motivation, in Part 2 I’m going to review the 4 main different personality traits that are common to everyone and show how to apply them to email creative. Aristotle was one of the first to identify them and named them: Melancholic, Phlegmatic, Choleric and Sanguine, however we will be using more descriptive names for these personalities in this post.

By leveraging both personas and personalities, you not only know where to place content, images and set tasks but also know how to speak to them (TOV), what offers to deliver and help them to accomplish their task the way they feel comfortable doing so – thus enabling higher and potentially quicker, conversions.

Read the full article

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Blending personas and personalities to increase conversions in email marketing [Part 1]

It’s a well-known fact that some of the greatest results can be gained by combining personalisation and persuasive architecture to deliver what the customer wants.

In this 2 part post I will look at approaches to leverage 2 types of buyer personas to use to increase conversions within your email marketing programme.

When combining both of these buyer persona styles we’re ensuring that we deliver not only the copy, TOV, and offers/merchandise that our buyer wants and expects from us but we’re also delivering the experience that will enable them to convert according to their temperament.

So let’s look at the two different types of Buyer Personas. For clarity’s sake, I’m labelling them differently to how they’re labelled elsewhere:

  • Persona: This addresses the motivation (i.e. what the buyer needs, what are their challenges and goals, what motivates them  etc)
  • Personality: This addresses their temperament (i.e what triggers they respond to, how they navigate, read and perform tasks etc)

In this post [Part 1] of this series, I’ll be addressing the Persona based upon motivation.

Read the full article
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Which Subject Line Keywords Would Get Your Email Opened Every Time?

Adestra recently published their 2013 Subject Line Analysis Report that presents the key findings of their latest research - a survey of over 2.2 billion emails, from over 90,000 campaigns, to identify keyword trends in subject lines (covering the words and phrases that get recipients to open emails OR are overused and ineffective.)

The research was split into six sectors: B2B publishing, B2C Publishing, B2B Events, B2C Events, Charities & Not for Profit and Retail & Ecommerce.

According to Parry Malm, Account Director at Adestra:

"Subject line strategy should be seen as a series of branding tools over a period of time, not just one-offs to drive short term response. With usability firmly in mind, there are key words and phrases that statistically help drive response in your sector, try them and test them – constant testing is vital to success."

Obviously, we agree with him!

Here are the key findings of their research:

  • Email communication generally is trending towards a better user experience. 
    Brands having a “Sale” will drive response by simple saying so (+23.2% open rate, +60.7% click rate); brands with something “New” must talk about it (+17.2%, +38.2%);  and new “Video” content must be promoted (+18.5%, 64.8%).
  • With the growth in popular content aggregators, many people don’t bother to sign up for a newsletter anymore.
    While the word ‘newsletter’ shows a marginal effect on open rates (+0.7%), but a strong negative effect on click rates (-18.7%.), ‘Alert’ performs much better (+38.1% opens and +61.8% clicks). It’s a great action word, creating urgency among reader and gives the impression that the news is breaking, and cannot be missed.
  • It looks as though one of the big trends this year, Content Marketing, has over-saturated customers, both B2B and B2C, with too much information.  For example, “Report” (-23.7%, -54.8%,) “Learn” (-35.5%, -60.8%,) and “Book” (-4.6%, -25.4%) are trending down.  Email marketers clearly need to focus on differentiating their offering, as delivering content marketing is becoming a competitive area.
  • Creating an expectation to receive scheduled messages works well as customers get into the habit of reading them. Communications that are sent out “Daily” (+27.8%, +100.3%) and “Weekly” (+27.1%, +50.6%) perform strongly. Conversely, “Monthly” (-26.6%, -37.0%) is probably too infrequent, losing the top-of-mind position that brands may have spent years working on.
  • Obviously, people like to save money and everyone loves getting a good deal
    For example, simple things like offering “Free Delivery” (+50.7%, +135.4%), or specifying a percentage off in the subject line (+10.5%, +27.4%.) seem to work a treat.

To get the full picture, download the full report from the Adestra website.

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5 common reasons why readers aren’t turning into buyers

1. They don’t want what you’ve got.

If this is your problem, you have essentially two choices. 

  1. offer something that more people want
  2. think about how you can build a bridge between something they want and something you offer. 

2. They’re confused

You may have too many different options for them to choose from. If they have to make a choice that’s more complex than “Silver, Gold, Platinum,” you run the very real risk of losing them.

3. Your message is not clear. 

Your sales copy should contain at least these three things:
  • This is what I’ve got. 
  • This is what it will do for you. 
  • This is what you should do next. 

4. You didn’t ask

If you explicitly ask your reader to click the link, dial the number, or whatever other means you use to get that sale, she’s much more likely to do it.

5. They don’t believe you

Build up that trust by creating great business relationships with killer content.

This is just a (short) summary of a (long) article on Copyblogger. Go read the entire story here.

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Find a Copywriter That Can “Close The Deal”

In this article, Karen Gedney advises us not to focus on cost when it comes to choosing a copywriter. Instead, make sure to find a copywriter that knows how to “close the deal”.

She offers these tips to find the best copywriter for your business:

  • Look for a copywriter with a direct marketing track record. While you want a copywriter with online experience, they should have a solid direct marketing background -- and know all the tips and techniques that bring in sales. You're not looking for a "branding" guru here -- you're looking for a copywriter with direct sales experience in print -- someone who can show you case studies highlighting response rates and bottom-line revenue numbers.
  • Make sure your direct marketing copywriter has entered the 21st century. Some old school copywriters have not yet made the leap to the online world. You need someone who understands the power of a subject line to get your e-mails opened...knows the importance of top-loading your e-mail with your best messages so they can be viewed through AutoPreview...and knows how to motivate your reader to hit the "Order Now" button.
  • Ask for results. Don't get wowed by a portfolio full of creative samples with snappy headlines. Although creativity is tremendously important, you want to know how the copywriter helped the client solve a business problem -- in quantifiable terms such as revenue generated, leads converted to sales, etc.
  • Find a copywriter with experience in your industry. Although a good copywriter can often transition well to a new industry, you will do even better if you work with copywriters who have direct experience in your field. They will know what works -- and what doesn't -- and know how to "drive within the guardrails" of their experience to arrive at innovative solutions that will positively impact your sales.

Read the full article here.

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10 key points to revise in your email's copy

David Silverman on the Harvard Business Blog has put down some key points when revising copy for your next email in his post: 'How to Revise an Email So That People Will Read It'

1. Delete redundancies. Say it once. That's enough. If you're repetitive, the reader will stop reading and start skimming. (Like you probably just did.)

2. Use numbers and specifics instead of adverbs and adjectives. "The project is currently way behind schedule on major tasks," is not as clear as "The project is 3 weeks late delivering hamburger buns to Des Moines." (If you don't have numbers, still get rid of the adverbs and adjectives.)

3. Add missing context. Does your reader know that hamburger buns in Iowa are required for the company to collect $37 million? If you're not sure, remind them.

4. Focus on the strongest argument. Should those hamburger buns get shipped because the delay is embarrassing for the company, because it's costing children their lunch, or because it's costing the company tens of millions of dollars? Maybe all three, but one of those reasons (and it depends on your reader) will be enough to get buns on the road.

5. Delete off-topic material. The best emails say one thing and say it clearly. One-subject emails also make it easier for the recipient to file the message once they've taken action, something anyone who uses Outlook to manage tasks appreciates.

6. Seek out equivocation and remove it. "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times" works for Dickens, not status reports.

7. Kill your favorites. Is something in your text particularly pithy, amusing, or clever? Chances are, it's not. If it sticks out, it's probably a tap-dancing gorilla in boxer shorts — hilarious when you thought of it, embarrassing when it gets in your manager's inbox.

8. Delete anything written in the heat of emotion. Will this sentence show them who's been right about the hamburger buns since the beginning? Yes? Cut it.

9. Shorten. Remember the reader struggling to digest your message on the run — a BlackBerry or an iPhone gets about 40 words per screen. What looks short on your desktop monitor is an epic epistle on their mobile device.

10. Give it a day. With time, what seemed so urgent may no longer need to be said. And one less email is something everyone will thank you for.

Read the full post

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Subject Line Research Reveals Content is as Important as Length

Something I've known for years has now been confirmed by this research report by Epsilon. In short, they found that even though shorter email subject lines generally correlate with higher open and click rates, subject-line word order and content may be just as important to email performance.

The analysis (pdf), which involved more than one billion emails over nearly 20,000 separate campaigns sent out by several of Epsilon’s US-based clients in the retail and consumer services industries, found that the relationship between subject-line length and open and click rates is not as strong as previously thought.

Overall, shorter subject lines do correlate with higher open rates and click rates for both industries, Epsilon said. However, the rates vary by company.

For example, the open rates for several consumer services clients show a high negative correlation with subject line length, while one client did have a high correlation of subject line length to clicks:


In contrast, for most other companies in the study, Epsilon found the relationship between subject email performance to be relatively weak.

Moreover, Epsilon also analyzed the content of subject lines and found that word order, word choice, and brand and audience awareness are critical success factors as well.

“Marketers should keep in mind that most recipients will likely decide to open an email based on their relationship with the sender and the first 38 to 47 characters of the subject line,” the report stated. “However, that decision may depend less on a subject line of 38 to 47 characters, and more on the information those 38 to 47 characters contain. campaign, the vital piece of information may be the brand name. For another, it may be the consumer benefit.”

Overall, Epsilon recommends that marketers should rethink how they develop subject lines and place increased emphasis on positioning the most important elements first. This includes front loading subject lines with the most important information, keeping the subject line as short as possible to convey the message and using longer subject lines only when there is a compelling reason to do so.

“Companies are spending little time thinking about and testing subject lines, compared with the resources and time devoted to creative development,” said Thane Stallings, senior analytic consultant, Epsilon Strategic Services. “The reality is that more people will see a subject line than its accompanying creative.”

The full report is available at www.epsilon.com/emailsubjectline.

Source: Marketing Charts

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Elements of a Successful Email Marketing Campaign

Here are the slides of my presentation at the Brussels Email Marketing Forum yesterday where I talked about the things I look at when I evaluate an email campaign. Let me know if you have any questions!

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Email Creative Tips

Here are my main takeaways from this article by Ken Magill on email creative:

  • Test, test, test: view the e-mail on as many platforms as possible, such as Yahoo and Gmail accounts, an Outlook address, and on mobile devices. E-mailers can gain insight into which e-mail readers they should be designing for simply by eyeballing their lists.
  • In e-mail design, less is more. You don't have to package every offer under the sun. Make sure your call to action is clear and keep it simple.
  • Employ so-called ALT tags, or HTML instructions that provide alternative text to appear when graphics are shut off.
  • Mind the preview pane: You always want to put your branding and your prime content as far to the left and as far up as possible. The default state of the preview pane is either under the list message view or to the right, meaning the preview pane will cut off things on the right and on the bottom.
  • Test the impact of site navigation. Site navigation [such as, say, ‘shoes,’ or ‘shirts’ on an apparel site] is a familiar way to browse content. If I can get better clicks and conversions from [including] site navigation, why am I not putting it in e-mail? I just think it's an opportunity, and that marketers should be at least testing it.
  • Don't forget the subject line. Marketers tend to create the subject line at the last moment even though it is easily one of the most important parts of the message — if not the most important part. As is the case with traditional direct marketing, the most effective subject lines are often not the ones a marketer would predict to win. How much time would a direct marketer spend on an outer envelope? Subject lines don't get the same kind of attention. Yet they're just as important.
  • As for the “from” line: brand the company in it and nothing else because the majority of people decide whether or not to open an e-mail based on who sent it.

Source: Multichannel Merchant

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Subject Lines Inspiration

In this article, Chad White provide some tips for testing your subject lines. He also posted some great tips if you're looking for inspiration for your next subject lines:

  • Repeat or tweak successful subject lines from your past campaigns.
  • Pay attention to the searches run on your Web site and the organic searches that bring you traffic from major search engines. Consider using words from the most popular searches in your subject lines.
  • Mine the subject lines of your closest competitors for ideas for words and phrasings.
  • Take note of headline constructions used by newspapers and magazines, especially in their online editions, which some are now optimizing for search.
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Email: Isn't It About Communicating?

The global financial meltdown reminds us again how important good communications are in our societies.

In 1929, the United States experienced a major stock-market crash, which precipitated disastrous bank runs – thousands of account-holders descended on their local financial institutions, demanding their life savings in cash – and contributed to what we now call The Great Depression.

As news spread over the last few weeks about potential failures in the financial markets, the specter of the bank run rose again as people talked again about withdrawing their hard-earned money before it disappeared.

But it didn't happen and isn't likely to happen in most countries throughout the world. I believe we will avoid failure because of the systems and protections enacted throughout the world to avert these runs and because of the instantaneous nature of communications.

While TV, radio and the Internet alerted people to the financial-system meltdown, customers could go online and read press releases from the affected banking institutions and government bodies and be reassured that their savings were either insured or protected.

Where does email come in to play? I personally have direct relationships with three financial institutions (not including credit-card issuers, mutual funds, etc.). Only one of them has reached out to communicate with me about the market turbulence in the last few weeks.

This company has sent me three separate emails, all meant to educate and reassure me about my accounts and status of the financial markets.

One of the other institutions is, in fact, a well-known bank that has been in the headlines in the last few days as pieces of the bank will be sold to another bank. But nary a communication from them. Nothing. Zilch. Nada.

As marketers, we spend most of our time talking about things such as customer acquisition, conversion rates, average order size, revenue per email and other short-term top-line-oriented metrics.  But, at its core, email is still a communications channel from consumer to consumer and between businesses and consumers.

The emails I received from the one financial institution recognized that we had a relationship and sought to strengthen it through timely, candid and reassuring communications.

My point here is not to talk about the quality of crisis communications but to make us think about all the ways to use email beyond the typical approach of sell, sell, sell.

For most businesses and consumers, email is still the most efficient and quickest way to communicate. When developing your email program and communication cadence, build in the aspect of basic, value-added communications: keeping your subscribers and customers up-to-date on both good and bad news.

It might be as simple as a notice that a popular product is out-of-stock, a bulletin that seminar registration is full, a Web site will be down for maintenance, or you have to add a fuel surcharge because of higher jet-fuel costs.

At its core, email is a communications vehicle, not a just billboard for your latest free-shipping offer. Use email for all it can be.

Need help optimizing your email marketing results? Get in touch!

12 Content Ideas for Your Email Campaigns

If you’re just getting started with email marketing, if it’s been awhile since you sent an email because you aren’t sure what to send, or if you’re looking for new content ideas to help you move beyond an email newsletter, this list is the perfect starting point:

  1. Interview an executive.
  2. Create a series about your product/service.
  3. Write educational, how-to tips and articles.
  4. Interview a customer (or member, or fan).
  5. Write about an event you’re attending, from the event.
  6. Share some behind-the-scenes information about your company or product.
  7. Promote thought leadership articles.
  8. Share company successes and awards.
  9. Repurpose content from a seminar.
  10. Showcase a partner company or service.
  11. Interview an employee.
  12. Broadcast news from your industry.

Source: the Emma blog

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Copywriting for Email: Key Things to Focus On

There aren't a lot of writers trained in the fine points of e-mail writing. As a result, most companies aren't achieving their objectives in terms of sales generated. 

To make things easier, create fill-in-the-blank templates for the main types of e-mail communication you send out. Areas to include in your template:

  • Subject lines: Specify the optimal number of words or characters, and provide a few of examples of subject-line approaches that tend to work well.
  • Alt-text tags and photo captions: Require that each image (including your company banner) include an alt-text tag in the image itself, as well as an intriguing caption.
  • Preview pane: Require that the e-mail's whole message be summed up in one or two sentences at the top of the e-mail, so that it shows through the preview pane.
  • Call to action: Specify where the call-to-action message should go (near the top) and how often it should be repeated in the message.
  • Sidebars, Johnson boxes, and hotboxes: Create a template to break up information into bite-sized chunks that all appear in the initial screen.

Finally, guide your writers to where their creativity really counts, including:

  • The subject line: If it isn't good, no one will open the e-newsletter.
  • Your event or Webcast name: It better be compelling, or no one will attend.
  • Your headlines and lead-in sentences: If you don't catch readers in the first few seconds of opening your e-mail, you'll lose them as they hit delete and scroll away to view the rest of their inbox.

Source: Tips for Improving E-mail Marketing Performance by Karen Gedney, ClickZ

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How To Make Your Email Marketing Campaign Stand Out From the Rest

1) Simplicity.
It's the old KISS metaphor (Keep It Simple, Stupid). Email has an attention-capturing window of opportunity that is greatly diminishing. Some say three seconds, some five, but either way, it isn't a lot of time. Nielson Norman Group produced a newsletter usability report in June of 2006 ("Email Newsletter Usability") which indicated an average newsletter has the reader for up to 40-50 seconds, while a marketing or promotional email retains the reader for less than 5 seconds.

The fact is we read less, scan more, and make decisions based on where we are drawn into the message--some through a contextual hero image, some through flow of images, typography and layout, and some by modularity. You should understand the basic principles: a simple call to action, buttons, text links and image roll-overs make quick comprehension easier. If it doesn't pass the scan test, then it won't be compelling.

I recommend you test your design on an internal focus group. Flash the email in front of them for five seconds and have them tell you what it said and what the call to action was. If they can't tell you, then you should consider revising.

2) Color.
Go back to the principles of design and use contrasting colors, but do so for the right reasons: to draw the eye, reinforce a value statement, and amplify the call to action. In addition, you have another consideration - how your colors appear within the email inbox interface. Do your light blue borders get muted out in AOLs predominately blue interface? Cool design can get blurred when there is an animated image of an eBay IT campaign flashing at the bottom. Is there a competition of cohesive?

3) Proportion.
While the email industry has migrated to a concept of design in which the top 200-300 pixels are a virtual banner, too many designs have disproportionate layouts (almost like an hourglass).  Your email should flow smoothly and be evenly distributed if your intent is for the reader to flow through content.  Eye tracking studies show how most users scan e-mail and apply those logics (if you want more information on this, check out http://www.eyetools.com.)  If the intent is to design a singular message, then design it to a five-second preview. That way the eye is conditioned to the flow and not tempted to roam. 

4) Message focus.
Email is direct response, not a website. Infuse what you know about good media and banner design into your creative by minimizing your real estate. This will cause you to be more concise in your messaging and creative treatments. Just because you have a never-ending scroll doesn't mean you need to use it all. Use imagery to quickly communicate a message, not merely for beautification. While I love the retail industry, the cataloger view of delivering email messages (with the large postcard-like image) has shown diminishing response. Catalogers are continually amazed when simple SALE messages, without that large postcard image, result in a boost in sales. Never forget that because this is a sales message, a response is required.

Source: Topica's Online Marketers Newsletter

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How To Write a Powerful Call-to-Action

In this article Constant Contact's Amy Black provides these tips on how to get your readers to take action when they receive your emails:

Know exactly what you want them to do. If you don’t know what you want the reader to do, they certainly won’t know. Do you want them to:

  • Buy something? 
  • Sign up for a service?
  • Read an article or get more information?
  • Visit your website or store?
  • Make an appointment?
Make your call-to-action:
  • Visible – If your CTA is buried in the middle of a lot of copy or only found at the very bottom of your email, your reader may not see it. Your best bet is to include your CTA in a number of places in your email—right up top, somewhere in the middle, and at the end.
  • Clear – If your reader is unclear about what you are asking them to do, they aren’t going to do it. Have a friend or colleague read over the offer to make sure it’s easy to understand.
  • Compelling – Put the benefits right up front and show and tell why this is an offer they can’t refuse! Also, use action-oriented phrases like "buy now" and "call today."
  • Urgent – Give your readers a certain time period in which they have to respond. Setting a deadline is a proven way to boost response.
  • Repeat the offer on the webpage you link to. This tip is mostly for people who want a reader to purchase, or sign up for, something. For starters, link directly to the page where the reader can take the action you’ve asked them to take. When they get to the page, make it easy for them to remember what you are asking them to do by repeating your call to action.

Source: Constant Contact

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Three Big Secrets to Creating an Effective E-newsletter

In her ClickZ column, Karen Gedney shares three big secrets to creating an effective e-newsletter from Michael J. Katz' book, "E-Newsletters That Work".

Secret 1: Focus on the Content
In an e-mail-fatigued world in which business people scan their inboxes, ready to press the "delete" key, your e-newsletter must be engaging, relevant, and a must-read.

One of the best ways to accomplish this is to write about the questions your customers and prospects ask you about most. Keep a notepad by your phone and when people call you, jot down a list of their most common inquiries. Your answers are your e-newsletter content.

These frequently asked questions should be answered in the same friendly, practical manner you would use over the phone. While we all want to be considered thought leaders, that doesn't mean articles have to be lengthy, academic treatises. If you talk from your own experience about what works in your business, people will immediately get that you're an expert. Once your expertise is established, you're on your way to forging a productive, professional relationship.

That leads us to the second secret...

Secret 2: Focus on the Relationships
As Katz says, "The primary reason that e-newsletters are so powerful is because they provide a systematic means for growing and maintaining relationships. It's not because they're cheap or trackable or clickable or forwardable, although they certainly are all those things."

Your e-newsletter gives you a vehicle for connecting with your customers or potential customers month after month.

He goes on to say, "If you write your company newsletter with a focus on enhancing the relationship between you and your readers, you will stand head and shoulders over your competition, most of whom are missing this point entirely and who (whether they say it out loud or not) view their e-newsletter as an inexpensive way to send direct mail to their house list."

Secret 3: Be Genuine
Your e-newsletter should sound like it's written by you.

If you are a Fortune 500, your e-newsletter should either sound like it's written by your CEO or reflect your corporate culture and brand. It should speak to your customers and prospects just as if you were sitting across from them at a conference room table or, better yet, a restaurant table.

Katz says, "Your newsletter should give potential customers a sense of what you're like, who you are, what you believe in, what you know about your industry, and what doing business with you is all about. For existing customers, it's an ongoing reminder of all things."

What's beautiful about this approach is that it also weeds out the clients who would have been a bad fit. I guess they read the e-newsletters that coincide more with their own point of view!

Katz reminds us, "Relationships happen between people (not between organizations) and the more you can write in a genuine, spoken manner, the more it will feel to readers like somebody (i.e., you) is really on the other end. Turn out something that breaks down walls between your company and your customers, and you will be just fine."

Source: ClickcZ

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Testing Your Copy: What You Should Test

To reach optimum returns on your emails, invest some time in filtering your email strategy through your brand standards and your marketing goals to arrive at a selection of possible messaging approaches. Then test the variables, using a basic A/B split or any other segmentation that is important you.

Here are a few things you can test:

1. Offer
What offer will move your audience closer to a purchase? You may intuit the answer, or have to follow a business directive to make a particular offer, but by all means test themes and variations to create an offer the audience can't refuse. (Be careful of too much product discounting unless you want your brand to be associated with "cheap.")

  • Financial incentives: money off, free shipping, two for the price of one, discounted service contract or installation.
  • Non-monetary value: perks, quality upgrades, valuable information packet, accumulated rewards.
  • Time-based incentives: 3-day sale, offer ends Saturday, for the month of May only.

2. Audience empathy
Test ways of connecting on an emotional or intellectual level with your prospects.

  • Exclusivity: be the first to own, leave the crowds behind, apply for exclusive entry.
  • Problem-solving: a better way to ___, take the back-break out of ___, get results faster, smarter, more reliably.
  • Emotion: because you love your children / pet / garden / beer, because you care about this issue / institution / group.

3. Tone and manner
While these must follow your brand standards, email is inherently a more personal medium than many other channels, so you can test some variables here.

  • Timbre: taking a warm, personal approach versus a more clinical exposition of facts.
  • Length of copy: test long, medium and short copy (depending on the product or service).
  • Persuasion versus urgency: test to see if some of your audience wants to be schmoozed with reasons to buy (product attributes and excellence) versus receiving nonstop promotions.

4. Structure
Where the offer appears may make a difference in how it is understood and acted on.

  • Placement: try placing offers in the subject line, the headline, the call to action, a sidebar, and in image captions and call-outs. Make each instance a link and then track opens and where users click.
  • Graphics  -- be careful with presenting headlines and key offers in graphics, which may well get blocked from view in the inbox. Simpler is often better.

You can test which copy approach yields the best results simply by tracking click-throughs and conversions on sent emails. To dive deeper, you can also perform other types of research. Use focus groups or surveys to test the impact and takeaway of your offers and the way they are worded. You can also do eye-tracking studies to find out how readers scan your emails. When you learn what path their eyes follow, you can maximize the effect by placing your key inducements, either copy points or visuals, along the same path, in order of importance.

There are almost always several good ways of writing and designing any advertising message. If you try to test every possible combination of variables, you'll go cross-eyed. Apply lessons learned from your marketing in other channels to your email advertising, and vice-versa, and you will find the options narrowing nicely into a powerful set of guidelines you can use creatively again and again.

Source: Email Insider

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Your 10-Point Quality-Control Checklist

It's every email sender's nightmare to launch a bug-filled campaign where everyone will see your mistakes. But, if you exercise strict quality control all along the production line, you'll reduce your potential exposure and send campaigns with confidence, even the last-minute ones.

Stefan Pollard shares this 10-Point Checklist:

  1. I am sending to the correct list.
  2. I proofread all the text in Notepad before having it coded for my HTML messages.
  3. I verified that the offer or other purpose for sending the message is the correct one.
  4. I included an unsubscribe link and street address as required by CAN-SPAM. (Or, I included all the elements my country's commercial-email regulations require.)
  5. These identifying elements are present and accounted for:
    • The subject line is filled in with text that accurately represents the email message content. --
    • The "from" line shows my company or brand name, not an email address. 
    • Any dates, especially copyright, reflect the correct year. 
    • My company contact information, including name, street address, telephone numbers, Web site and email address for questions or concerns.
  6. I clicked every link and link-connected image to make they all work and checked to make sure each image has an alt tag describing the content.
  7. I previewed the message in my preview pane and with images disabled, in different browsers and on different computer platforms.
  8. I proofread my text message and included the link to my message on the Web.
  9. I had one other person look it over before I hit "send."
  10. I tested my body copy and HTML coding with a delivery monitoring tool to make sure it doesn't trigger spam filters.

Source: EmailLabs

Need help optimizing your email marketing results? Get in touch!

Things to Check Before You Launch Your Email Campaign

I just added the following checklist to the Email Marketer's Club Wiki. It contains the things you should check before you send out your email campaigns. I'm sure I've missed stuff, so feel free to help build a thorough checklist here.

The list

  • Are you sending it to the correct list? Particularly important if you're an agency sending on behalf of multiple clients. Or, if you just want to send to your test list, make sure that it's selected here (and not your "real" list).
  • Do you have permission to send emails to the people on your list?

  • Does your brand appear in the “from” line?
  • Is the subject benefit-oriented instead of "selling"? Make the first 45 characters or so count. Ask yourself, "What will make a reader immediately open this message?" Rewrite the subject line at least 10 to 20 different ways to come up with the best approach. Test subject lines.
  • Are you sending the email at a time when the recipient is most likely to read it?

Top of Email or Preview Pane
  • Did you includes a link to view the email online?
  • Are you featuring your brand or logo prominently?
  • Does the email include the newsletter title or strong headline?

Body Content
  • Is it personalized with the recipient’s name? Do all the merge fields work properly?
  • Did you include an opening paragraph that pulls readers in?
  • Does the copy read like it comes from a person?
  • Does the email includes benefit-oriented information that is also engaging?
  • Are you making it clear to the reader what you want him to do? Make the call-to-action link prominent, not only on top of the message, but in several additional places in the email as well.
  • Do you have multiple calls to action? Both as text links and images? 
  • Can the email be easily skimmed? Did you use short paragraphs and bullet points?
  • Is it a manageable length to read online?
  • Did you not include too many topics in the email? Maybe it would be better to split the content over two emails?
  • Did you check the copy one last time for spelling mistakes?

  • Are you using images sparingly? (only when they advance the goals of the email)
  • Are your all your images loading and do they load quickly?
  • Do all the links work? Don't forget to check the links in the text version!
  • Are all the images linked?
  • Did you check what the email looks like in different email clients such as Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, Outlook, Windows Live Mail, Thunderbird, Entourage, Lotus Notes...
  • Are you using the correct email template for the campaign?
  • Did you remember to create a plain-text version of the email?

  • Do you have a working unsubscribe link?
  • Did you include your physical (USPS) address?
  • Are you protecting your content with a copyright notice?

Landing page
  • Is the landing page live?
  • Is the content and the design on the landing page consistent?
  • Is the content not too long?
  • Is the call to action obvious?
  • Is the landing page copy not too long?
  • Is the registration form not too long? Ask only for the basic information you need. Long forms have a higher exit rate. You can always ask more questions later.

  • Are you asking recipient to whitelist the “from” address so future e-mails get delivered to their inbox?
  • Are you including a viral call to action, encouraging the reader to share your email with friends or colleagues?
  • Did you include a subscription mechanism for people it is forwarded to?
  • Are you sending the email in multi-part MIME format?
  • Did you incorporate tracking and reporting?

Do you think something's missing? Add it to the checklist here.

Need help optimizing your email marketing results? Get in touch!