Best Practices for Email Marketing
Planning to focus more on your email marketing in 2019?
You’re a smart cookie. While email marketing is by no means the newest or sexiest marketing channel out there, it nevertheless outperforms pretty much EVERY other channel you can think of, including ads, SEO, and more.
Bearing this in mind, it makes more sense for you to invest your time and energy into refining your existing email marketing campaigns. Once you’ve nailed your email marketing, THEN go on to focus on other strategies.
In this blog post, we’ll share 9 email marketing best practices that you can use to supercharge your email campaigns. Let’s jump right in!
Email marketing best practices: Crafting your email strategy
From a high-level perspective, the strategy behind your email marketing is what makes or break your campaigns.
Use our following email marketing best practices to fine-tune your strategy, and take your campaigns to the next level.
1. Milk your transactional emails
If you’re not 100% sure what transactional emails are, they’re basically emails that you send to your recipient in order to facilitate some sort of order, purchase, or conversion.
For instance, transactional emails utilized by eCommerce stores include order confirmation emails, shipping confirmations emails, and so on.
For SaaS businesses, transactional emails include account creation emails, purchase receipts, account notifications, etc.
Now, most marketers don’t pay much attention to these emails. After all, there’s nothing interesting about these emails — all they do is convey transactional information to the recipient.
Here’s the thing, though… These emails are proven to drive open and click through rates that are drastically higher than your other emails.
We’re not just talking 2x or 3x, but a whopping 8x higher:
Bearing this in mind, who’s to say that you can’t milk your transactional emails, and use them to do double-duty?
Here’s an example: say you’re sending your customer a shipping confirmation email.
Apart from simply using the email to notify them that their item has been shipped, add a one-liner at the bottom to encourage them to snap a picture of the product and upload it onto social media (in exchange for 10% off their next purchase).
This way, you can maximize the “visibility” of your transactional emails, and use them to achieve your secondary goals and objectives!
2. Don’t spam your email subscribers
Intuitively speaking, the vast majority of marketers KNOW that their customers will get turned off if a brand sends them too many emails.
So… why do these marketers still spam their subscribers?
Simple. It’s because everyone’s definition of “too many emails” is different.
So, Consumer A might want to receive a maximum of ONE email per week — but Brand B, whom they’re subscribed to, might mistakenly think that they’re fine with getting product recommendations thrice a week.
How do you fix this? Simple — make sure you clarify expectations upfront.
Look, if you want to email your subscribers every single day, that’s perfectly okay, AS LONG AS they’re aware of this and on board.
To make sure that this is the case, you can explicitly state how often you’re going to email your subscriber at the point where they sign up for your newsletter, like how Bon Appetit does here:
Some other companies also let their subscribers choose the frequency at which they want to receive emails, which is pretty smart:
The bottom line? Make sure you and your subscribers are on the same page, and you won’t have to worry about spamming them!
3. Segment your email subscribers
Next on our list of email marketing best practices is… segmenting!
Say you own a time tracker tool that helps business professionals increase their productivity, and you’ve got 5,000 of these professionals in your email list.
Do you think all 5,000 of these folks will use your tool in the same way? Or have the same favorite feature?
Nope, of course not.
Bearing this in mind, it’s important for you to segment your email subscribers, so you can personalize your email campaigns to be more relevant to them.
You can segment your subscribers according to:
- Demographics (age, gender, location, job title)
- Past purchases, past website viewing history
- Past engagement (if they’ve read/clicked on your previous emails)
- Level of expertise (beginner, intermediate, advanced), and more.
Doing this brings you HEAPS of benefits, such as:
To learn more about email segmentation, read VerticalResponse’s Guide To Email List Segmentation,
4. Send your emails at the optimum time
Here’s a mistake that many rookie marketers make: they finish crafting their email, preview it to make sure there are no typos, then immediately send it out to all their subscribers.
Why shouldn’t you do this? Well, sending your email at a specific day and time can actually get you better results.
Obviously, you should do some A/B testing to figure out what works for you, but generally speaking, most marketers find that emailing on a weekday works better than doing the same on a weekend.
And when it coming to timing, Mailchimp says that around 10am to 11am is the best time to get those emails out:
To clarify, that’s between 10am to 11am of YOUR SUBSCRIBER’S timezone, not yours.
Make sure you use an email marketing platform that allows you to schedule your campaigns based on your subscribers’ timezones, because not all of them do.
Email marketing best practices: Email copywriting and content
Alright, that’s all we’ve got for you when it comes to email strategy.
Next up, we’ll look at email marketing best practices that will help you improve your copywriting and content.
5. Don’t use the old “bait and switch”
With the bait and switch technique, you’re basically enticing your subscriber to open your email with an interesting hook or opener, without delivering on that opener within your email.
Look, we get it — you want to improve your open rates, and get more folks to read your emails.
That said, you shouldn’t mislead your subscribers in order to do this. This will break whatever trust you’ve build up with them; it’ll also result in your Unsubscribe rates soaring through the roof.
For example, check out this email that features the subject line: “RE: CURRENTLY IN OFFICE”…
If you’re a subscriber who’s received this email, you might click upon it, assuming that it’s from a colleague that needs to reach you urgently.
When you realize that it’s actually a promotional email that’s intentionally designed to mislead you, you’ll probably be pissed.
6. Don’t use salesy, aggressive words in your emails
If you use a single “Buy Now” Call To Action within your email, that’s probably fine.
But if 99% of your email consists of salesy and aggressive words, such as:
Click here to get the BEST deal on our LATEST collection. Special promotional offer, you don’t want to miss this one-time deal. Flash sale now ongoing, free gift with purchase, don’t miss out!!~!~!
…then you can bet that your email won’t make it past those spam filters.
For a complete list of words to avoid using, check out HubSpot’s guide.
Email marketing best practices: Email templates and design
To wrap up, we’ll explore a few more email marketing best practices that deal with email design.
As you’ll see, email design isn’t just about making your emails look good… there’s more than meets the eye here!
8. Go easy on the images
You know how they always say, a picture is worth a thousand words?
Well, that might be true, but that doesn’t mean you should devote 90% of your email to pictures, and only 10% to text.
Again, doing this will trigger spam filters, and you might just end up in the “Promotions” tab instead of “Primary” (or worse, in the Spam folder).
So, what’s the ideal image to text ratio that you should strive to hit?
According to Mailchimp, an email that’s 20:80 image to text works the best. Steer clear of emails that consists purely of images… if the images don’t load for some reason, here’s what your subscriber will see:
9. Aim for “human” instead of “polished”
Traditionally speaking, marketers have always tried to ensure that their emails are beautifully designed and sleek.
That said, email campaigns that are overly polished can come across a little robotic, and/or devoid of personality.
When your email subscriber receives one of these emails in their inbox, they can also tell — at first glance — that the email is part of an automated campaign. They might still read your email, but they won’t feel obliged to engage or respond.
So, consider going for a more “human” approach instead, even if this means nixing the beautiful templates, and opting for a bare-bones email.
For instance, check out this email that’s sent as part of Cogsworth’s onboarding campaign:
The email is as basic as it gets — there’s a link to a video, but that’s about it.
While it certainly won’t win any awards for Best Email Design, it definitely feels like there’s someone on the other end of the screen who’s actually emailing you, and that entices subscribers to click and respond.
9. Test out different Call To Actions buttons
A key part of email design are those Call To Action buttons.
How big should your buttons be? Where should they be placed? What colors should your buttons be? Should you use a special shading effect to make them more “clickable”?
The best way to find out is to A/B test your emails.
Apart from A/B testing the type of button you use, make sure you also A/B test using a button instead of an in-text link.
A button is obviously more prominent and attracts more attention, but you never know… your subscribers might prefer a softer approach, in which case an in-text link might work better.
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