It’s 2017, and email inbox spaces are more competitive than ever. Radicati data estimates that somewhere in the ballpark of 120 billion business emails are sent and received every single day.
Because of this, marketers need to stand out by making use of personalization, leveraging automated customer journeys, and by crafting beautifully designed email campaigns.
But there’s a lot to know when it comes to being a successful email marketer. That’s why we’ve pulled together 75 of the most powerful email marketing tips for you in one place. From general sending strategy to how to craft the perfect email copy, these email marketing best practices can help give your email marketing some serious game.
General email marketing tips
1. Create more opportunities for your audience to subscribe. From your website to your checkout process and many places in between, it’s a good idea to create multiple opportunities for people to sign up for your list.
2. Incentivize your opt-in. Gathering an email address in exchange for a valuable piece of content (like a guide, eBook, or blog post) can help grow your list.
3. Authenticate your emails to improve deliverability. Not only does this step help ensure your emails are making it to as many inboxes as possible, but it also looks more professional when emails come from your own custom domain.
4. Keep your unsubscribe link. The CAN-SPAM law requires that emails must contain an opt-out mechanism for subscribers, so make sure you keep this link within your emails. While it seems counterintuitive for someone growing their list, it will help you maintain a more engaged list by letting those who are uninterested self-select out. And all ESPs require you to have an unsubscribe link in your emails to be CAN-SPAM compliant.
5. Localize your emails. Keeping the language preferences of your subscribers in mind and creating emails in different languages can return as much as $25 for every $1 invested in localization.
6. Use a real reply-to address. Ditch the [email protected] address and instead opt for alternatives like [email protected] to encourage responses to your campaigns.
7. Study key metrics. Monitoring and understanding key metrics like open rate, click-through rate, email visits, and conversions will help you create more effective campaigns as you come to understand what works and what doesn’t for your audience.
8. Incorporate third-party advertising. Leveraging your list as a place to reach an engaged audience, relevant ads from third parties can turn your email marketing efforts into an additional source of revenue.
9. Know the rules and regulations. The CAN-SPAM Act, CASL, and the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations of 2003 require email marketers to stick to a set of rules and regulations regarding email marketing messages. Get familiar with them and be sure you’re in compliance.
10. Keep your list clean. Using a tool like Kickbox, you can keep your email list healthy by eliminating “bad” email addresses (invalid addresses, fake accounts, etc.) on a regular basis. Don’t send too often. Most marketers send promotional emails 2-3 times per month, as over-emailing can lead to higher unsubscribe rates and message fatigue.
Email personalization tips
11. Collect the right data. Opt-in forms that collect the right subscriber data up front (like first name, gender, interests, etc.) will help you better personalize content on your end.
12. Segment your lists. Creating segments of subscribers that group people by gender, location, age, job title, or even transactional data can help you create and send more relevant messages.
13. Leverage dynamic content. Dynamic content that displays different content based on user data (like male vs. female) helps you present highly specific promotional content without having to create individual campaigns.
14. Personalize custom fields. Personalized subject lines alone are 26% more likely to be opened, so be sure to use personalization tags in places like the subject line and body copy to make messages feel tailor-made.
15. Use integrations for robust subscriber profiles. By integrating your eCommerce platform, CRM, and/or accounting software with your email platform, you can boost relevancy by sending emails that integrate subscriber interest, buying habits, and more. Check out the App Store and all the options.
16. Ditch one-size-fits-all emails. Instead of creating one email for all of your subscribers, think about how you can use personalized content and customer journeys to deliver campaigns that are best suited to different subscriber demographics (like gender, interests, job type, etc.)
17. Use location-based personalization. If you know where your subscribers live, you can send more relevant emails. For example, if you’re a clothing retailer, you wouldn’t want to try to sell winter coats to subscribers in southern California. Creating segments for different geographical target markets means you can promote products and events to exactly the right people. See how we used dynamic content to increase our click-through rates.
18. Promote personalized product suggestions. When you integrate your CRM and eCommerce platform with your email efforts, you can create highly personalized emails with product suggestions based on past buying habits and keep your customers coming back for more.
19. Pair emails with personalized landing pages. Continue the personalized experience you’ve started in an email by creating customized landing pages. This ensures a more seamless customer journey and makes the entire digital experience feel tailor-made.
20. Make use of your ESP’s application program interface (API). If you want to build complex personalization into your email efforts, have your developers make use of the API to leverage the systems you already have in place.
Email copy tips
21. Use short subject lines. In a mobile format, you’re working with smaller real estate, and many subject lines will only display 30 characters max. Read more about how to find the right email subject line length.
22. Write compelling preheader text. Preheader text helps the subscriber decide whether or not they want to open your email by adding a bit more context–so make it count.
23. Ditch words and phrases that trigger spam filters. These keywords will get your email sent to the spam folder. Some words and phrases are red flags for an email filter include ‘free money’, ‘winning’ and ‘big bucks’ to name a few.
24. Create an information gap. Curiosity roused within subject lines can help boost open rates and encourage subscribers to find out what’s on the other side. Get the 8 email subject line formulas to get your emails read.
25. Customize your ‘From’ name. 68% of Americans base their decision to open and email on the from name, so make sure this name it recognizable and makes sense to the recipient and fits within the display characters.
26. Don’t go text-heavy. Especially in a mobile format, too much text can make your email campaign seem like it goes on forever–and that means decreased subscriber interest. Try to be as succinct as possible, and link out for long-form reads when possible. Get more actionable tips on how to create a high-converting email campaign.
27. Use power words. These specific words are proven to increase open rates by as much as 14%.
28. Personalize. Incorporating your subscribers’ names in the body copy of your email can make your messages feel more custom-made. Grab more personalization tips in this guide.
29. Tell stories. Incorporating an element of storytelling in your email copy adds an interesting human element that draws readers in.
30. Structure email copy for scanning. Research indicates that people reading email don’t read word for word. Instead, they scan the content for interesting elements. Plan accordingly.
31. Solve problems. Approach email copywriting from a problem and solution angle to tackle your subscribers’ pain points.
32. Create a sense of urgency. Scarce quantities or limited time offers give readers a reason to take action right away. Use them in your copy to drive conversions more quickly.
33. Leverage testimonials. Incorporating testimonials into your emails is a way to build up your social proof, and it adds authority to your copy.
34. Make CTAs click-worthy. Short, compelling button copy with a clear call to action increases the likelihood for conversion, so be sure to make it direct, urgent, and persuasive.
35. Focus on the benefits. While it can be tempting to talk up your features, remember to put the most emphasis on the benefits those features produce and the pain points they solve. We found that benefit focused copy boosted CTR by 10%.
36. Incorporate statistics. Hard numbers and results add authority to your copy and can help reduce friction by eliminating buyer concerns.
Email design tips
37. Think mobile-first when selecting a template. Data shows that opens on mobile devices have grown by as much as 30% over the past five years, and is the most used format for first-time opens.
38. Balance image size and text. The average reader only spends 51 seconds reading a newsletter after opening it, so striking a balance between images and easy-to-understand images makes comprehension happen faster.
39. Make buttons BIG. Mobile design should be user-friendly, and therefore, large buttons that accommodate the average adult finger (about 2 cm) make it easier for subscribers to click where you want them to.
40. Test the UI of your emails before sending. With a tool like Litmus, you can conduct user testing on the interface of your email design to make sure that there’s no issues with where buttons or links are placed in your emails.
41. Consider text size in images. If you’re including an image with text in your email, make sure to evaluate how it looks when shrunken down to mobile display size. If the text becomes unreadable, you may need to reconsider using it.
42. Use emojis in your subject line. Emojis and symbols can make your subject line stand out (and they add some personality, too.)
43. Incorporate video to communicate complex messages fast. Short videos can be a fast, easy way to get an idea across without getting text heavy.
44. Check your email with images turned off. Consider how the preview pane looks when there are no images and see what text is visible–and do this before sending. This can help ensure your preview is as enticing as possible for the recipient.
45. Incorporate interactive content. Interactive assessments, calculators, and quizzes are a simple way to boost engagement and response rates while also helping you learn more about your subscribers.
46. Make sure your email design reflects company branding. Your email should flow seamlessly with the rest of your brand design assets including colors, fonts, logos and graphics.
47. Use a clear CTA. To make your CTA stand out within your email, be sure to use a color that contrasts from the background and that’s uncluttered by text or graphics. Leverage whitespace to make the path to conversion extremely clear.
48. Include context. Showing your products in action or being used by your target audience adds a human element and creates a sense of social norm.
49. Consider using live images. Dynamic, personalized images like a countdown timer can create a sense of urgency and add a compelling visual aspect to your emails.
50. Create full-width emails. Optimize your device screen real estate with an appropriately wide email template that uses the full screen.
Email automation tips
51. Use automated campaigns to build customer journeys. By integrating your business tools with your email service provider, you can build out personalized journeys that are automatically triggered based on time or subscriber behavior. Studies show that automated emails get 86% higher open rates.
52. Save time with triggered campaigns. Rather than manually creating and sending campaigns to welcome new subscribers or to send out birthday greetings, automated campaigns can save time by automatically sending based on the parameters you set.
53. Re-engage quiet subscribers. Automated emails can be used to re-engage subscribers (or customers) who haven’t taken any recent action (like making a purchase or donation.)
54. Reward VIPs and boost customer loyalty. Automated campaigns that send subscribers a reward or discount when they reach a certain spending threshold is a way to make them feel special, valued, and keeps them shopping at your business.
55. Use drip campaigns to nurture leads. 96% of website visitors aren’t ready to buy, but if you can collect an email address while a person is on your site, you can follow up with automated lead nurturing campaigns and convince them to buy over time.
56. Leverage automation to teach. Automated journeys that educate new subscribers on how to get the most out of your product or service can be a great way to provide value and to proactively approach training.
57. Automate your feedback-gathering. By integrating surveys into an automated email campaign, you can give your subscribers a voice and always stay on top of gathering important feedback that improves customer experiences.
58. Use automation for reminders. From appointment reminders to subscription expiration notices, automated emails can help drive customer retention, encourage repeat business, and acts as an extension of customer service.
59. Put automation to work notifying subscribers of new content. You can set up an automated campaign that promotes fresh blog content every time you hit publish. Here at Campaign Monitor, email generates nearly half of total traffic to new blog posts.
60. Integrate your email and business tools. Using a tool like Zapier, you can easily integrate assets like your eCommerce platform, CRM, sales tools, and accounting for simple data sharing with your email service provider. Check out all the powerful integrations.
61. Make your onboarding more efficient. Email automation can help you efficiently onboard customers at scale and help ensure you’re providing maximum training and value.
62. Remember welcome emails. Welcome emails have an average read rate of 34%, which is 42% higher than the average. Automatically welcoming new subscribers means capitalizing on the forward momentum of a recent opt-in. See the 10 essential elements of a welcome email.
Email testing tips
63. A/B test the content of your subject lines. These tests help ensure you’re sending out the most successful subject line (of two different versions) to the majority of your audience. This helps increase open rates and lets you learn what your subscribers like (and don’t like) in a subject line. Get our free guide to A/B testing your email campaigns.
64. Try different word orders in subject lines. By A/B testing different syntax on your subject lines, you can find out which version best communicates the message you’re trying to send.
65. Test the length of your subject lines. If your audience is largely opening on mobile devices, it might be a good idea to A/B test different subject line lengths to see if shorter vs. longer impacts open rate.
66. See how images vs. copy impacts conversions. Because visuals are processed much faster than text, using more graphics and images in your campaigns may boost your conversion rate. A/B test two different versions with copy and with images to see which one drives more click-throughs.
67. Test different templates. Some brands have found that different templates produce higher conversion rates, so be sure to A/B test different formats and styles to see which generates the best results. See our gallery of professional email templates.
68. Try different tones. A/B testing copy with two different tones (like positive language vs. negative language) to see which one resonates more with your audience. We found that positive language boosted our conversion rate by 22%.
69. Find out if buttons or text links convert better. Generally, CTA buttons work better than text links in emails–our A/B test showed that buttons got 27% more clicks than a text link. But you’ll never know unless you test on your unique audience.
70. Experiment with button copy. A/B testing different CTA button copy can help you fine-tune your conversion text to it’s most effective version. We found that ‘Get the formulas’ got 10% more clicks than ‘Read more’ in our test.
71. Test delivery times. Sending your email at two different times with the help of an A/B test can help you find the optimal time for the most opens.
72. A/B test subject line personalization. See if including your subscribers’ first names in the subject line boosts open rates. But don’t stop there, personalization goes way past the email subject line.
73. Start with a hypothesis. Having a simple statement in mind will help you pin down what you’re testing and what you hope to achieve from it.
74. Prioritize your A/B testing efforts. Evaluate the impact and ease of implementation of your A/B test, as well as how confident you are that your results will have a positive impact on your email efforts. This will help you start with the most beneficial A/B tests first.
75. Learn from results. Even if your A/B test produces less positive results than you hoped for, you can use these to inform your strategy and build upon this knowledge for more effective email efforts.
With these tips in mind, you can create an email marketing strategy that not only delights subscribers with relevant, engaging content, but that also boosts ROI for your organization.
The next time you put together an email campaign, think about how you can weave in these best practices to build an open-worthy, conversion-driving message that drives impressive results.
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