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From timing to testing: How to create emails that get attention

5 questions from our 8-Second Challenge webinar

During our recent webinar, The 8-Second Challenge, our Director of Concierge Christopher Lester presented a number of ideas on how to create emails for the shrinking attention span. The Q&A that followed generated some great discussion, and we received a ton of excellent questions from the attendees. Below are some of our favorites, and because you’re some of our best students, we’ll even provide the answers (so put away those cheat sheets).

Christopher Lester helps our biggest brands and largest senders be successful with email marketing.

Q: You mentioned that 77% of people prefer email communication over other forms of brand communication. Why is that?

There are several reasons for this. First, if people sign up for your email list, then they’ve invited you into their inboxes. They already have some level of interest in your brand, and they want to hear more from you, so they’re willing to engage on that level.

That’s why it’s such a no-brainer to set up a welcome email. Only 43% of brands send welcome emails, and those that don’t are missing a huge opportunity to engage people at the exact time that they want to learn more about your brand. And we’ve seen from our own customers that welcome emails get results.

Also, email doesn’t demand people’s immediate attention. It lives in an inbox as long as people want it to, and they can check it whenever and however many times they want.

Q: What are some of the best times to send mailings so that people will open them?

58% of people report that checking email is the first thing that they do in the morning, even before having that first cup of sweet, sweet coffee or taking out the dog waiting by the door (poor pups!). Because of that, studies show that sending at 6 a.m. is the best time. The idea of sending that early used to be laughable, but it’s further evidence that our behavior is changing and will likely continue to change.

That being said, every audience is different, so test sending emails at different times to see what works best. Also, don’t be afraid to survey your audience and ask when and how often they would like to hear from you.

The average adult's attention span is down to just 8 seconds.

Q: Beyond what you shared today, what are some other aspects of “owning” the mobile inbox that I should know about?

Mobile devices are changing everything. 80% of subscribers report deleting emails that don’t look good on smart phones, so every email should be designed with mobile in mind. Emma’s design templates are responsive, which help ensure emails look good on screens of any size.

Some other tips to keep in mind:

  • Most mobile devices will cut off a subject line between 32 and 38 characters, so the shorter the subject line the better.
  • When possible, use buttons instead of text links. Buttons should be 46 x 46 pixels, roughly the size of a fingertip (babies and giants excluded).
  • Size headlines to at least 22 pt so it’s easy to view and scroll to the next section.

Q: Is it better to include your brand name in the subject line to be consistent, or should we be more clever with subject lines?

We’re known for being a conversational, quirky brand, but we don’t feel like the subject line is the place to be clever or to try out your latest standup comedy routine (your last one was hilarious, by the way). The subject line should be clear and honest about what will be found in the body of the email.

In fact, the subject line for our most successful email of Q1, the “Emma 25” email referenced during the webinar, was simply “Thank You.”

Q: When it comes to testing, I know subject lines are a good thing to test – but what else?

Like we mentioned above, the time when you send your message is a great thing to test. Eye-catching images are also important, so testing different images is helpful to see if one is having a greater impact on engagement than another. We also recommend testing different language for your call to action to see what combination generates more results.

Do you have any other questions or ideas about The 8-Second Challenge? Feel free to keep the Q&A going in the comments.