11. Increasing Conversions with Email Marketing

When you create an email marketing campaign, one of the main goals you will have is increasing conversions. Regardless what those conversions are, regardless if it is a download, an event RSVP, a sale, etc. the goal is to maximize the number of those. With this goal in mind, you design, optimize, personalize and improve an email. As a final result, you expect more conversions.

Conversions in email marketing

A conversion is a desired action taking place, and with email marketing, this action is taking place through email message as a channel. The email recipients basically follow a path from the email to the external link, most commonly a landing page on your website.

Since conversions directly reflect the success of your business, your goal is to closely monitor email marketing campaign in terms of conversions. Understanding the entire process, why certain circumstances lead or do not lead to a conversion is going to help with redesigning an email strategy and forming an approach that will maximize the conversion rate. For this to happen, you need to define conversions first, and then closely monitor them.

Defining a conversion

Since a conversion is a desired action, this can be many different things for different businesses. For some, it might be a sale. For others, it might be an event RSVP. Sometimes, it can be a visit, simply reading the latest blog article. To think about conversions and to analyze them, you have to define this desired action in your own terms.

You might have several conversions in mind, as all of those could help with achieving your goal. This is completely natural, and in fact, each marketing section could have its own conversions. For example, social media marketing can have its own conversion such as becoming a follower, clicking on an ad, etc. When it comes to email marketing, it is important to have in mind that one email campaign should only have one conversion.

Your email message should be concise and focused on that particular action. Even if you have a new blog post, an event you are excited to announce and in the same time you want to offer a discount to your subscribers, you should not even think about rolling this into one campaign. As much as it is time-consuming, separate campaigns are necessary to get any results. Therefore, make sure there is a focus of your campaign, which would be this one conversion you have previously defined.

If possible, add a monetary value to the conversion. Due to the nature of this desired action, in some cases, it is very difficult to assign a monetary value. However, advanced calculation and business analysis can provide some estimates when it comes to conversion value. These estimates are usually based on the prediction of the profit that could be obtained once this conversion is achieved. Of course, these predictions are not based on a speculation or a hunch, but on an analysis of the past business activity and conclusions that could be drawn from the patterns noticed in the conversions occurring in the past.

Once you have completely defined a conversion, the next thing you will need to focus on is tracking those conversions.

Tracking conversions

Tracking conversions is the process where you gather the data from a specific email campaign. Email campaign on its own may or may not be a success. To measure this success, you need to track conversions and determine the exact number of conversions you were able to generate. Besides measuring success, this tells a lot about your email marketing strategy as a whole.

The best way to track conversions is to generate a custom report with conversion details you have available. Those can include:

  • Conversions happening after first/second/etc. click
  • Time or day when the conversions happen
  • Conversions in regard to A/B testing if you have conducted such a testing
  • The place conversions happened (on the landing page, on other pages, etc.)

The data about the conversions can help with increasing them, which is why this kind of data gathering can provide insights that could help with further optimization of the email campaign. Besides gathering the data, make sure you analyze them and spot any patterns that might influence your approach. For example, you might notice that emails sent in the evening have better conversion rate than those sent in the morning. This information can be further analyzed with A/B testing, which could help you define a perfect timing for sending emails.

The idea with tracking conversion is to go beyond the click (on CTA button in your email). The scope of data goes further, as you want and need to analyze the way this conversion happened after the recipient has clicked on the link in the email. You need to know how visitors behave once they reach the landing page. Do they immediately hit that CTA and thus convert? Do they navigate to the homepage first, and then the conversion happens there? What is the abandonment rate, i.e. the percentage of those who visit the landing page, but leave without being converted? All of this together helps you figure out how conversions happen, allowing you to use this recipe to boost your business success.

You will need assistance for tracking the clicks and their path, as well as to compare rates between several metrics, which is why you will need to use tools.

Using an email marketing tool

There are numerous email marketing tools available on the market, but the suggestions are a part of a different chapter. What is necessary to highlight here is that tools offer features, that can be more or less alike, but monitoring email traffic is usually one of those features available. Since monitoring is one of the important tasks in email campaign management, you will often see this option integrated.

Most tools track opens and clicks. Those are two basic metrics that will help assess email deliverability, but to focus on conversions, you will need more data. Email analytics available with email marketing tools can also include:

  • Integration with Google Analytics
  • Link tracking
  • Goal tracking
  • Tracking opens

With these options, you can fully explore the potential of email analytics and how the data about the conversions allow you to design even more effective campaigns.

Google Analytics advanced segment

Google Analytics provides a variety of features and options for monitoring website traffic. With these insights, you can explore and improve many different aspects of your online marketing, including email marketing campaign.

You should create an advanced segment to analyze the performance of email marketing. A segment in Google Analytics dashboard is a portion of traffic filtered based on certain criteria. You still get the full range of the data this tool provides, but with this segment, you only isolate a portion of the data. In this case, since analysis of email marketing is the subject, you will need a segment that isolates traffic coming from emails.

Click on the option + Add segment.

You will notice that there are some predefined segments, based on different criteria, such as new users, mobile traffic, etc., but there is not one for email traffic. Then find the button + New segment and click on it.

You will gain access to the numerous settings allowing you to segment traffic based on desired criteria. Since you want to focus on email traffic, i.e. the traffic to your website that comes from emails, use the option Traffic Sources. You will need to choose “exactly matches” for Medium and then type the word “email”. As soon as you do this, you will see a quick summary of the traffic and how the stats look like when this segment is applied. Before you save your settings, make sure you add the segment name. This is especially useful in case you have several active segments.

The new segment you have created will be visible at the top of Audience Overview, a default page loaded when you log in to your Google Analytics. This allows easy access and it is also next to the All User segment, which has no active criteria, meaning it shows the full scale of website traffic.

Email campaign tagging

The other option for monitoring the performance of an email marketing campaign is through campaign URL tracking. Google offers a tool to track custom campaigns in Google Analytics. All you need to do is provide information about the campaign, after which a URL will be automatically generated for you. To access the Campaign URL Builder, use this link: https://ga-dev-tools.appspot.com/campaign-url-builder/.

Add the website URL and the campaign sources in two mandatory fields. You could add other information as well, even though the other fields are optional. For the campaign medium, choose “email”.

Once you have this code, you will need to embed it into your email. Then, you will be able to see the analytics data when someone click on this URL. This is very helpful for tracking conversion and thus analyzing the influence of email marketing campaign.

Why is conversion tracking important?

Understand your influence

Conversions show you how effective and engaging your campaign is. Knowing about the influence you have among your subscribers can tell a lot about your own business, about your mailing list, about your approach and finally about ways you could improve the results. Creating an influential brand is not an easy task, and it requires many departments in your company working together, but the special significance of email marketing is in the fact that your influence is built privately, with each subscriber individually.

It may be the communication with those that are already your customers or those interested in becoming one. Your goal, as an influential sender is to establish a successful communication with both groups and to keep nurturing this relationship.

Calculate ROI

Each business strives to gain profit through different marketing campaigns, which includes email marketing as well. Tracking conversion allows you to measure the success of email marketing and gather data that will show the impact of your efforts on your business. Your goal should be to maximize ROI through email conversions because this way you maximize the profit for your company.

Since conversions are trackable, and they can even have a monetary value, this makes ROI calculation so much easier. You need to compare the outcome, i.e. the number of conversions or conversions value, to the investment, i.e. the budget needed for the organization and handling of the email campaign.

Improve your results

Conversions are a great way to determine the campaign success. Unlike other email marketing metrics, such as open rate, that are not completely reliable and that do not directly reflect the results, the conversion rate is a metric that directly measures success. As a result, you get actionable data for improving the campaign. Low conversion rate indicates that the campaign needs improvements, which are best detected with A/B testing. A high conversion rate can show the recipe for a successful campaign, which can be used for other campaigns in the future. Together, these contribute to better results of email marketing.

How to increase conversions?

When you think of a conversion, you think about desired actions you want users to perform. Your goal with email marketing is to refine your strategy in order to maximize the number of these desired actions being completed. Optimization of email design and A/B testing are things that will help you with increasing conversions, and so are these.

Subject line that engages

Numerous studies over the past years have proven the fact that subject line has a tremendous impact on campaign performance, with more than 30% open rate depending solely on these few words. A subject line is what encourages people to open your email. It needs to be engaging and catchy. Since conversion rate is related to open rate, as the opening has to happen first, with possible conversion to follow, one of the starting points in increasing conversions is modifying the subject line. There is no universal solution for the best subject line, so A/B testing is a recommended option.

Having your email opened is a path towards conversion. It is followed by stunning email content.

CTA that inspires

In the focus of the email there is a CTA. A button or a link that invites the recipients to click on it. The goal with CTA is to inspire as many clicks as possible, which will take the recipient to the landing page. When it comes to increasing conversions, the more clicks mean more potential conversions. This is why you need to pay attention to the text, color, formatting and position of the CTA inside the email body. Again, A/B testing could be a way to go for, experimenting with different variations.

Landing page that converts

At the point where the email recipient reaches the landing page, you will notice a significantly lower number of them in comparison to the number of addresses the email was delivered to. It is a natural process that the number of users decreases as the moment of a conversion approaches, with each phase of the sales funnel. As with all prior stages, a landing page is a place where you either lose or gain customers. Obviously, your goal is to gain them so you will need a landing page that converts.

Landing page, or lead capture page, is where you want users to take action, i.e. convert. There are many types of landing pages, depending on the industry, the type of audience or products, the business goals, etc. This means that there are no universal instructions for creating a perfect landing page, but there are things you need to consider when designing one, as those impact the power the landing page has in terms of conversions.

Effective headline

A headline is at the top of the page, and it represents one of the essential aspects of the landing page, together with the CTA. This is where you need to grab user’s attention. A good headline should be descriptive, telling more about the offer, product, event, etc. An effective headline also has to grab the attention of the reader. It should be something they can identify with, it should be engaging, remarkable and attracting them to learn more. When we consider visual aspect, formatting is also important for an effective headline. It should be easily noticeable, which you can achieve with different color and large fonts.

Brief description

A reader’s attention span is short, especially nowadays, when people interact with too much content on a daily basis. You literally have a couple of seconds to attract the attention of the reader, so get straight to the point. There is no need for too many words. Instead, be concise, but make sure you provide enough information. It is similar like with a headline. You need to be persuasive and engaging to get readers interested. Unlike with headline, a description can be a bit longer, but try to keep it simple and short as much as you can. The goal with the description is to offer more information about the offer and a reason for the reader to click on that CTA.

Not understanding your headline or what you offer is might be a reason to lose lots of customers, which is why this description should be composed in a way that appeals to your target audience. In the same time, it has to be informative so that even the first-time visitors can exactly understand what you offer.

Prominent CTA

The second thing on the landing page that deserves full attention is the CTA. This button is where conversion happens, regardless if that is a download of a free material or signing up for a membership on your website. This is why CTA needs to be prominent so that no visitor will miss it.

Impressive layout

The visual aspect of the landing page is very important. This has to be a beautifully designed page, with a custom design for that particular page. It has to be well-organized, with each section being carefully placed so that they do not overlap and thus disrupt the user experience. It also has to be accessible and adjustable for all devices. The layout also refers to the use of images, fonts, text bubbles, logo, etc. and anything that can help you provide necessary information with an impressive design.

Boastful testimonials

This is not something you should highlight because you want to keep the description brief, so leave the testimonials for the end of the page. However, feel free to include them, because they can encourage those visitors who are a bit indecisive about clicking that CTA button. These can include comments from the previous customers, the list of customers, etc. This kind of recognition helps you build your own reputation, and thus it can help with conversions.

Other things to consider to increase conversions

These are other things to consider when it comes to increasing conversion and those include:

  • Timing it right – Even though there is generally no perfect time to send an email, analyzing past conversions might help you find that sweet spot, the time when you are most likely to convert customers. It can be a specific day of the week, a particular time of the day, or perhaps after a certain event. This can help with the conversion rate, so make sure you explore email marketing statistics with this idea in mind.
  • Improve email design – Email design is a very important part of increasing conversions, so you should explore different ways to optimize the email layout to get the most out of it. (Chapter 6)

Pay attention to other things to do and things to avoid – There are general things to do and avoid if you want to improve the success of your campaign. These refer to both email deliverability and conversions, so explore different suggestions to see if your approach needs a bit of refinement. (Chapter 7)