We recently had a discussion with the CMO of a large Las Vegas resort who said that their pre-arrival upgrade emails received the best responses on Friday nights around 10 pm local time.
The reason? Most of their customers had enjoyed a cocktail or two by that time and decided that a suite upgrade was a wonderful idea.
Successful email marketing relies heavily on knowing your audience, from the time in which they open an email to the type of device they are using to view it. With that in mind, we approached our Director of Communications, Danielle Skornik, for her tips for curating a compelling, results-driven email marketing campaign:
1. A/B Testing: Find the Formulas that Work Best for Your Specific Audience
Some brands will swear by an email sent at 4 pm on a Friday when recipients are preparing to leave the office, presumably in a great mood. Others find that customers are more receptive to a pre-lunch email on a Tuesday that can be perused during a meal.
Factor in time zone differences, mobile versus desktop opens, and a variety of other components, and you have a long list of moving pieces that can make the right process a challenge to identify.
The truth is that every brand has a different audience with different overall personality traits. Hence why it is essential to A/B test your emails across different days and times with broken-down segments of your list. You will gain insight into which combinations tend to perform best with your audience and efficiently garner open rates in future sends.
This type of A/B testing can also be used to gauge the success of different email subject lines by sending the same email with different subject lines to a small segment of your list, then sending the top-performing subject line to the remainder of your list.
2. The Dreaded Squished Email: Ensure that Your Email Design is Mobile Responsive
While the exact percentage varies from source to source, it is widely accepted that 50 – 65% of all emails are initially opened via a mobile device, whether it be phone or tablet. This underscores the importance of ensuring that the design of your email is mobile-responsive, easily readable, and visually appealing to a user opening it on a relatively compressed (and varying) screen size.
Work with your agency’s design team and developers to ensure that however your email is configured, it will translate to a smooth and uncluttered user experience for your on-the-go audience – which is more than likely opening your email on their phone with one hand while devouring an overpriced cronut with the other during a morning subway commute.
One of the simplest ways to get started is to make sure that columns and photos collapse flexibly and do not appear squished. Create tables with no fixed pixel width, but rather a fixed percentage width of 100%, to ensure consistency in size and dimension across different devices.
3. Relevance and Segmentation: Know Your Audience
An important way to connect with your audience and cultivate brand loyalty is to make them feel like you are reaching out to them personally, having identified what their specific needs are and addressing those needs in your communications. For instance, if you have a family that repeatedly stays in your hotel’s Presidential Suite with three young children, it may not be prudent to bombard them with an email promoting a wild pool party at the hotel this Saturday night hosted by the hottest local DJ.
Similarly, you can use the information that you learned about them to measure when to affirmatively send messaging. Take a customer that has purchased various camping accessories from your online retail store. When the opportunity arises, sending this customer special offers on camping equipment – or even climbing, biking, or hiking equipment – will not only show them that their business is noticed and valued but will likely reengage them, creating further conversions for your brand.
This process is called segmentation and can be done with any decent CRM system. It ensures that the recipients of your email marketing efforts are finely targeted to receive the most relevant information possible from your marketing team. This practice will not only lead to higher conversions and greater brand loyalty, it will lower overall unsubscribe rates.
Another way to segment is geographically. When your Los Angeles restaurant is hosting a last-minute wine dinner, limit your emails to local customers that are more likely to make the trip (within 50 miles) rather than cluttering the inbox of your East Coast customer base that presumably won’t be in town on such short notice.
The possibilities for segmentation are virtually limitless and increase as you are able to collect and store more information about each consumer in order to provide the best possible user experience for everyone.