Small changes can have a big impact on your email marketing

Small changes can have a big impact on your email marketing

Everything is shaping up to be a tough end to the year. The usual Christmas bonanza is likely to be subdued as consumers spending stalls in the face of ongoing uncertainty. If yours is one of the many companies that rely on the end of the year for the lion’s share of profits you may struggle.

This puts pressure on the mailing list. The temptation is to send out promotions to people who signed up for your weekly collection of links and updates. Rather than welcome these, you will find people unsubscribe, complain or just send your messages to the spam folder. Too many of these and you’ll find your messages being filtered to spam for large parts of your readership.

There are ways you can get your mailing list to work harder without breaking trust in your brand. These are the ones that are easiest to tackle in the weeks left before Christmas hits.

Include your own advertising in your emails

Many of the regular mailing lists we see carry little in the way of overt advertising for the publisher. Instead, we see links to blog posts and announcements about new products sitting side-by-side with little to differentiate between what’s for sale and what’s opinion.

Email newsletter concept using an in-content advert

Explicit adverts for your own products can lift response rates. We’ve seen traffic to target pages more than double when adverts are used instead of teaser text and links. Carefully designed and placed in the mailing’s flow, they can stand out, attract attention and encourage readers to click.

Turning every piece of content into an advert will probably see diminishing returns. We’d suggest focusing on one or two key products to promote in each message and to repeat one advert in at least two consecutive mailings.

Improve the design of your email template

Subtle changes to the design in your mailing can trigger improved responses. A more dynamic title, changes to copy and turning calls to action from links to buttons can all lift performance.

Changes should be introduced with care in the lead-up to Christmas. We’ve found unsubscribe rates can rise after a full redesign, potentially as readers assume the unfamiliar design is spam that’s found a way through. There isn’t always a direct correlation between those who don’t click links and unsubscribes either, so you could lose potential customers. 

Rather than risk losing these potential customers, we’d suggest a gradual drip-feed of changes over several issues. Any redesign can wait until the new year.

Offer a discounts list for subscribers

A side-list that’s more promotions focused could work well. These side-lists are opt-in mailings that run in addition to your regular scheduled mailings. They can be effective for retailers promoting flash sales, extra discounts and exclusive offers.

Although seen as a quick win, there are some difficulties in managing the lists. Your subscribe and unsubscribe process may need to change to allow readers to opt in and out of multiple lists. You could also face additional costs depending on how your email platform charges. There’s also the need to keep feeding content into the promotions list after the Christmas rush is over so it looks fresh, active and doesn’t suffer from being identified as spam if it goes quiet early next year.

Take action to improve sales

There are changes you can make quickly to your email mail marketing that don’t damage your brand of get you labelled as a spammer. 

Including advertising for your own products and tweaking the design and content can lift your performance. These don’t have to cost large sums, can be delivered quickly and won’t alienate readers. If you are planning on running ad-hoc promotions, it may prove more effective to run a side-list specifically for the purpose.

You must resist pressure to turn your regular mailings into ad hoc promotions. Any short-term boost in one-off sales will quickly be lost as more of your messages are sent to spam and once loyal customers unsubscribe.