When you go into your email account, what emails do you look forward to the most? The ones from friends and family or the ones from a business or retailer?

Chances are that you would look forward to emails from family and friends the most.

This is the challenge many businesses face. It’s a common problem given the state of today’s digital marketing. Especially given the endless number of emails people contend with daily.

Is your email copy isn’t getting the conversions you need? If not you may need to write less like you’re addressing a crowd of strangers. Instead, try to write your emails in a way that allows you to make a friendly connection with your audience. If you can master this ability, more of your subscribers will look forward to your emails.

But what does it take to achieve this? Here are 7 steps to turn your lackluster low converting emails into high-performing communications that convert.

1.Know Your Audience Segments

To make the most of your emails requires you to understand your audience and their characteristics. You can then segment them into groups that will allow you to send more targeted emails.

But is all that work worth the time?

According to the data, it is.

Personalized emails are shown to increase conversion rate 6 times. They’re also more engaged.

So how do you segment your audience?

There are a number of different ways, but here are the most common (and the ones I’d recommend):

  • Demographic data
  • Geographic data
  • Results of a survey, NPS or quiz, or personal interests
  • Past purchase behavior
  • Time since last purchase
  • Amount spent
  • Position in the sales funnel
  • Behavioral trends on a website

Once you have segmented your audience, you are in a better position to incorporate personalization into emails. Bear in mind that you will need to adjust your segments on an ongoing basis. You’ll also need to adjust the type of emails you write to each segment. Keep track of your results until you find the best approach.

2. Understand Your Segments’ Goals

Every person who signs up to your mailing list brings their own list of goals. These are things they hope to achieve and pain points they hope to resolve. Understanding these goals and pain points will help you write effective email copy.

For example, General Electric invited its best customers in China to a seminar on leadership and innovation. Through such events they are better able to learn their customer’s goals and mindset.

Food on the Table started out with an assumption that they could help households save on meals with a little planning before they went shopping. They then put it to the test by finding a mom who plans meals and uses coupons. They shadowed her for three weeks. They watched as she made lists and went shopping at the local supermarket. Her feedback and insights helped produce the first version of the site.

They soon hit 1 million users in 2012 and have since moved to a mobile app only service.

Ramit Sethi understands that people that subscribe to his emails are interested in more financial freedom and achieving a “rich life”. So his emails contain content that helps them achieve that. Here’s a sample of the subject lines from some of his recent emails:

What’s your productivity cheat code?

How to get started with stealth wealth

Your first $20,000 (then $200,000)

Money Diaries: What would you do?

What I learned from Conor McGregor’s success

Money advice for your 20-year-old self

What successful people don’t tell you

The $10,000,000 Traffic Engine

Seeing a trend with these subject lines? They’re aligned with his audiences’ goals – making more money, having more freedom, etc. He spotted a pain point many (almost everyone) have and now markets his courses through his blog posts and emails.

So how do you understand your audience segments’ goals?

Start by gathering as much information about them as possible. Here are a few ways:

  • Conduct surveys, polls, focus groups, and more. Some of this information can be taken at face value, such as the answers you get when you ask them in a poll to identify their pain points.
  • Put yourself in the audience’s shoes and look at their ecosystem of suppliers and partners of which you may be a part. Consider where you stand in the marketplace, what customers see as your strengths, and how can help them achieve their goals.
  • Track key customer experiences. Take note of where experiences are positive and negative.
  • Identify the goals of each segment of your audience. Then analyze how your business can help them meet those goals. This will help in conveying the right message to each segment of your audience.

3. Craft a Magnetic Subject Line

Emails live and die by how compelling their subject line is. If your subject line fails to engage the person checking their emails, they’ll likely never open it. In fact, according to Jay Baer, 35% of email recipients open email based on the subject line alone, and 69% mark emails as spam based on the subject line.

So, how can you craft winning subject lines for your emails?

Keep the following in mind as you craft your subject lines:

  • With emails being accessed on mobile devices, keep the subject lines short. While there is no specific length, a study from Return Path has shown that subject lines between 40 and 50 characters performed best.
  • Use concise words, as people tend to scan through subject lines like this subject line from Kogan.

concise words

  • Use action-oriented verbs as they encourage readers to follow through like this email subject line from the Content Marketing Institute.

action oriented verbs

  • Mention benefits such as discounts or bonuses in the subject line. But only after the audience understands the value of your primary offering.
  • A little bit of personalization is great, but don’t overdo it. Subject lines don’t become more personal by merging data fields into them. Instead, use the data and information you have about the customer to provide a truly engaging and relevant experience for your customer at that given point in time.
  • Stay away from using all caps or unnecessary punctuation—this looks unprofessional.
  • If your subject line makes a promise about what the reader will find in the message, you need to keep that promise. Don’t bait them in only to force a click-through. This will hurt your brand because it is viewed as a spammy tactic.
  • Tell them what they can expect in your emails and keep it in line with their experiences. I registered to download an eBook from Kissmetrics titled – “Where Google Analytics Falls Short”. The ebook is sent via email. In such instances, you need to ensure the subject line mentions the resource. Here is the subject line from the Kissmetrics email with the PDF ebook.

kissmetrics download

  • Use urgency and exclusivity to encourage readers to act. Noble Samurai uses it quite effectively in a recent email.

noble samurai subject line

  • As with blog post titles, using numbers in subject lines can make them quite effective.
  • Consider posing a question.
  • Consider the use of puns like JetBlue does with subject lines like “Land wander-ful low fares now!”

As you can see there are a number of ways in which to craft magnetic subject lines. However to create truly relevant and engaging experiences you really have to know your customers, and continually collect data on them and their behaviors. Once that is in place you are in a better position to test out contextually relevant messages. In other words, crafting magnetic subject lines isn’t a one-off but rather an ongoing effort to find what works with your audience.

4. Write an Outline

Planning will help you avoid making some of the common mistakes that you or others have made in the past. You can apply this to your emails by drafting an outline of your intended content and your call to action.

While this may sound like an unnecessary extra step, it can save you time and effort in the long run. By creating an outline, you put yourself in the right mindset:

  • You can consider all the points you need to make before you ever sit down to write the content.
  • It’ll prevent you from forgetting things you need to mention.
  • It allows for a better and concise message than attempting to tackle it all in one go.

Michael Hyatt has found great use in templates for being more productive and minimizing errors. He talks about using them for blog posts as well as email communication.

There is no single formula for creating outlines for your email marketing purposes. But you can draw inspiration from other sources. You can use these 15 great emails that companies like Uber and Birchbox have had success with.

So how can you develop an effective outline for your emails?

Consider the following when drafting your outline:

  • Your audience segment
  • Your ideal outcome from the email
  • How you’ll establish a connection
  • How you’ll get them to take action
  • Audience objections that you need to counter
  • The CTA copy and placement

5. Use a Magic Formula

Remember as you write your email that your copy has one true purpose—to sell the click. This means writing to entice people to click on what you’re offering. In other words, getting them where you need them to be. Whether that means buying a product, taking an action, or reading important information.

Copywriting is not a new game. There are several proven copywriting formulas can help you with your email copy. One good example of this is the PAS formula, which stands for “Problem-Agitate-Solve.” This formula is simple to follow and gets results.

The PAS formula works because it provides an outline and structure that forces you to write in the context of the reader’s pain. It then allows you to position your product or service as the solution to that pain.

How can you use the PAS formula in your emails?

Start by identifying your customer’s problems. List the problems/challenges you have heard from prospects and customers. Ask your sales and customer service teams to add to the list.

Then pick ones that your product or service can help solve.

Agitate the problem for your audience. To do this, think about how it affects your audience and the things they care about. For a B2B audience, it could be sales and revenue.

Finally, present your solution to the problem. In other words, show your audience how your product or service can help them do what they care about.

For example, look at the difference in the copy of the emails below. The emails are inviting the audience to a real estate marketer’s conference.

Email invite without the magic formula:

low converting email

Email that just states facts about the conference without the use of a magic formula

Email invite with the magic formula:

low converting email revamp

Email copy that uses a magic formula. It starts with a problem that the audience faces, agitates the problem and then provides a solution to the audience.

6. Show and Tell

Using visual elements is an essential factor in conveying your message.

Check out these studies that show strong results from using images in emails:

  • 72 percent of clients who used animated GIFs and cinema-graphs in their emails saw a higher click-through rate.
  • Including a call to action button instead of a link can increase conversion rates by as much as 28%.
  • The use of emojis in subject lines in certain instances has increased read rates.

Worried about not being able to incorporate graphics? Don’t. There are plenty of resources on the web that offer simple, do-it-yourself options. You can make or customize visual elements like newsletters, banners, logos, animations, static images, and even videos that you can incorporate into your email with tools like Canva, relaythat, or Pablo.

ConvertKit sent an email with a screenshot to let prospects know of a webinar around a new feature release.

low converting email solved

If you were to click on the image within the email you would get taken to the webinar landing page to watch the replay.

So, how can you incorporate visual media into your emails?

Here are a few tips:

  • Think through critical elements that need to appear above the fold while making it easy on the eye to read.
  • Choose a font that is easy to read.
  • Use colors that complement your brand and the message you seek to convey.
  • Use free tools to take a DIY approach to visual editing. Tools like Canva make creating striking images easy for beginners.
  • Avoid using background images layered with text, as most email clients don’t support them.
  • If sending a newsletter, consider placing graphics on the left side of the news. This will work better to get people’s attention as they read from left to right.
  • People at times will click on images in an email, so ensure that they are linked to appropriate pages.
  • Consider using human faces, as they tend to attract the eyes of the reader more than any other object. It works especially well if the subject is looking at the CTA.

7. Personalize It for Your Audience

Using personalization to reach your audience can be a powerful way to hold their attention and build a sense of loyalty. Consider the following statistics about brand personalization:

  • According to Accenture, 81% of consumers want brands to get to know them and understand when to approach them and when not to.
  • According to an Infosys report, 59% of customers say that personalization influences their shopping decisions and 74% of customers feel frustrated when website content is not personalized.
  • According to Monetate, 79% of organizations that exceeded revenue goals have a documented personalization strategy, compared to 31% that met revenue goals, and 8% that missed revenue goals.

Creating personalized content for each of your audience segments is important. Especially in an age where getting your audience’s attention is difficult.

The Expert Institute in New York City doubled their conversion by personalizing their content. They developed a welcome series and segmented messages for varying levels of engagement. They then tracked engagement metrics, A/B tested subject lines and built out a post-email lead process. This exercise also resulted in a 60% open rate, a 20% click-through rate, and a 3% conversion rate.

So how do you personalize your emails?

Here are some basic steps to help you on your way:

  • Create customer personas and ask the right questions on your forms.
  • Set up automated behavioral trigger emails using a solution like Kissmetrics Campaigns.
  • Use a real reply-to email address.
  • Add personal information to the email body like their name, common interests, geographic information, etc.
  • Create content written for each of your segments.
  • Match personalized emails with landing pages.

Fix your low converting emails

If your email conversions have failed to live up to your expectations you are not alone. The goal is to keep your audience engaged and then act on your call to action. In other words, you’ll have them opening your emails when it’s time to trigger a new sale or promotion.

With the seven steps above, you can turn your low converting emails into a powerful tool. You’ll know you are on the right track when you see more people responding to what you’re doing.

Here are a few other EngageBay blogs to help inspire some email marketing ideas: