Top 10 Email Marketing Best Practices
Effective communication with your customers is a key ingredient to a well-developed marketing plan. One of the ways that many companies choose to do that is through email marketing. Email marketing is an efficient way to bring your message directly to your customers. However, there are some fatal mistakes that people make during email marketing that can put your messages straight into the junk mail folder. Keep your client communications out of the spam folder with these ten best practices in email marketing.
- Welcome Email
- Keep it Personal
- Lean List
- Optimize What People See
- CTA Placement
- Make it Readable
- Quality is Key
- Stay on Brand
- Make Adjustments
1. Welcome Email
One of the best ways to have effective email marketing campaigns is to make sure that people actually want to read what you are sending. A simple and efficient way to do this is to send a welcome email as soon as the user subscribes to your list. This email should serve a few purposes. First and foremost you are letting the client know that they have successfully subscribed to your email list.
Next, you are confirming that they actually want to be on your email marketing list. This method of confirming the subscriptions is called ‘double opting-in.’ The intention here is to make sure that only people who want your emails are receiving them. Your initial welcome email should contain some easy way for people to unsubscribe if they are on the list by mistake. You might be concerned that doing this could reduce the number of people on your mailing list. But by having a more narrow list you are keeping only interested customers and increasing your efficiency.
Make a Promise and Keep It
Finally, you want to let the subscriber know what to expect. Will you be sending out a monthly company newsletter? Are they signing up for exclusive VIP deals? This is an opportunity to cultivate your brand’s presence in your customer’s mind. Start on the right foot with each client by making a clear promise and keeping it.
2. Keep it Personal
No one likes generic emails that are intended for mass marketing. Moreover, how many people actually open those emails? A great way to make sure that your email marketing campaign is effective is by keeping the emails personal and relevant. How do you do that?
Goodbye No reply
For starters get rid of the no-reply email address. Nothing screams impersonal like telling your customers that you can’t be bothered to reply to their emails. Instead, try using a professional but personal email address. For example, johnsmith@desertfoothillsdigital. Having a person associated with the email address keeps it personal while adding the company domain keeps it professional. Another way to scare customers is with an email address that is difficult to read or coming from a free domain. Each of those can get you placed right in the spam folder.
Segment your Audience
Now that we have covered ways to give your email marketing a more personal touch let’s take a look at how to make sure that it is relevant. A great way to keep your content relevant is to segment your audience. Offering exclusive deals to your most valuable customers can help to drive business. Moreover, offering deals on products or services that your customers actually want can create users who are loyal to your company. It is likely that you know your audience well enough that as soon as I mention segmentation you already know where to go. But just in case you need a little inspiration, here is a great guide to audience segmentation.
There is a lot of debate about when to schedule your email marketing or social media posts to be the most effective. Obviously, the aim is to reach the largest possible audience, but how do you actually do that? Interestingly, the consensus seems to be that whatever time of day people sign up for your services is the best time of day to reach out to them. On reflection it seems sort of obvious, doesn’t it? But some people are unable or unwilling to use professional marketing software to send these emails out at the exact right time of day. If you happen to fall into that category then the best advice for you is to send out your emails in the morning.
While scheduling your emails to send in the morning you might wonder, how often you should be sending emails? Once per day? Once per week? Once per month? Quarterly? Fortunately, this ties back into the promise that you made in your welcome email. If your customer is subscribing to a monthly company update then it would be silly to send emails any more frequently than once per month. Similarly, if they are subscribing to a weekly blog then you need to send out that blog post every week. However, if you are sending out time-sensitive deals then you might need a more frequent schedule. Obviously, you want to avoid sending multiple emails in a day. In general, it is advised to send no more than 1 email per day and no less than 1 per week. Any more than 1 email per day and you will get filed with spam. Any less than once per week and you run the risk of being forgotten.
Plan for Holidays
When scheduling your email marketing campaign you also want to be cognizant of what will be going on in the world when people receive your emails. This is critical for two reasons. First, as a human being, you don’t want to be sending out Black Friday reminders on Thanksgiving day. However, it would be irresponsible to miss out on the opportunities that come with the busiest shopping day of the year. Scheduling your content with holidays and other factors in mind can save you a headache in the long run and keep your content relevant for your customers.
4. Lean List
I mentioned earlier that having a lean list of customers who actually want to receive your emails can increase your success rate. You might end up with a smaller list of customers overall, but they will be the right customers for you and your company. The best ways to keep your list down to only interested customers are to make unsubscribing easy and remove emails that bounce back. Allowing uninterested customers to easily unsubscribe from your list saves you time and effort from chasing after people who will never convert. Similarly, don’t waste your time and effort sending emails to addresses that don’t work. Periodically removing all email addresses that bounce back from your list will help keep your list lean and focused.
5. Optimize What People See
Let’s be honest, do you read every email that you receive? No, you look at the subject line, maybe the preview text, and decide whether or not you are going to open it, respond or just delete it right away. Unless you are one of those people that have 1,000+ unread emails. I have no idea what you people are doing when you get an email. Anyway, if few people are going to read the entire email then you need to make what they do see count.
SUBJECT LINE !!!!!
The first thing anyone sees is your subject line. Some studies have shown that 50% of users will decide whether to open an email based on the subject line. Avoid subject lines that use all capital letters or too many exclamation points. A subject line THAT LOOKS LIKE THIS!!!!!!! is getting ignored at best, likely put in a spam folder, and at worst reported for phishing. Instead, try to use a subject line that succinctly tells the customer what to expect if they open the email. Give it some thought and planning. Your subject line is the email marketing first impression so make it count.
Just like your subject line, the preview text in your email is one of the first things that your customer will see. Your preview text should also be crafted with the idea of drawing in your customer. Consider using questions, power words, or anything else that you think will grab your customer’s attention enough to cause them to open the email. Your preview text should also be a little peek into what the email will contain. Your preview text provides your customer with a reason to open the email.
6. CTA Placement
In case you are new to the marketing universe, a Call to Action (CTA) is the next step that you want your user to take. Maybe you are looking to have users sign up for a class. A simple CTA could be something like ‘Register Now.’ Your CTA is how you turn potential users into actual customers. In order to be efficient in an email campaign, your CTA needs to have good placement and drive action.
Above the Fold
The best placement for your CTA is above the fold in your email marketing. Of course, there is no literal fold in an email. In the digital world being above the fold means that your CTA needs to be visible without your user having to scroll. Your CTA is how you drive your user toward whatever action you desire them to make after receiving your email. The key here is to keep your CTAs visible, easily accessible, and powerful.
One way to keep your CTA powerful is to make your email time-sensitive. Users are driven toward action when there is a good reason for them to act. One of the great incentives for action is a time limit. If your sale ends in 24 hours and your potential client can see the timer ticking away they will feel a greater urge to take a look at what you are offering. In contrast, if there is no sense of urgency your email might remain in their inbox unused. They may even have the best intention of exploring your offer but never get around to it because the CTA is not visible, accessible, or powerful enough.
7. Make it readable
There is no point in starting an email marketing campaign if no one can read it. Here are a few of the key points to remember when putting together your emails.
These days individuals are not just accessing their emails via a desktop computer. More and more often people are checking their mail by using their mobile devices. That means that your email needs to be readable on a variety of digital devices. In other words, your email needs to render correctly in a variety of settings. A simple way to make sure that the people receiving your emails can read them is by standardizing your dimensions. A good rule to stick with is to keep your email between 500-650 pixels wide.
View in Browser Link
Having a backup plan is always a safe bet. It is possible that some parts of your email might not be compatible with every software on every device. One good way to sidestep this issue is to use a “view in browser link.” This link should be placed at the top of the page (above the fold) so that any issue is quickly and easily resolvable.
Remember that you have a diverse audience. It is possible that some of the people on your email list might have some form of visual impairment. A great way to keep your emails accessible to everyone is to use ALT tags on your images. Put periods after the images so that the screen reader pauses. A well-placed pause can make your email significantly more clear. Finally, check the image contrast ratio. If you have to squint to read it you might want to consider using different colors. For instance, a green background is notoriously difficult to match well with text.
Did you know that the human attention span is correlated with age? The rule that teachers are taught is to expect students to only be able to pay attention for as many minutes as their age. Meaning that an eight-year-old can be expected to pay attention for eight minutes. Unfortunately, this correlation seems to have a cap at twenty. The average person cannot be expected to pay attention for more than twenty minutes straight and that’s only if it’s something you want to pay attention to. What does this have to do with email marketing? Well, frankly people aren’t going to be paying very close attention to your emails. You need to make them interesting and easily skimmable if you are going to capture anyone’s attention. Brief, clear headers and bullet points are your friends here.
Once you have mastered all the things that make your email readable, you can start thinking about how to make it appealing to the eye as well. A few simple design aspects to keep in mind are things like using fewer than three typefaces. Also, positioning your logo either in the upper left-hand corner of your email or directly centered above the rest of the email content.
8. Quality is Key
You want people to want to read your emails. One way to make this happen is to ensure a level of quality in each email. Having a quality assurance checklist that you go over before sending any correspondence can help with this. Something else that can help is to send desirable content.
Reward Loyal Customers
When I say desirable content I mean rewarding customers who frequently open emails. This could mean anything from sneak peeks at your next blog article to special VIP offers. A great way to create desirable content is by reminding your customers why they subscribed to your email list in the first place.
9. Stay on Brand
In all communications with your customers, you want to remember the core tenants of your brand. Promoting a consistent brand image can help to build your reputation both with your current customers and with your future customers. For that reason, it is important to keep all messaging thoughtful and targeted.
A great direction to target your emails is in linking back to your existing pages. If you are able to closely tie an email to an existing landing page you should do so. You should also make sure that your landing pages and emails match ascetically. Having a consistent brand across emails and landing pages builds trust in the content that your customers are receiving.
Another aspect to consider including in each of your marketing emails is linking to your social media. Having a pre-set footer that includes your social media (as well as that unsubscribe button we talked about earlier) not only builds your brand’s credibility but also can help to drive traffic to your social media pages. This also allows you to be reachable by your customers through a variety of channels at any given time.
10. Make Adjustments
The final practice that you absolutely must include in your email marketing campaign is flexibility. It is up to you to see what is both working and not working in your campaigns and to adjust accordingly. Practices like A/B testing can help with this. Trying out different images or copy for emails can help you gauge what your customers enjoy and what leads them to click on a call to action. Never get stuck in any one way of sending emails. Innovation is a key element to success.