A wise man once said, “It doesn’t get more met­al than email mar­ket­ing,” and he is still right. Email mar­ket­ing is a great, low-cost method to dri­ve engage­ment and con­ver­sions. In fact, it is almost always the mar­ket­ing chan­nel with the low­est cost per con­ver­sion since it sits at the bot­tom of the fun­nel.

That doesn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly make it easy though. Know­ing you should send emails is way dif­fer­ent than actu­al­ly con­cept­ing and exe­cut­ing them. So we have some email mar­ket­ing best prac­tices you can fol­low to kick off your cam­paigns this year.

1. Send welcome emails

To start, send a wel­come email to any­one who signs up for your email list. How nice of them to want to keep in con­tact with your busi­ness! A lot of brands will prompt web­site vis­i­tors to join their email list with a promise of a dis­count, like 10% off. That’s a great way to grow your list and engage with them right off the bat. This should be easy to auto­mate through your email plat­form, just make sure to select a reg­u­lar cadence—daily instead of week­ly to keep it time­ly.

This wel­come email from Ances­try is an oldie but good­ie.

Ances­try wel­comes you to the sub­scriber list and clear­ly spells out the next actions you should take to start your fam­i­ly tree.

2. Focus on personalization

Just like oth­er aspects of mar­ket­ing, cam­paigns gen­er­al­ly per­form bet­ter when they are rel­e­vant and time­ly. Rel­e­vance starts with per­son­al­iza­tion. There are a ton of ways to per­son­al­ize your emails, from insert­ing a first name to seg­ment­ing your audi­ence. When your cus­tomers and prospects sign-up to receive emails from you, it’s okay to ask what infor­ma­tion they’d like to get out of the emails. Are they look­ing for sales alerts? Restock infor­ma­tion? Newslet­ter updates? Take that infor­ma­tion and place them into audi­ences for each spe­cif­ic tac­tic.

I recent­ly got this email from Uber Eats, with the sub­ject line: “Mary, Enjoy $10 off your next Uber Eats orders” which, real­ly guys, is so kind. It’s got a pro­mo code that looks unique-ish and was def­i­nite­ly sent to a seg­ment of peo­ple who haven’t ordered in a while (prob­a­bly because they don’t want to pay $15 to have sweet­green deliv­ered to Brook­lyn).

If you’re not sure how to get start­ed with per­son­al­iza­tion or want to try out some­thing new, we’ve got more email seg­men­ta­tion details here

3. Plan ahead, make a schedule

If you’re plan­ning to send a recur­ring newslet­ter to your subscribers—whether it’s month­ly, week­ly, or dai­ly (but that’s a lit­tle much)—you should stick to a con­sis­tent time. That way they can expect it in their inbox, you can plan the con­tent ahead of time, and every­one walks away hap­py. At Word­Stream, we like our Per­for­mance Tip email, and when we test­ed send­ing it at dif­fer­ent times and days of the week, we found that the best time to send it was the orig­i­nal day AND time. We’re all crea­tures of habit.

How­ev­er, if your busi­ness is plan­ning a big pro­mo­tion (ahem, Black Fri­day deals, Labor Day sales, bi-annu­al blowout), no need to stick to a recur­ring sched­ule. Instead, make sure you build in a send sched­ule that includes fol­low-ups to peo­ple who didn’t open the first email, or didn’t click through. There’s noth­ing that email mar­keters hate more than last-minute emails added to their queue.

This Boll and Branch exam­ple is pret­ty great—they planned out 12 days of Christ­mas spe­cials and this screen­shot leaves out the best detail—it’s a gif! In the B‑spot of the email, they list­ed out the pre­vi­ous eight days of spe­cials. Pret­ty. Awe­some.

4. Stick to consistent branding

Email is a super-per­son­al way to speak to your audi­ence; make sure you’re lever­ag­ing your brand voice con­sis­tent­ly. It can be end­less­ly con­fus­ing if you’re send­ing seri­ous email updates and fun pro­mo­tions from the same brand­ed tem­plate, so try to des­ig­nate col­ors, type­faces, and email sig­na­to­ries to each.

Even this trig­gered reminder email to buy those boots from Lord and Tay­lor is brand­ed! Look at those brand col­ors and type­face. A+

The sub­ject line was, “Why not give THIS Ken­sie item anoth­er look…”. Still not buy­ing those boots, though.

5. Optimize your subject lines and preview text

So many mar­keters will per­fect the con­tent of the email and then com­plete­ly for­get about writ­ing a good sub­ject line and pre­view text! Your sub­ject line is like a hand­shake. It’s the first impres­sion your audi­ence will have of the email you want them to open.
For newslet­ters, con­sid­er cre­at­ing a con­sis­tent sub­ject line, e.g. “Your Week­ly Update from Busi­ness.” You can use the pre­view text to expound on what’s inside, like “The sky is falling, shoes are on sale, and more!”

I per­son­al­ly like sub­ject lines that include some fun emo­jis. This is a good resource for all the emo­jis you could want to include.

The New York­er is con­sis­tent­ly uses “This Week’s Issue:” as a sub­ject line, and I already know I’m going to get the spar­knotes on the mag­a­zine that’s wait­ing in my mail­box. They also use the same head­er, but with an updat­ed cov­er!

Optimize your subject lines and preview text

6. Standardize the dimensions

This is pret­ty basic, but you don’t want to be push­ing out emails that use com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent-sized tem­plates each send. For your own peace of mind and your audience’s sat­is­fac­tion, stan­dard­ize the size of your tem­plates. Typ­i­cal­ly, you’re look­ing to keep the width under 600px. The length can vary more, but be aware that if it gets too long, email ser­vice providers might trun­cate the con­tent.

7. Have a “view in browser” link

Speak­ing of trun­cat­ing emails, add in a “view in brows­er” link at the top of your email to ensure that any ren­der­ing issues can be fixed by click­ing through to a brows­er. Almost all email ser­vice providers will give you an option to include this type of link before you deploy, just say yes.

This is a good exam­ple of keep­ing the impor­tant info above the fold, cre­at­ing urgency, and includ­ing a view in brows­er link.

8. Make sure it renders correctly

As any­one in ecom­merce knows, mobile is BIG. Peo­ple are shop­ping more, brows­ing more, and buy­ing more on mobile. This also means they’re check­ing their email on the go. Make sure your email tem­plates are opti­mized for a mobile view­ing experience–and any land­ing pages they direct to are also mobile-friend­ly.

There’s a few dif­fer­ent pro­grams you can use to see what your emails will look like in the var­i­ous providers (Out­look, Gmail, Yahoo, etc.), but the best/cheapest option is Email on Acid. It lets you test deliv­er­abil­i­ty (i.e., avoid spam—we’ll get to that in just a minute), fix your links, and devel­op a check­list before you send.

9. Avoid spam at all costs

One of the worst things to ever hap­pen is hit­ting spam traps. If you hit enough spam traps, your entire email pro­gram could be blocked—which is bad. It’s bad for your rep­u­ta­tion, it’s bad when you want to send emails and can’t, it’s bad for your email mar­keters who have to go to war to get your IP whitelist­ed again. So … avoid spam!

Some email mar­ket­ing best prac­tices to avoid spam include clean­ing up sub­ject lines (don’t WRITE IN ALL CAPS, use lots of $$$, or too many !!!’s), always include a func­tion­al unsub­scribe link, a valid phys­i­cal mail­ing address and per­mis­sion reminder (you’re receiv­ing this email because you sub­scribed HERE), be clear when assign­ing the “from” address (use the offi­cial name of your com­pa­ny instead of GeT HoT DeaLS).

You should have a foot­er on every email like this one from Urban Stems.

10. Make sure people *want* your emails

Anoth­er way to avoid SPAM is to keep your list serv clean. That means, well, don’t buy email address­es from shady com­pa­nies. Make sure you’re *actu­al­ly* unsub­scrib­ing peo­ple who want to unsub­scribe, sup­press­ing email address­es that bounce, and not over-email­ing any par­tic­u­lar seg­ment of your audi­ence.

Some­thing that comes across as sen­si­tive and cour­te­ous: Ask your sub­scribers to dou­ble opt-in. When they sub­mit their email address to you, have them con­firm it in the first email you send (a wel­come email!) by say­ing, “Sub­scribed by acci­dent? We can fix that” and allow­ing them to hop off-board instead of slam­ming the spam but­ton.

11. Put CTAs and important information above the fold

This is big. For an email to be effec­tive, aka dri­ve con­ver­sions, you’re going to need to get to the point fast. Inbox­es are over­whelmed with promotions–why should they click through on yours? Make sure you are explain­ing the main val­ue propo­si­tion in the first sec­tion of the email and includ­ing a clean call-to-action with­out mak­ing any­one scroll.

This exam­ple from Brand­less is impres­sive because most peo­ple would think the point of this email is to thank their sub­scribers (it was a Thanks­giv­ing email, and the sub­ject line was “Grat­i­tude for our amaz­ing com­mu­ni­ty”). But they put a CTA right up top next to their head­er to get peo­ple to take action. The only way this could have been bet­ter is to include an actu­al but­ton.

12. Clean up the code

This may not apply to you if you’re using a plug-and-play email solu­tion (maybe you’re not div­ing into the HTML and CSS on the back end) but for those who are slight­ly more versed in email mar­ket­ing, try to Keep It Clean out there. Some of my favorite tricks include padding=0 (padding almost always breaks in emails), border=0, remov­ing any stray/extra tables or rows (some­times those break the ren­der­ings).

Just a friend­ly reminder: most email providers will strip out Javascript as a secu­ri­ty pre­cau­tion, so leave that fan­cy code at the door.

13. Compile a QA sheet

I love lists. I love mak­ing lists, I love check­ing things off my list, I love keep­ing those crossed-out lists around to feel pro­duc­tive (and just to remem­ber what I got done on a giv­en day). When you’re send­ing out a lot of emails, it can be easy to miss spelling mis­takes, a bro­ken link, the wrong pre­view text. Cre­ate a qual­i­ty assur­ance check­list to make sure you have a clean send record.

14. Test, test, test to develop your own email marketing best practices

As with any best prac­tices for mar­ket­ing, we can expound on what we *think* you should do, but you’re the only one with the pow­er to actu­al­ly *know* what works. Get inspi­ra­tion from these exam­ples. Find more with oth­er resources, like Real­ly Good Emails. But test every­thing. With email mar­ket­ing you can split test sub­ject lines, head­ers, CTAs, design, copy, seg­men­ta­tion, day of week, time of day, you name it.

Test­ing is the only way to make your own email mar­ket­ing best prac­tices, so you can defin­i­tive­ly say what time of day has the high­est open rate, what types of sub­ject lines res­onate with your audi­ence, and which copy gets the most clicks.

15. Report on your email marketing campaigns

Final­ly, to have a tru­ly suc­cess­ful email mar­ket­ing pro­gram you need to be able to know if it’s, well, suc­cess­ful. That means report­ing, everyone’s favorite Mon­day morn­ing task. It’s up to you to choose the met­rics you want to high­light, but I sug­gest track­ing opens, clicks, bounce rate, and unsub­scribes. If you want to get fan­cy, try to find a plat­form with heat map­ping, which allows you to see exact­ly where your audi­ence clicked. Final­ly, include some screen­shots of the email with the SL/preview text in your report to eas­i­ly track the best and worst per­form­ers.

SOURCE: Business2Community