Increase Engagement by 29%
In this session, email marketing veteran Shmuel Herschberg will explore some simple hacks and split tests you can implement right away. The speaker will share personal success stories that he has tried and tested with his clients to achieve the best results, and reveal secrets that have helped him improve engagement by 29%.
1. Develop strong copy.
2. Relate better to their subscribers.
3. Drive more conversions via email marketing.
About: Shmuel Herschberg
Shmuel Herschberg is a seasoned digital marketing executive, who lives and breathes email marketing. He is the founder of Shyn Media, a boutique agency that offers creative marketing automation, content strategy, and digital media services.
Mr. Herschberg possesses a unique blend of technological awareness coupled with strategic thinking and customer psychology. This enables him to translate customer needs into actionable, winning strategies. He is the author of numerous articles that probe a wide-range of viewpoints relating to digital marketing, with an emphasis on the latest trends in email marketing.
Inbox Expo digital edition so my name is Shmuel Herschberg, and I’m from Shine Media. And I’m here to talk about how to increase email marketing by 29%. And I’ve got some other tips and tricks for you. So let’s let’s begin. So just just a little bit about myself, like I said, I’m the founder and CMO of shine media. It’s a boutique marketing agency that focuses primarily on email marketing and marketing automation. I’ve been doing email marketing for a little over 10 years now. And my background is in marketing and journalism. I love sports and the outdoors and, and today, I have the distinction of being able to tell you that it is my birthday. And I really look forward to being with you all in London and, and celebrating this amazing event in person. But, you know, we have to celebrate digitally. And if it is my birthday, I would like just to not just wish me a happy birthday. But I’d like to actually wish Andrew and Nellie much success and continued success with the inbox Expo, it’s an amazing initiative that you guys have started. And really just want to wish you the utmost success, health and go from strength to strength and, and we look forward to meeting in person all of us, please God in the near future. Okay, enough of that. Now let’s talk about the crux of my presentation. So today’s agenda is really about split testing results. But it would be remiss of me to just jump in and say how I got a 29% increase in engagement. And if you want to hear it and go on, then I really think you’re missing the whole point of this presentation. And really, I think you’re missing the point of everyone else’s presentation as well. Because what we’re what we’re really interested in is learning how to get the results and really the ideas. So the way I got the 29% increase if anybody wants to know very quickly and leave was just switching over to a plain template. Now we’re going to talk about this a little bit in depth. But for starters, I want to just point out that the split test could have yielded, it could yield you the opposite results, I really want to explore the ideas of nomenclature, which is that big fancy word on the top, and then we’ll get into split testing in a bit. But before we begin, I just want to talk about good ideas, evolutions of good ideas. Now there are literally 1000s to choose from. And of course, we’re gonna get into email marketing in a bit. But I’ve just chosen three ideas that have come a long, long way since their initial design from the initial conception. And let’s let’s begin with the first one, of course is television. So, so television was invented in 1927. Back in those days a TV screen curved. And you know, well it does today. The first I think curve TV came out in 2003. But we all that 4k TVs, oh LEDs, q LEDs and who knows what’s the next big thing. But these impeccable digital displays have come such a long way from analogue enough like myself to remember what analogue TV look like, you know what I’m talking about if you don’t Google analogue versus HD or 4k if you’re brave enough. But it’s a very, very different world the way we view TV than then the way we view TV 40 5060 years ago. Now we have smart TVs with Internet browsers. And speaking of which, let’s talk about the evolution of the internet. So the internet was officially invented in 1983. But I don’t remember those days. But there’s a great site called the Wayback Machine, which lets you explore how sites used to look. And one of one of my favourite sites is sports cycle ESPN. And here I have a screenshot from 1999 thanks to the Wayback Machine to earlier in the year 2021 Sports was was sports events weren’t were taking place, but you could just see the difference. You know play by play updates covering live action. It’s really gone from a UX perspective of where it was like a newspaper, to a real communications tool with live video feed and stuff. And of course, if we’re talking about a communication tool, is there anything that’s better in terms of the evolution, then the telephone? So we went from no screen back when it was invented in 1876, to smartphones today. So so, so much so that people forgot the original app in the smartphone, you know, to call someone. But today, we’ve also harnessed this device for amazing things. Yes, there are a plethora of time wasting apps. But here’s an app that you can see on on my screen here, the right side of my screen. It’s a it’s an app that’s tracking the coronavirus outbreak in real time in my country. So we really come a long way in terms of what telephone technology was when it was invented to where we stand today. So what does this mean for email, so of course, looking into the crystal ball, and today’s virtual economy economy is hard to predict where things are going. And obviously, this can be very unsettling. But first and foremost, we’re all in this together. And I think I think we’re you know, we’re definitely going to pull through this and just make us stronger. And also, just in terms of email, I’ve already seen people writing out emails here to stay. And I say still, because the experts have been really saying this for a while. So email generates $38 for every $1 spent, which is an astounding 3,800% ROI, making it one of the most effective options available. HubSpot said that a few years ago, so brings in the big box, you know, you own your own list. It’s like owning a building versus renting a billboard on the side of the building. So if we can make money in email, it’s definitely definitely a very valuable tool. And here’s another quote from email marketing. Email Marketing is like doing puzzle if you don’t have a plan, the pieces will never come together. And I love this quote. I made it up. But so what’s the plan? How do we improve our marketing efforts? So this is where I’m coming into the nomenclature, if we don’t have a way where we can name and analyse our campaigns, we’re just gonna be lost in the dark. So finding out what specific topics or email marketing campaigns are doing the best in your email marketing programme is imperative. So the way to do this is to give your emails a naming convention. And then once you do this, right, you’ll be able to name your conventions in your ESP, you’ll be able to extrapolate that data into reports, and you’ll be able to see things. And once you have that naming convention, teach your team about it as well. So we’re going to get into the naming convention in a second. But when I’m looking at email marketing campaigns for my clients, I’m usually staring into the world of Excel. So besides knowing HTML, and being good copywriter, I think being proficient in Excel is a very important piece of being an email marketer. So as an email marketer, I’ll download my reports open in Excel. And then I’m faced with either an Excel problem, or solution. So by problem I mean that all your campaigns are lumped together without having the ability to extract any useful data. And so it’s like I said, you’re in the dark. And that’s a real shame. But by a solution over here, like we see diamonds, right? When you’re able to see things that only a statistician can see. You’ll know what your subscribers want, and you’ll be able to put out content consistently that they’re engaged with. And that’s really, really the ultimate goal of email marketing. So I just want to drive this point home a little bit further. And I was doing an email marketing audit for a client recently, and I was just trying to figure out which campaigns perform the best. And you know, so I downloaded the campaigns and I started looking at everything and my initial analysis showed, and again, this is before they had any proper naming convention where I was able to pull out the data. Everything was kind of flatline. In terms of the analysis. I couldn’t really make heads or tails of anything so but after sifting through the campaign’s like the subject lines and going through into the emails and seeing what the content was, like, I was able to gather vital information. And after doing a deep dive analysis, I was able to kind of see which campaigns piqued people’s interest and this is all achieved with the thought out naming convention because it allows you to drill down and see the minute nucleolus of your email marketing programme, and at the same time to see what’s going on at 30,000 feet. So here’s a tip for you always infuse your email marketing campaigns with a nomenclature. And this is what I’m talking about. So What’s in a name? Do you just give your email campaigns, you know, random, and say, Okay, this, this campaign is called widget, and this campaign is called, you know, I don’t know what cashback bonus or whatever? Or do you actually get some thoughts. So note the imagery on this slide here, obviously, you know, we’re looking at the world here. But like the names are underneath it, the the, the, the name on the right hand side gives me so much more information. And the same thing, also, when I’m looking at the picture of the colour with of the globe, it gives me so much more information than just the other black and white globe, which doesn’t really give me much information. And it’s not a very exciting story. So this is exactly my name, this is what I use this like nl ml CTA, l A widgets, and I’m going to go into it one by one, and break it out for you. And feel, again, feel free to use this or, you know, riff on it and make your own variations. So, again, so here’s my hack for nomenclature. So the first bit nl This stands for newsletter, this is just very overarching, it describes the type of email campaign, you know, you could use AR for autoresponders, tr for transactional messages, and so on and so forth. ml, this just tells me that, you know, sent to the main list, I can use something like tg for targeting or re for reactivation, whatever works for you. But here’s just a very, very, very, you know, two letters. And I know exactly what this campaign who the target audience in this campaign was for. The next piece of ingredient is my CTA, the call to action. And this again, just tells me very, very quickly, like, what the call to action was, because not every email is created equally, not every email is has the same goal. Some obviously, you’re trying to reactivate customer, some you’re trying to sell something, right. So what is the goal? What’s the call to action or the email? The next bit for me, is the length of the email. Okay, so we’re going to talk about this more. But, you know, in terms of the, the how much content you have in your email, especially if you’re writing, like I said earlier, if you’re writing a text based email, how long is this email? Right? So you could use something like l for long, M for medium as for short, so on and so forth. And again, when I’m looking at my campaign later on, and I see something did really well, I’ll be able to say, oh, okay, that was a long email without having to actually go back and trying to find that email. And again, the next bit is the images. So, again, you can use the wire, and yes, you know, why, for Yes, and for no, and so on and so forth. But again, you might want to add this into your email, like, how much am I how many images did your email half. Of course, when it comes to the bit over here, that is, under the letter A, I’m talking about the subject line version, subject lines tell a lot, and and when, you know, testing, ABC, you know, D, E, F, we like to test a lot of different subject lines. I do. I know email, marketers love to do this. But it’s important to see which subject lines in a very clear and concise way, when you’re going through email marketing yourself to know which subject lines pulled out the best results. And the last bit of you here widgets, this is just again, this is just give it a brief name, about what the subject of the email is not the subject line per se, but just you know, was talking about gadgets or gears or gizmos, whatever it is, you get the point. But this is really what the email, my email need in the ESP will will look like. And it’s all kept together by the underscore the underscore is like the underlying hero here, because when I take that into Excel, like I can parse that out as my delimiter into different columns, and then once I have it in different columns, I can let Excel do the heavy lifting. So like I said, excels next, right and and over here, again, when you’re looking at one campaign or two campaigns. Obviously, I’m not talking about this because you can actually look at the campaigns but when you’re talking about 5060 100 campaigns that you sent out, right, and you want to get some data Then you want to understand what the trends are, you have to look in Excel, you have to bring things into a pivot chart. And the top one over here, right here, I could see, you know, everything’s kind of like, doesn’t really give me much data. But the bottom one where it’s where it’s through with my naming convention and spelt out a little bit differently here, you can see the data tells a much better story. And now all of a sudden, when you actually, you know, bring things into a pivot table, pivot chart, you can see you can see things by call to actions, okay? So you can see much, much like in this in this in this in this report here, for example, you can see like the click rate for short emails was doing really well. Again, this might work for you, it might not work for you. But again, this is the this is the, the key takeaway here is that once you have this data, then you can manipulate it, and analyse it and look at it from all different angles, and see what your best campaigns are. So you’ll know which campaigns you should be running in the future. So now I’m coming over to the how to name your campaigns and label them and analyse them. Now we’re coming. Now we’re finally coming over to the fascinating world of split testing, and a few a few tests that I want to share with you a couple actually, time is short today. But if you will come into my split testing laboratory. So in sales, I always say ABC, always be always be closing. But in marketing, I always say always be testing, when you take the principles of what I just talked about nomenclature, you can really start testing a whole slew of things. And in brief and brief time that we have left, I want to share with you two basic tests that I’ve done. And you can try them too, because from what I saw, they do drive engagement. And, and there’s so many tests that you can do from subject lines, you know, which practically every ESP offers, all the way down to split testing, SMTP and domain, domain tests and stuff, which is, which not many companies actually offer. But there is a company that was on the list here. It’s also based in Israel called on gauge, they offer this solution where you can actually split test different smtps and domains and stuff, so you can really optimise your deliverability. But in any event, I just want to share with you the research on my findings on the simplest template, and my gift to you. After all it is it is my birthday. So one of these brought me a 29% increase. It’s the simplest test. So now remember how I mentioned earlier that technology trends are making things cooler and cooler. So when it comes to email, though, and especially especially in today’s day and age, and with the current situation that we’re in, I think the instead of investing in the fanciest templates, I think investing in a human relationship is so much more important and and the simpler the template, the better. So here’s a simple plain text email. Now, it’s not really a plain text, it is HTML and the things that you can do in it. So here’s an example from this email comes from Marie Forleo. She’s an American life coach. And last year, she came out with a book called, everything is figured out. And she is the brand and when the person is the brand, especially when the person is the brand, I think really harness, you can really harness this approach as a USP, a unique selling point. So think about ditching the fancy email template for certain emails, of course, and try a simple text template. Here’s an email speaking, you know, just, you know, other kind of big, big templates. You can see the difference here. Right? So why is the plain text email so effective? So in my mind, I think it’s authentic. There’s no hiding behind a template. And of course, when you do that, as I showed you, when you hide behind the template, you lose valuable real estate below the fold, right? Secondly, it’s engaging, simple templates are engaging because they can cut right into the email. And when you cut right into the email you become, you can become an excellent storyteller simple templates. They’re great for telling stories. And when I ran this template, this this this test, right, I don’t have the clients email here. But when I ran this test on on a fancy HTML template, versus taking the same message and reformatting it into a plain text email, I got a 29% increase on my engagement. Okay. So we went from having like one in five people Click on an email tab and one or four. And since and since thoroughly testing this, we’ve since moved the template to a plain template for the daily emails. And this is pretty cool because it opens the door for more things to test. But I know what you’re asking. You’re saying like, okay, so you just stripped everything out of the email, you made it look as boring as possible. What What else can you be testing? Well, of course, there’s so much more that you could test and obviously subject lines, but you could be testing the lead to the email, you could be testing funds, you can be testing a whole bunch of other things when you just open your mind and start thinking about different things. And one other thing that I’ve tested was my gift to you. So the next thing that you can really increase engagement is sprinkling gifts, okay, animated gifts into your email. And when you’re using a plain template, it’s become so easy. So let me show you how to do this. So here’s here’s the video that’s playing for you. Just give you an example here. And we’re going to talk about our options to convey this video, right if you have any video, but here, we’re just using this video as an example, how to use this video in an email in hopes to drive more traffic to your website. So one thing that I absolutely love about this is the movement, the cameras movement, the pens, the lab, obviously have the doctor typing, she’s examining the description. So instead of showing the boring flat picture, I want to use these elements to bring the email to life. So here are a few secrets that I’ve developed. So the next thing can do, obviously, I’ve seen people do play button overlays. And but instead of just keeping it static, right, let’s capture our attention, have the play button pulse, nothing too fast. We don’t want to give anyone a headache, right? But just the simple back and forth motion can really catch your subscribers attention. And what else can we do? So before I said, I really like the, the the person, the doctor how she’s typing, right? So you could just take a very, very small snippet of that video and loop it in a GIF, right? And it just creates this typing forever effect, which kind of like, you know, when the subscriber sees it? Oh, wow, that’s pretty interesting, right. So now, I took off the play button here, but I just want to say you can’t have the play button. But one thing that I would, would totally avoid on this, if I went with this, this, this example is that I would avoid the play button moving, I would have a static play button because I don’t want to have competing images. Again, that would be an eyesore. So we want to delight our customers and subscribers, we don’t want to make things you know, painful for them, give them a headache and stuff like that, we want to actually make things you know, catch their attention, not make them not turn off their attention. And the last thing that I told you here, and here you can see out of the play button overlay back is that making a scene where you have the the camera panning, and you’re showing that it’s not just an image right of a physician in a lab is she’s actually doing something, there’s an actual video to watch now that you have to be careful about two things about gifts like this in an email. So number one is an abrupt ending, if your scene isn’t long enough, it will loop back very quickly. So I recommend having at least four to five seconds, there are tools that you can actually slow down, right. And slow down your your your scene and stuff as well. And that’s also very important because sometimes when you actually have people talking right, if you have a video where people are talking, you want to put in as well you can put in subtitles Now again, we all know like LinkedIn and Facebook and stuff, right? We see, we see videos, and we know that we’re custom that they don’t play with sound. But everyone on LinkedIn and Facebook and Instagram, they’re putting subtitles in their video, right? And and you should do this as well for your emails, obviously, you need to cut it in a way that what makes the most sense. But when you do this, I want you to just pay attention to reading those subtitles. when when when there’s no sound because sometimes when we’re listening to people talk, right, the ear can understand what you’re saying. But when the eyes reading something, it might be too fast for the eyes, he might need to slow those down a little bit. And again, it might sound weird when you’re actually listening to the video in slow motion, but remember, there’s no sound, so everything will be fine. But once you do this, right, you make sure that you don’t have an abrupt ending in your gift and you make sure that the gift isn’t going too fast. Right? Once you do this together will be smoother. And remember when it comes to email, be a copy, and images. Again, we need to delight our customers, because this will help them engage with our users. And I’ve seen this do wonders this actually had a 40% increase in engagement. Because cool gifts make it real, okay? CTR on a, on an unengaged list from 9.3% to 13.1%, which is actually a very, very big bump. So nowadays, when I am looking at emails, I’m always trying to see how can I sprinkle in an Animated GIF into my email. So remember, before, when I said, email marketing is like doing the puzzle, if you don’t have a plan, the pieces will never come together. So I keep hacking and tweaking my emails to get the best results. And I encourage you to do so as well. So before I conclude, and check back to see if there are any questions, I want to just tell a little story about puzzles. So last summer, my family was in Italy, and we bought a puzzle 1000 piece puzzle. And the interesting thing is that, well, actually, there are two interesting things first, first of all, a few three interesting things now that I think about number one is amazing family bonding experience. So that’s, that’s number one. Number two and 1000 piece puzzle actually has 1000 ATP at 1080 pieces. We didn’t count them, we just multiplied the sides. But that’s not the point. The main point that I want to talk about when it comes to email marketing, is that when you have a lot of pieces, right, like an email marketing, the question is where to begin. So obviously, with a puzzle, you start doing the perimeter, you do the the pieces on the side, that’s the basics, right. And then after you get that done, the next thing that you want to do is you want to start grouping the colours together. And that’s phase two. And it’s hard, there’s there’s a lot of trial and error. And the interesting thing happens when you get to phase three. When you get to phase three, all of a sudden, when you start getting nearing the end of the puzzle, the pieces start coming together, and you kind of get an intuition of where the pieces are going to go. And that’s really the amazing thing with doing the puzzle, but also when it comes to email marketing, right? If you have a plan in place, and you really get to know what your audience likes, you kind of get an intuition of where you take the next, you take the next email to you take where you take the conversation. So just a little quick recap. Here. Again, the three ideas that I want to just leave you with today is wisely naming your campaigns using nomenclature. Because this allows you to secretly lace and important information into your campaigns. And number two, remember the simplest template Don’t you know, always think that the fanciest template is going to win out right? Book technology trends, and invest in the human relationship, try it and see what happens. And remember, my gift, my birthday gift to you is to use gifts in an email. And again, I think you will see results improve when you do that. So thank you again, thank you very much. Of course, feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn and Twitter. Because my Twitter handle is a small h SHMUELH. It also happens to be my username on LinkedIn, feel free to reach out and let me just open up the question pane to see if there are any questions. Oh, okay, so what tools do you use to do the guests with the subtitles? So I have a little made a little investment in a little video editor called Animoto, CA, which allows me to make to make videos and then I could, you know, actually has like, you know, giphy giphy Template Library in there so I could put stickers on them sometimes as well. But again, if it’s a very very easy way for me to make the videos and once I make the videos, there are lots of different sites online where you can turn those videos into gifts. Can all devices see gifts? Thanks for the question Ed. Well, back in the day Microsoft the Microsoft Outlook cannot see gifts. But But today can and I want to say like if you got the email from me Nellie earlier about the about about the inbox Expo. I got an in a Microsoft Outlook out app. And the they had a countdown timer, which was working. So I know that the countdown timers and gifts that they’re working in Outlook. But I would I would caution you just to make sure that the default, if user cannot see a GIF, it’s going to be that first slide, the first frame of the GIF, so make sure that the first frame is an important frame. Obviously, you know, you could use a fade in technique with a GIF. But make sure the fade comes at the end. Once it gets placed through and through and through. You’ll you’ll have that gift where it appears to fade in. But you don’t want that fade to be your first slide. I’m sorry, your first frame? Because if it is that then someone that has the default where there is no animated gifts, they’re going to just get a black screen. You’re welcome. Sir, good to see you asked about deliverability. Well, it, it comes down to it in as images. So So obviously, you have to be careful to make sure that you know that the image is not too heavy, especially with people reading their emails on their mobile devices. But you can easily make you can easily send and make a few few second gifts, that’s around three, four megabytes, it’s not a big deal. So you should definitely just be conscientious of that as well. So it doesn’t impact deliverability and slowing down the email in terms of people loading it up. Think I’m just running through. Thank you. Thank you all very much for so much for the birthday wishes. I really appreciate that. I think that is it. So again, thank you very much and have a great day and an amazing conference. Bye Bye, everyone.