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7 essential tips & tricks for winning the inbox

We all know that standing out in today’s stuffed-to-the-brim inboxes can be incredibly tough. And getting people to actually open and engage with your emails? That’s a beast.

But one of the best ways to ensure your email marketing truly performs is to get some creative inspiration from those already doing it best. Here are 7 examples of brands absolutely killing it in the inbox. Use their expert tips and tricks to give your subscribers the kind of experiences that will convert them into customers in no time... and keep them around for the long haul!

1. Capture more subscribers

To win the inbox, you have to be strategic through every step of the subscriber journey – and that starts before you send a single email. First, you have to convince people to sign up for your list!

One of the best ways to attract new subscribers? Lightbox forms. They convert way better than the static forms you see embedded on many websites: In fact, marketers haven seen as much as a 46% uptick in signups on average when they use them (Crazy Egg).

What we love most about this lightbox is that it’s actually from InVision, a B2B design technology platform. Their target audience is designers... and there’s no quicker way to win a designer’s heart than with a soft, free t-shirt. It’s a great example of B2B brands adopting B2C strategies and reaping the rewards as a result.

2. Say “hello” in all the right ways.

If you aren’t sending an automated welcome mailing the mom​ent someone signs up for your list, you’re behind: 74% of customers expect to receive a welcome email (Blue Hornet). Plus, welcome notes can increase long-term brand engagement by up to 33% (Chief Marketer), so there’s no reason you shouldn’t be doing it.

This is the email Invision sends as soon as you fill out their lightbox form. It doesn’t say “welcome” outright, but the content is relevant, the call to action is all about their company and product, and the design is absolutely beautiful (seriously, our designers freaked out about this one).

3. Automate a birthday message.

Another must-do that gets quick results is the automated birthday greeting. Birthday emails can lift conversion rates by 60% over non-birthday email messages with the same offer (ClickZ). These aren’t only for cutesy retailers... just check out this email from Credit Karma! Even though they’re marketing credit scores and not clothing or cupcakes, it feels right and adds a little bit of personality to their otherwise straight-laced brand. 

If you work in a non-retail industry, a move like this can really help your brand stand out against the competition. We love this email, but if it had come from a more playful retailer, it wouldn't have caught our attention nearly as quickly. The element of the unexpected is a powerful thing – especially in the inbox. 

4. Clean up your list

Win-back (or re-engagement) emails allow your audience to self-select in a whole new way. Plus, they help you determine which subscribers you should be most focused on nurturing toward conversion. You might lose some folks who weren't paying attention to your emails anyway, but you’ll keep the ones who actually want to engage with your brand.

A study by Return Path found that 45% of recipients who receive win-back emails like this engage with subsequent mailings. It may feel a little painful, but you (and your list) will be much better off in the long run.

5. Test your “from” name. 

Subject lines get a lot of attention in the email marketing world. But your “from” name is arguably just as powerful as the subject line – especially on mobile. And since 54% of all email is now opened on a mobile device (Litmus), it's an important thing to remember. 

Sure, you're not going to get more attention than someone’s boss, or their husband, but you can give your brand a fighting chance in the mobile inbox by testing different “from” names and seeing what gets the best results. Some brands do better with the name of a well-known figurehead, while others find that their emails perform best when going with the company name. Either way, you'll be shocked how much of an impact testing a few different options can have on your overall success rates. 

6. Design for the mobile inbox

On that note, since mobile is so huge these days, be sure to design your email for scrollability – after all, that’s what people like to do on their phones. 80% of people are only scanning, so provide plenty content and context in the form of eye-catching, engaging images. And if you want your subscribers to click through to a landing page (which is likely), make sure the place you send them is mobile-optimized.

Patagonia always does a fantastic job of providing lots of images in their mailings – and in this case, a video. Click-through rates are 2-3X higher when marketers put a video in a marketing email, and 92% of mobile video viewers share videos with others (Invodo), so it's definitely something you should consider including in your next send. 

7. Use GIFs.

You’re not just seeing animated GIFs everywhere because they’re trendy – 72% of marketers polled by Experian said they had higher click rates in emails that contained GIFs (compared with bulk mailings to the same customers). And animated GIFs will work for the majority of subscribers: Almost all email clients support this kind of media, as opposed to only 58% that support embedded video.

Want to learn even more helpful tips and tricks for winning the inbox? Emma's own Content Strategist Jamie Bradley is hosting a webinar full of them on Tuesday, May 24 at 11AM CT/ 12PM ET. Save your spot here!