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Email Marketing for the Holidays, Part 2: Crafting a Compelling Call to Action

By Erika Morphy CRM Buyer ECT News Network
Dec 10, 2013 8:31 AM PT

Email Marketing for the Holidays, Part 1: Making the Right Mobile Impression

Email Marketing for the Holidays, Part 2: Crafting a Compelling Call to Action

There's no doubt email marketing has become nonnegotiable for retailers during the holiday season, and that's particularly true on the mobile side.

Mobile emailed offers are also playing bit roles in other strategies, such as showrooming. Retailers have learned not to push against this trend but to fight back by targeting shoppers while they are actually in the store. One method, of course, is to use email marketing messages optimized for smartphones.

'Consumers Will Be Overwhelmed'

To stand out this holiday season, a retailer has to present the most relevant offers and unique products so as to compete against what competitors are offering, Jerry Jao, CEO of Retention Science, told CRM Buyer.

"Consumers will be overwhelmed with offers in all directions, so make sure you present something interesting that will help you stand out," Jao advised.

The subject line is how the retailer first stands out, of course, making it a topic of great interest and study. As noted in Part 1 of this series, everyone has an opinion about what makes for a compelling subject line.

Jao's take: Keep them short and sweet. "Consumers like to know what the email is about in a concise manner, so they can quickly determine if they want to open it or not," he explained.

Dissecting the Call to Action

The next key decision the retailer makes when designing or optimizing an email marketing message for mobile devices is the call to action -- another subject about which there are almost as many theories as there are retailers. There is industry consensus about this, however -- CTAs are necessary but oftentimes neglected or treated as an afterthought.

A report from Invodo last year illustrated the wallop a properly worded CTA can pack in a marketing message. It found that using a text call to action such as "Click to Play," "Click to View" or "Learn More" instead of simple labels such as "Video" or "Video Here" can increase a video's view rate by 12 times.

Most interestingly, videos that didn't have any CTA in text under the video performed better than those with the passive labels.

No wonder, then, debate can get intense over a mere few words in an email.

Charles Nicholls, chief strategy officer of SeeWhy, advises mobile email marketers to create plenty of space around the CTA so they stand out visually and are easier to click on a small screen.

Ideally, CTAs should also be in a prominent and distinctive color not used elsewhere on the page, Nicholls told CRM Buyer, and should fall above the fold on different devices.

Finally, "the conversion process after the click needs to be mobile-friendly as well -- this is a major cause of mobile campaigns not converting," Nicholls said. "One thing this means is that clicking on the CTA passes the consumer's email address through to the website so that he or she doesn't have to re-enter it."

What Comes Next

A final word of advice to retailers optimizing their email campaigns for mobile: Think about what comes next.

"One of the keys to a successful email program is ensuring there are no dead ends," Ashley Twist, senior innovation strategist of mobility at Engauge, told CRM Buyer.

"The mobile experience doesn't end with an email tap," Twist explained. "Consider what happens when your customer taps from the message to the website -- are they taken to a landing page or website that provides a good experience? Nothing will put off a potential customer than tapping from an email to a non-mobile-optimized experience."

Erika Morphy has been writing about technology, finance and business issues for more than 20 years. She lives in Silver Spring, Md.

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