6 Fail-Safe Ways to Boost Your Email Conversion Rate


Written by Franco Varriano.

After you spend hours coming up with a compelling offer and crafting the perfect copy, you’re sure that your brilliant sales email will produce significant returns for all of your effort. But despite all of your hard work, you are answered with indifference from your prospects. Your email conversion rate is abysmal, and so are your sales numbers.

All is not lost. In this article, we’re going to look at six ways you can boost your email conversion rate, making sure that each and every email you send out convinces plenty of people to buy, and buy again.

Let’s go!

Conversion Rate Defined

Before we can boost your conversion rate, we need to understand what it is. We’ll start with understanding “conversion”.

In marketing, a “conversion” refers to the action you want recipients of your message to take. This could be making a purchase, following you on social media, or even entering a contest. Whatever the case, boosting conversions is a crucial objective. “Conversion rate” refers to the percentage of recipients who go and take your desired action.

This simple mathematical formula allows any business to calculate their final conversion rate:

(# of recipients who act on your message / total # of recipients) x 100

For example, if you send a promotional email to 1000 people and 100 of them end up making a purchase, the conversion rate for that email is (100/1000) x 100 = 10%.

Now the question of the century: “What is a good conversion rate?” Perhaps you’ll be frustrated to hear this, but it depends.

You can, of course, consult the average conversion rate for your industry, but that information has limited value. Every business and audience set is different. Instead of trying to reach an arbitrary conversion rate, focus instead on increasing your conversion rates. This is not only far more attainable than getting to some “industry average”, it also has far more relevance to your specific business.

So, how to turn up the dial on your conversion rate?

Use a Compelling Subject Line

We talk a lot about subject lines here at Rare, and for good reason. Your subject line will either mean a recipient opening the email or ignoring it. It’s the one chance you have to grab the recipient’s attention. If your open rate is lower than you’d like, then your subject lines are the first thing you should examine.

Make sure that your subject lines meet the following criteria:

1. Short

Always keep your subject lines under 50 characters, as this is the maximum length most email clients display. Of course, you should go for shorter if possible, especially considering that your recipient may be opening the email on their mobile device. Depending on the recipient’s device, the email client may only display the first 20-30 characters.

For instance, here’s how an email subject line from TripAdvisor looks in Gmail on a laptop:

And here’s the same subject line viewed in the Gmail app on a mobile device:

As you can see, much of the subject line gets cut off on the mobile device view. This subject line is still reasonably effective (the word “revealed” piques your curiosity), but it illustrates why shorter is better.

2. Specific

What exactly are you offering in your subject line? If it’s not abundantly clear, the recipient won’t know why they should bother opening the email.

These are vague subject lines:

  • Sale today
  • Save on shipping
  • Get a sweet discount

And these are specific subject lines:

  • 40% off men’s shoes today
  • Get free shipping on orders over $40
  • 20% discount on all items in the store

Which would you be more likely to open?

3. Compelling

To get someone to open your email, the subject line needs to offer something compelling. This goes beyond writing emails and into the realm of figuring out what will get your recipients to buy.

Here are some ideas for coming up with compelling offers:

  • Consider what a customer has bought in the past. If someone has bought from you before, then you can target new offers they might also like. For instance, if someone has bought shoes and you also sell shoe care products, you can send them an email on the importance of shoe care that includes links to your shoe care products.
  • Offer to restock perishable items. If you sell an item that needs to be replenished regularly, you can email your previous customers after a certain amount of time has passed reminding them to buy the item again.
  • Use customer-submitted data. This can be creepy if you do it the wrong way, but a great strategy as long as you don’t invade people’s privacy. For instance, if a customer submits their birthday to you, you can send them a discount coupon as a “birthday present”.
  • Employ segmentation. People don’t want to see irrelevant offers, so make sure you’re using email software that allows you to segment product suggestions and marketing campaigns based on subscribers’ interests.

Send Emails at the Optimal Time

Sometimes a low conversion rate can be the result of emails not reaching your subscribers at the right time. Let’s say, for instance, that your email recipients tend to check their email between 6 and 7 pm each day. It would be in your best interest, then, to send them emails during this time frame.

And this doesn’t even consider the added complexities of multiple time zones. You don’t want to neglect customers in other countries by sending your emails when they’re asleep.

Luckily, email marketing software, including Rare.io, allows you to send emails at the optimal time for maximum open rates. Rare does this by looking at the average open times for previous email campaigns across users and industries, helping you find the best time to send your emails. In Rare, this takes the form of predictive delivery, sending emails out based on when a customer last made a purchase.

Keep Emails Short

Email is not the time to write the next Great American Novel. A recipient who’s skimming your email just wants to get to the good stuff. They don’t want to trudge through long sentences and dense paragraphs.

There’s no “magic length” for your emails, but shorter is better. We recommend no more than 2 sentences per paragraph, as this makes the email easy to skim. If the recipient is on a mobile device, this is all the more important. Long paragraphs on a small screen are a pain to read.

Keep Design Simple

This isn’t an ironclad rule, but including too many flashy design elements in your email can distract your recipient from what really matters: your offer. If you sell something that’s highly visual, then including a few choice images (that link to your site) can be appropriate. But make sure they’re optimized for mobile, or they can make your emails very difficult to read on devices with small screens. Check out a nice example from Aritzia.com. Notice the ample white space, minimal copy and great product pictures:

Make Your Call to Action Clear

If your call to action isn’t clear, then all the rest of your email will have been in vain (including that clear, simple subject line you already worked so hard to craft). The same principles that make great subject lines apply to writing winning calls to action. Keep them short, clear, and compelling. Additionally, don’t include too many calls to action in the same email, as this can confuse and overwhelm your customers.

Use a Postscript

Postscripts are an old copywriting trick that still works. If you look at all the copywriting masters such as Gary Halbert and Gene Schwartz or modern expert email marketers like Neville Medhora and Josh Earl, they use the postscript to powerful effect.

All you do is take your call to action (with a link, of course) and include it at the end of the email as a P.S. The P.S. gets people’s attention, giving you a chance to present your offer one more time in an effort to get them to click through to your site.

Send Emails That Get More Sales

We hope you now understand how to boost the conversion rate for your next email marketing campaign. Increasing this number is an ongoing process that continues as long as you’re in business. With the right knowledge and tools, however, it’s something any store owner is capable of.

And if you’re one of the thousands of merchants who are already using Rare’s Smart Email Marketing software and want to see how our Customer Success Team can work with your brand to grow your revenue – feel free to book a call at your convenience here.

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