In bygone days, where there were no minimum weight limits, there was an adage in a formula one team design studio that ran; ‘simplify and add lightness’. It has a certain ring to it. As adages go, it covers all the essentials. It was expressed by others in a manner not quite so musically; ‘the car was designed to fall apart as soon as it crosses the [finish] line’. It’s something that might reward you when designing marketing emails.
The trick, because there’s normally one, is to leave only what is essential for the purpose. Then make what’s left more efficient. Easily said, of course, but easily done. All you have to be is ruthless.
For the formula one racing team, if they made a mistake, the car broke down. For us, the implications of an error are less final. A drop in returns by a few percentage points and you’ve discovered something that you will be useful for you in campaigns to come.
There are distinct advantages to cutting back a marketing email to basics that might not be apparent at first sight. The most significant for many will be that it will be easy enough to convert between laptop and mobile. With no superfluous detail, there’s much less to fiddle with. It makes everything simpler.
Another advantage, and one I feel will deliver a bonus for campaign after campaign, is that it makes changes much easier to test. One of the problems with interpreting data is that other factors might be making an impact on the returns. If there’s little additional material, there’s little to compromise a change in image style, or heading colour.
Simplifying matters means there’s less to bother a reader. Not that we have many subscribers who read emails. Most, in fact the vast majority, tend to scan the content. If there’s little to read then the likelihood of them reading the critical bits, the ones you want them to focus on, is much higher. And that’s what we want.
You might be wondering if you might go too far with the red pen, but there’s research to help us. The conclusion, based on samples of 40 million emails, was that the marketing emails with between 75 and 100 words had the highest response rate. You might think that the sample size is convincing, and to a great extent you will be correct. However, there’s more to it than the ‘best buy’.
The response rate varied by just 2% between 50 and 200 words. This should eliminate all doubt. Below 50 the response rates drop by a fair amount. If it’s better for mobiles, testing and scanning, then 50 would seem the one to aim for.
However, if you can get all the information you want your subscriber to read in 25 words, such as the crucial selling factor of the product, and then telling them that is was the ‘Best Buy in [most respected journal for the product] tests’, then just add the price and sit back. That is sufficient, regardless of the research.