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5 simple tips for improving email response rates

A colleague recently asked me what I thought was the best way to increase email response rates. It’s a fair question and one that I get asked quite frequently.

The truth is there are a number of things that any email marketer can do to increase response rates. And it’s not always the case that you need to make wholesale changes. Sometimes the tiniest of changes can make all the difference.

Let’s take a look at my top 5 simple tips for improving email response rates.

1. Appealing subject lines

You might be wondering what subject lines have to do with someone responding with emails. But the simple truth is that someone needs to read your email first, before they can respond.

An excellent place to start lifting response rates is to write compelling subject lines designed to get more people opening your emails. Here are some tips for writing good subject lines that will help get your creative juices flowing.

2. Make your call to action easy to find

Never expect your readers to go looking for your call to action. Quite simply, they won’t. Make sure your call to action appears somewhere in the top 300 pixels of your email and make it an appropriate size so it cannot be missed.

See this email announcement of the new Vision6 YouTube Channel for example. The call to action is positioned right under the header image at the top of the email. This makes it really easy for anyone to see the call to action, even if they’re viewing the email in their preview pane.

3. Capture attention with your design

Further to the above tip, don’t forget to take advantage of the HTML design options at your disposal. Use a mix of colour, fonts and imagery to ensure your call to action stands out.

As with the earlier example, note how the blue background is used to set the YouTube Channel box apart from the surrounding text. Bolded font is used in the title and an easily recognised icon combines to draw your attention towards the box.

4. Use both text and images for your links

Once you have your reader’s attention, you need to give them options. Don’t rely on just the one call to action to get across the line. In a lot of cases your images will not display immediately in a recipient’s inbox. It’s therefore important to include both text links and imagery to encourage your reader to click through.

5. Don’t keep readers guessing

Be very clear on what you’re asking readers to do. Sometimes we get so caught up in being clever with our words that we forget the power of simplicity. For example, if you want someone to register for an event, just ask them. Instead of the call to action saying “don’t miss out”, try being more direct by saying “register now” or “reserve your seat”.

And make sure you meet the reader’s expectation with the call to action. Don’t say “register now” but then direct the reader to a second page that they must go through in order to get to the registration page. This is a sure fire way to lose someone’s attention and annoy them in the process.

6. Bonus Tip: Test and measure (because we like 6’s here at Vision6)

Unfortunately, there is no secret sauce to email marketing and what works for someone else might not work for you. That’s why it’s important to test and measure any change that you make. How else will you figure out what’s worked and what hasn’t?

One of the simplest ways to test your emails is with an A/B split test. It works by sending 1 version of your email to half of your database, and then another version (with only a single difference) to the other half. Then view your results and take this learning on board for next time.

For example, you might A/B test different coloured buttons that you use as your call to action. Or you might A/B test different subject lines or the text you use in your call to action, such as “Click here” vs “Register now”.

 Posted by:
Matthew Johnson
EDM Specialist 

P.S. In addition to the above, I’m sure there are plenty of other ways to lift email response rates. If you’ve had success with the above tips or with some of your own, I’d love to hear them.

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