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Published on June 3rd, 2014 | by Lisa Furgison


6 Ideas to Refresh Your Email Marketing [Guide]

Every once in a while your emails need a little refresher. It’s like spring cleaning or updating your wardrobe. It’s something you want to do periodically to renew your look and keep customers interested.

How do you know when your email marketing needs a refresh? Good question. An excellent place to start is with your metrics. JoAnne Funch, who runs marketing company Marketing Dish, says if your open rates and clickthroughs are steadily declining, it might be time to resuscitate your emails. We agree. (If you need a little help gauging these rates, check out our recent blog post on this topic).

If you’ve used the same look for a while, it might be time to change it up, too. Or maybe your business just did some rebranding and you want your emails to match. Maybe your emails are out of date and you want a more modern look. Whatever your reason, we’ve got six tips to help get you started. Check them out: 

1. Revive your subject lines
Have your subject lines become a bit boring lately? If so, it’s time to breathe new life into them. Scroll through your own inbox for a little inspiration. What subject lines do you respond to? Jot a few of them down and use them to brainstorm ideas for your email. 

The subject line should be creative, clear and urgent. In other words, the subject line should tell your customers the point of the email and encourage them to open it immediately. 

You’ll also want to optimize your subject line for the mobile world since your customers will likely open your email on their smartphones. Subject lines that are more than 50 characters long will get cut off, so make sure the most important information is at the beginning. 

Take a look at the examples below. Notice that each subject line creates a sense of urgency with words like “last chance” and “now only.” The point of the emails is clear; both are promotional offers.

6 Ideas to Refresh Your Email Marketing



2. Change the template
One of the great things about using an email service provider like VerticalResponse is the wide variety of templates from which to choose. You don’t have to spend hours designing an email or creating an eye-catching layout because it’s already been done for you. If it’s time to refresh your email, try out a new template. Sometimes just a change of scenery is all that’s needed to catch the reader’s eye. 

For instance, let’s say you’re using the VerticalResponse Classic template to the left to advertise upcoming sales. What if you switch to the template on the right? With just one click you can change the color scheme and design.

6 Ideas to Refresh Your Email Marketing         6 Ideas to Refresh Your Email Marketing

3. Change the layout
If changing templates is too drastic, you can always select a different layout that uses the same design. With VerticalResponse, each template has about six different layouts, so you can make subtle changes rather than doing a complete 180. Here’s an example. The two templates below have the same design and color scheme, but a different layout.

6 Ideas to Refresh Your Email Marketing        6 Ideas to Refresh Your Email Marketing

4. Clean up the content
Once you’ve spruced up your design elements and refreshed your subject line, it’s time to talk content. When it comes to updating your email marketing message, there are four things you need to consider: relevance, voice, clarity and brevity. 

  • Relevance
    Your customers want content they care about and it’s up to you to fill that need. To do this, you have to know your customer. Segmenting your list will help, too, Funch says. The NFL, for example, creates team-specific newsletters for its customers. The point, of course, is to offer relevant information to your customer groups.
    If you need help coming up with relevant topics, check out our guide: 50 Unique Ideas for Your Next Email
  • Voice
    Your business has its own voice. If you’re selling clothes to teenagers, the tone and voice you use in your emails will be different than if you’re selling car parts. Make sure that every email is true to your company’s voice. 
  • Clarity
    What’s the point of the email? Answer this question before you sit down and write. The subject line should already clue the reader into the email’s intent, but now you need to bring the message home. Keep it simple and clear. 
  • Brevity
    Your customers get a lot of emails, so keep it short. “If you send an email that has half a page of text, they won’t read it,” Funch says. “It looks too much like a homework assignment.”

You don’t want to go overboard with your email content. In fact, check out the email below. In just 24 words this retailer gets the point across.

6 Ideas to Refresh Your Email Marketing

Of course, there are some emails that require more information. Your monthly newsletter, for example, will contain more than 24 words, but you can send a teaser email like the one below. It offers titles and several snippets of articles in the newsletter. To read the entire article, customers must click on a call to action.

6 Ideas to Refresh Your Email Marketing

5. Update your call to action
What do you want the customer to do once the email is opened? Do you want them to make a purchase? Download a guide? Read an article? Whatever the desired activity is, it should be expressed in a call to action. 

If your email uses hyperlinked text as a call to action, you might consider adding a button. Both are effective, but in terms of aesthetics, a button is a clean look. Plus, it’s easier to click for your mobile readers.  Check out the emails below. The one on the right has text hyperlinks only. The one on the left has a call to action button. Overall, the email on the left is more pleasing to the eye, don’t you think? You don’t want to overwhelm the reader with too many options. Keep it simple. Each email should only contain one or two calls to action.

6 Ideas to Refresh Your Email Marketing     6 Ideas to Refresh Your Email Marketing    

If you need a little help creating a button, we’ve got you covered. Check out our button builder to get pristine and professional buttons for your next email. 

6. Add social media buttons
We live in a digital world, so customers expect easy ways to interact with your business and your brand. One of the easiest ways to do this is to include social media links. Take a look at the example below. This company makes it easy for customers to engage with its brand through social media.

6 Ideas to Refresh Your Email Marketing

With these tips, you’ll have a fresh look that captivates your customers. Of course, before you go too far, it’s a good idea to run a few tests to make sure the changes are welcome. A/B split testing can tell you what your customers prefer. You can test subject lines, email content, design elements and calls to action. With a few tests, you’ll know if your refreshed emails are effective. 

© 2014, Lisa Furgison. All rights reserved.

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Lisa Furgison

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