Wanna shake things up in the New Year? Get more clicks, more opens, and more sales from your email marketing? Have we got a list for you. Here’s 17 fresh ideas for your emails. Every one of them is far more exciting than a January diet.
1. Invite your subscribers to a special list.
There’s a new type of email making the rounds. I’ve seen nearly a dozen of them in the last few months.
So what is it? It’s an invite email from a company you’re already getting emails from. The invite asks you to subscribe to some special sub-list. All you have to do to opt-in is to click a link within the message.
Sometimes the special list is a short ecourse, like this:
Other times it’s for discounts. Like this:
Many email service providers have a feature that lets you do this. It’s a marketing automation action that will move a subscriber from one list to another based on an action. In this case, that action is the click of a particular link.
If you wanted to get started with segmentation, this would be a great way to do it.
2. Be funny (or at least light-hearted).
Humor comes easier to some than others, but I encourage you to try to loosen up a bit in 2017. Nothing prompts engagement like a good laugh.
Here’s a section of a Halloween email I got from Quuu Promote. I really like the “choose your own adventure” feel to the three buttons.
It’s not laugh-out-loud funny, but it stood out in my inbox. I remembered it two months later. And I’ve opened every email they’ve sent since.
3. Styled ALT text.
Everybody loves pretty pictures. Except email clients. Most of them automatically block images. This means any image in your email (from the logo to the product shots to anything else) will appear as an empty box – unless your subscriber has changed the default.
In other words, they’ll see something like this:
But if you get into the code of your email, and enter some text into the “ALT” tag (that’s part of the line of code that creates the image), you can have something like this:
If you add a bit more code (the code that actually “styles” the ALT tag), you can have something like this:
If you’re not into code, this could be dicey. But if you have a little skill with HTML, it’s worth a try – it’s really not that hard. Litmus has blog post (https://litmus.com/blog/the-ultimate-guide-to-styled-alt-text-in-email) that’ll give you a deep dive on exactly how to fill up all those empty boxes.
4. Countdown timer.
Running a sale? Got a giveaway? You need a countdown timer. You can use our tool to set one up in less than 10 minutes. Then sit back and see if you’ll get the 10% conversion rate lift most countdown timers deliver (https://blog.niftyimages.com/2016/10/09/do-countdown-timers-really-work-these-7-examples-prove-it/).
This is a super-easy, proven tactic. If you haven’t tried one yet, come on – it takes literally less than 10 minutes to set it up.
5. Web fonts in emails.
Getting tired of just a handful of different font options for your emails? You don’t have to be so limited. It takes a bit of coding, but it is possible to create emails with fonts like this:
These aren’t images – they’re text set in special web fonts.
Campaign Monitor (https://www.campaignmonitor.com/resources/guides/web-fonts-in-email/) has a nice post explaining how it’s done.
So does Litmus (https://litmus.com/blog/the-ultimate-guide-to-web-fonts).
6. Let subscribers control your emails’ frequency from within the email.
We can’t stop the deluge of messages into our subscribers’ inboxes. But we can let them control how often they hear from us. Adding buttons like this to the footer of your emails gives them that power – without forcing them to click through to a pesky preferences page.
7. Progressive profiling (aka a free way to get more information about your subscribers)
You know about opt-in forms, right? How they’re supposed to be as short as possible? Well, that is a good principle to follow, but it has one drawback: It means you can’t get as much information about your subscribers up front.
Bummer, right? Not if you do progressive profiling. It’s a tactic where you let your subscribers get to know you a bit, and then you ask them to share more information about themselves.
The email below is a particularly nice example of progressive profiling. The subject line is clever but effective, and they make “the ask” in a way that makes you want to help them out.
8. Use a personalized image.
We know email personalization works, but most marketers are kinda still in first grade with it. There’s way more you can do than just dropping first names into subject lines.
Personalized images are one of the newer tactics. The example below shows a first name, but you could personalize an image with any piece of information – from someone’s title, to their address, their dog’s name or anything else.
NiftyImages helps people create these images, of course. It works with every major email service provider. There’s a tutorial on how to set up one of your own personalized images here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uwUxinJaklM). (I’ve done it myself. It’s a snap.)
Want more ideas on how to use these? Click here (https://blog.niftyimages.com/2016/08/30/15-ideas-for-how-to-use-personalized-images-in-your-emails/).
9. Resend your emails.
Not getting good enough engagement rates from your emails? Want a really simple tactic for better results, without a lot of work?
Resend your emails to non-openers.
By “non-openers,” I mean your subscribers who did not open your email the first time you sent it. You can often get an additional 8%+ of opens and clicks if you just re-mail that email… especially if you change the subject line and send it out again about 24 hours later.
10. Let subscribers rate your emails.
Most of the metrics we track email performance with are basically a measure of how much subscribers like our emails. But what if instead of scrying our analytics reports, we just asked our subscribers if they liked a particular email or not?
That’s what SEMRush and quite a few other companies do. Here’s what it looks like in the footer of one of their email messages. Notice how simple it is. There’s only three options, and “voting” takes just one click.
11. Let subscribers rate a resource.
This is similar to rating an email message, but instead you’re asking people to rate a resource you sent them earlier. Like an ebook or whitepaper they downloaded, for instance.
I love this follow-up email from Ometria. They sent it a few days after I downloaded an ebook. Again – notice how simple the options are. This is not a long belabored survey. All it asks from me is one click.
12. Don’t automatically add people to your list just because they signed up for an ebook or another resource.
This one’s a little controversial. It will slow your list-building efforts, but it will also get you a higher quality list.
Here’s the deal: People don’t necessarily want to be on your email list just because they signed up for a webinar or downloaded an ebook. Maybe they do, but not necessarily.
So be nice, and ask them specifically if they want to be on your list. Think of this as a courtesy. But also think of it as a way to improve your engagement rates.
Here’s an example of a webinar follow-up email that follows this advice:
I’m seeing more and more email newsletters add a section of curated content to each message. It’s a great way to boost authority, have more content for your emails, and hopefully make your subscribers’ very short list of “stuff I really need to read.”
ActionRocket is one of my favorite curated emails.
14. Offer content that’s only available to clients.
This recent email from Listrak got my attention. One of the articles they’re promoting is only available to Listrak clients. It’s an interesting way to tempt your subscribers into becoming clients or customers.
There’s another possible spin on this: Offer resources that are only available to your subscribers. The Content Marketing Institute does this every week. Their emails include a short, highly-useful essay about content marketing that’s not available anywhere else.
15. Test custom animated gifs.
A lot of email marketers have been waiting years for videos in emails to finally be a thing. In the meantime, we’ve had to make do with a static image with a video logo over it, linked to a page where the video automatically plays.
Not bad, but not quite what we wanted.
Enter animated gifs, which can be like short videos.
Some animated gifs are really simple. They’re just two or three frames. Just enough to make stars twinkle or glitter sparkle.
Then there’s slightly more complex animated gifs, like this:
And then there’s some that are darn near movie-like:
Also of interest: Cinemagraphs (http://www.business2community.com/video-marketing/heck-cinemagraphs-newest-innovative-video-format-content-strategy-01207724#3Z1jwBcWJFWx07DS.97). They’re movie snippets that loop:
16. Dynamic emails.
Email is getting more sophisticated, and capable all the time. Witness the rise of dynamic emails, like this one from Movember and Moveable Ink (https://movableink.com/blog/our-favorite-examples-of-live-polling-in-email-marketing/). As donations kept coming in, the mustache kept getting bluer.
As the mustache got bluer, the Movember folks started getting happier, too. This email beat their previous year’s email. Each email they sent got 16% more donations. The value of each donation went up 30%, too.
17. Live polling.
This is another flavor of dynamic content, but I wanted to include it so you can see the scope of what’s possible.
Quizzes and polls get excellent engagement. They’re great for lead gen and lead nurturing, too. But marketers usually have to post them on social media or on a website. We don’t often think of having a poll in a newsletter.
But we could. Moveable Ink (https://movableink.com/blog/our-favorite-examples-of-live-polling-in-email-marketing/) created a dynamically updating poll for this campaign.
If you wanted to keep things simple and skip the dynamic updating part, you could still do a poll. Just ask a question and offer a few links – one for each possible answer. Subscribers click on one of the links to log their answer.
You could send a results email a few days later as a follow-up. Or get people to check your website for results as they come in.
There’s even more you could do with your emails next year. I didn’t even include personalizing emails according to subscriber location. But 17 ideas is a pretty good start.
Hopefully you’ll be able to test at least one of these each month. Maybe even more than one. Hey – it’s an achievable goal. Most of the tactics mentioned here are easy to do. They’d take hours to set up, not weeks or days.
Back to you
What new tactics are you going to try with your emails in 2017? Leave a comment and share your plans.
Author: Pam Neely has been marketing online for 18 years. She has a background in publishing and journalism, including a New York Press Award and a Hermes Creative Award for blog writing. Pam holds a Master’s Degree in Direct and Interactive Marketing from New York University and is the author of a bestselling Amazon Kindle book “50 Ways to Build Your Email Marketing List.” Follow her on Twitter @pamellaneely.