New to email marketing, but aren’t sure what you should and shouldn’t do? Don’t worry, it’s pretty straightforward once you get the hang of it.
There are several things you should keep in mind when you start an email campaign to generate the best results: building your list, crafting your content, and cultivating client relationships.
With that in mind, this post will be full of ways to increase the chances of your emails being opened, read and acted on.
Keep reading for a list of 25 tips for maximizing your email marketing success.
1. Have a permission-based email list
Want to increase your return on investment (ROI)? Permission-based email marketing is the way to go. It has a higher ROI than unsolicited mail or traditional advertising. Without permission, your emails are more likely to be reported as spam or end up in the trash and recipients are less likely to engage with your campaign. Keep your list permission-based and your email campaigns will improve sales, generate leads, bolster customer-brand relationships, and boost website traffic.
2. Use links wisely
It’s pretty easy to promote a product and talk all about its benefits when you’re speaking to someone in person, but it’s much harder when you’re emailing someone you don’t know. That’s why it’s critical that you use links wisely, so people understand exactly what type of service and/or product you are offering. Linking to your product/service allows the reader to check it out and get a feel for the advantages of going with your brand.
Studies show “triggered” or transactional emails have a higher engagement rate than other types of messages, a rate that only seems to be increasing. By placing a link to your page within this type of message you can generate far more leads and website traffic. Make sure these links are noticeable and standout so readers are more likely to click.
3. Check out the competition
One of the best ways to make sure you are all up-to-date on the latest email marketing trends is to check out what others in your industry are doing. Take some time to sign up for newsletters from other businesses. This will help you see what formulas they are using, and get a feel for what strategies they are employing. You can take the best parts of all of them, and apply them to your own email marketing campaigns.
4. Keep it brief and readable
In this day and age, attention spans are short. In fact, a study done by Microsoft Consumer Insights found that the average attention span is only 8 seconds.
So, word to the wise – people will open a short blurb or daily advice tip, but they generally won’t be too enthused about getting long emails every single day.
It’s also important to remember your font can significantly affect the response you get from your customers and readers. Avoid lots of capitalization, since that just looks unprofessional and is a pain in the butt to read.
Stick to the usual fronts. If it’s a lot of effort for them to just read your email, they’re going to view your product or service in the same light.
Avoid excessive italics, underlining, or colored fonts, since these will all distract from the core message of your email. Instead, keep things brief, easy to read and professional.
5. Automate and optimize
Use marketing automation software to cut down on time, reduce expenses, optimize your campaign, and increase results.
Not only will marketing automation make your campaign run more smoothly, but it also increases customer retention. Since it also makes it easier to manage leads and optimizes your marketing, this software will also bring about an increase in return on investment (ROI).
Looking for an automation solution for your emails? We highly recommend Sendlane, an Email Marketing Platform that has tons of helpful automation features!
6. Focus on building relationships
Yes, email marketing is great for boosting revenue, generating leads, increasing website traffic, and bringing awareness to your brand. However, it’s also great for strengthening and building customer-brand relationships.
Keep your message casual, yet professional, and personal. Don’t make it obvious that you’ve sent the same email to 1,000 people – each recipient should feel special.
Write in a conversational tone, since this adds a personal feel to your message. People are more likely to trust brands that feel authentic, as opposed to the brands of faceless, sterile corporations. Keep your voice consistent as well, so your recipient feels like they are talking to just one person. This builds trust and strengthens your brand’s personality.
Finally, be generous with the word “you.”
This one word goes a long way to closing a sale and creating conversions. When you use “you”, you are making the reader feel like you are talking ONLY to them. They feel special, important, and valued. Over time, this builds trust and a strong client-brand relationship.
7. Use a catchy subject line
The subject line of your email is the first thing your recipients will see and as such, makes all the difference in it being opened or deleted. If they don’t open it, there goes your sale. If you send out 1,000 emails a day, and none of them get opened, your email marketing strategy needs a lot of help. The most likely cause? Your subject lines.
Avoid using the word “FREE” anywhere in your subject line. This will get your email flagged as spam, and just looks sketchy and suspicious. Read here for more on avoiding a spam complaint.
Make sure your subject line clearly describes what is inside. Add an incentive to your subject line – what is the value in opening your email? What’s in it for them? Not only does this make your email seem relevant, but it also makes it feel like they will be missing out if they don’t read it.
Be specific, but don’t be boring. Use a subject line that grabs attention at first glance. Something like “Newsletter June 2016” looks boring and makes people think of yawn-inducing staff meetings. Nobody likes staff meetings.
Instead, use something interesting: “Surefire Strategies for Mind-Blowing Email Marketing” or “Inside: Exclusive Content Strategy Workbook!”
Not sure what subject line to use for your next email? Grab our free headline tool that will help you out in a pinch. Just enter your name and email address to get instant access to 8,834 proven and tested headlines:
8. Personalize the content
Consumers are far more likely to buy from retailers or businesses that send out personalized emails (as opposed to generalized, impersonal emails).
Include personalized product recommendations based off of consumer data such as demographics, lifestyle choices, purchase history, and geographical locations. These variables help businesses identify great cross-sales opportunities and will help your customers find new products or services. Not only does this boost sales, but it also demonstrates your brand’s value.
Use the recipient’s name within the subject line, opening (“Dear___), and within the content itself. This makes the email personal and relevant, and comes across less like virtual junk mail.
Sendlane has tons of integrated personalization tags to make this process easier:
Simply add the tag into your message and the system will auto-fill the details from the subscribers profile. Just like that!
9. Format is key
It’s important to format your email campaigns in a way that offers the most convenience and readability to your recipients.
HTML and rich media messages with audio, video, and animations do bring in high response rates however, it’s important to have a text-only version for those who are unable (or unwilling) to receive anything other than text. For these text-based emails, it’s best to set the font at 10-point Courier going 60 characters (about 5 inches) across.
Double-check your formatting by testing the messages through several email accounts. This way, you can see what they will be looking at, and can ensure it looks good in all mainstream email accounts.
10. Make it easy to scan
People are in a hurry. They often check their email on their downtime, or during a specified time at work. They don’t have tons of time to click through a bunch of pages, or scroll through a super long email with solid blocks of text. They want to scan, get the gist of it, and then click the link if they are interested. Here are some great ways to increase your scan-appeal:
- Use bullet points with plenty of white space.
- Avoid using ALL CAPS LIKE THIS or Italics, since they are difficult to read.
- Keep your columns of copy narrow, since this will make it easier to read.
- Use large, bold fonts that can be read quickly and easily.
The more work you do for your readers, the more likely they are to read and interact with your messages. Make it easy and convenient for them to do so and you’ll see great results.
11. Conduct A/B testing
Testing allows you to figure out what is working, what isn’t, and what needs a bit of work.
Segment your email list, and then use A/B testing to test out different subject lines, sales copy, promotions, designs, etc. Refine according to what works, test again, and then send the most successful email campaign to your larger email segments. This is likely to yield better results, and the larger segment means more chance of a higher response rate.
12. Make sure your brand is clear and consistent
It’s important to make sure your emails are on brand. While proper branding seems like a no-brainer, it should still be revisited and tested. Your emails should fit in with the rest of your content, and should be immediately recognizable as mail coming from your brand and your business.
Want to learn more about how to focus your brand? Click through to take a look at our 2-part series on great email branding.
13. Encourage response
Include contact details so people can get in touch with you, and include clickable links. Make sure to double-check that they work, though! You don’t want any dead links out there in your campaign.
Ask your readers for feedback. Not only does this add a personal feel to your brand, but it also helps you get an idea for what people like and don’t like about your campaigns.
14. Send regular emails
It’s great to send regular emails, but you want to be careful that you aren’t being obnoxious about it.
One way to find this balance is to send out a daily newsletter with links to your site’s latest blog posts. The frequency depends on your audience, obviously, but it’s a great way to keep your readers interested and informed of things going on with your company. Additionally, it also increases the amount of value you provide, since you are consistently offering helpful advice and useful information.
15. Manage your subscribers
Greet each and every new subscriber with a “welcome” email. Not only is this courteous and adds a personal feel to things, but it also means there is no confusion about whether or not they actually signed up to your list.
You can use this message to tell your subscribers what they can look forward to reading in future emails. Provide contact information, clickable links, and consistent branding.
Make it easy for your subscribers to unsubscribe whenever they want to and clean your list regularly by removing any dead-end or incorrect email addresses.
Sendlane makes list management super easy with easy to access statistics, list cleaning features and unsubscribe buttons within every email.
16. Send merchandising emails
Merchandising emails combine CRM data and product attribute data to create real-time engagement. For example, if a potential customer looks at, or carts, a $35 item from your shop, and the item ends up going down to $25, then you have the perfect chance to re-engage that customer. These types of emails can also be automated, saving time and money.
17. Don’t forget the P.S.
There is a sense of urgency that comes from a deadline. There is an even stronger sense of urgency if the person feels they will lose out if they miss that deadline. This is where the P.S. comes in.
The P.S. is basically a summary of your email. It should explain what the reader is going to lose (what the customer’s problem is), what the reader is going to gain (your solution to their problem) and that there is an urgent need to take action. This could be a deadline, a limit on the number of items in stock, or anything else that gets the reader to take action RIGHT NOW.
18. Play on the Zeigarnik Effect
The Zeigarnik Effect is defined as “the tendency to experience intrusive thoughts about an objective that was once pursued and left incomplete.” So, basically, we get uncomfortable about things that we haven’t finished. This could be the cliffhanger of the final episode in the latest season of a popular TV show, or that To-Do list your spouse keeps nagging you about.
Not only is it easy to understand, since you experience it all the time, but it’s also easy to apply to email marketing. There are several ways to leverage the Zeigarnik Effect, and all of them are highly effective in getting consumers to take action:
- Progress bars – This shows where they currently are, and how much they have left to complete.
- Telling consumers there is a problem with their account – They have something they need to fix, and they need to do it NOW
- # out of # – Sending emails with the subject lines “1 out of 5”, “3 out of 5,” and so on give a sense of progress, but also shows they have more to read. Their task isn’t finished, so they will anticipate the next email – and are far more likely to open and read it.
Want to learn more about how to harness the Zeigarnik Effect to create demand? Grab Urgent Timer (our solo email countdown tool) or our complete email marketing suite, EmailTools and then take a look at our blog post to capitalize on that strategy!
19. Add exclusivity and a personal feel
Not only should the subject line include the word “you”, as this post previously mentioned, but it should also make it clear the content of the email will be directly relevant to the reader’s interests. Pinterest is great at this: “News topics you might love.”
This subject line feels personal, relevant, and interesting. It makes the reader want to click on it to find out what other pins they would love. After all, these were picked just for YOU!
Once you open the email, you receive something like this:
Just as the subject line stated, the following pin topics were (mostly) relevant to the reader’s interests. It also shows how many others are interested in the same things, which gives a sense of community and rapport with other Pinners.
20. Send emails during prime times
One of the best ways to ensure your emails are opened and read is to send them during prime times. While there are some exceptions, there are some nearly universal times that most digital marketers agree are prime for email campaigns:
- Weekdays are the best, especially when sending B2B emails
- If you only want to reach a small segment of your subscribers, go with Sunday.
- The best time to send them out is 10 AM in the recipient’s time zone (pay attention to this!). If your audience is in the college age range (18 to 25), wait until 1 pm. This is especially true during the summer, when they’re going to be sleeping in later.
Need a quick reference guide? Use this handy chart from CoSchedule:
Another tip? Research has shown that most messages that will be opened, are opened within the first 60 minutes after it hits their inbox. So, schedule accordingly and make sure your message always gets to them within that window.
Timing is key, so you want to be sure you’re on-point, especially when it comes to sending emails.
21. Optimize for mobile
More and more people are reading almost, if not all, of their emails on their phones now. If your email marketing content isn’t optimized for mobile, you’re going to be losing out on tons of opportunities. In fact, mobile email makes up 15% to 70% of all email opens, depending on your audience, product, and type of email.
With that stat in mind, there is little doubt it’s important to make sure your email looks great on both PC and mobile.
Convert your content into templates with one column, increase your font size, bold your fonts, and make sure your buttons are at least 44 x 44 pixels. You also want to place your calls-to-action above the fold, since that helps them stand out the most, and by placing them smack in the middle where they are most likely to be clicked.
Remember, the easier it is for someone to take action, the more likely they will do so.
22. Don’t forget to use power words
When you get about 47 emails in a single hour, they all start to sort of blur together. Nothing really stands out until, that is, you see a subject line that is just impossible to ignore. This type of subject line uses exciting, emotive words that make you want to read that email and find out more.
Power words include:
- How to
23. Remain short and concise
You’re sending a quick email, not writing the next great American novel. You don’t have to be Victor Hugo to send out an effective email newsletter.
You will lose your reader’s interest if you prattle on and on, so keep your email copy short and concise. This will ensure the most important points of your email stand out, and that your CTA button is easily found.
24. Automate your re-engagement emails
Automating a post-purchase email campaign for 7 days, 30 days, and 90 days post-purchase is likely to boost your sales. Determine at which point your readers tend to purchase something from your business again, and start from there to personalize the re-engagement dates even more. The same goes for the time when readers disengage from your brand.
25. Connect your channels
Invite your readers to “like” your brand on Facebook, to follow your board on Pinterest, to retweet a line in your email or whatever call to action used for your choice of social media channels.
Connecting your social media channels with your email campaigns will not only increase your brand awareness, but it will also give you a better idea of how many people are actively reading all of your emails and taking action.
When carried out correctly, email marketing proves to be far more effective than any other type of marketing. To get it right, though, you’ll need to keep these 25 tips in mind when crafting your next newsletter or campaign. These tips will ensure you’re sending valuable, actionable emails that grab attention, engage your readers, and get them to take action.
What are YOUR tips for email marketing success? Share your top tip with us in the comments below!
To unwind after hours of writing code or perfecting a design, Natalie likes to go out swing dancing or stay home alone and solve jigsaw puzzles.
Latest posts by Natalie Ryder (see all)
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