These days it seems like everyone has a list of “top tips for email marketing.” At this point you may be asking yourself, “Where do I even begin?”
I don’t blame you. There is an incredible amount of information available on this increasingly important topic and lots of it is old, out-of-date, irrelevant, or worse, just plain wrong.
Lucky for you, we’ve compiled an expert list of current, up-to-date, actionable, and, dare I say, effective “Email Marketing Best Practices.” This is the kind of list you could (and should) use to shape your entire email marketing strategy.
Plus it comes with a huge list of powerful email marketing tips that will supercharge your email marketing and help you blow the socks off your customers.
So, without further ado…
What is Email Marketing?
Before providing our best tips for email marketing best practices, it would be best to start with a quick explanation of what email marketing is.
Email marketing is used to engage potential leads and current customers.
Simply put, you send emails to potential customers in hopes of turning them into paying customers. For example, you can email potential customers your valuable content about your services or products, sales, discounts, or even to schedule a one-on-one phone consultation.
The email marketing process takes you from attaining leads to converting them into a customer via email. This entire process is supported by your sales team.
If you follow these email marketing best practices, then your sales team will be able to use email marketing as a tool to generate leads and customers much more effectively.
But wait, email marketing doesn’t stop there.
Once a lead becomes a customer, you still want to stay connected with them. Let the email marketing process proceed!
You can also use email marketing with your current clients or customers to build loyalty and trust, as well as to keep the business in the top of their mind. By consistently staying in contact with your customers or clients and providing them with valuable information they can use, you’ll eventually turn those clients into evangelists.
So, what is email marketing really?
Email marketing is a powerful way to turn leads into customers and customers into loyal brand evangelists.
O.K., so you get what it email marketing is and why it’s so important. Now it’s time to break down how to do it RIGHT!
Email Marketing Best Practices
Building successful email marketing campaigns is critical for any company, and it is still the best method of reaching people interested in your business and in what you are selling.
The top email marketers with the most successful email marketing campaigns follow email marketing best practices just like the ones listed below, so make sure to read through all the way to the end.
#1 – Start By Taking Inventory
As I mentioned previously, email marketing deals with more than just sending promotions to get people to buy. Chances are, your company currently has various email campaigns going on at the same time.
Before you start any new email marketing campaign, you need to identify and analyze what other emails your company is sending and to whom.
You need to know if and when your company is sending emails and the different lists being emailed in order to be successful with best practice #2.
#2 – Don’t Overwhelm Your List
For example, if you are tasked with starting an email newsletter, you need to decide on a frequency for the emails. If your company is already sending out weekly deals or reminders, don’t overwhelm your subscribers, leads, or customers by sending more emails.
#3 – Incentivize Subject Lines to Boost Open Rates
Understanding the value of your email is highly important if you actually want people to open it. Putting the value right in the subject line will help you boost your open rates. Try including strong messages like, “Free Shipping on All Orders” or an equivalent value, and track your open rates.
#4 – Don’t Leave Your Customers Hanging
Don’t let more than a month pass by without contacting your customers. If your emails are too few and far between, you run the risk of customers forgetting who you are. If one day, out of the blue, they receive an email from your company but they haven’t heard from you for over three months, they will most likely unsubscribe.
#5 – Test to Determine the Perfect Frequency
To find the perfect frequency for your emails, you need to test, review, and iterate.
For example: if you’re just launching an email newsletter, select a frequency to start with—let’s say every week—and test it for a month. View the open rates, click-through rates, responses, and unsubscribes.
Were the results to your liking?
If they weren’t, try another frequency. You can always adjust based on the data.
Once you find your ideal email marketing frequency, stick to it. You don’t want to miss an email because you want to develop trust with your subscribers. You want them to look forward to your emails, and if you miss one, you will lose that trust.
For example: during a 30-day challenge campaign we sent emails everyday at 5 p.m. in the subscriber’s time zone. We made sure everyone around the world got the emails at their 5 p.m. We are so consistent with this that now the email subscribers expect to see the emails at 5 p.m. Gaining and not losing the trust of your subscribers is very important.
#6 – Analyze Results
Sending email campaigns is great, but how do you know if they are effective? Make sure you review open rates, click-through rates, bounce rates, unsubscribes, and if you were marked as spam! The only way you can improve your emails is if you review the data and learn from the results. Always refer back to the numbers!
#7 – Set Goals and Stick to Them
We can’t talk about email marketing best practices without mentioning goals. Every email that you send needs to have a goal.
Having goals tied to your email marketing efforts will determine the structure, content, success, and promotion strategy of every email. It also makes the email marketing process much simpler. Without goals, you’re left floundering about, wondering what you should write in your next email.
If you have a goal for every email campaign, then you define the direction and that determines whether the email is successful.
For example, let’s say that you own a store that sells bed linens. An email goal could be to “teach current customers the right way to make a bed.” This email is for existing customers, and the email content can be written or you could use a video example of what you’re trying to teach them. At the end of your email, you could add a sentence that asks the customer if your email was helpful and review your responses. Always make sure that you have a goal tied to each email marketing campaign.
#8 – Send Yourself a Test Before Launching Your Campaign
Always make sure that you send yourself, or whoever handles approval, a test version of your marketing emails to proofread and to ensure that everything works.
More importantly, can you clearly understand your call to action within the first few seconds of opening the email? If so, great. If not, do your best to clarify your message and make sure your subscribers understand what it is that you want them to do.
You should review the test version of your email on your desktop, phone, and tablet before you send it to your email list. There are small things that you can miss while in the editing view of your email software.
Since you’re here with me today, reading about email marketing best practices, you most likely have an email list you’re sending to already. However, a hot topic that I need to touch on is purchasing email lists.
#9 – Never Buy an Email List
There are many reasons why you should avoid purchasing email lists, but here are some of the main reasons. If you’re using a reputable method of sending marketing emails, the software company most likely doesn’t let you email people who have not opted into your email list. If you do send an email campaign to a purchased list and receive multiple complaints, you will get blocked, and your account will be flagged as a spammer.
You should never purchase email lists, because you won’t receive any value from the transaction. The people you’re emailing have never heard of you, and if you suddenly start emailing them, they will not like it and most likely spam your email. Not only will they not like it, but they won’t buy anything from you.
Successful email marketing campaigns are created from people who opted into receiving emails, know who you are, and look forward to receiving your emails.
One last point we need to keep in mind when it comes to email marketing best practices is setting clear expectations.
#10 – Start the Relationship with a Welcome Letter
When someone opts into your email list, make sure that you send a welcome email explaining what that person should expect in terms of frequency, content, types of emails, and who to contact if he or she should have any questions.
This process starts the relationship off on the right foot by setting expectations right from the beginning. Also, make sure you stick to whatever you mentioned in the email. If you say you’re going to email them every week, don’t skip a week.
There you have it, a powerful list of the dos and don’ts, a steadfast list of email marketing best practices. Now that you’ve got a solid foundation under your feet, it’s time to start tweaking your methods in order to hone your skills and perfect your email marketing strategy.
17 Simply Amazing Email Marketing Tips
#1 – Don’t Do It Just to Do It
Don’t send email marketing campaigns just because you need to check it off your to-do list! Determine the primary goal of every marketing campaign before sending even one email.
#2 – Create a Feeling of Exclusivity
The best emails you get are the ones that offer special information, discounts, or perks for being a member of that list. Do your best to make your email list feel special by including these items and mentioning that they’re the only ones who receive them.
#3 – Create Segmented Lists to Personalize
Segment your list by lifecycle or buyer persona. Segmenting lets you send targeted emails with specific marketing messages that will result in higher engagement and conversions.
#4- Remember to Send Valuable Content Too
Not every email should be “buy this, buy this, buy this!” Maintain a balance between educating your subscribers and promoting your products or services. If you send your email list educational, relevant, and timely information they can use and learn from, they will open more of your emails and engage with more of the content.
#5 – Back Up Your Claim with Social Proof
You can wax poetic about the benefits of your product or service all day long, but every one of your competitors can do the same. Instead, include a review or endorsement by one of your customers in your email and you’ll be showing others what a real person thinks about what you have to offer. If you can include a screenshot of a Facebook comment or tweet, it’s even more powerful because it shows that it’s real and that the person cared enough to share it with their community.
#6 – Personalize Subject Lines with Names
For some reason, we can spot our names in an instant. If people are scrolling through hundreds of emails in their inboxes, they will likely stop for a second if they see their names. When possible, include the subscriber’s name in the subject and the body of the email as well.
#7 – Include Multiple Levels of CTAs
Give your subscribers multiple levels of CTAs to pursue depending on their level of trust with your brand. Start with a simple request like “Like Us on Facebook,” and bring them up to a higher level like “Upgrade Your Level of Service.”
#8 – Include a Downloadable Offer or Gift
Link to a valuable download as a way of adding value to each and every email. If you have a great offer, you should share it with those who have already opted in to your mailing list.
#9 – Request Feedback
Ask your subscribers to reply to your email with answers to questions, reviews, or their own queries about your product. For example, in every Uhuru email we ask subscribers to let us know if they enjoyed the content we’ve shared by responding to the email.
#10 – Personalized Subject Lines with Locations
Just like you did with names, try sending your subscribers emails that include their town or city in the subject line. Test emails with names vs. locations and see which gets the better open rate, click-through rate, etc.
#11 – Re-engage Your Subscribers with a Second Email
Do you have a very low open rate? Send a reengagement email to get the subscriber interested again. Re-engagement campaigns can include sending a survey to ask what they would like to see more of, a change in email preferences, or based on their history send them a discount or freebie you know they will love.
#12 – Set Up a New Subscriber Email Workflow
When a new person subscribes to your email list, in addition to your welcome email, send 4 to 5 additional emails that introduce your company. These emails could include the most popular content on your website, guides, whitepapers, or checklists that you have developed, and fun facts about your business.
#13 – Write Your Emails As If You Were Talking to a SIngle Person
Don’t generalize your content. Write your emails as if you’re writing it to your best customer. It will make your emails more personal and make the reader feel special. Be sure to include the words “you,” “I,” “us,” etc.
#14 – When Directing People to a Page on Your Website, Include Multiple Links
Add a link to a button, text, and an image. These additional links increase the chances of people clicking through on the link.
#15 – Use Buttons
People like clicking on buttons more than linked words. If you haven’t figured it out by now, you have to make things as easy as possible for your subscribers. People don’t give a whole lot of attention to reading most of their emails, so be very clear about what you want your subscribers to do.
#16 – Always Include a “P.S.”
We’ve tested using a postscript in our emails and including a link as well. Most of the time, the link in the P.S. is the most-clicked element. You can include a link to a recent blog post, downloadable offer, etc., and test your response to determine what your subscribers like best.
#17 – If You Have an Urgent Email, Include a Sense of Urgency in Your Subject
Use time-sensitive action words that will encourage your readers to act immediately instead of waiting.
Keep these powerful email marketing tips in mind the next time you’re working on your emails. I know these email marketing best practices and tips will set you on the path to email marketing success.