What is email marketing?
Email marketing is a critical method of communication whereby a company sends content directly to a subscriber’s inbox. These emails can be in various formats, however, most often they are in the form of welcome emails, newsletters, emails promoting sales, compilations of exclusive opportunities for subscribers, event invitations and letters from leadership. Email marketing is an important component of online marketing that works alongside the content on your company’s website, blog and social media to form your brand’s online presence. All of these elements are critical to forming and and customers. Your goal should be to send content that educates your target audience at the frequency that they appreciate. It will take time and trial and error to determine what the most appropriate content and ideal frequency is for your audience. By following the email marketing best practices below you will be well on your way to running successful campaigns.
Benefits of email marketing
There are many benefits to hopping on the email marketing bandwagon. on a regular basis, and your target audience likely is part of this population of regular email users. Additionally, the vast majority of consumers (83%) prefer to be communicated with via email, according to . Whenever possible, it is best to cater to your audience’s preferences, so in this case, communicating via email makes sense. Your competitors are leveraging email marketing as an effective digital marketing strategy. If you do not want them taking a lead, it is important that you have a presence in this space as well. This article will walk you through email marketing best practices. Email marketing also benefits your company’s bottom line. The return on investment (ROI) is strong, with a reporting a $42 return for every $1 spent on email marketing. Lastly, McKinsey found that when it comes to helping your company acquire new customers.
Email marketing tools
If you are thinking that email marketing sounds worthwhile but you are afraid that managing the process will be daunting, don’t worry. There are countless out there to help deploy campaigns, drive engagement and keep track of metrics. By using the insights garnered, you will be in a strong position to refine your strategy. One of the core email marketing tips is to leverage tools to make your processes more streamlined and efficient. We’ve assessed four popular email marketing tools to give you a sense of the pros and cons of each.
is an option geared towards small businesses that are not looking to spend a great deal of time developing emails. The tool is known for having a simple and elegant user interface. It has an easy-to-use email builder; however, some may find the templates to be limiting. Constant Contact offers a generous 60-day free trial so you can test out their service and determine if it is a good fit for your business.
offers more than traditional email marketing, including a sales and marketing platform plus a CRM, automation and forms. It’s a wise choice if you anticipate that you will want to leverage these other features now or down the road. Their analytics are robust and their A/B testing is some of the best in the industry. HubSpot doesn’t come cheap, however.
is a simple and intuitive email marketing option. It is versatile. It works well regardless of what industry you are in. It is one of the better values, you can send up to 12,000 emails per month to up to 1,000 recipients for free. MailerLite offers some additional features like automation and surveys as well, but these are not as extensive as HubSpot’s.
is a solid option if you are looking for extensive reporting, social media and editable email templates, however, the interface is not as user-friendly as some of the other tools. Their freemium tier is a good bet.
Considerations when selecting email marketing tools
When determining which email marketing tool is the right fit for you and your business you will want to consider your current needs, your budget and how you anticipate your business’ email marketing strategy and demands to evolve over the next few years. Although it is possible to transition to a new email marketing tool in a couple of years, you would be better off selecting a tool that will be able to serve your business as its email marketing needs grow.
Email marketing best practices
Once you have selected a tool, you will want to shift your attention to refining your strategy with these email marketing tips. By following these email marketing best practices you will set your business up for success.
Send a welcome email
Although this may sound like a no-brainer, it is worth including this tip in this list since there are companies out there that do not do this. As soon as you get a new subscriber, you should send them an email to let them know that you are happy to have them as a member of your email list. This provides an opportunity to introduce your brand, your offerings and share a few top resources or products. Of course, the content in this email will be dependent on the type of business you are in and your goals. In the example above, Kate Spade offered new subscribers a discount since the fashion brand’s primary goal is to incentivize you to make a purchase. It is wise to also sign up for your competitors’ email lists so that you can see how they communicate with new subscribers.
Research best practices by industry
As alluded to above, each type of business is different and your email marketing strategy should be tailored for your business. Developing email content for e-commerce customers is very different from email content written for an audience of finance professionals. Early on in your email marketing journey you will get a sense of what content resonates most with your audience through trial and error. You will want to become familiar with for open rate, click-through rate, bounce rate and unsubscribe rate. This will let you know if your emails are performing better, worse or at the same level as others in your area of business.
Determine your voice and style, and make it consistent
Before you launch or drastically expand your email marketing efforts you will want to take some time to map out your brand’s voice and style. It can help to conduct an audit of all online assets to know where you currently stand and determine how your email marketing will fit in. If multiple people on your team will be working on email marketing, you will want to develop guidelines to ensure that the tone and of all of these communications will be cohesive.
Mimic others who do email well
We are all recipients of countless emails from brands we purchase items from, consume content from and admire. When you see emails that stop you in your tracks, take note of them and take a screenshot that you can reference later. Why was the email out of the ordinary? Are there elements of the email that you can apply to your work? You can get inspiration from other companies’ campaigns that follow . These examples can come from within and outside of your industry.
There is no denying that personalization makes a difference. People appreciate when businesses take the time to tailor messages to align with their preferences. You will find that personalization is often included in lists of email marketing tips. Subscribers do not mind sharing their interests if this means that the content they receive will be most relevant to them. As email customization has become more prevalent in recent years, customers see this as standard. Salesforce found that , while just over half (52%) expect personalization 100% of the time. Before you start panicking and thinking this isn’t achievable, know that you can dip your toes in the personalization waters rather easily, by including your customer’s name in the subject line or opening of the email’s body copy. Later, you can experiment with segmenting your email list and sending content to customers based on their interests or activities. Marriott’s example above referenced my browsing history.
Know your audience and use testing
The more you know about your audience, the better you can adapt your content to meet their needs. As you refine your content, you will see your email metrics improve. There are many ways you can go about getting to know your audience including personal approaches (think focus groups and direct feedback from subscribers) and data-driven methods (think analyzing metrics). Applying both personal and data-driven techniques will yield favorable results. When it comes to data-driven methods, you will want to take note of what types of content lead to the highest levels of engagement and monitor trends over time. This will enable you to build customer personas which will be useful when segmenting audiences and content. You also will want to test subject lines via A/B testing and experiment with sending your emails at different times of day to gain insights into your audience’s preferences. There is a , so you will want to spend time refining these since they are the first thing your reader will see when your email hits their inbox.
Make sure you are CAN-SPAM compliant
Before you launch your first email marketing campaign you will want to make sure you are familiar with the . This US law applies to all companies sending commercial emails. It states that marketers must clearly state who their email is from, prominently include the company’s physical address and make it easy for subscribers to contact the company electronically, build email lists honestly and permit email recipients to unsubscribe from future communications. It is a best practice to make the unsubscribe process hassle free. You can do this by making the unsubscribe button clearly visible and implementing a one or two step unsubscribe process.
Stay organized and make a schedule
When it comes to email marketing best practices, one key way to make the process more manageable is to create a schedule and stick to it. You can start by mapping out your recurring emails like newsletters and then add in one-off emails and email journeys so that you have a clear picture of when your audience will hear from you via email. You’ll want to note holidays as well since sending an email the day after Thanksgiving will yield poor results, and no one wants that. Sending newsletters on the same day and time each week is recommended as recipients will come to expect these emails. Your editorial calendar’s location is up to you. Many email marketing tools have this functionality built-in but if you prefer you can use an external tool that your team is familiar with. If there are multiple people at your organization who will be sending emails, this calendar is even more critical as it will prevent excessive communication which can annoy subscribers.
Offer a “view in browser” option
Once you click “send” there is nothing to worry about, right? Unfortunately, how your emails render is out of your control. Some email service providers may truncate your message and sometimes images may not load as expected. An easy way to make sure that your email recipients can view your entire email is by adding a “view in browser” link at the top of the email. Look for this functionality when selecting an email marketing tool.
Optimize viewability for different devices and email providers
You will want to consider how your email appears on a computer, tablet and mobile device. Most if not all email marketing tools have a preview feature where you can see how your email will look on a computer screen, tablet and smartphone. , explaining, “It is imperative for senders to optimize for mobile. Prioritizing mobile optimization for email is likely to result in increased recipient engagement, which not only boosts deliverability and sending reputation, but also conversions.” Additionally, you will want to look into how your email appears in different inboxes. Your email may look slightly different in Gmail than in Outlook and it is good to be aware of this.
Place the most important content and links early in your email
While composing your email, you will want to include the most pertinent information and links at the top, well above the fold. The call-to-action should be clear. Your audience’s inbox is crowded and you have a short window to capture their attention and get them to engage. If you look at your email metrics, you will likely see the highest concentration of clicks on links located early in your email.
Follow an email quality checklist
Of all of the email marketing tips, this is one of the most critical. Before deploying each and every email you will want to consult a quality checklist to make sure the formatting, links, and timing are consistent and the email list and A/B subject line test setups are correct. You can create your own checklist, or you can borrow one, like the one below.
Reviewing at least one email preview is crucial as well. Ideally, you will have more than one person look at the preview because it is easy to miss a typo if you have been staring at the email copy all day long. Ask someone with a fresh set of eyes if they would read through your email and ask them to check links. The last thing you want is to send your email to thousands of subscribers only to find a link was broken.
Analyze results and shift activities accordingly
If you are thinking that you are done with your email the moment you press send, that is not so. You can learn a great deal about your audience by assessing email metrics and we highly recommend doing so. You may think that your email recipients are interested in TikTok but your email clicks may indicate this isn’t the case. Trust the data and modify your content accordingly.
Opportunities to enhance your email marketing
Once you have mastered the email marketing tips listed above, there are several ways that you can strengthen your efforts. You can leverage automation by mapping email journeys. If an email recipient opens your first email, you can have this action trigger a series of subsequent actions. When it comes to email marketing best practices, another useful strategy is segmentation. Earlier we spoke about how powerful personalization is. You can segment your email lists by geographic location, content preference, behavior and more. The sky is the limit and you will reap the benefits of having subscribers who are pleased with the relevant content you are sending them.
Email marketing tips wrapped up
Leveraging email marketing tips can lead to significant benefits. Since most of your audience checks email on a regular basis, it makes sense to greet them in their inbox. By tailoring your content using the email marketing best practices listed above, you will likely see noticeable improvements to your open and click rates and website traffic.
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