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Start 2015 Strong: Quick Wins for Email Marketers

As we kick off the New Year, let’s focus on what’s easy instead of what’s new. Here are my picks for low-effort/high-return initiatives for email marketers in 2015:

Optimize your snippet text. You would never leave your subject line to chance, or be careless with your sender name. However, most marketers don’t fully optimize their snippet text. Check out our Optimizing the Second Subject Line for the current state of snippet text optimization and for instructions on how to optimize yours.

Implement predictive intelligence for personalized recommendations. While not low-effort in all cases, it is high-return in most cases, so the effort-to-reward ratio is very favorable. Check out our Predictive Intelligence Benchmark Report for more insights into using PI.

Add defensive design elements to your email templates. Even though Gmail now enables images by default, image-blocking is still quite prevalent. Using HTML text where you can, instead of imbedding text in an image, is wise because it allows you to communicate your message even when images are blocked. Here are some straightforwarddefensive design guidelines.

Test special characters in your subject lines. A little gimmicky? Maybe. Silly? Some executions are definitely more thoughtful than others. But nearly every marketing communication is more effective when you add images — and special characters are the images of subject lines. If you haven’t A/B tested them yet, it’s time to give them a try.

Expand your A/B testing beyond subject lines. ESPs have made it super easy to test subject lines, and as a consequence they are the most tested email element. However, it’s also pretty simple to test other elements of your emails, such as your hero image, body copy, and calls-to-action.

Selectively remarket to non-openers. Sending more email to the right subscribers is a proven winning tactic. Resending an email — with a new subject line — to active subscribers who didn’t open it the first time can be an easy way to increase email revenue.

Add the opt-down option to your unsubscribe page or preference center. “You send me too many emails” is consistently one of the top two reasons that people unsubscribe (along with “your emails aren’t relevant to me”). You can significantly increase retention by allowing subscribers to select to receive emails at a lower frequency.

Re-permission your chronically inactive subscribers. No marketer wants to see their list size shrink, but keeping chronically inactive subscribers on your list represents an increasing risk to your deliverability. Send a series of three re-permission emails to your subscribers that haven’t opened or clicked an email in the last 25 months and remove those that don’t reaffirm their permission. Then narrow the threshold further if the results are favorable. Repeat until satisfied.

Take inventory of and review your triggered emails. It’s easy to lose track of your triggered email programs, but it’s important to review them regularly for not only optimization purposes, but also for quality assurance reasons. The turn of the calendar is a great time to chase down all your triggered emails, take inventory, note the last time it was updated, and look for opportunities to improve them — as well as check and make sure the copyright year is up to date.

For all the details on these recommendations, read my Email Insider column on

For more inspiration from top-performing email campaigns, download the 2014 Best of the Email Swipe File.


DECEMBER 31, 2014 Chad White

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