Expert Email Design Tips From Klaviyo’s Ecommerce Summit, Part Two

by Juliana Casale

Last updated on September 17th, 2018

Klaviyo:BOS

Welcome! For those of you just tuning in:

Last week I attended Klaviyo: BOS, a two-day summit focused on growth tactics and business strategy for online merchants and ecommerce brands. Session topics ranged from Facebook Messenger bots and segmentation to email design and marketing automation.

I took a ton of very squiggly, sometimes illegible notes and thought it would be a shame to keep them on paper, so I sat down and started writing a blog post:

Expert SEO and CRO Tips From Klaviyo’s Ecommerce Summit, Part One

I was at about 2,000 words when I had to take a break, so here we are again for Part Two!

Today we’re going to cover the ins and outs of what to do once you’ve captured someone’s email address on your website, with a recap of these two expert sessions:

  • Email A/B Testing: Beyond the Subject Line
  • Designing Emails That Convert

Without further ado…

1. Email A/B Testing: Beyond the Subject Line

Abby Siciliano, Elite SEM

Abby Siciliano, Senior Strategist at Elite SEM

Session Overview:

This presentation covered real-world cases of email A/B tests and the (sometimes surprising) results of what won and what didn’t.

To kick off the conversation, Abby made four key points:

  1. The majority of email marketers aren’t regularly A/B testing what they’re sending to customers, which is a missed opportunity because…
  2. Data-driven design decisions eliminate guesswork, improve the user experience, and drive consistent business growth
  3. Marketers also tend to run one A/B test, find a winning variant and stop there. But A/B testing should be continuous, as shown in this chart:

A/B testing: champions and challengers

When you find an email design element that performs well and you run with it, you should always check in down the line to see if it’s still working or try to find another variant that performs even better.

4. Lastly, it’s important to run your A/B tests for long enough that you achieve statistical significance. 95% is the golden number!

Abby’s Examples: 3 Email A/B Tests and Winning Variants

1. Email Design A/B Test: Text over image vs. Text on plain background

Email design A/B test: copy length

And the winner is….

A, with a 33% lift in clicks and a 48% lift in revenue.

2. CTA Copy A/B Test: “Get Yours” vs. “Shop Parachutes”

Email Design A/B test: CTA copy

And the winner is….

B, with a 60% lift in clicks and a 43% lift in conversion.

3. Promo Copy A/B Test: 25% off vs. $10 off

Email A/B Test: promo copy

And the winner is….

A, with a 22% lift in clicks.

Additional Email Design Elements To A/B Test:

  • CTA button color and placement
  • Timing/frequency of customer outreach
  • Plain text vs. visual design elements
  • Number of website touch points before a purchase decision
  • One product vs. multiple, or multiple variations of the same product vs. one image

Abby’s Email Design Tips:

  • Punch up the mystery. “Find out why” works a lot better than “Read it all” as CTA button copy because you’re amping up the curiosity of your readers and teasing them with what they don’t know. It’s a BuzzFeed-esque approach, but it works!
  • People spend about three seconds looking at an email, so less is more when you’re writing copy. Try to keep things short, sweet, and to the point so people click through to your site.
  • Customers don’t always buy right away, so make sure you’re giving yourself a long enough time window when you’re evaluating whether an A/B test variant improved the performance of an email campaign. Looking back after 24 hours is not a true representation of your user base.
  • To ensure your emails are designed with focal points in the right order, try the 3-second test. Turn away from your computer, wait a few beats and then look back at the screen. What were your eyes drawn to? Is it the right piece of the design?

For more A/B testing examples and email design tips from Abby, you can check out the full session deck here.

2. Designing Emails That Convert

Matt Sanocki, founder at Mineral.io

Matt Sanocki, Founder at Mineral.io

Session Overview:

An example-packed presentation walking through the five principles of creating effective and enjoyable ecommerce promo emails.

Matt Sanocki’s 5 Email Design Principles

1. Be Mindful of The Paradox of Choice

Marketers are under pressure to increase engagement, CTRs, and on-site conversions. This leads to people trying to cram in as many calls to action as they can into one email. Don’t do it! Stick to one main focus point so you achieve your primary goal. 

simplicity in email design

2. Avoid Font Overload and Opt For Scannable Text

More than two fonts in one email is a lot for a customer to process. Keep things simple so the focus is on the CTA and not the visual clutter. Matt says Sans Serif fonts work well across all devices.

As for copy length: Unless your product requires a lot of explanation, you should cut down on the copy and focus on getting your point across quickly. Need help? Matt recommends the following tools: Hemingway Editor and five.sentenc.es.

design tips short vs. long email copy

3. Make the Most of Visual Cues

Use triangles, stacked triangles and zig zag designs to draw your customer’s eye down the email. Leverage images, headlines and sub-headers to highlight what’s most important. Experiment with animated GIFs and directional cues. And if you’re not sure whether you’re conveying the message correctly, use the “squint” test (similar to Abby’s 3-second test).

email design visual hierarchy

4. Ensure CTA Buttons Are The Star of the Show

Your CTA buttons should be big enough and bright enough to stand out against the text of your email, placed above the fold, and given breathing room to stand out. Always use action words to get customers to click on the button, and cater to their sense of self by using “me” or “my” in copy rather than “you” or “your.”

CTA button experiments

5. Design For Mobile

It’s 2018. All of us are buying products on our phones, so it’s time to stop treating mobile users as an afterthought once we have designed for desktop shoppers. Make sure your email text is readable on mobile devices, and use live text so people can copy/paste a coupon code using their fingers. Try to use email design layouts that condense well.

mobile friendly email layouts

Recap:

  1. Limit your offers
  2. Keep your copy short and readable
  3. Build a clear visual hierarchy
  4. Optimize your CTA buttons
  5. Mobile first, always

Matt Sanocki’s Additional Email Design Tips

  • Keep your email branding consistent with your website by using your logo and color palette
  • Use CTA button action words like “Get,” “Read” or “Try”
  • If you have a secondary CTA, you can mute the tone of the button color so it’s not as prominent
  • If you’re sending an abandoned cart email, remove social links to avoid distractions
  • An open rate below 15% is scary territory

For more email design tips from Matt, you can check out the full session deck here.

Conclusion

As I learned from both Abby and Matt, email design is a constant cycle of ideation, testing, and follow-through. As with any marketing strategy, your mileage may vary; what works best for one brand may not necessarily be the right tactic for another brand’s target audience.

No matter what, keep trying out new ideas and challenging assumptions about what your customers will respond to; you just might be surprised by the results!

Up next in Part Three:

Brand Building
  • Rewarding Customer Loyalty
  • Channel Differentiation and Ownership
  • Content Marketing For Your Online Store

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Juliana Casale

Juliana is the Head of Marketing at Crazy Egg, working remotely out of Boston. She loves content, social media, flavored seltzer and craft beer. You can follow her on Twitter @attackofthetext.

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