Want to make the most of your email marketing?
I’ll show you how with these 15 best email marketing practices.
Email marketing isn’t going anywhere.
In fact, it alone drives as much revenue as all other digital channels combined according to a survey of US marketing execs.
And the numbers are only going up.
But those numbers don’t happen overnight.
Marketers have to pay special attention to what they’re saying, when they’re saying it and who they’re saying it to – and a myriad of things in between.
Luckily, this list will give you a few tried and true practices proven to increase your returns.
1. Email Marketing Best Practices – Include a CTA
Chances are, you’re sending an email for a reason (and if you aren’t, it’s high time to reevaluate your strategy).
Usually, that reason is a desired click through to your website, a download, sale, etc.
Tell your readers exactly what you want them to do in a clear, concise call-to-action (CTA).
Keep it simple – “download now,” “click for the full story,” etc.
2. Email Marketing Best Practices – Make it Easy to Unsubscribe
While we never want anyone to unsubscribe, it’s important to give them the option.
Make it easy by having a clear unsubscribe button or link, and don’t make them log in and jump through hoops to do so.
3. Email Marketing Best Practices – Use a Real Name in the “From” line (and don’t use a “no reply” address)
People don’t react well to spam mail.
Avoid falling into that category by using a real team member’s name in the “from” box.
A study published in 2010 revealed that 68% of readers opened emails based on the from address, whereas only 26% opened based on the subject line.
This is largely because it helps customers see your email on a more personal level, and you want your mail to be as personable as possible.
Keep in mind: The name you use should be recognizable and well-associated with your brand to receive the desired opens.
4. Email Marketing Best Practices – Have an Opt-In Process
A quick way to lose customers is to bombard them with unwanted emails.
Make sure everyone on your list actually wants to be there by having a clear opt-in process.
That doesn’t mean everyone who downloads your free ebook or signs up for a webinar should be automatically added to the list.
Instead, make it clear that they are signing up to be included in weekly emails, newsletters, etc. by asking for permission.
The most common way to do this is through a checklist as they submit their information. (Ex. Yes, I’d like to receive weekly emails about digital marketing).
5. Email Marketing Best Practices – Segment Your Lists
Not all contacts are created equal, and they won’t all necessarily be interested in reading the same emails.
To ensure the right emails get to the right people, you have to segment your contacts into lists.
Don’t skip this step: Segmented email campaigns have an open rate that is 14.32% higher than non-segmented campaigns, and click-throughs are 100.95% higher in segmented email campaigns than non-segmented campaigns.
You can segment by:
- Past buyer behavior
- Job Titles
- Indicated interests
6. Email Marketing Best Practices – Test for Success
The work isn’t done once you press send.
The next step in the process is to test different variables to find what’s most effective.
Testing’s made easy through programs like Constant Contact and MailChimp; you can choose to do split testing on elements like timing, subject line, and from name.
The metrics you pay the most attention to will depend on the purpose of your email. Are you trying to draw click-throughs? Raise brand awareness?
Whatever your goal, there are a few key components to pay special attention to which we’ll cover shortly.
7. Email Marketing Best Practices – Write a Strong (Creative) Subject Lines
You could have just crafted the most creative, attention-grabbing, visually-pleasing email ever sent.
One caveat? No one will see if it they aren’t first compelled to open it.
Which brings us to the importance of a strong subject line. Do not underestimate just how crucial this element is – it’s the headline of your email, the make-or-break element that determines how many opens it gets.
It must be capture reader’s attention. It must create a question – or the illusion of one – that can only be answered by opening that email.
Strong subject lines typically fall into these categories:
- Provide a benefit
- Pique curiosity
- Include an offer
- Capitalize on urgency
- Appeal to a person’s humanity
- Tell a story
- Rely on humor
When in doubt, use a free tool like SubjectLine; it will evaluate your subject and rate it based on a set of best marketing practices.
8.Email Marketing Best Practices – Address Readers by Name
Small trick of the trade: don’t use generic names like “friend” or “valued customer” when addressing your email recipients.
Instead, go the extra mile and include their actual name.
This information will generally be collected in their submission forms, and automatically uploaded through email platforms like MailChimp.
9. Email Marketing Best Practices – Use Social Proof
What’s social proof, you ask?
It’s Yelp reviews. TripAdvisor ratings. Facebook reviews.
It’s anything other people, customers like yourself, have written about a business.
It works so well because people are quicker to trust other people than businesses. So if you can combine it with your email efforts, your emails will be that much more successful.
And you can. Tell them how many subscribers you have or what your TripAdvisor rating is. Include a snippet from an extremely positive review or the logo of a top brand you work with.
With any of the above in your emails, you’ll increase your credibility in your reader’s eyes, making them quicker to trust your brand.
10. Email Marketing Best Practices – Use Buttons
This is an easy one.
Used mostly with your CTA, a big button is hard to miss.
Instead of just including a link, try adding a button to see how it affects your click-through performance.
11. Email Marketing Best Practices – Use the 1-2-3 Method
When in doubt about what to say in your emails, follow the 1-2-3 method.
Basically, the method outlines the next three steps you want your readers to take. They can be bullet points, numbers, what have you.
For example, if you worked for a charity organization the body of your email would look something like this.
- Read the full story
- Select your donation amount
- Donate today
Clear and to the point. It eliminates any confusion by telling your readers exactly what to do.
Combined with a strong CTA, this can be a highly effective method for gaining the desired result.
12. Email Marketing Best Practices – Pay Attention to Timing
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: timing is everything.
Though the optimal send time will vary by business and industry, as a rule of thumb Tuesday is the best day of the week to send an email (according to 10 email marketing studies).
Interestingly, a recent study by Kissmetrics found that work or financial emails tended to do best right after lunch when recipients were more “in the zone,” while holiday or vacation related emails did best after work hours.
Use these findings as guidelines, and remember the only way to know for sure what works best for your business is to test and test again.
13. Email Marketing Best Practices – Make it Mobile Friendly
You should know this by now, but it’s worth of stating again.
All emails you send must be mobile-friendly.
51% of email is now opened on a mobile device, and In the past three years alone mobile email opens have grown by 180%.
And take it from me, that number’s only going up.
14. Email Marketing Best Practices – Pay Special Attention to the Top Four Metrics
Those being: Click-through rate (CTR), conversion rate, open rate, and ROI.
The above were identified by advertisers, and though importance will vary to some degree depending on your goals, these are generally the four to look out for.
- Click-through rate (CTR) – the percentage of people that click through on your emails relative to the number of emails sent
- Conversion rate – the percentage of people that convert after clicking on your email
- Open rate – the percentage of people that open your emails relative to the number sent
- ROI – average return on investment (net profit/cost of investment)
If you find that the numbers aren’t adding up, look into your testing. Play with your subject lines and CTAs, or trying sending at a different time to see how different elements affect overall performance.
15. Email Marketing Best Practices – Consistency is Key
Once you’ve begun an email campaign, make sure you’re keeping up with it and sending consistent emails.
Often, the frequency will be stated in the sign-up process. Tell people whether to expect daily, weekly, or monthly emails from you. Once you’ve set the expectation, stick to it.
Frequency will depend on your business. If you’re a news organization, for example, it makes sense to send daily emails with the latest news.
Most won’t want to send quite that frequently – weekly or monthly is generally better.
The process is easy to automate through services like MailChimp and Constant Contact, which will store all your contacts and pre-designed templates.
Get Started With Email Marketing Best Practices
These aren’t all necessarily mind-blowing tips, but they do have proven success.
Try using them in your next email marketing campaign, and let us know if you see results.