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Open rate — click through rate — conversion rate

Email Marketing

Email marketing using the IRP is a very simple and effective tool for engaging with your customer.

Email marketing using the IRP is a very simple and effective tool for engaging with your customer. Other than your time, it is a free channel. Although more than 70% of companies say that email marketing is core to their marketing strategy, few carry it out in a manner that maximises the revenue potential of this channel.

As with all digital marketing, email marketing follows a pattern of Content, Click, Convert. This pattern involves three metrics that you need to focus on:

  1. Open Rate — First, the customer needs to read the subject line and open your email.
  2. Click Through Rate — Then, the customer needs to be interested in the email content and click through to your website.
  3. Conversion Rate — Finally, the customer needs to buy from your website.

There are many factors that affect these metrics but the key thing is that you work out how to maximise each of them.

One additional factor that comes into play relates to discounts: in any discount offer, make sure that you give away the lowest possible effective margin for the purchase.

Open Rates

Many factors affect open rates. You should monitor the results of various tactics and then build these into a future strategy for open rates. Here are some important elements of an effective open rate strategy:

  • Segment the Customer Database and Message Appropriately – It is important that you ensure that the customer database is segmented effectively so that any subject line and email content is correct for the market. For example, if you are sending emails to the EU, use euros; if sending to the USA, use dollars. Make certain that spelling and messaging are correct for the market and the language. Do this for all content.
  • Make the Subject Line Effective – There is a lot of research into subject lines and it is clear that they are central to the open rate of an email. Best practice suggests that:
    • 50 characters or less is most effective — perhaps as few as 20.
    • The value proposition works best when it's on the left side of the subject line.
      For example, “We have just launched our 50% off sale” is less effective than “50% OFF SALE NOW ON”.
    • Punctuation is not so important, however using capital letters seems to have a positive impact.
    • Identifying with a “Date” can be effective. For example, “MAY DAY SALE”.
    • Users are more likely to open an email when their name is included in the subject line.
  • Choose the Time of Day and Day of Week Strategically – There will be different open rates for different times of day and for days of the week. Remember that there are time differences between geographic markets which you can factor in when sending your emails. You should monitor these and work out the most effective times to send emails.
  • Choose the Frequency Rate Carefully – The frequency of your emails affects the open rate. There will be an optimal engagement level with your customer above which your emails will become less effective. If an email campaign requires an intense email strategy (for example a five-a-day campaign) it may be best to inform the customer “50% OFF SALE WEEK — Deal 1 of 5”.

Include all of these elements into your open rate strategy and continue to hone your strategy based on the results.

Click Through Rate

It is vital that you maximise the click through rate; as emails build up in a customer's inbox you need to get them to respond quickly, otherwise your email may be lost. Here are some recommendations:

  • Focus Content for that Customer – The degree of focus depends on the type of email that you send and the segmentation involved. For example, if your email is a blanket sale email to a full mailing list, the content will be much less focussed than an IRP ‘Dropped Basket Email’. However the concept of focussing content on a particular customer should permeate your thinking about email marketing.
  • Write Clear, Effective and Prescriptive Copy – Carefully consider all copy in your email. Spell out the value proposition clear and unambiguously. Your copy should also be prescriptive regarding what the customer should do next — for example “CLICK HERE NOW”.
  • Use Effective Colours and Design – The content and design of the email are very important, so think it through thoroughly. “CLICK HERE” buttons are important: make sure that your customer is never in doubt about what to click. Generally speaking, large and eye-catching design elements get more clicks. Colours such as green and orange can often be effective.
  • Use Responsive Design – Use responsive design for your email so that it fits on mobile, desktop and tablet devices. Also, focus the message according to the device.

Conversion Rates

The ultimate conversion rate is not the open rate or the click through rate — it is the conversion rate of the [number of emails sent / number of purchases] for that email. Opening the email and clicking through to the website are the first two steps prior to this third step therefore, to convert, some of the same concepts apply:

  • Focus Your Content – You need to make sure that your content is as focussed as possible on that customer. IRP ‘Dropped Basket Emails’ or ‘Recommendations’ can be more effective as they are focussed on what that particular customer is interested in.
  • Target Your Landing Page – This is linked to focusing your content: you must ensure that the page that the customer lands on is as targeted as possible towards what they want. In a ‘Dropped Basket Email’, this might be right back to the basket. In a sale, it will be directly to the sale page on the website.
  • Use Discounts and Time-Dependent Offers – Discount and price are essential elements of all purchases. Therefore the content of the product selection (such as clearing an in-demand product at a large discount) will have a very positive effect on conversion. For example, “50% OFF *KEY BRAND* LIMITED STOCK” will generate interest.
    In addition, as with all areas of digital marketing, making the offer time-dependent can be effective when pushing for a decision from the customer.


The IRP contains a very effective email marketing tool in the Marketing Campaigns section of the left navigation.

Emails are used for many forms of marketing and therefore you have to work out the exact scenario for each campaign. However the principles are the same.

It is important to be systematic and base all your decisions on metrics gathered from previous campaigns.

Focus on open rate — click through rate — conversion rate. This same concept applies to almost all digital marketing: Content, Click, Convert.

Additional reading

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