The world of digital marketing is still fairly new, but if there is a tried and true digital marketing tool around, it’s email marketing. Well, it’s only gotten better. Believe it or not, the average ROI for email marketing campaigns is $42 for every $1 spent.
Those numbers are hard to beat, so if you want in on the action, now is the time. Let’s talk about some email marketing best practices to get the most out of your investment.
1. Optimize Your Name and Subject Lines
Before you even send out your first newsletter (ideally), you need to consider how your messages will be received. The most important part of an email campaign is converting recipients into readers, and hopefully, readers into clickers.
However, we can’t even begin to discuss your click-through rate (CTR) unless people are opening your emails. Here’s what you need to work on.
First, you want to optimize your name. Imagine if you were being invited to a major event with NASA and they wanted to notify you by email. Well, you probably would never open the email if the sender’s name was “John Smith with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration”. Why is that?
Well, because you would only see “John Smith with the…”, to which you would quickly think “I don’t know a John Smith” and delete the email. However, you may open an email from “John with NASA”.
Your sender name is the identity of your email marketing campaign and the first thing recipients will see in bold letters. Make your name easily identifiable across any device by keeping it clear and concise.
Subject lines will make or break your email campaigns, and they need to be done differently with every email. You want to convince the reader to open your email with only a few short words.
Personalizing your subject lines is a good strategy, but it’s not enough. You should also try leaving them with a cliffhanger, let them know there’s a deal inside, or leave it with a question.
There are plenty of catchy subject line styles to choose from, so you just need to make them work for your brand and the message of your campaign.
2. Boost Your Mailing List
On your website, you should always have prompts for newsletters. These could be in your SEO blog content, calls-to-action, or somewhere on every page of your website. The easiest way to boost your email list is by converting your existing users to subscribers, but it has to be done correctly.
You can always leave a checkbox on your sales pages for newsletters, forms on every page, popups, and more. Of course, you want to tread the fine line between effective and spammy, so try out different strategies and see what works best for you.
Alternatively, you can try enticing content upgrades. For example, you can offer a “this for that” access deal in exchange for users on your website to sign up for your newsletter. Gated content will help, but isn’t enough to rely upon entirely.
You should also promote your newsletters on social media, as this is a free way to promote your brand and earn more recipients. For another low-hanging fruit, if you already have loyalty or rewards program members, you can have them sign up for emails as well.
3. Track Important KPIs
First, you should have a method of collecting feedback from users, as this is far more valuable information than just numbers on an analytics tool.
Even when your email marketing campaigns are effective and highly profitable, they can always improve. Prompt your recipients over time to conduct a survey (again, don’t be spammy) and ask for feedback from unsubscribers.
Use this information along with some key performance indicators (KPIs) to help improve your campaign over time. Again, this is just as important when your campaign is seeing success as it is when times get low.
The most important KPIs are your conversion rates, CTRs, and ROI, but you shouldn’t stop there. If you’re unfamiliar with the terms, your conversion rate is the rate at which recipients are converted to customers, your click-through rate is when people click on the links in your emails, and your ROI is your return on investment.
Of course, those are important to track to understand the performance of your campaign, but they’re rather weak metrics when it comes to offering useful feedback. For that, you should also track your bounce rate, list growth rate, and open rate.
The bounce rate when users click on your website often suggests something is wrong with your landing pages like loading speed, navigation, or mobile features need some work. In that case, you may need some website maintenance.
The list growth rate will tell you how your outreach is performing and let you know when to make adjustments. Ideally, your list should grow steadily over time.
Finally, the open rate will tell you more about how well your emails and subject lines are received by your recipients.
4. Use Automation
Email marketing has become far more advanced and profitable in recent years, especially with the rise of automation. With automated campaigns, you can send the right message to the right people at the right times, and you can do this with every email you send.
If you don’t already use automation, you should consider using it at least for welcome emails, confirmations, birthdays, recovery emails, and abandoned cart email alerts. Automation eliminates the need for human intervention for these types of emails and ensures that your customers don’t have to wait longer than necessary.
5. Try A/B Testing
If you’re unfamiliar, A/B testing is fairly straightforward. You send out two emails (A and B) with similar content but with one key distinction as your control. You then track the metrics and see which outperformed the other.
This is a great way to test out subject line strategies, personalization, new automated emails that will be received by future customers, and more. It’s an easy way to gain valuable insight into perfecting your campaigns.
Keep in mind, we recommend only changing one key component between two emails in A/B testing, as this will avoid confusion when you are trying to determine what was successful.
6. Let Unsubscribes Happen
We are not suggesting you shouldn’t focus on keeping your subscribers. However, when you try too hard to prevent unsubscribes by changing the font color, hiding the button, or throwing unnecessary hurdles in the way, this only further alienates your users. Unsubscribes aren’t always a bad thing.
Not only do they clean out your mailing list, but they can also offer additional feedback when prompted.
Also, and more importantly to your campaign, when you throw these hurdles in the way, frustrated users may find other ways to ditch your emails. Remember, an unsubscribe is far better than a spam report.
If users continue to report your emails as spam, this could harm your sender’s reputation with key email outlets like Gmail and Outlook, which could destroy your campaign. Again, unsubscribes aren’t always a bad thing, so don’t spend too much time worrying about them.
7. Get Personal
Personalization is becoming the standard in email marketing and for good reason. Personalizing emails is far more effective and it can be done automatically. Sure, a user’s name in the subject line is a good start, but there’s a lot more you can do.
To start, you can try basing deals or promotions off of previous search and purchase histories for your customers. This is likely to improve conversion rates.
You can also send birthday emails, product updates, maintenance reminders, and more. These are all great ways of personalizing your email campaigns based on individual behavior.
8. Use a Strong CTA
Calls-to-actions (CTAs) are very important for your CTRs and conversion rates. CTAs should only be 2 to 3 words long and be catchy and clear with a positive connotation.
You want your CTA buttons to be concise, so the fewer words, the better. Also, you want it to be appealing to the eye, so the shorter the words, the better.
For example, “go, check, read” are better than “direct” or “review”. Make your buttons stand out, try to make them catchy, and ensure they are directing people where you want them to go.
Essentially, “review our products” isn’t as catchy as “buy one now!” If you’re using personalized data for the email, then this is even easier to pull off, as the recipient will already understand the promotion at hand.
If you show a deal or offer based on the user’s behavior, you will need less context. “Click here”, “buy now”, “read on”, and more are great examples that work with the existing context within the email.
9. Always Use Visuals
Images, videos, GIFs, and other imagery is captivating to the eye. If information can be portrayed with an image, you should use it in place of text.
Our brains process images 60,000 times faster than text, which makes sense when you think about it. Text isn’t how we see the world.
Because of this, you should keep your readers engaged and captivated with compelling imagery. The right combination of templates and images will catch their eyes far more than walls of text.
Also, it’s generally best practice to limit your text as much as possible. Always proofread your emails before sending them and look for ways to cut down on the text. Each email should be as clear and concise as possible while still providing the necessary information.
If you do need to use a lot of lengthy text, try to break it up with visual imagery as much as possible.
10. Use a Pre-Send Checklist
Finally, it’s a great idea to write out a checklist to review before sending your emails. These checklists will help you determine if your email is up to the right quality. Don’t go off memory when reviewing the checklist, review the email as you go to check for errors or other mishaps.
Here are a few examples of questions to ask in your checklist:
- Do I see any typos?
- Am I sending this to the right email list?
- Did I optimize this email for mobile devices?
- Is this email clear and concise?
- Did I forget any images?
- How does the email look at first glance?
- Do all of my links work?
Add whatever questions you like to this list that you believe will benefit the campaign. If you want an extra set of eyes for typos or grammar mistakes, try downloading Grammarly. As you type your email, it will alert you if there is a typo or if you could improve upon your phrasing.
11. Have a Strong Website
Your website is the center of your entire digital marketing strategy, and it’s where your email campaigns attempt to direct traffic. If you want to improve your email conversion rates, then a lead-generating website is a critical part of your strategy.
Your website should act as a sales funnel for your campaigns since your email, social media, and SEO strategies are all attempting to direct traffic here. Investing in a strong website will only improve conversions and ROI across the board.
12. Don’t Do It Alone
Finally, email campaigns don’t have to be done alone. There are expert marketing teams available to help you get the most out of your campaign, through email marketing services or consulting. Try it for yourself!
Use These Email Marketing Best Practices
Now that you know some of the most important email marketing best practices, they won’t do you any favors unless you put them to use! Track metrics, be consistent, and of course, be patient with your campaign.
If you need any help, feel free to contact us with any questions.