Automated email can improve customer service, strengthen relationships, and help websites bypass search engines. But most messages fared poorly in user testing and didn’t fulfill this potential.
The Alertbox describes how you have control over two main areas to help your open rate and deliverability.
In most cases, the From field should show a recognizable brand name (if available). When possible, the field should also include a function that clearly distinguishes the message as a transaction rather than an advertisement. In Study 2, "JetBlue Reservations" and "BestBuy Online Store" were the most effective sender names. Both names were 20 characters long, which is appropriate because many inbox views truncate From fields after 20 or 25 characters. If you have a longer name, you might have to rely on the first 20ï¿½25 characters to convince users that you’re legitimate.
People simply don’t open messages that don’t have recognizable sender information. In both rounds of research, this was the number one reason users gave for not opening email.
This is a very important thing that many sites seem to miss. Your From name is set in your global configuration. Make sure you set it to something recognizable.
We saw many subject lines that worked and many that didn’t. The main differentiator was the degree to which the subject line explicitly related to a customer-initiated transaction. Participants deleted email with subject lines that seemed too much like spam (such as "Important information").
"TiVo Rewards Program Ends May 28" was one of the highest-performing subject lines from Study 2. Contrast its specificity, recognizability, and call to action with "Confirmation of Account Activity," which was a vague subject line (what activity?) that didn’t earn clicks.
The very best subject line in Study 1 was "Order has shipped," and similar subject lines continued to score very well in Study 2. In fact, "Order has shipped" was so good that many users didn’t open the message. This is fine if your message contains no additional information that requires the user’s immediate attention. Typically, our participants said they’d save these messages and open them only if the package didn’t arrive and they needed the tracking number.
A good subject line is gold. Invest accordingly in writing the copy.
The subject lines are set in the language file for Joomla, and can be manually constructed in Community Builder. As default, they are:
Account Details for [username] at [sitename]
- Community Builder:
[sitename] – Your Registration is Pending Approval
These both have good parts, the Joomla version includes the username, but the CB version is more specific and actionable (Your Registration is Pending Approval). Maybe the best of both worlds would be:
[username] – Your Registration is Pending Approval at [sitename]
… though perhaps this would not scan well if truncated.
The Email Body
Both the emails from default Joomla and Community Builder seem reasonable. There is a clear call to action on the confirmation links and the source of the email is clear.
Community Builder takes the Edge
As might be expected from a tool that enhances user management, with Community Builder you have very granular control over the email sent to confirm. With default Joomla you have to hack the language files for the most part.
Make sure you pay attention to critical details like these on your site. If you are not using CB, at least change your from name and edit the subject of this email to improve it.
Did I mention our iContact email plugin for Community Builder will be released this week