The Five Best Ways to Optimize Email Response

How to craft effective email messages that drive customers to action


Where is your greatest opportunity to increase email marketing ROI, and how can you capitalize on it?

Our research has shown that you can often get more response from the same email list (and same marketing spend) by focusing on a few key aspects of good communication:

“Best Practices” are not enough – it is essential to work within a rigorous methodology.

We are lured in to the false sense of security we receive when we’re told the “right way” to do things. Unfortunately, there is no one right way that works every time for every email marketer.

However, you can take a consistent, scientific approach to email marketing optimization that ensures you focus on the right (and most profitable) areas for your organization, while tuning each aspect to best communicate with the specific needs of your current and desired audience.

Clear messages are more effective than persuasive tactics – clarity trumps persuasion.

As you focus on your audience, take a good, hard look at your email messages and try to decipher what you’re really telling them. When in doubt, be direct.

Often in marketing, we think the most creative execution is the best answer for engaging potential customers. Yet our audience is interacting with these messages in a far different way than we are. They blaze through their inbox looking for any excuse to delete your message – the modern-day equivalent of sorting through postal mail over a garbage can.

Essentially, you must quickly, clearly communicate the value of just reading your email. If not, it’s headed for the virtual trash bin.

Clarity in an email message is fostered by proper thought sequence.

Clarity in communication goes beyond directness in language. Effective communication in every medium unfolds in a logical, orderly way. A comedian would never start a joke with a punch line, a magician would never start a trick by showing his assistant already sawed in half, and marketers should never start an email message with a direct sales pitch.

Effective email messages that drive customers to action are little more than engaging conversations. By assigning a goal to each piece of your email (“From:” field, subject line, headline, etc) that allows it to build on the piece before, you can guide your customers to the desired action.

Proper thought sequences are synchronized to the decision patterns of the recipient.

If you put yourself in your prospect’s shoes, you can see that that final desired action should be nothing more than a click. Your customers don’t even want to read your emails, much less be sold to in the actual email.

Any good conversation is a two-way street. So you can, by unfolding this discussion in a manner they are comfortable with, convince your audience to invest a click in this conversation. Once they’ve clicked, use your landing page and the rest of your site to actually sell.

Synchronization to decision patterns of the recipient requires commonality of language.

You would never build rapport with a preschooler by outlining a seven-point manifesto about the benefits of eating vegetables. You have a much better chance if you speak in a sing-song voice about chopping giant broccoli trees with your teeth and munching on carrots like Bugs Bunny. In other words, speak their language.

Yet so many marketers drop any commonality they may naturally have with their audience and start speaking in a sales voice, complete with vague terms and outlandish boasts. You’re not just a marketer, you’re a person. They’re not just a prospective customer, they’re a person. Find your middle ground and have an open, honest discussion.

Read the clinic summary (PDF), view the clinic replay, or listen to the audio recording (mp3) to help you craft effective email messages that drive improved ROI from your email marketing efforts.

Download the MarketingExperiments Journal:

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View a replay Part 2 of this presentation (from February 3rd’s live web clinic):

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View a replay of Part 1 of this presentation (from MarketingSherpa Email Summit ’10):

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Editor-in-Chief — Dr. Flint McGlaughlin

Writer(s) — Daniel Burstein
Pamela Markey
Austin McCraw

Contributor(s) — Andy Mott
       Greg Burningham

Production — Austin McCraw

Graphic and Web Designer — Landon Calabello

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