Beautiful emails matter. A well-organised, well-written email offset by nice graphics and an easy-to-navigate template is more than likely to increase your click-through rate. In an ideal world, there would be more than enough time to design a striking email AND make sure you are using the data you have on your subscribers to generate the most return on your time spent. But how do you balance making an email beautiful and using your data?

Beautiful emails look good and perform well. A well-organised, well-written email with nice graphics and an easy-to-navigate design will more than likely increase your click-through rate. But it's time-consuming to design a striking email while making sure you are using the data you have on your subscribers to generate the most return on your time spent.
 
Most of us operate in a professional environment where time is precious. Almost 50% of email marketers reported that they spend two or more hours on the visual and creative elements of emails they send, and spend less time on using the data they have to its fullest. Is this a good way to prioritise your email creation funnel? How should you rank design and data?
 
First, it’s important to note just how critical data is to the success of your emails. Consumers are continuing to expect personalised experiences online, right into their email inboxes. The data you have on your subscribers can help deliver that unique experience.
 
Your first priority should be identifying what data you have that can improve your open and click-through rates.
 
Over 40% of email marketers report having at least some data on their email subscribers.Your first priority – even before designing those beautiful email templates – should be identifying what data you have that can improve your open and click-through rates.
 
Here are the top three data areas you can use to improve email statistics:
 
SEGMENT YOUR LISTS

Segmenting your emails based on the data you have, such as gender, age or income level, can improve your email open and click-through rate by as much as 21%. Use this data to suggest products or services popular with the specific target demographic.
 
PERSONALISE YOUR INFORMATION

Adding a name or location in your subject line can increase email open rates by 10%. You can get even more granular by offering suggestions based on website browse history or past purchases, if you have this information.
 
PERSONAS

Create email personas based around large groups of data you have on your email subscribers. If, for instance, you know that most of your readership is female, married and 35, you can write your emails with content and tone directed to this audience. Although not as personalised as segmented, targeted emails, this type of email is still effective in speaking to a large portion of your readership in a language and style that is attractive to them.
 
If you're struggling to get data, there are various options. You could identify the anonymous users on your website and emailing them personally. You could send out a survey to those existing subscribers with the incentive of a prize, a survey that's fun to complete or looks good. 
 
The goal is to get working smarter, not harder, and then you'll get results in your email marketing.

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Content and marketing strategist, Khaleelah, has created and implemented digital marketing campaigns for companies including WellTok, the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and Living Social. She has also been published in FullStart, Elephant Journal, the Washington Post and USA Today. Follow her on Twitter @khaleelahjones