Make Your Marketing Automation Emails Work Harder

by Alicia Kan

No matter how successful your marketing automation work flow is, each element can always benefit from occasional testing and refinement. We’ve compiled some of the best recommendations in our Testing To-Do list that seem worthy of the experimentation given the stellar results reported. They may inspire similar improvements on your end:

A/B test a fully designed email with a plain text one

For some time now, it’s been marketers’ common struggle for their emails to even make it to recipients’ inboxes — Gmail famously shunts Mailchimp, Constant Contact and other promotional emails to the Promotions tab where they languish unless a recipient marks an email as something they’d like to see in the main folder. (Or, senders go through the labor-intensive process of DKIM to get Google’s rubber stamp of approval.)

Perhaps dialing down the design elements and making an email seem ‘official’, i.e. just plain text, circumvents the rerouting. Sharpspring reports that click-through rates for plain text emails are double those of emails using a decorative template.

The Customer Acquisition Consultant reports similar results when he did an A/B test. His take: Plain text emails are less likely to be caught in spam filters, don’t look like ads, and feel more personal. “Ugly could be effective,” was his verdict.

Send a welcome email that’s a keeper

How many of us have received the canned ‘thank you for subscribing’ email and immediately deleted it? Whether you’re an online retailer or a professional services firm, the humble thank you email can be elevated into a missive that brings your prospect closer to being a customer. Some food for thought:

Customize the email with the recipient’s first name. That prospect has just signed up; get to a first-name basis with your welcome email. This Harvey Nichols example via Ometria is simple, spare and makes the recipient feel like the center of their universe:

Harvey Nichols welcome email

Give away something of value. Via Teachable: Noah Kagan, co-founder of the very successful AppSumo, has a short welcome email that gives away a presentation on his best rogue marketing strategies as well as a book on his days at Facebook (he was employee #30). Obviously an email not meant for the junk folder.

Noah Kagan welcome email

If you’re a retailer, get them to start shopping while they’re in the mood. Your recipient is feeling expansive after sharing his or her email address. Capitalize on the endorphin rush by dangling instant gratification images and calls-to-action.

This Crate and Barrel welcome email has an irresistible picture — imagine yourself entertaining al fresco! — and a solitary call-to-action button. It’s just one of many excellent retail examples shared by Smiley Cat.

Crate and Barrel welcome email

Make people think twice about unsubscribing

Unsubscribe numbers are among the hardest to view among marketing automation metrics, but some creative marketers have managed to make the breakup process harder with their emails. Some techniques you may consider for your own sequence:

Give people the choice of taking a break. From Contently comes this clever Yankee Candle email that offers a ‘snooze’ option for 30 days, a fantastic option for the holidays when email marketing goes into overdrive.

Yankee candle unsubscribe email

Get ’em to smile. It is possible with an unsubscribe email, as True Citrus shows below. This example via Jellyvision ticks all the boxes: It gets to the heart of the matter; it’s witty; it makes a (classy) last-ditch attempt to keep the subscriber. Honestly, would you unsubscribe with this level of effort?

True Citrus unsubscribe email

And if they really, really want to go? Set them free and four weeks later:

Schedule a re-engagement email. The caveat is you must have a great message and an irresistible offer, like this Missguided example provided by the good folks at Emma.

Missguided re-engagement email

Got any more fantastic examples to add to the above? Post a link in the comments section.

Image: Good marketing automation is like this Wasabi sushi conveyor belt — every part works as hard as it can to create an effective work flow.