10 Essential Email Marketing Best Practices You Need to Know
Email have proven to be one of the elite marketing tactics of B2B and B2C businesses. Marketers tried and tested multiple email marketing practices to take hold of those few best practices which produce meaningful results. This article delves you through 10 of the best email marketing practices, with examples, essential to run successful marketing campaigns.
As the primary source of information for B2B as well as B2C audiences, email marketing drives the communication channel of businesses. Staying plugged-in to the latest trends and best practices of email marketing keeps you on top of it.
However, it is easier said than done. There’s a lot that goes into planning a well-executed email marketing campaign - audience segmentation, upgrade transactional emails, setting the right time and tone, and more. Here, we share 10 essential email marketing best practices to get more subscribers and increase email deliverability and responsiveness.
- A big ‘NO’ to buying email lists
The biggest mistake of any business is to choose the shortcuts. As rightly said by Suzy Kassem, “In life, most shortcuts end up taking longer than taking the longer route.” Marketers might be tempted to buy an email list of subscribers, which is available for a small purchase but it just entangles you with a load of unknown email addresses with slow or even dead ROI. Email lists include the risk of not knowing the subscribers, hence you ‘cold’ contact them resulting in low conversion rate and increased spam rate. It’s also seen that 90% of decision-makers don’t respond to cold calls, at all!
Building own list could involve time and resources - but do it. You would be far benefited from this process rather than buying a list where you have no clue of the prospects and their interests. Own lists keep you on top of the campaigns because you know the audiences, you understand their needs and interests, or sometimes their budget.
So, how to build your own list? There are multiple ways to increase your email list. Promote email sign-ups on website, popups, blog, landing pages, or even on social media pages. It’s important to communicate with them during submission of email address. Building the subscriber list increases the chances of whitelisting and decreases spamming.
- Frequency that’s preferred by the audience
As mentioned earlier, it’s important to communicate with the audience during signup - it’s important to understand clearly what they are expecting and how often they are expecting. Most businesses opt for quantity over quality, their approach is ‘more emails means more branding’!
So, how often should you email? That’s a tough question to answer because ‘over-emailing’ can lead to high levels of unsubscribes and ‘under-emailing’ can decrease brand awareness and lose sales opportunities. In order to answer this, consider engagement metrics which tells how often a recipient would like to be contacted. A much better method is allowing them to answer themselves.
An example: How much *brand name* do you want?
- New arrivals!
- 2-3 emails a week
- I need a month break
Marketing automation tool allows users to note their preferences during the subscription process. Preferences could be based on time, content or these both. Time-based emails allow audiences to choose their specific cadence for emails. As the name says, content allows them to pick the type of content they want to see in their emails. You can also use a combination of both of these in the subscription forms.
- Optimize your calls-to-action (CTAs)
You have subscribers, you know what they want, you know how often they want - now what’s your next step? The next goal is to get these subscribers click and perform an action. Enter - CTAs. I cannot stress more about how important calls-to-action are to the emails, without them there is no point of emailing in the first place. Including a call-to-action in place of a text link can increase conversion rates by as much as 28%. CTA conversion rates indicate the success of email marketing campaign.
How can you optimize the CTA? Creating an actionable, inspiring and persuading call to action button is your high click opportunity in the email. Start with creating a contextual content around the CTA. It is tested that ‘Shop Now’ is more effective than ‘Click Here’. Test some keywords for the business, offer, and the type of audience. Follow these simple steps:
- Design the email copy based on the CTA
- Make it more obvious - prominent
- Don’t clutter the space around CTA
- Don’t include too many CTAs - if you should, link them to a single landing page
- Offer something valuable
Marketers quick answer to increasing their subscriber list is to offer informative content. When you offer something valuable to subscribers, you build a genuinely interesting mailing list and can also decrease unsubscription rate. Email marketing is at high risk of being perceived as spam or promotional when you don’t follow these ethics.
Because you are giving something for free, you cannot ask too much from the audience. Keep the questions limited - an email address alone would suffice in many cases or include the name and email address.
What to offer? This depends on the industry and what you want the customers to know about your brand. Could be a free download of white paper with case studies. A free trial of the product can encourage audiences to use it, understand it or in the least serves as free branding.
If you tag a sense of urgency to valuable content, chances of grabbing the offer increases. Grammarly uses this in their email content by offering 50% off on taking a premium account, which is their product.
- Provide exclusive offers to your loyal customers
Now that you have a list of subscribers, it’s important to differentiate the loyal email readers from those who occasional do or don’t open at all (there’s another approach to such subscribers - you’ll find later). Making your email readers feel special consistently is a great way to up the excitement and trust factor towards the brand. It will also encourage them to check for your brand updates in their inboxes. This is how you build a niche community.
Include special offers exclusive to them. Swiggy does this perfectly in its emails by offering the latest products - here they offered a chance to win brand new iPhone X, which is too enticing to not participate.
- Unique subject lines with interesting email content
Email recipients look at the sender name and subject line before they decide to click open. Most of the email service providers show 40-60 characters of subject lines along with the opening line of the email message. It’s good to include compelling and clear subject lines, while not underestimating the email content. Gmail shows close to 120 characters which include subject line as well as the first line of the email. So, you may intrigue the reader with a question or facts related to the industry in the subject line.
Neil Patel works very well on his subject lines - which are thought-provoking and compelling. He includes questions based on the content - ‘Why ranking #1 on Google is bad?’ or ‘How many backlinks do you really need?’.
- Include ‘unsubscribe’ or ‘manage subscriptions’ in emails
Though you create emails with highly interactive content, few subscribers don’t engage with them as often as you would want them, and then one fine day they choose to unsubscribe from the mailing list. It is quite common to come across unsubscriptions from the mailing list. Ideally, you look forward to 0% unsubscription rate, but it’s necessary to include ‘unsubscribe’ button in emails. Make the unsubscription process as easy as possible for the email recipients.
Or, you can even divert them to other options as Marketing Sherpa does in their emails. Because there might be various reasons behind an ‘unsubscribe’ so Marketing Sherpa includes buttons for - ‘Manage subscriptions’, ‘Unsubscribe from promos’, ‘Unsubscribe from newsletters’. A click on manage subscriptions leads email subscribers to choose the content they would like to receive and others like research journal, best of the month, newsletter, unsubscribe me from all promotional emails, and at the end, they put - unsubscribe me from all content.
- Having a dedicated IP address
When the business starts leaning more on email marketing, one should start learning about dedicated internet protocols (IPs). Let’s understand email deliverability before digging deep into IP. Did you know that the email deliverability depends highly on the IP reputation? It does. The higher the number of emails gets ‘spammed’ or ‘trashed’, the lower your IP reputation is. And vice-versa.
So, when you increase the email marketing efforts and do that typically through a single IP, you may be at high risk of keeping out of the recipients’ inboxes. Most of the email service providers use a collection of shared IP addresses to send the emails - i.e more companies use a single IP. This means the email deliverability depends on other companies email deliverability scores. But with a dedicated IP, you alone have control over the deliverability of emails and the reputation is not determined by the actions of other companies.
When do you need a dedicated IP address? When you send a consistent high-volumes of emails with high email engagement - typically around 100,000 email messages per week. Since you are the only influence, make sure that the list consists of email addresses which are authentically built (and not bought). Email service providers monitor the reputation of these dedicated IPs to ensure emails have high deliverability score.
- Disclose your location
When your business is on different continents or even countries, make sure that you are compliant with each country’s email legislation before planning the email campaigns.
If you have the USA and Canada geographies in the business plan, read the CAN-SPAM and the Canada Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) carefully. They require you to include the physical business address in the footer of all the emails.
- Get back your old subscribers
With the advent of email marketing, direct postal mail has become obsolete. And the same was thought about email when social media made an entry. But emails are here to stay and remain as the most effective marketing tools. Even though it’s powerful, the red flag is you have no control over the unresponsiveness - while you can try and reduce the unresponsiveness, you cannot totally eliminate.
Let’s look at the bright side, so, what can you do to increase the engagement of non-engaged users? Number one, religiously engage with them over emails. If you see them for the first time in a month or two, send an email reading, ‘Nice to see you, It’s your first time in awhile, we’re glad you’re back’ - like how LinkedIn does.
Hope you include these practices in the marketing efforts, if you are already using some, please let us know in the comments below.