To make sure that emails are sent to the correct people at the right time and contain useful content, there’s a useful acronym CRITICAL. I will explain what each of the letters stand for.
C stands for creative. Images are really powerful! There’s the old saying that a picture paints a thousand words and this really can be the case. So it’s really important when composing an email to really think about the image(s) you are using. Strong powerful images work best, if you’re not sure stand back from your computer and see if it stands out. Images can also lead users to calls to action (CTA). Users tend to follow where people are looking in photos e.g. if people are looking to the right in the photo, place your CTA on the right hand side.
R is for relevance. Think about who the target audience for your email is, does everybody on your CRM system need to receive it or is it only relevant to specific segment? If the answer is the latter make sure you segment your data so that only those who the email is relevant to, receive it. This helps to stop people being bombarded by emails, if you only send people emails that are relevant to them they will be more likely to open them.
The first I stands for integration. It’s important that email marketing isn’t carried out on its own but forms part of a wider marketing strategy. For example, if you are trying to promote a new course, a new web page is created, then an email can be created to send to prospective students who may be interested in the course with the CTA being to go to look at the new web page.
T is for timing. Look at when most people open your emails. Or if you use an email client such as Mailchimp it can automatically calculate the best time to send your email. However it is worth thinking about who your email is from, is it from the University in general or is it from a specific person? If the case is the latter, then you will need to make sure that email is scheduled to be sent during office hours, as otherwise it may look a bit suspect if it’s sent on a Sunday morning for instance.
The second I is for incentive. An incentive for people to open the emails links back to my earlier point with relevance. If people think the emails are relevant to them, then they are more likely to open them. It’s also important to think about your subject line, vague subject lines tend to mean fewer opens but less conversions e.g. people clicking on the CTA.
The second C is for copy. With people having such busy lives it’s important that copy is succinct and to the point. Users tend to scan web pages or emails in an F-shaped pattern. With this in mind, it is important that the first two paragraphs must state the most important information. Subheadings, paragraphs and bullet points should all start with information-carrying words whenever possible.
A is for attributes. Make sure when you use images in your email that you always provide alternative text, this means if for any reason the images can’t be displayed then the reader will have an understanding of what they should have seen.
Last but not least, L is for landing page. There’s a common misconception that the landing page is always your websites home page, however this is not the case. The landing page can be any relevant section of the website. However, the landing page must always relate to the email, so it will be clear to users why they have been directed to a particular page.
Overall the CRITICAL acronym provides a useful checklist when putting emails together. The acronym helps to ensure that emails are relevant to those that are receiving them, and that email marketing isn’t a standalone function but fits in with the wider marketing strategy.