If you’re looking to improve your email marketing results, then you need to pay attention to the email campaign best practices we’ll be discussing in this blog post. Things like leveraging effective lead magnets, using double opt-in, and ensuring the use of email delivery best practices are essential if you want your emails to reach their intended recipients. For example, did you know, using a “no-reply” email address can actually have a negative impact on your email marketing results? In order to determine what works best for your audience, and take your email marketing to the next level, let’s get cracking on the following best practices!
Leverage Effective Lead Magnets
There is a lot of competition to get email subscribers because there is so much information and resources available, which leaves subscribers the opportunity to be selective. It’s difficult to show the value of your email content (prior to someone subscribing), which presents the great opportunity that is a “lead magnet”.
Plainly put, your email campaign best practices should include some subscription incentive!
Arguably this then suggests one of the main difficulties of building an email list as “acquiring email addresses from potential subscribers”. This can be done in a number of ways, such as through a sign-up form on your website, or by asking people to subscribe when they make a purchase. However, you need to be careful not to overdo it, as asking too many people for their email address can be off-putting.
A great way to increase the number of email addresses you acquire is by providing an incentive that you offer in exchange for someone’s email address. It could be anything from a free ebook, to a discount on your products or services, access to helpful tools, etc. The important thing is that it’s something your target audience will find valuable.
If you’re not sure what sort of lead magnet to offer, then take a look at your competitors and see what they’re doing. The key is not to copy them, but rather to see what additional value you can provide that is better – Or providing a lead magnet offer that fills a gap left by your competitor. Alternatively, you could carry out deeper market research to find out what kind of incentive would be most appealing to your target audience.
Deploy Exit Intent Pop-Ups
Have you ever visited a webpage, and when leaving, or clicking to another post a pop-up displays asking you to subscribe? That’s an “Exit Intent Pop-Up”. This is a feature you would have added to your web pages, and they work particularly well when providing a useful lead magnet. Naturally, this is a feature you should deploy as part of your email campaign best practices.
There are a number of reasons you should consider using an “Exit Intent Pop-Up” to increase email list subscribers. For starters, they’re an effective way to capture email addresses from people who are about to leave your website. This is because when someone is about to leave, their attention is focused away – The pop up serves as a brief reminder that they might have missed a valuable offer.
There a caveat to this though: Make SURE the pop-up is TRULY valuable, and genuine, that it’s very compelling.
Another reason they’re effective is because people are more likely to subscribe when they’re already interested in what you have to offer. This means that by displaying an “Exit Intent Pop-Up” on your website, you’re more likely to capture email addresses from people who are actually interested in what you have to say, as opposed to people who are only mildly interested, or worse – People who aren’t interested at all.
Use a Confirmed Opt-In System
This is should always be part of your “must do” email campaign best practices! Why? — A confirmed opt-in, or double opt-in, is a system used by email marketers to ensure that the email addresses they add to their email list are legitimate. It works by requiring the email subscriber to confirm their email address by clicking on a link that is sent to them in an email.
This helps to reduce the number of email addresses that are added to email lists through spamming, as well as helping to reduce the number of bounced email messages. More importantly… It also helps to ensure email subscribers actually want to receive emails from you, which is an important factor in increasing email open rates and click-through rates.
Send Welcome Emails – Immediately
When someone subscribes to your email list, you should send them an email right away welcoming them. This is important because it helps to show that you appreciate their subscription, and it also helps to introduce them to your email content.
A welcome email should be short, sweet, and to the point. It should also include a link to your latest blog post, or another piece of content that you think they would find valuable.
Moreover, a welcome email is a great opportunity to set expectations with your email subscribers. For example, you could let them know how often they can expect to receive emails from you, what type of content they can expect to receive, etc.
Naturally, this first email will also provide them with the lead magnet you promised. Do not use the welcome email as a “sales pitch”.
Use Auto-Responders for Opt-Ins
After people subscribe, use an auto-responder to be sent to them after 3, 6, and 9 days. Why? Simply put… People can forget, so it’s helpful to reach out and keep them in the loop as well as engaged. In my opinion this ranks among the most powerful email campaign best practices – Automation helps to ensure a smooth campaign!
Your email sequence should include high quality, valuable content, and resources – This keeps rewarding them, and builds further interest!
Personalize Your Email Greetings
When email subscribers see their name in the email greeting, it helps to create a personal connection with them, arguably this is one of the most common email campaign best practices you should always employ! Personalized email greetings also help to increase email open rates, as well as click-through rates.
In addition, personalizing email messages helps to show that you care about your email subscribers, and that you appreciate their subscription.
One important thing to consider is the use of subject line emojis as a personalization technique. The bottom line… Think twice before doing this – A lot of people (from my own experience) will ignore, delete, or mark as spam (those messages). Several have told me (bluntly) that they are annoying and distracting – Yet it seems for others the results are mixed, and for still others the results are encouraging.
Granted, they provide greater visibility, but on the flip side they are annoying. This then suggests, the use of emoji’s needs to consider the expectations of the subscriber group you’re pitching to.
In fact the Nielsen Norman Group provided their results of a study: “Emojis in Email Subject Lines: Advantage or Impediment” where they explored the results.
What stood out (for me), in their results were the guidelines:
- Don’t use emoji’s in subject lines because you might think they look nice.
- Only Use emoji’s if and where they really do add genuine true value.
- Be selective about how often you use them (don’t overdo it).
I won’t expand on the details, as their post does a great job!
Strategically Use Effective “Thank You” Pages
Thank you pages are often plain, and are one overlooked facet of email campaign best practices that you should leverage. After the CTA has been satisfied what happens next? This is where your “thank you” page can be better positioned to help. It’s important to realize that it can be used not only to tell visitors what happens next, but also to help guide you new subscriber.
That page can help drive traffic to important or relevant content. It can help improve open rates (as subscribers are looking out for your auto-responder email sequence). It also important to realize that your “thank you” page can also help improve conversions!
Ensure the Use of Email Delivery Best Practices
Email deliverability is crucial to your email marketing campaign success for a variety of reasons.
First, if your email messages are not being delivered to your subscribers’ inboxes, they will not see them and you will not reach your target audience.
Second, email deliverability can impact your email sender reputation, which can lead to fewer email messages being delivered in the future.
Don’t Use “No-Reply” in the Sender’s Email Address
Using a “no-reply” email address in your email marketing campaign is not a good idea because people can’t reply to your emails. This means they can’t ask you questions about the email or anything else. Additionally, using a “no-reply” email address can come across as rude and unprofessional – It’s a clear way of signaling you’re not interested in engaging. Therefore, it’s not a good fit for email campaigns (where you welcome reader engagement).
It’s important to remember that your email campaign best practices are intended to help you grow, while providing valuable benefits to subscribers!
Side note: “No-Reply” email addresses are something normally used for transactional email. For example, when resetting a password, or getting a purchase receipt, etc.
Use an Easily Remembered Sender’s Name
When you use an easily remembered sender’s name for your email campaign, it makes it easier for people to remember who sent the email. Not only is this part of the email campaign best practices, it also is a much more effective, engaging way to growth.
This can help to increase email open rates, because people are more likely to open an email if they recognize the sender’s name. It also helps to build a relationship with your subscribers, and makes them more likely to buy from you in the future.
Use the Best Email Frequency
Using the best email frequency for your email marketing campaign is important because it helps ensure that your subscribers will not get overwhelmed by the number of emails you are sending them. Additionally, using the best email frequency can help improve email open rates and click-through rates, because people are more likely to open and click on an email if they know it is not going to be too frequent.
There are a few different things to consider when determining the best email frequency for your email marketing campaign. First, you need to think about the type of email content you will be sending.
If you are sending email content that is time-sensitive, then you will need to send email messages more frequently than if you are sending content that is not time-sensitive.
Second, you need to think about the amount of email content you are producing. If you are only producing a small amount of email content, then you will need to send email messages more frequently than if you are producing a large amount of email content.
Lastly, you need to think about the relationship you have with your subscribers. If you have a close relationship with your subscribers, then you can send email messages more frequently than if you do not have a close relationship with them.
Launch Your Email Marketing Campaigns for the Best Times
Without question, you’ll want to ensure emails hit each of your subscribers at a time when they are engaged in email, and more receptive. Additionally, keep in mind that to remain competitive, you should attempt to be near the top of their email list.
Be sure to add this to your email campaign best practices list, and do the research on your niche audience!
But… How can we do this when we have no control over when someone accesses their email, or when they are most likely to complete a CTA (that your email contains)?
The short answer is to leverage “send time optimization” data. “Send time optimization” is a term used in email marketing that refers to the use of data to determine the best time to send email messages to subscribers. This data is used to determine the best time to send email messages in order to improve email open rates and click-through rates.
To simplify your approach, ensure that your ESP (email service provider) leverages this – many use AI type technologies to ensure that each individual subscriber would receive your email, at a time that best suits each of them. A couple examples (among many) you can follow up on, are how MailChimp manages send time optimization using data science and how Mailgun similarly manages send time optimization using machine learning.
This (send time optimization) is also a way of helping your email marketing campaign add an additional way of helping align with the lifestyle of your subscribers.
Use Compelling and Tightly Focused Subject Lines
When it comes to email marketing, it’s important to focus on the little things that make a big difference. One of those things is your email subject line.
Your email subject line is the first thing that potential customers will see when they receive your email. If it doesn’t interest them, they’re likely to delete it without reading any further.
That’s why it’s so important to make sure your email subject lines are compelling and tightly focused. Here are a few email campaign best practices tips to help you create email subject lines, that will get your messages opened and read:
- Keep your subject line between 30 and 50 characters. Most email programs will cut off subject lines that are longer than that. Research posted online seems to suggest the optimal length for subject lines is 41 characters.
- Convey the topic of your email in the subject line. People are more likely to open an email if they know what it’s about before they read it.
- Use strong verbs and adjectives in your subject lines to capture people’s attention.
- Try using a question as your subject line to get people curious about what you have to say.
- Use split testing to see which subject lines work best for your audience.
Bottom line… For email campaign best practices, make sure your email subject lines are compelling and tightly focused to get your messages read.
Leverage Split Testing of Different Subject Lines and CTA’s
Email subject line A / B testing is a way to test different email subject lines to see which one performs better. This helps you to determine the best subject line to use for your email campaign, which can help increase your open rates.
This is an often ignored part of email campaign best practices. I’m assuming most people might thing it difficult? (It’s not)
This is a good route to take when you email engagement is not increasing (open, click through rates).
Because A / B testing of your subject lines helps you to determine subject lines that better capture interest, you can also use this same strategy to test different email CTA’s (call to actions).
In plain language… When email click through, or open rates are not increasing, it might be because the email subject line you’re using may not be compelling enough. Leverage your email campaign best practices by trying out different CTA’s in your email subject lines can help determine which ones work better and increase email engagement as a result.
Testing different subject lines with different compelling CTA’s is a great way to maximize the effectiveness of your email marketing campaign.
Clearly Show Your Offer in the Subject Line
When emailing subscribers, it’s important to have a clear and concise email subject line. This is the first thing that potential customers will see when they receive your email. If it doesn’t interest them, they’re likely to delete it without reading any further.
Creatively showing your offer (in the subject line), is a very simple win to add to your
Creatively showing your offer (in the subject line), is a very simple win to add to your email campaign best practices, as it can capture immediate interest.
That’s why it’s so important to make sure your email subject lines are clear and to the point. Incentivising the offer in your email subject line is a terrific way to help build open rates. People always like something free, but make sure you don’t overdue this otherwise you can risk undercutting the perceived value of your offer.
Test the Subject Lines of Email
Email campaigns can have a significant impact on the ROI and your bottom line, so it’s important to ensure that they are as effective as possible. To that end, there are four pieces of information recipients see, to evaluate whether they will open your email, spam it, or delete it:
- The subject line,
- The preheader (more on this below) and,
- The sender’s name
- BIMI icon
We’ve covered the subject line above, and this demonstrates how valuable these three elements are when contributing to the success of your email campaigns. And again, without question, to use email campaign best practices for your success, we must conduct A / B testing on subject lines to help find the best performing one!
Take Advantage of BIMI
Without question the sender’s name should be consistent with your branding. But… There’s another helpful tool, that some don’t take advantage of – BIMI
While (at present) I’m not sure if this comes under email campaign best practices, I nevertheless think it’s something you should include.
Brand Indicators for Message Identification (BIMI) is an element that enhances recipient confidence in your email messages. It displays your visual representation of your brand, thereby enhancing the “trust” factor of each email message you transmit in your campaign.
In a nutshell, here’s how it works…
BIMI is a record created in your DNS settings (of your domain name), it helps with deliverability of your email.
From the recipients viewpoint, when they receive your email, the provider that hosts their email account, get’s a copy of your BIMI record (it does this behind the scenes).
In turn, your logo URL which is included in your BIMI record, causes your logo to display beside all email messages you send to each subscriber. So… Not only is email deliverability improved, so is your branding awareness, and trust!
Draw Attention With the Header
Your recipient has opened your email message, but now you need to foster engagement and increase your click through rate.
To do this, make 100% sure that your most compelling message is above the fold.
“Above the fold” is a term used in email marketing to describe the part of an email that is visible without having to scroll down. This is important because, if your most compelling message is not visible when the email is first opened, there’s a good chance it will be missed.
This is among the most valuable email campaign best practices, if it’s not above the fold, then readers understand it’s not as important!
Phrased in plainer language… Make sure that the most important part of your email is front and center, so that subscribers can’t help but see it.
There are a few different ways to pull people in with headers. You can use a catchy headline, or an interesting statistic. You can also use a question that will pique the reader’s interest. Whatever you do, make sure that the header is eye-catching and catches the reader’s attention.
Include a Strong Call to Action
Once you have the reader’s attention, it’s important to include a strong call to action (CTA). This is what tells the reader what you want them to do. Do you want them to visit your website? Download a white paper? Sign up for a webinar?
Make sure that your CTA is clear and easy to understand. And, make sure that it’s included in a place where the reader can’t help but see it.
Your CTA is arguably the reason for your campaign, and should be a “must” in your email campaign best practices.
Include a Preheader
An email preheader is the text that appears above the email’s body. It’s often used to summarize the email’s content, or to tease the reader into opening it.
Preheaders help to summarize email content, which can be helpful for recipients who are short on time.
- Preheaders can also be used to tease email content, which can entice recipients to open the email.
- Preheaders are a great way to increase the email’s click through rate, as they provide a brief overview of what the email contains.
- Preheaders can also be used to improve email readability, as they allow recipients to quickly determine whether an email is relevant to them.
Optimize the Preview Text of the Emails
Email preview text, is when your email application pulls the first few words (so you can read a quick preview).
Since we need to ensure the click through rate continues to grow (or retain a higher rate), it’s important to be mindful of what information is included in email previews. Simply put, the first few words (of your email) should be your most powerful, and compelling.
Messages such as “Click here to view this email online” or “Email not displaying correctly? Click here.” should never be in the email preview, ever!
To clarify, while these messages should be in your email campaign best practices, the problem is in where some people chose to locate them.
It’s not displaying a preview of your email, instead it’s presenting (what’s in essence) a troubleshooting solution if the viewer has trouble reading your message – Which is not the point of your email. While such things are helpful, they could be better located towards the bottom of your email message.
Further, using the preview to suggest your email might not work properly, is not sending a positive message, or building confidence.
Typically your ESP (email service provider) can provide some customization tools – Of course you can also use your own HTML email templates, so that your email preview works best.
Ensure the Email is 500 to 650 pixels in Width
Designing your email to be between 500 and 650 pixels in width is important because it ensures that the email will be displayed properly on most email clients and devices. If the email is too wide, it will be truncated on mobile devices, and if it’s too narrow, the text will be squeezed into a small space. By keeping the email width within this range, you can be sure that the email will look good on most devices.
In my opinion, this is one of the easier email campaign best practices to effect as the width is dictated in your email code. Further, using the tools your ESP provides can help you easily accomplish this.
What’s worse, if it’s too wide, you can end up forcing readers to scroll sideways (this might sound trivial, but really… this is a pain to have to do – Most won’t).
Keeping your email within standards helps ensure your readers have a better experience, improving conversion and click through rates!
Design Your Emails for Accessibility
While we can use segmentation to better address the needs of a diverse subscriber base, it’s important to recognize that some subscribers have needs that may lay beyond traditional segmentation.
I think this is one of the email campaign best practices that are often overlooked, yet this one’s and easy win.
When you design your email messages for accessibility, you make them easier for everyone to read. This includes people with visual impairments, cognitive disabilities, etc.
By making your email messages accessible, you’re ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to read them and take action on them.
You can make your email messages more accessible by using clear and concise language, using easy to read fonts, and including alt text for images.
By making your email messages accessible, you’re making them more user-friendly for everyone.
Use a Maximum of Two Fonts
Here’s an easy win for your email campaign best practices:When it comes to email design, less is more. When you use too many fonts, it makes the email look cluttered and can be difficult to read. Stick to using a maximum of two fonts in your email messages – One for the body copy and one for the headings.
Using only two fonts is not just for accessibility issues, it’s also a tenant of good email design! Keep your email clean and professional looking – Excessive different fonts look unprofessional (and disorganized).
If you’re not sure which fonts to use, try out some different combinations and see what looks best. You can also ask your ESP for recommendations on which fonts to use.
Make sure any images in your email contain ALT tags that describe the image and it’s purpose (this is also part of the standard email campaign best practices). This will directly appeal to subscribers that use screen readers (to output your email in audio). Also, make sure the contrast in your images is such that they are easier to read – Remember, some people don’t see colors in the same way others do, for example green text on a blue background is not ideal.
Segment Your Subscriber Audience
There are a number of benefits to email segmentation. When you send email messages to a segmented list, you’re able to better target the content of your email messages to the interests of that segment. This increases the chances that the subscriber will find the email interesting and take action on it. Arguably this is among the most effective email campaign best practices you can leverage!
Additionally, when you send email messages to a segmented list, you’re able to track the performance of your email campaigns on a per-segment basis. This allows you to see which segments are responding well to your email campaigns and adjust your email marketing strategy accordingly.
Don’t Buy Contact Lists – Ever
When it comes to email marketing, it’s important to build your list organically. This means that you should never buy a contact list. Not only is it illegal in some cases, but it’s also ineffective.
Buying lists is not in any way part of email campaign best practices, and should be avoided at all costs! Don’t push email to people who did not ask.
When you email people who have not opted-in to receive email from you, the majority of them will either mark your email as spam or delete it without reading it. This hurts your reputation and decreases the chances that people who actually want to receive email from you will do so.
It’s much better to focus on building your list organically by providing people with a reason to sign up for your email list. This could be in the form of a lead magnet, an ebook, or even just valuable content that is sent to their inbox on a regular basis.
Remember they key is to build your list with engaged subscribers, not with trying to build the numbers of subscribers.
10 subscribers who will convert (and buy your offerings) are far more valuable than the 1000 who don’t (and mark your email as spam because they didn’t subscribe).
I should add, using purchased mailing lists is often not allowed by ESP – When they start fielding too many spam complaints because you used a paid contact list, you’ll find your account suspended at some point (or worse, lead to termination).
Regularly Prune and Clean Your Subscriber List
This is one of the most common issues I see from people starting out – There are old email addresses, incorrect email addresses, etc. on their list that won’t work, and cause a high bounce rate.
It’s important to ensure this is part of your email campaign best practices, because a dirty (or poisoned) email list provided little value).
An email list should be regularly cleaned to remove subscribers who have manually asked you to unsubscribe them, are inactive, or have been incorrectly added. This keeps your email list healthy and helps ensure that your messages are being delivered to active and interested subscribers.
Also, it helps to ensure that double opt-in is used. This will avoid incorrect email addresses (typos for example) from being added to your list.
Allow Recipients of a Shared Email to Subscribe
There are a number of reasons why you should encourage recipients to share your email. First, when someone shares your email, it exposes your message to a whole new audience who may not have been aware of it. This increases the chances that they will sign up for your email list or take some other desired action.
This is one of the most valuable organic email campaign best practices way to grow your list.
Second, when people share your email, it helps to build social proof. This means that when people see that others are sharing your email, they are more likely to subscribe themselves.
Last, but not least, when people share your email, it helps you to build a relationship with them. When someone takes the time to share your email with others, it shows that they value your content and are interested in what you have to say.
All of these things can help to increase the effectiveness of your email marketing campaigns. This is why you see a subscription link in some email campaigns – When your subscribers share that email, their recipients can easily subscribe as well.
Sharing email has some powerful benefits:
- Allow email recipients who you had not been able to reach, to subscribe.
- Grow your email list organically and at a manageable pace.
- Encourage email recipients to share your email for the benefit of their friends and followers.
- Help you build relationships with email recipients.
Spark Reader Action
One of the most important things you can do with your email marketing campaigns is to make sure that your recipients know what to do next. This could be anything from signing up for a free trial to buying a product to visiting your website.
When you make it clear what you want your email recipients to do, you increase the chances that they will take that desired action.
The best way to do this is to use a call-to-action (CTA) in your email. A CTA is a short, clear statement that tells your email recipients what you want them to do next.
Don’t be afraid to ask your audience for support!
Your email messages should only have a limited number of Calls to Action (CTAs) because when you overwhelm your email recipients with too many choices, they will be less likely to take any desired action.
When you limit the number of CTAs in your email, you make it easier for your email recipients to know what you want them to do.
Make it Easy for Email Recipients to Take Action
One of the best ways to make sure that email recipients take the desired action is by using a button instead of a text link. When email recipients see a button, they know that it is an easy way to take the desired action.
Buttons also help to stand out from the text in your email, which makes them easier to see and act on.
Include Images in Your Emails
When you include images in your email messages, you make them more interesting and engaging. This helps to keep email recipients interested in what you have to say.
Images can also help to convey your message or idea more effectively than text alone.
However, you should only use images that are relevant to the email content and that will help email recipients to understand what you are trying to say.
Drive Your Click Through Rate With Quality, Engaging Content
Without question, content that’s of higher quality, and engaging is going to contribute to the success of your email campaign. But how can we better determine which content best helps drive click through rates?
Look to the past! It’s something most email campaign best practices lists won’t advise.
Here’s what I mean… Review all past mailings and make note of the messages that performed particularly well – Doing this is a sure fire way to leverage the input of your audience, they are telling you what they want to receive!
You’ll likely see some common trends, more-or-less mirroring the following statistics.
Email that contains video content “…can improve click-through rates by up to 300%…”
“…The word “video” in an email subject line can increase open rates by 6%…”
“…Adding video content to emails can potentially reduce opt-outs by 75%…”
The use of images “…with some industry-specific exceptions — emails with three or fewer images and approximately 20 lines of text result in the highest click-through rates from email subscribers…”
Naturally, you’ll also be able to see which subject matter your audience engages best with. Be sure to also take into account this facet. Sometimes you need to have a tighter focus on subjects of interest. At other times you may find a need to shift the focus of your content, to that which better resonates with your subscribers.
Ensure the CTA and Primary Message Remains Above the Fold
When email recipients see a CTA, they should immediately know what they are supposed to do next. This is why it is important to put the CTA above the fold.
When email recipients have to scroll down to see the CTA, they may not take the desired action.
Putting the CTA above the fold makes it easier for email recipients to see and act on. If you don’t follow any of the other email campaign best practices, I’d argue this is the one you must always do!
Make Sure Your Email is Mobile Friendly
More and more email recipients are reading email messages on their mobile devices. This means that it is important to make sure your email messages are mobile friendly. Less scrolling to the important parts your your email message will work best!
Strive to Make Emails Skimmable
One of the most often overlooked (in my opinion) email campaign best practices is understanding that email recipients are busy, that they often don’t have time to read email messages in detail, the moment they are received. This means that you need to make sure your email messages are easy to skim.
You can do this by using short paragraphs, headings, and lists. This will help email recipients to quickly understand what you are saying.
You should also use a font that is easy to read. This is one reason why overly fancy serif or script fonts don’t work as well.
Include Graphic Branding
When email recipients see email messages that are branded with a your logo and graphic design, they are more likely to remember you. This can help to increase brand awareness and create a better chance of email recipients doing business with you, or otherwise interacting with your CTA.
Including a logo and graphic branding in email campaign messages also helps to create a more polished and professional email message.
Include a Personalized Greeting
When email recipients see an email message that begins with their name, they are more likely to read the email message in detail. This is because it feels like you have taken the time to personally address them. How simple can this email campaign best practices option possibly be?
You can include a personalized greeting by using merge fields in your email marketing software. This will allow you to insert the email recipient’s first name into the email message.
Closely Sync Emails to Targeted Landing Pages
When email recipients see email messages that are designed in a similar manner to your website landing pages, they are more likely to remember you. This is because it creates a unified look and feel across all of your marketing materials.
I think it’s easy to understand then why this offers a strong “to do” in your email campaign best practices.
It is also important that the design of your email messages be consistent with the design of your website landing pages because this will help email recipients to know where they should go next – And it helps build trust!
In addition to keeping track of which email performs best, you should also monitor the best performing landing pages. This helps you prune your campaigns, allowing you to keep and foster the healthiest growth.
Build a Marketing Funnel
While not directly part of email campaign best practices (specifically), many of the elements are, so it’s important to ensure the following.
A marketing funnel is a series of email messages that lead email recipients through a process, that much is true – But think of the bigger picture…
Your marketing funnel includes multiple tools (such as email marketing). In fact your marketing funnel is much bigger. Here are the basics:
- You have a service, product, or some other need to communicate.
- You’ll need to build and pitch to your audience.
- To do so, you’ll need to build an email subscriber list.
- Create your opt-in forms, so subscribers across multiple platforms and channels can engage.
- Drive traffic to your subscription page(s) and provide a lead magnet to encourgae and reward subscribers.
Taking into account all the above, how would a typical email funnel work?
- Subscribe offer on your webpage.
- Using an exit-intent pop up as a chance to ask visitors who are leaving the page without subscribing.
- For subscribers, immediately send a welcome email, and follow up.
- Provide at leas a couple high value, quality content email, without pushing to sell.
- In your next email messages, include the link to your sales page (buttons work very well as part of your CTA).
- The sales page should have the order form (don’t make people needlessy click though to find it).
- If they don’t purchase, ensure an abandoned cart, reminder email is sent (include a discount or FOMO offer).
- If they order, send a confirmation email (of the purchase), and have their email address moved to the appropriate drip campaign.
Notes: FOMO means “Fear of Missing Out”. An email drip campaign is a series of email messages that are automatically sent to email recipients over a period of time. Commonly, the purpose of an email drip campaign is to nurture email recipients through the marketing funnel until they are ready to make a purchase.
Test Emails Before Sending
Testing email messages before you send them is important because it allows you to verify that the email messages are displayed correctly across different email clients and devices. In addition, testing email messages allows you to verify that the email messages include all of the required elements, such as a Subject Line, From Address, and CTA Button.
By testing email messages before sending them, you can avoid embarrassing email messages that are not displayed correctly or do not include all of the required elements. Testing before sending, also helps you avoid embarrassing mistakes (that may otherwise have been missed).
Make the Footer More Useful
While the footer area of your email is a better place to add required elements (legal links, unsubscribe options, etc.) It’s also a place where you can provide further engagement, which won’t necessarily be at odds with your primary CTA.
Again, don’t forget that following email campaign best practices ensures your CTA is near the top of your message!
To further enhance the effects of your email campaign best practices, consider testing the following in your email message footer area:
- A guarantee
- Social proof
- Logo, image, video
- Follow up on prior email (contestants, winners, opportunities, etc.)
- Breaking news
- Discount code
- Invitation to sharing the email (and how it can reward the subscriber sharing it)
Don’t Make Unsubscribing Difficult
It’s important to make unsubscribing from your email list, easy for subscribers, because it allows them to quickly and easily remove themselves from your email list (which helps maintain the effectiveness of your list – It increases the value of that list). This is important because it:
- Ensures that email recipients are only receiving email messages that they are interested in.
- Reduces the number of spam complaints you receive.
- Reduces the number of email messages that are marked as spam, while increasing the open rates, for engagement.
- As it reduces the amount of time and effort it takes to unsubscribe from your email list – You don’t need to manually intervene or field complaints.
To make unsubscribing easy for email recipients, use an unsubscribe link in the footer area of your email message. This will allow email recipients to quickly and easily remove themselves from your email list.
How do You Make Unsubscribing Easier?
This might have seemed counterintuitive to email campaign best practices, but in fact we can appreciate it’s quite the opposite!
The following are some of the more common ways of improving the unsubscribe process (which in turn helps your mailing list remain more valuable and a stronger, more effective marketing tool):
- In the content of your email, remind subscribers why they subscribed, and include the unsubscribe link
- Use plain language in your unsubscribe copy (don’t play verbal tricks, if people want to leave, let them. They can always resubscribe later).
- For mobile devices, make sure the unsubscribe link is easy to find (a button may help in that regard) – It’s better to let people unsubscribe, than to have excessive spam complaints.
- If you’re using an app, don’t force people to have to log into it to unsubscribe (they might not have access anymore, or have some other reason why they can’t).
- Use a one-click to unsubscribe solution, that offers them the chance to remain subscribed (just in case they tried to unsubscribe by accident).
Regularly Audit Communication
While email marketing provides an incredibly good ROI, in part because of the automation provided, in reality email campaigns are not truly a sent-and-forget tool. In fact, it’s prudent to ensure you regularly audit your communication. Here are just some of the aspects that require you to be aware of:
The relevancy of images included in your email messages, will change over time. It’s important then, to ensure you have scheduled revisits of your campaign imagery.
Images aside, it’s also important to consider that not all the content (copy) in every email message is going to be evergreen. Again, things change, life happens! So it’s important to ensure you tweak your messages (or add new ones).
Regularly auditing (and adjusting your email communication) ensure you remain current, and your messages remain relevant to your audience.
As you revisit and adjust your messages, your subscribers will understand that you are making the effort to remain current, and provide them with value.
It’s hard to place a timeline on when you should audit your email communication, because different businesses have different needs, as do their subscribers. As a very (very) loose timeline, I’d suggest four times a year mimimum (as I’m linking it to basic quarterly sales marketing reports).
Realistically, I’d suggest auditing a campaign when you see a fluctuation in email tracking and analytics (large enough that you need to investigate and adjust for).
Run a Quick “Understanding” Test
Before finally launching that campaign (and sending off the first batch of email messages), I prefer to do an “understanding” test. This means sending the email to your testers first, and asking them what they think the email is about, and what they should be doing (what the CTA is).
In terms of email campaign best practices, this is likely a no-brainer – Always (always) do that final “understanding” test before unleashing your email delivery!
Occasionally your testers will have varying thought – If so, this signals your message is not clear enough, and you need to revisit and adjust (before testing again).
Worse, if they don’t agree (understanding different things that don’t agree), then it’s back to the drawing board for a rewrite of your email.
Use Professional Email Marketing Tool
Use a professional ESP (email service provider) to relay your email campaign messages. They are in the best position to ensure delivery, as well as provide the support you might need is something goes sideways.
Never use free email services – That looks unprofessional, and does not send the right signal. Among other things, by using free services you’re more likely to get placed on spam and block filters.
If your reply rates are dropping off, it’s likely how your campaign is being sent (why instead, you should opt for a professional ESP). EPS help you manage your email reputation and delivery.
Email reputation is critical because networks that receive your messages (for delivery to people’s inboxes) use it to determine whether to actually deliver your email messages to the inbox or instead the spam folder.
If your email reputation is poor, they will be more likely to filter your email messages into the spam folder, which means fewer people will see them. Worse still, they can entirely block the receiving of any email you send!
There are several tools to check email reputation, some of the more common I use are:
Because of the automated nature of the services your ESP will provide you, you can ensure your email list is clean and up to date. Further, they can help ensure that your email campaigns comply with legislation (CAN-SPAM, CASL, GDPR, etc.)
Each provider has their own “extra” tools that can help you; and given the competition between ESPs, you’ll likely find what you need!
Track and Use the Right Metrics
You’ve followed all (or most) of the email campaign best practices, but what now? How do we determine success? Email campaigns are about understanding and reacting to change. This means that the email messages you send (and the response to them) will change over time. As such, the email metrics you track need to change as well.
There are a variety of email metrics you can track, but not all of them are useful (or relevant) for your email campaigns. The key is to understand what email metrics are available, and how you can use them to improve your email campaigns.
Some of the more important email metrics you should track include:
- Open rate: How many people open the email message?
- Click through rate (CTR): How many people click on a link in the email message?
- Delivery rate: How many email messages were successfully delivered?
- Bounce rate: How many email messages were not delivered (bounced)?
- Unsubscribe rate: How many people unsubscribe from your email list?
- Spam complaint rate: How many people mark your email message as spam?
- Subscribe rate: How many people are adding themselves to your list?
Monitoring these email metrics will give you a good idea of how your email campaigns are performing, and whether or not they need to be adjusted.
Further it’s equally important to ensure you monitor the right KPIs (key performance indicators). These are “indicators” that you can check to see how well the email marketing campaign is improving your operations. Five of the most common (and effective) to track are:
- Revenue Growth – This figure shows how much your email marketing revenue is expanding.
- Profit Margin – This metric tells you how much of your email marketing revenue is profit.
- Client Retention Rate – This statistic tells you how many of your email subscribers are still active.
- Customer Satisfaction – This indicator measures how satisfied your email subscribers are with your solutions, offerings, products, services, etc.
- Revenue Per Client – This figure examines how much money each of your email subscriber spend with you on average.
Email marketing is a powerful tool that can help businesses reach out to their customers and increase sales. However, in order to be effective, email campaigns must be well planned and executed using the right email marketing best practices. By leveraging effective lead magnets, using double opt-in, ensuring email delivery best practices are followed, and tracking the right email metrics and KPIs, businesses can ensure their email marketing campaigns are successful.
You can learn much more about email campaign best practices by visiting our Small Business Email Marketing posts. As well as find out more about Email Campaign Management.