How can you take your email marketing from good to great? What are the challenges in email marketing? A 2016 report from Campaigner based on a survey of 506 marketers states that increasing email open rate is the biggest challenge.
MarketingSherpa also surveyed many companies and found out that the most important email marketing challenges are:
- Integrating email data with other data systems.
- Improving deliverability.
- Growing and retaining subscribers.
- Achieving measurable return on investment (ROI).
- Using email for funnel optimization
Let’s look at how we can counter these challenges with the 50 email marketing best practices:
Get the Subject Line Right
There are no strict guidelines for writing subject lines but the following points can help:
1. Use striking subject lines as it’s the first thing that recipients notice. Make it short and concise, generally between 30 and 50 characters.
2. Make your subject lines as personalized as possible. According to one study, there is a 20% more chance of emails with personalized subject lines being opened.
3. Use numbers, especially odd numbers, in the subject line as they stand out against letters.
4. Use top working words — While we have been guided to always be careful about spam words, we can also have a look at the top performing words, which can increase your open rate. The image below tells us the significance of doing so.
5. What should be the topic of your subject lines? Use general questions, which your customers ask you or your sales team or your customer service. Which was your top-performing post? Maybe you can use the same as your email subject line.
6. Preheader Text – This is the third element in email preview and can be either the first few words from the email content or the text you use to give a glimpse into the email body, so let it always be descriptive and meaningful.
7. Don’t overdo by adding “Re:” or “FW:” words in a subject line. Adestra says in its report that adding “Re:” or “FW:” words showed increased open rate in the beginning but later the numbers dropped.
8. You can use all caps in your subject line to highlight the subject of your email.
9. Are you trying to promote? Increase sale? Or just keeping connected with your subscribers? Remember your goal as this will help you to decide what you should write in your subject line
10. Also, it is okay to use the word ‘FREE’ in the subject line. In one survey, Free and Home delivery were the 2 options tested against each other. The email with the word Free had more opens.
Avoid the Spam Filter
11. Your emails may have good subject lines and good content but what if they are sent directly to the spam box? Hence, it is important to avoid spam words in your subject line. Hubspot in one of its blogs mentions a few spam words for different categories.
12. Do not purchase an email list rather build your own list as it will get you listed in spam boxes and your domain will be added in the blacklist.
13. Send emails through verified domains and user merge tags to personalize to fields, so that the spam filter will consider you as the acquaintances of the recipients.
14. If anyone has sent spam email with the same IP address, your campaigns will be flagged. So make sure to check if your IP address is blacklisted and choose a reliable service provider as they share valuable and relevant content.
15. Sometimes emails with extra tags or codes from Microsoft word are marked as spam, so avoid these things.
16. Don’t use special characters in the subject lines. Even though people open such emails, they are occasionally been triggered as spam, so avoid using them.
Focus on Email Design
17. Make sure your emails are 500-650 pixels wide so that recipients don’t have to scroll horizontally to read the complete message. Pixel width is a very critical element in lead capture.
18. Place the logo in your emails on the upper-left portion.
19. Use one column layout for your emails so that they look clean and can easily adapt to different screen sizes. This is because 74% of people use smartphones to read emails.
20. Avoid using no-reply in the emails as they prevent readers from responding. Use your first name instead of no-reply so that recipients feel that they are being sent emails by humans.
21. 70% of recipients won’t see the CTA if your main message and CTA are below the fold, thus keep these things above the fold.
22. Make your landing page match with your emails in terms of the headline, content, the look and feel of the email, etc. as consistency plays a big role in retaining customers. Always using tracking tools to check which emails and landing pages work well together.
23. Your emails should be mobile friendly and your CTAs too. An average index finger is 45X57 pixels but people mostly use thumbs to tap the button, so the button has to be wider i.e., 45X72 pixels.
24. Don’t put an entire article in an email because they may or may not read it and then delete it. Email should only serve as a teaser, inviting people to visit your website as you want to drive traffic.
25. Give subscribers multiple places to click even if you are sharing only one article through it. Anything that could make them interested can be clickable.
Learn How to Save Time
26. Create a checklist for emails. You might do all the things right but forget to add social media buttons. Why not create a checklist and follow a methodical approach!
27. If you feel you don’t have time to create emails from scratch, you can repurpose old emails with new subject lines.
28. If you have had time to learn the design component, email templates are the best options because you will able to prepare professional emails faster than you would usually do.
29. Keep track of email campaign by static lists. If you are running many email campaigns, it gets difficult to track their progress. Information like how many leads have been processed, which emails received which leads, etc. are deciding factors but manually doing all of it is painful. You can use static lists to keep track of activities on different email segments. If you have made a static list of e-book recipients, then the next time you want to send an e-book, you can suppress this static list.
30. Segment your contact list. Group people of the same category. You need to address prospects’ need according to different marketing funnel stages they are in, so place them into the right segments to reflect this. Doing this is very time-saving as you only click send when running an email campaign.
31. If you have to reply to all your emails, it will take hours. To save time, you can run automated email campaigns by setting up trigger emails. This also improves your customer service.
32. Use pop-ups to capture more leads. Pop-ups are effortless as they require zero coding and they also give 1375% more subscribers.
33. Make a note of inactive subscribers and remove them at regular intervals from your email list. This would save time on efforts put on useless leads.
34. Decide what you would count as success for each of your email campaigns and set custom reports to see relevant metrics. This is also time-saving as you need to look at the same selection of data and rarely have to check for something else.
35. Set up dynamic content and amend the details of it to personalize each email segment. This way you don’t have to create a separate email template for each variation.
Craft Strong Calls to Action
36. Create a compelling CTA; tell them what to do, how to do and why to do.
37. Write an email suiting your CTA. Highlight your CTA but don’t make it too big or too small.
38. Place your CTA strategically to draw readers’ attention.
39. When your CTAs are images and not text-based links, it will be a problem if your recipients have not turned on the images. How can you solve this problem? You can use the bulletproof button using HTML or CSS code and this will be displayed even when the images are not displayed.
40. Add sign up button at the end of your blog posts.
41. Encourage email subscription in your website sidebar opt-in.
42. Do not use too many buttons(CTAs) in your email — all related to separate actions — as this will distract the attention from the main message of the email.
Expand your Subscriber Base
43. Create some click triggers. Most people read only 20% of the post, so using CTA at the end of the post is also not a good option sometimes. For example, you can make text, image, or button links to increase your email subscribers and you will see your conversion rate go high up to 50%.
44. You can set up a welcome mat, which is a full-screen CTA and this will appear when visitors are on the landing page.
45. Introduce Opt-in after the visitor has scrolled through the page. If you add a scroll box, you will get many highly motivated subscribers.
46. Set up a smart bar, which will remind your visitors to join you and place this at the top of the page to make it more visible.
47. You can be featured in industry newsletters. Search for the newsletter directories, get feedback from your network about the best topics for a newsletter.
48. Share your content on the social media groups related to your niche.
49. Publish a case study with an amazing email content. By the time the recipient reaches the email CTA, if he is already captivated by the content, he will be motivated to subscribe.
50. Offer free trials or samples but before that make them subscribe.
So far, we have discussed 50 best practices for email marketing and we have how the research result speaks of this but you should not trust numbers alone. You have to find which best practice works for you by A/B Testing. What else can you test besides subject lines? What are the best A/B split testing practices? Why not do your own homework on this and start weighing thing in your own scales? Let’s do it!