Which 5% Are You Overlooking?
About 15 years ago I worked for a company president who had a philosophy he called "the last 5 percent." He was obsessed with the final details of everything. His belief was that if even one thing wasn't buttoned up, then all of the rest of the preparations could be tainted. He walked the walked too. It wasn't uncommon to see him pick up a piece of trash as he walked around the building to ensure visitors weren't distracted by anything unsightly, no matter how small or seemingly minor in detail it seemed.
I think this is true for a lot of email programs as well. Marketers are paying a lot of attention to 95 percent of their email program, but detract from all that work by ignoring the last 5 percent. Here are a few spots where some of that "trash" may be lurking in your email program:
- Mobile optimization: OK, this clearly should be a part of the 95 percent, but so few marketers are focusing on this that it must be on the 5 percent list. The problem with ignoring smartphone users is that suboptimizing for mobile negates all the other optimization work put into place. Segmentation, testing, behavioral triggers, dynamic content … all that work is rendered useless in an environment where the subscriber can't read the message.
- Render testing: I regularly receive emails to various web-based accounts where the message template is off just a bit. For example, this week I received an email from a leading car rental firm and the text for one of the images was clearly shifted way out from where it should have been. With all the rendering tools in the marketplace, there's no reason for this to happen. Sloppy.
- Smart pre-header use: Easy to overlook and yet so easy to do. This is a key part of the curb appeal of your email (along with the from and subject lines). I still see wasted copy typically starting with "if you are having trouble viewing this message" as the pre-header language. Yes, I AM having trouble viewing it — I haven't opened it yet! Use this space more wisely by treating it as an extension of the subject line; otherwise you're missing a big opportunity.
- Customization by email reader: Some brands customize a portion of their boilerplate copy at the email address level. For example, only Gmail users see the following: "Priority inbox users, please click the above link to ensure you see our latest offers" or "please add
to your Gmail contacts list." Yahoo subscribers see an alternate version reflecting that mail program experience. Yes, these are little things, but over time these efforts add up.
- Landing page guidance: You have a new email subscriber who's signed up and landed on the confirmation page, now what? Help them with where to go and what to do next on your site. Too often subscribers (clearly handraisers having just subscribed to your email program) are left to fend for themselves. This is a great place to (a) push your social media channels while they're in "connect" mode (b) drive them to a list of your best-selling products and/or (c) feature your current specials. This is valuable real estate that's often overlooked.
- Mining search data: Use search keywords as well as popular terms from your site search function to drive content (subject line and otherwise) when crafting an email. These are voice-of-the-customer research insights and are indicative of what people are currently looking for/interested in relative to your offering. Periodically review these terms for their use in your email creative. It's free research data and easy to get at.
What suggestions do you have for where email marketers tend to overlook easy opportunities at the expense of tarnishing the rest of their efforts? Let us know by posting a comment below.