Author: Liz Willits

Are Plain-Text Emails More Likely to Reach the Inbox?

Plain-text emails inbox

Has a marketing “expert” told you plain-text emails hit the inbox more often than HTML emails? Or that plain-text emails have a 100% deliverability rate?

If so, they’re lying or misinformed.

In this post, I’ll debunk the common myth that plain-text emails reach the inbox more than HTML emails.

Plain-text emails are NOT more likely to reach the inbox.

I interviewed email marketing and anti-spam expert Laura Atkins to get her take on this myth.

Laura is a founding partner of the anti-spam consultancy and software firm Word to the Wise, and she has over 20 years of experience tracing internet abuse. At Word to the Wise, she advises businesses on how to reach the inbox and respond to spam complaints.

I asked Atkins if plain-text emails are more likely to reach the inbox.

“Anybody who tells you that does not understand how email filtering actually works,” she says.

Are simple emails with fewer images and links more likely to reach the inbox?

I asked Atkins this question as well. She says the amount of images and links in your emails does not impact inbox placement. However, the reputation of the domain (URL) you’re linking to and the domain where you host images that are within your email does matter.

“Every link that you put in an email, every domain you link to in an email, every image that you link to in an email has its own reputation. If that image happens to be something that a lot of spammers use, it’s going to have a bad reputation,” Atkins says.

If you use the same links and images that spammers use, your email is more likely to go to the spam folder. To avoid this, don’t like to sites with a bad reputation or include images hosted on a site with a bad reputation within your email content.

Not sure if a site has a bad reputation? You can use tools like Cisco’s Talos to check. Just paste the domain you’d like to check in their reputation lookup field. If it’s blacklisted, don’t include it in your email content.

Pro tip: Don’t use link shorteners, such as bit.ly or tinyurl.com, in your emails. They can hurt your chances of reaching the inbox, too.

How do you reach the inbox?

Some people will tell you there are simple tricks to reaching the inbox, like not using the word “free” in your subject lines. This isn’t true, says Atkins. They don’t understand how delivering emails works.

“Anybody who tells you, ‘if you do X your email won’t go to spam,’ doesn’t know how filters work,” Atkins says.

Atkins went on to explain that internet service providers (ISPs), like Gmail and Yahoo, use an algorithm which decides whether or not to deliver an email to the inbox or the spam folder.

These algorithms are complex and use machine learning. There are no easy tricks to deceive the algorithms. They are designed so that spammers can’t trick them.

Their number one goal? To deliver emails their users want and expect.

“This is their sole reason for existence … to identify what mail users want and to give it to them,” Atkins says.

Atkins says the best way to reach the inbox is to,

“Send mail your recipients want and expect.”

At AWeber, we recommend following this 4-step strategy to make sure your subscribers want and expect your emails:

  1. Set expectations on your email sign up form. Explain how often you will send emails and what kind of content you’ll send.
  2. Reiterate those expectations in your welcome email
  3. Consistently deliver emails with the content you promised.
  4. Clean your email list regularly to remove subscribers who no longer want your emails.

The main takeaway? Whether your email is an HTML or plain-text email has nothing to do with landing in the inbox or the spam folder.

In fact, people often confuse simple HTML emails with plain-text emails. They think they’re sending plain-text emails when they’re really sending HTML emails. Let’s dive into the difference between the two types.

What’s the difference between plain-text and HTML emails?

An HTML email contains HTML code that impacts the appearance of an email. Here are some examples of common HTML elements that might be inside an email:

  • images
  • bullets
  • hyperlinked text
  • columns
  • headlines
  • call-to-action buttons
  • bolded or italicized text

AWeber’s weekly newsletter FWD: Thinking is an HTML email.

Related: Subscribe to AWeber’s weekly FWD: Thinking newsletter to get email marketing advice and tips.

But this message from fitness expert BJ Gaddour is also an HTML email.

It doesn’t have images. It doesn’t use a fancy template. But it is an HTML email, because it contains bolded text and hyperlinked sentences — both HTML elements.

Most people think this email is a plain-text email, because it looks simple. But it’s not.

What does a plain-text email look like then?

It looks like this.

This email from Matt Chauvin of 20sJazz.com contains no images and no formatting. And notice that a full link is displayed in the email. With plain-text emails, you can’t hyperlink text. (For instance, Matt couldn’t hyperlink the word “Video” in the above email.)

In fact, a plain-text email contains only text, no formatting. But many people incorrectly label HTML emails with limited formatting as “plain-text emails.”

To illustrate the difference between a plain-text and HTML email, here is an HTML email from health food blogger Gina Homolka of Skinnytaste.

You can see there is a logo, italicized font, hyperlinked text (Spaghetti Carbonara), and an image.

Here is the plain-text version of the exact same email:

If you think so, someone lied to you.

Big difference, right? The HTML version is much more visually appealing than the plain-text email. It’s also much more likely that subscribers will want to engage with the HTML version, because they can visualize the food from the recipe.

Spread the word.

Know a marketer or business owner who only sends plain-text or simple emails because they believe it will get them into the inbox? Send them this article.

And if you’re currently sending a plain-text email or want to enhance your current template, build a branded, HTML email in seconds for free using AWeber’s Smart Designer.

The post Are Plain-Text Emails More Likely to Reach the Inbox? appeared first on Email Marketing Tips.

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How Interactive Emails Will Change Marketing Forever

The way marketers use email marketing is about to change forever. Emails have always been static. You send your subscribers fixed content, and they read it or click on it to go to a webpage or landing page. 

But on March 26, 2019, Google’s Product Manager Aakash Sahney announced AMP for Email. AMP stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages. It allows email marketers to easily create emails that are interactive, not static. 

AWeber is the first small business email service provider to support the new AMP for Email technology. “Interactive email opens up amazing potential for marketers to engage and connect with subscribers in ways they’ve never been able to before,” says AWeber’s Technical Product Manager Dave Stys. And a recent study from Kapost found that interactive content drives 2x more conversions than static content.

Learn what interactive emails are and how you can use them in your email marketing below.

(Try AWeber free for 30 days and build your own interactive email.)

What are interactive emails?

Interactive emails are messages that your subscribers can click on to change or alter the content within the email itself — even after the message is delivered to the inbox. The content can also update each time they open the email. Interactive emails act like a webpage.

Interactive content allows you to send emails that are more engaging. You can include extra content in your emails without overwhelming subscribers, and your subscribers can interact with the email to get additional information if they need it. “It will open up the opportunity for email subscribers to engage with content without ever leaving their inbox,” AWeber’s Creative Director Chris Vasquez says.

Related: [On-demand webinar] How to Create Interactive Content with AMP for Email

5 examples of interactive content

1. Carousel

With a carousel, your subscribers can click to navigate through different images, products, or blog posts in your emails. If you have multiple pieces of content to display in your email, you can use a carousel to save space and enhance the design of your message.

2. Accordions

When a subscriber clicks on an accordion, a section of the email will expand to show more content. You can use accordions to give subscribers the option to see additional information within your email.

3. Sidebar

A sidebar is like a website or app navigation menu. If you’d like to give subscribers the option to navigate to different webpages, use a sidebar.

4. Bind

Do you need to display different content for different subscribers? Now, you can add buttons to your email to let subscribers completely alter the content within a message.

For example, your subscribers can change the language of your email.

5. Forms

Add a working email sign up form to your message. Your subscribers can sign up for a webinar, email list, or event directly from your message.

Use AWeber to build interactive emails.

AWeber is the first small business email service provider to support the new AMP for Email technology! 

You can follow these instructions to start building interactive emails inside AWeber today. 

Try AWeber free for 30 days and build your own interactive email.

Want to learn more about AMP for Email? Visit the AMP for Email site to get code samples and examples.

The post How Interactive Emails Will Change Marketing Forever appeared first on Email Marketing Tips.

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How Long Should My Email Subject Line Be?

Your email subject line matters. 47% of people open emails based on the subject line alone, according to research done by Business2Community.

Because of this, marketers ask us about email subject lines often. And one of the most common questions we hear is this: What’s the best length for a subject line?

To find out, AWeber’s team of email experts analyzed 1,000 subject lines from 100 of today’s top marketers. Here’s what we discovered.

What is the average length of a subject line?

We found that, on average, these experts’ email subject lines included 43.85 characters.

Email subject line length

For perspective, the below subject line from the daily email newsletter theSkimm is 43 characters in length.

Subject line: Daily Skimm: I’ve got the world on a string

Related: Your Guide to Writing the World’s Best Email Subject Lines

How to write a stand-out subject line

71.1% of the 1,000 subject lines we analyzed were between 21 and 60 characters. To stand out from everyone else, we recommend you don’t keep your subject lines within those bounds. Instead, try the 2 methods below:

1. Keep your subject lines really short.

46% of emails are opened on mobile devices, according to research conducted by email testing service Litmus.

Most email clients, like Gmail and Yahoo!, stop displaying an email subject line on mobile devices once it reaches between 33 and 43 characters. The exact number varies from one email client to another.

To optimize your subject lines for mobile readers, use subject lines with less than 30 characters. This way, your subject line won’t get cut off in the inbox.

Or, you might want to experiment with even shorter subject lines. Brian Dean, founder of SEO company Backlinko and one of the 100 top marketers whose emails we analyzed, used to send emails with longer subject lines. These subject lines told his subscribers exactly what they’d find inside the message. The problem with that? “It gave people no reason to actually open my email,” he said.

Now, he sends subject lines with an average of 15.1 characters. “After lots of testing, I’ve found that short subject lines get much higher open rates,” Dean said. He contributes this to 2 factors:

  1. Short subject lines reach the inbox more frequently.
  2. Short subject lines are more mysterious.

Here are a few of Dean’s short email subject lines. All are under 15 characters long:

Subject line: New Technique

Subject line: Email Outreach

Subject line: Blog Posts

2. Use really long subject lines.

You can also stand out in the inbox with really long subject lines, since only 18% of people include more than 60 characters in their subject lines.

This email subject line from social media platform Sendible stands out in the inbox because of it’s unusual length of 111 characters.

Subject line: “Be Your Freaking Self”: 11 Experts Have Their Say on the Future of Social at Social Media Marketing World 2019

Copywriting expert and Copyhackers Founder Joanna Wiebe recommends you either use very short subject lines or very long ones. These subject lines will stand out from everyone else who uses subject lines around 50 characters in length.

“Subject line length absolutely matters,” Wiebe said. “We prefer one- or two-word subject lines above all else. To mix things up, we also add realllllllly long ones.”

Here is one of Wiebe’s short subject lines:

Subject line: Got wins?

Characters: 9

And here is one of her longer subject lines:

Subject line: My template for your “messaging recommendations report” <– live in today’s Tutorial Tuesday

Characters: 92

Test your subject lines out.

Every audience is different. Try short and long subject lines with your subscribers to see what works best for your unique audience.

Ready to start using this data to send better emails? Sign up for your free 30-day trial of AWeber today.

And to receive more research like this, subscribe to our weekly email newsletter FWD: Thinking.

About the data from this research

We analyzed 1,000 marketing emails from 100 successful businesses and entrepreneurs. While we didn’t randomly select these businesses, we chose experts across multiple industries and from numerous countries.

See the complete list of the 100 businesses we included in our research (and follow them!) here.

The post How Long Should My Email Subject Line Be? appeared first on Email Marketing Tips.

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The 7-Day Challenge to Jumpstart Your Email Marketing in 2020

Every year, 80% of new year’s resolutions fail by the time February rolls around. Launching your email marketing strategy shouldn’t be one of them.

That’s why we created a simple, 7-day challenge to help you dominate email marketing in 2020.

By the end of it, you’ll have launched the most important parts of a successful email marketing strategy. And the best part? You only need 30 minutes or less each day to complete this challenge.

(Don’t have an email marketing platform? You’ll need one. Set up a FREE email marketing account in AWeber.)

Day 1: Choose your email template and brand it. (30 minutes)

This step is often overlooked. Many people use different email templates every time they send an email. Or, they never fully customize a template to match their brand.

But branding an email template and using it consistently are important. Your brand sets you apart from your competitors. It allows you to be unique and develop a personality for your business. It builds credibility and trust between you and your subscribers. Your subscribers can see your content and immediately tie it back to you.

Step 1: Choose your email template. Find an email template that works with your brand and your message. A plain template is often better than one already filled with colors and background images, because it’s easier to make it your own. Then, add your logo to the top or bottom of the email. (Inside AWeber, there are 8 NEW email templates you can easily customize to fit your branding. Choose the template format you’d like. Then drag and drop to add your images and build the layout you want.)

Step 2: Add your brand colors to your template. Don’t overdo it! Too many colors can be distracting. Try adding your brand colors in just a few places, like your call-to-action buttons, header image, or headlines.

For example, in the welcome email of AWeber’s FWD: Thinking newsletter, we incorporate our brand colors by using a header image with AWeber’s green and blue gradient and a call-to-action button with our brand’s shade of blue.

Homework: Watch this video on How to Design an Awesome Welcome Email.

To do: Choose an email template and add your logo and brand colors to it.

Day 2: Customize your confirmation message. (15 minutes)

A confirmed opt-in message is an email you send people immediately after they fill out your sign up form. It asks them to verify they want to subscribe to your emails by clicking a link or button in the message.

Confirmation messages are optional but strongly recommended. They serve as proof that your subscribers definitely want to be on your list. So internet service providers (like Gmail and Yahoo!) may deliver more of your messages to the inbox when you use confirmation messages. Plus, it prevents subscribers from signing up using fake email addresses.

To make your subscribers more likely to confirm their subscription, you can follow these common best practices for confirmed opt-in emails:

  1. Keep your content short.
  2. Explain the value your subscribers will receive by subscribing to your list.
  3. Tell them what they need to do to confirm.

Homework: Read Writing Confirmation and Welcome Emails People Love.

To do: Set up and customize the subject line and content of your confirmed opt-in email. (If you’re an AWeber customer, you can follow these directions to complete this step.)

Day 3: Create a sign up form. (30 minutes)

Sign up forms allow your subscribers to easily join your email list. You can promote your form by adding it to your website and sharing a hosted sign up form with your audience. Hosted sign up forms allow you to share your form anywhere, even if you don’t have a website.

Homework: Read 9 Inspiring Sign Up Form Ideas to Grow Your Email List.

To do: Write your sign up form copy and build your form using ideas from the homework post you just read.

Day 4: Write your welcome email (30 minutes)

A welcome email is the first message subscribers receive after joining your list and confirming their subscription. And it gets a lot of attention — on average, open rates are 4 times higher and click-through rates are 5 times higher than other emails, according to marketing research company Experian. You can take advantage of this above average engagement by crafting an excellent welcome email.

Your welcome email should:

  • Welcome subscribers to your email list.
  • Deliver the lead magnet you promised on your sign up form.
  • Explain what kind of content you’ll send subscribers, how often you’ll send it, and what they’ll learn.
  • Introduce yourself or your business.
  • Ask subscribers to add you to their address book. (This is called whitelisting and it can help more of your emails bypass the spam folder.)

Once you draft your welcome email, take some time to personalize it! Personalization makes your subscribers feel you’re writing a message specifically to them. Something as simple as including your subscriber’s first name in the subject line or body of your welcome email can boost opens and clicks.

Homework: Read The One Email You Should Always Send and How Personalization Can Help You Connect with Subscribers.

To do: Write and build a welcome message for your subscribers using AWeber’s Drag and Drop Email Builder.

Day 5: Automate your welcome email. (10 minutes)

You wrote your welcome email. Your next step? Automate it. That way, your subscribers will receive it immediately after they sign up for your list.

Simply create an automated series for new subscribers in your email marketing platform. Here’s how:

  1. Build a new automation series in your email marketing platform. Make sure it’s set up to send to every new subscriber.
  2. Paste your welcome email content into the template you chose on day 1.
  3. Add your welcome email to the series.
  4. Activate your series.

Your email marketing system does the rest!

Homework: Read Email Automation 101: How to Use Automation.

To do: Create a welcome series using AWeber’s automation platform Campaigns and add in your welcome email. (Here are step-by-step instructions for setting up your own welcome series in AWeber.)

Day 6: Publish your form on your social media channels. (20 minutes)

Your list is set up and your confirmation and welcome messages are ready to go. Now it’s time to put your hard work to the test and start to grow your list!

An easy first step is turning you social media followers into email subscribers. People who follow your brand on social media have already shown they want to hear from you. And there’s no better way for them to stay up to date on your latest content and sales than joining your email list.

Post a link to your hosted sign up form on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn and ask your social followers to subscribe for exclusive updates.

Homework: Read 7 Expert Tricks to Grow Your Email List with Social Media.

To do: Add your sign up form to your Facebook profile and tweet out the hosted URL to your form.

Day 7: Share your sign up form with your connections. (20 minutes)

Reach out to the people you already know, like colleagues, friends, or family members. Ask them if they want to sign up for your email list.

Let them know what content you are offering and explain the benefits they would receive if they sign up.

If they say no, maybe the content you’re offering just isn’t for them. But maybe they know someone it would be perfect for. You never know until you ask!

Homework: Read How To Get Your First 50 Email Subscribers in Less Than 30 Days. Use the fill-in-the-blank copy template in this post to easily reach out to people.

To do: Contact 5 people you know. Send them the hosted URL to your sign up form and ask if they’d like to join your email list or share it with someone they know.

Ready, set, go!

Congrats! If you completed this 7-day challenge, you’re well on your way to launching a successful email marketing strategy.

Want more content like this? Subscribe to our FREE weekly email newsletter FWD: Thinking for email marketing tips from the pros.

Bonus challenge

Ready for your next challenge? Then try this: Create a lead magnet — a freebie you give subscribers when they sign up for your list. Lead magnets can increase the conversion rate of your sign up form.

For example, author and productivity expert Paula Rizzo offers a free List Making Starter Kit in return for signing up for her email newsletter, which she sends via AWeber.

Homework: Read How to Create a Lead Magnet in Less Than a Day.

To do: Build a lead magnet, add a link to it in your welcome email, and mention it on your sign up form.

The post The 7-Day Challenge to Jumpstart Your Email Marketing in 2020 appeared first on Email Marketing Tips.

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7 Ways to Create a Successful Black Friday Email

Online retailers earned a record $6.22 billion on Black Friday in 2018, according to Adobe Analytics. That’s an increase of nearly 23.6% from the prior year!

A Black Friday email campaign is a great way to cash in on all this spending. However, with thousands of Black Friday emails to compete against, it can be difficult to get your audience’s attention.

With these 7 email campaign tactics, you’ll stand out inside the inbox.

1. Keep it short.

People often debate the ideal email length. While there’s often no simple answer, on Black Friday there is. Keep your content brief. Your subscribers’ inboxes are filled with other emails. They’re busy looking at numerous sales and online shopping.

So get straight to the point. Describe your sale and link off to your website.

For example, see how mattress company Casper does this in their Black Friday email below.

Related: 5 Tactics for Short Emails That Pack a Punch

2. Don’t bury the lede.

Journalist are often advised not to bury the lede a.k.a. the most important information. For email marketing, this is true as well. Your most important or interesting information should be near the beginning of your email. On Black Friday, this is crucial. And the most important information is the discount or deal you’re offering.

To make it easy for your subscriber to see your special offer at a glance,  include it in the headline of your email.

For their Black Friday email campaign, Code School, an online education platform, describes their discount in a brief and bold headline. The headline makes it simple for subscribers to see exactly what the offer is.

Related: 8 Top Brainstorming Techniques to Help You Write Killer Emails

3. Show off your goods.

Another way to increase your click-through rates on Black Friday? Display your product images inside your emails. If a subscriber sees something they like, they’ll be much more likely to click on your call-to-action button.

Active gear retailer HuckBerry created a gift guide for their 2017 Black Friday email campaign. They gathered their best deals into one email, including large product images, the original and discounted price, short descriptions, and call-to-action buttons for each product.

4. Refine your subject lines.

To beat the competition in the inbox on and around Black Friday, your subject line must be engaging. To craft a subject line that stands out, try one or a few of these tactics:

  • Describe your discount or sale in your subject line.
  • Mention how much time people have to claim your deal.
  • Be funny or witty.
  • Keep your subject line under 30 characters.
  • Use an emoji.
  • Explain the discount or sale.

Here are a few subject lines from 2017 Black Friday email campaigns that use these tactics:

Example 1

Company: Chubbies

Subject line: not a typo: 50% off

Example 2

Company: C&T Publishing

Subject line: Hours left to shop the Black Friday sale

Example 3

Company: Levenger

Subject line: Only Hours Left – Black Friday Weekend – 30% Off + Free Shipping

Example 4

Company: Nordstrom

Subject line: Black Friday shoe deals from UGG, Tory Burch, Hunter and more

Example 5

Company:  Physique

Subject line: Black Friday Deals 💸🎁

Example 6

Company: Overstock Art

Subject line: Last Chance to Shop the Exclusive ⚡ Black Friday ⚡ Gallery

Related: Your Guide to Writing the World’s Best Email Subject Lines

5. Use GIFs.

Adding motion to your emails is a great way to be unique and delight your subscribers on Black Friday. Add a simple GIF, a moving image, to do so.

Bonus: We created FREE GIFs you can use in your emails. Download them here.

Kidly, a children’s toy and clothing company, created a GIF for one of their Black Friday emails.

It’s fun — which matches their brand — and seasonal. The headline and image work together to create a stand-out email.

Related: Everything You Need to Know about Using GIFs in Email

6. Explain when your deals end.

Create urgency by informing subscribers that your sale ends soon. In his book Persuasion, best-selling author and psychology professor Robert Cialdini explains that urgency is a psychological trigger that encourages people to act.

Wonderbly, a children’s book company, creates a sense of urgency in the headline and copy of their Black Friday email below.

7. Send emails when others aren’t.

Sometimes, the best way to get high engagement is avoiding the crowds. To do so, send an email campaign in early December. It’ll be easier to get your subscribers’ attention.

MusicMagpie, a company that purchases used technology, sent a post-Black Friday email campaign in 2017.

To make their email extra relevant to subscribers, they position their services as a solution to the problem of overspending on Black Friday.

Start crafting your Black Friday email campaign today.

Need help? Download our free “What to Write in Your Emails” guide. You’ll get an email course that’ll show you how to write great emails. Plus, we’ll also give you more than 45 fill-in-the-blank email copy templates.

(Thanks to MailCharts and Really Good Emails for the email examples used in this post.)

The post 7 Ways to Create a Successful Black Friday Email appeared first on Email Marketing Tips.

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