At the start of the year I received an email that was not following email marketing best practice.  It was an email I was interested in, and where it not for COVID, would have actioned.  So I thought I would share some insights on this and email marketing best practice.

What happened:

I received an email about goat yoga.  This was a, very fun, activity I tried last year, and signed up for updates.  For those of you that are not aware of what goat yoga is, it is a yoga class outside in a field with goats.

goat yoga

What made me open the email

Now as any marketeer will tell you step one in email marketing is getting people to actually open your email.  We are inundated with emails these days and the average open rate is around 20% for health emails.  That means around 80% of emails do not get opened.  So what made me open this email?

Well first was the relevant subject line – “2021 yoga with goats dates”.  This was very clear what the email was about.  It was a functional, descriptive and short subject line.  This is as it should be.  The subject line is your first opportunity to grab attention and get busy people to open your email.  If it is too “cool” or cryptic it may not actually tell someone enough to work. Tell people what it is they are getting, and do so quickly.  At the time same try not to make it sounds too spammy, generic or boring.  For example “Latest news” would not have got an open from me, but “latest news from goat yoga” might have.

The second reason I opened this email was that I was interested at that point in time.  We were yet again in lockdown and I was looking for outdoor activities.  This is another important element to email marketing best practice – timing.  If you can get the timing right, either in terms of moment in time or specific time of day, you will have more success.  Generally morning on work days is the best time – but it depends of course on your subject and audience.

The final element was that my previous experience was fantastic.  This meant that I was much more inclined to be interested in an email offering another opportunity to have a repeat experience.  This is actually something to think about.  If you are providing a great experience then people are more likely to pay attention to your marketing and engage.  If the experience is less good then why bother opening an email which promises just more of the same?

What did I want to do and what did I actually do

Once I had opened the email I wanted to click through for more information, and potentially book a class.  The purpose of the email was to share the new dates with me, and therefore no doubt also try to drive bookings.

Unfortunately this was not exactly what happened.  I had to search through the email for a link. Instead of a clear call to action and link, e.g. “Click here”, there was nothing visible.  Finally after some searching I saw an icon that I thought might be a link.  I am always a tad worried to click on things in an email for security reasons  but I took the plunge and clicked.

Now at this point I should point out I was digesting all this content in my Outlook browser – not my web browser.  When I did click to open in the web browser I got a slightly different view, as you can see below.  On the left is the web browser version, which does have a “book here” call to action tab.

email screenshot

What happened

The link took me to the Yoga With Goats homepage.  However, this is not just about yoga with goats, but other types of yoga too.  It was also not the hoped for 2021 yoga with goats dates.  So I then had to search the website for this information.  Now you can imagine by this time if I was not really interested in this activity I would have dropped off and given up.  Especially as the “journey” was not over yet.  When I finally found the link to book a session I clicked on it, only to be told the event was over!  Fortunately it offered up some alternative options, one of which was the event I was actually after.

However when I then followed through on the website to actually book the session the event calendar did not have the session available for booking!  After all my hard work to get here I could not even book the session being advertised.

screenshot of booing page


What should have happened

At this point you can probably guess some of things that should have happened.  The “Book now” button should have been visible in all browsers or email viewing options.  Your subject line is the first step.  If you have got them this far then make sure it is easy for your customers to follow through.  Average click through rates are only around 2.8% – do not lower that even further by making it hard to click through.  Your call to action should be clear and easy to action.

Next be mindful of where you are driving people.  In this case the link should have gone straight through to the Yoga with Goats page and not the home page.  Also make sure your website is updated to align with your campaign – and do this in advance of the campaign going live.  In this case the email’s intent was to drive bookings but the website was not set up to do this.

When you send a customer an email you want them to follow through until your end objective.  There are multiple points at which you can lose your customer.  They could not open the email.  They could not read it or click through.  It is an incredibly competitive world so you have to make sure that every step is perfect.  Pay attention to email marketing best practice, or risk wasting budget and losing customers.  Done well email still remains a top channel, but ignore email marketing best practice are your peril.


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