The tools might have changed and become more effective, and the variety of technologies and capabilities keep growing, but email marketing is still the king of ROI in the marketing kingdom.
Email marketing relevance can be seen across a number of industries and companies. After all, 92% of online adults use email, with 61% using it on an average day.
But how to get it right? What is the prerequisite to get better results? On this blog post, we will list the 50 best practices of email marketing automation.
Email marketing remains one of the best ways to generate leads and convert prospects because it allows a personal, direct channel of communication between the company and its leads. Combined with marketing automation, this power of interaction only increases.
These tips will help you make the most of it and guarantee the success of your email marketing strategy.
Let's cut to the chase:
1)Segment your audience
Every single marketing professional who works with email marketing should know that segmentation is number one rule when it comes to email marketing best practices. Consider grouping your contacts based on their interests, demographics, company, job title, and so on.
Your contacts may also be in different stages of the customer journey. This means you must provide them with different information based on the stage they're currently in. Segmentation proves to increase open rates and click through rates.
39% of email marketers realize better open rates through segmentation (eMarketer)
39% of email marketers realize better open rates through segmentation (eMarketer)
A marketing automation tool can do wonders for you when it comes to segmentation. With the help of lead tracking you can analyze your users' behavior and classify them according to that, so it becomes easier to perform targeted actions.
2)Build a calendar
To make sure that your email marketing strategy will actually work, you must have a planning calendar. Set the dates of when you're going to send emails, mark important upcoming dates, define your goals and priorities, and track the whole process.
Once again, an automation platform can simplify this process. You can schedule your emails campaigns and be sure that they'll be sent on the date and time you want. With automated campaigns, you can connect emails with events meaning that the user will receive an email every time he activates this or that event. Besides, you can schedule a campaign to be sent only to specific recipients, according to their behavior.
There are a countless number of studies proving that personalized emails have higher open rates. But go beyond personalizing your subject line and greetings: study the best time to send your emails, when you subscriber is more likely of actually opening it. Create segmented lists based on different interests, invest in defining your personas to be sure what kind of content your contacts like the most.
Customize your content from header to footer. Remember that what resonates with one audience doesn’t necessarily resonate with another. Use all the data collected from your tracking system to create personalized interactions.
4)Think of your subject line
It might seem pretty simple, but your subject line does have a big impact on the open rate of your emails. The first rule is to keep it short. It might be difficult at first, but remember that your subject line should be no more than 50 characters long, otherwise it won't be readable on mobile devices.
Be personal and add your recipient's name. Think of something that calls for urgency, like "Only today", or "Last minute offer", to encourage your lead to open the email. Use attractive lines to catch your customer's attention. Think of how your recipient can benefit from your email.
Carefully choose your fonts, template, and layout. Don't use fonts that are too small or too difficult to read. Avoid overly bright colors, but do not forget about contrast: contrasting colors will make your layout stand out and grab your reader's attention.
6)Use the preheader>
Preheaders or preview texts can help on increasing open rates because your leads already know what to expect when they open the email. Seen as a short summary of the message, the preheader is particularly seen on mobile devices and notifications from desktop email clients, so make the most of it. Once again, keep it short and catchy: no more than 60 characters.
7)Avoid unfamiliar senders
Messages sent with personalized email addresses are more trustworthy. Your lead doesn't want to hear news from a robot but from a real person. For that, avoid generic email addresses such as [email protected] or [email protected], so your messages don't get mistaken as spam.
8)Don't forget your logo
It might sound obvious, but your logo has major importance in your email design. The logo will remind your customer of the brand behind the email, and might even prevent your newsletter from being deleted right away. Remember to keep it on the upper left side of the email, as eye tracking studies have shown that people instinctively look for logos there.
9)Keep your text concise
Imagine that you are your own customer. You're probably busy, with an inbox full of email messages, so bear in mind that your email should be short and concise. Long emails are also more likely to be ignored by subscribers or fall in the spam folder, so try to keep your message as simple and short as possible.
10)Use power words
Study your audience and find out which words are more interesting for your public. In the meantime these words can be somewhat helpful: love, free, results, new, save, offer, immediate, etc. Here you can find a very useful list of power words.
11)Add links to your text
External links can increase the opportunity of engagement with your leads. Add some links to different pages of your website in your text and make it more interesting. But don't over do it, because ISPs (Internet Service Providers) might see you as spam.
12)Bring some humor to your emails
Humor creates an instant personal connection with the reader. Try adding some fun elements to your campaigns: it's not only entertaining but it might increase your share rates. Of course, this tip only applies to companies and businesses where this tone is suitable. For some sectors, a more sober communication is imperative and you might not have as much "fun" space and you wished.
Images can bring life to your emails and reinforce your company's values and concepts. Avoid too small or too big images, and try to figure out the right amount of images: too many or too few can also impact on your overall deliverability result.
14)Add links to your images
Talking about images, your email should be interactive. One way of making that happen is to add links to your images. Make sure to tell your customer that the images are clickable and to show them where it leads to. This is a great strategy to increase your click through rate and organic traffic.
15)Include alt-text to your images
Nowadays, many email softwares and clients block images from emails. It's important to always add alternative text to your images. otherwise, it will be just an unexplained blank button your email.
16)Include a call-to-action
The CTA grabs your customer's attention and asks them to perform some action. It's mandatory when working with digital marketing strategies, especially in email marketing campaigns and landing pages. Use powerful but simple words, work with contrasting colors and make sure to leave enough space around the button so your layout stays clean.
17)Add alt-txt to call to action
The same rule that was applied to images must also be used on CTAs. When people and email clients block images from email marketing messages, this might include CTA buttons too. Don't forget to add the alt-text to them with the desired action you want from your customers.
18)Add social buttons
Your leads and customers may not know your social pages yet. Remember to tell them how to find you on the main social networks, this way they can find out more about your brand. Stay updated with recent news and become one of your fans.
19)Add social sharing buttons
Increase your engagement and your brand awareness by adding social buttons to your emails. This is particularly interesting if are offering some sort of benefit to your customers such as contests, discounts, etc. This way they can pass on the offer and your message will reach a bigger audience.
20)Use social media to Promote Opt-In URLs
Remember to take advantage of your social media pages to promote your email marketing campaigns and get more subscribers. Post your newsletter content on Facebook or Twitter, for example, and ask your fans if they already receive your emails. If not, invite them to sign up.
21)Send emails on weekends
Although it's not a very common strategy, sending emails on weekends can help your chances of being seen. The difference between open rates on weekdays and weekends are not substantial, but every little thing counts when it comes to email marketing automation.
On weekends, the volume of emails are not so big and people might have more time to read it, so try that when sending your next targeted campaigns.
22)Send an email to new subscribers within 24 hours
Take advantage of new subscribers and email them within 24 hours. Your brand's name might be on your customer's mind so take this opportunity to make a good impression and show them that you are interested in building a strong and meaningful relationship.
It's no secret that 45% of emails are read on mobile devices, so create responsive layouts to ensure that your email is being read everywhere. When thinking of design, choose fonts that are big enough and easy to read on any screen. Choose images that look good on every device, and make sure to keep calls-to-action in the appropriate size, easy to be clicked on.
24)Combine with mobile strategies
You can always use mobile strategies to improve the results of your email marketing strategy, and integrating your email marketing with SMS is a good tactic. You can double your chances of being seen by your audience by sending texts to alert about different types of emails like events, sales, promotions, contests, etc.
25)Make your email sharable
Consider including a "share to your network" CTA and let readers spread the content of your email. Link the call-to-action to a pre-build email template, complete with subject and body.
This is particularly interesting if you have an irresistible offer or special discount. You can also consider other ways to make you customer share your content. Consider creating a contest where the readers should share the message with their friends and colleagues. This will not only spread your messages but also increase your brand awareness.
26)Study your competitors
Sign up for your competitor's newsletters and find out what are their engagement strategies. Analyze their strategy, strengths, and weakness to find your own competitive advantages. Pay attention to their frequency, content, mobile optimization and other valuable information to make sure your strategy is as good as it can be.
Asking questions in your email marketing campaign can be a great asset to your strategy. It puts a human element behind the transaction, allowing you to engage with your audience on a deeper level. Focus on open-ended questions (would, should, how) and forget about the yes or no questions. This incites your customer to take part in the discussion and keep talking about your customer.
28)Test your emails before sending them
After your email campaign is ready, remember to test it before actually sending it out to your contact list. Unfortunately, your email might not be displayed the same way for all your customers, and youR perfectly builT message might look like a drag in everyone else's inbox. Make sure that everything is running smoothly by testing your emails first.
You can either test manually, creating different accounts and sending the same message to different providers and opening it on different devices, or you can use a testing service to help you with the task. Most of the marketing automation platforms offer the possibility of testing your email before sending it. This is crucial as an email marketing best practice.
29)Tie your email to landing pages
This is a very important advice that most people usually don't follow. Create landing pages to specific email marketing campaigns according to your leads' interest. By doing this your landing page will continue your conversion process as you offer exactly what your leads are expecting.
The email and the landing page should have the same language, they should create a powerful experience to your customer. This task becomes much easier when you create your landing pages and email campaigns in the same platform. An all in one tool will save you time and increase productivity.
30)Make easy to unsubscribe>
As obvious as it might sound, sometimes the unsubscribe link is not very accessible on some email campaigns. Make them easy to be found and clicked. The recommended way to display it it's on top of the email message, above the header.
By doing that, you'll earn your customer's trust and avoid a bad reputation on email domains. A good platform probably will demand that you add an unsubscribe link in every e-mail sent by them.
31)Use A/B testing
If your conversion rates are not as high as you expected, why not test some differents formats for your email campaign? That's what A/B tests are for.
Experiment on different CTAs, subject lines, layouts, images, and other aspects of your email marketing. Send the test to your list and carefully analyze the results: open rates, click-through rates, conversion rates. Running A/B tests is a great way to understand your audience preferences, likes, and dislikes.
32)Give something away
People love to get free things. Giveaways are a great strategy to grow and engage with your contact's list, but try making it as interesting as possible. Create contests to bring user-generated content to your website or social media, and give prizes to encourage your customers' participation. You can also give simpler things such as free downloads of ebooks, whitepapers and checklists in exchange for your customer's action. Be sure to place strong CTAs to get your expected response.
To make sure your email won't fall in the spam folder, always know the rules of spamming from the country you're sending campaigns. Some simple actions can be taken to avoid be seen as spam such as not using more than 3 links in the body text, not using spammy words (like free leads, no investment, cash bonus, free installation, etc), not overusing icons or all caps, not overusing images, not adding third part HTML codes and many others.
34)Don't use attachments
If you are considering to send any form of rich content like ebooks or pdfs, for example, don't attach them to your email, as this will diminish your deliverability and it isn´t trackable. Send your file on a link that you host in your own domain, so you can check who is downloading it and then analyze the success of your email.
35)Contact inactive subscribers
Why not send targeted messages to subscribers that haven't used your service lately? Instead of sending them promotional content, try to offer them relevant re-engagement messages such as "look what you've been missing" or "latest news".
With a marketing automation platform, it's much easier to identify who are your active and inactive users, but of course the concept of active user may vary depending on the product.
A customer engagement index (CEI), for example, helps to measure the engagement level of the user. It's pretty simple: all you have to do is assign values to events that are activated by your user in your app, just like a lead score for customers. This generates an actionable metric you can use to define how engaged is your user.
36)Add an opt-in option
An opt-in is a great way to get your customers' respect and trust. This way you'll be sure that your lead or customer wants to be part of your mailing list, protecting your contacts list from unwanted situations.
Consider double opt-ins. As they give the leads the opportunity to confirm that they received your message.
37)Gifs and videos
Videos are already a trend in marketing, so try adding them to your emails. They can add interactivity to your email, attract your customer's attention and engage them.
According to the Emarketer, emails with videos report a 55 percent increase in click-through rates. If you are still not sure of how to proper use videos of if you feel insecure about your customer´s email provider supporting videos use gifs, as they also can bring great results for your content strategy.
Just like videos and gifs, audio should be used in a very clever way. Be creative, keep it short, entertain and delight your customer. Audio clips are a great way to encourage people to interact with the message. Once again, if you think that your customer might not listen to the audio because his email provider does not support it, consider adding the link to a landing page and inviting them to go there so they can listen to it. This is a great strategy especially if you are promoting a radio program or podcasts.
39)Html and plain text should match
Don't forget to set up a plain text version of your HTML. In case the email provider doesn't display the message properly, the plain text version gives you an extra guarantee that your content is going to be read by your customers. Some emails services already do that automatically, but others don't. Remember that without the plain text your chances to get into the spam folder are much higher.
40)Use numbers statistics
Numbers are not only catchy, but they make your audience slow down and think about your message. You can use numbers statistics on headers and grab your reader's attention from the beginning. Look for interesting data that is relevant for your audience and take advantage of that. This might increase your opening rates.
Numbers can also be an interesting way to structure your email content. For example, "5 tips of how to xxxx, can be a great headline and make your customers more curious about your emails, therefore increasing opening and CT rates.
Autoresponders are a series of emails send in pre-determined delays and sequences. They're usually focused on a single topic, related to the one that triggered the autoresponder. A trigger can be a subscription, a form that has been filled up, reading a blog post and so on. The autoresponders are great to create a regular communication channel between you and your customers and it helps to you build trust. With that, your customers know that you will only offer quality content.
Think of a smart plan for your autoresponders, focus on giving relevant information and transferring know-how.
With marketing automation, it becomes much simpler to set up autoresponders. Just create the emails, connect them with events and schedule your campaigns. Automation allows you to set up flows that send emails and execute actions according to user's behavior. With that, all you have to do is build a personalized journey for subscribers.
42)Watch your message frequency
The frequency of your email campaigns is extremely important for your strategies success. Find what works best for your audience. Is it an email per week? Two? The frequency may vary but resources show that the best engagement strategies usually have 2 emails per week. Make sure to not stay too long without sending emails as your customer may forget about you. Emails send too often, however, can be irritating. Find the perfect balance and make the most of your strategy.
43)Use SEO keywords
Did you know that you must use your strategic keywords also on your email marketing campaigns? From the subject line to the body of the email your whole text should be optimized for the search engines. This will probably increase your open rates. There are some customers that like to share relevant messages on your personal blogs or directories, for example. If your subject line has one word that is highly searched for your audience, for example, the chances that your customer opens your email increases, after all, you customer is very likely to be interested in the subject.
If you publish your newsletters on your website (as some experts recommend) this may also increase your website traffic, once your customers can easily look for older content on your website.
44)Resend unopened emails
It may be a good idea to resend unopened emails. Your customer may have been too busy to open it at the first time, so you can give it another shot by changing your subject line. You could add words like "reminder" or "last chance" to make it more appealing, for example.You can even consider changing it completely to test a different approach.
You can also correct the timing. Check what time you first sent the email and make adjustments. For example, if you sent the email in the morning and wasn't open at the first time, try sending it at night. Another good strategy is to refresh the content, updating or adding new data to make it more interesting.
45)Take advantage of user-generated content
User-generated content (UGC) can boost your emails strategy, simply because promotes engagement. Invite your audience to create compelling content and include it in your email marketing campaigns. There are many ways of doing that: create contests, ask them for a photo using the product, video or texts testimonials, etc. You can create specific emails to showcase the content, share it in your social accounts and get more subscriptions.
Storytelling is not only a trend, but it's also a great way to communicate effectively with your customers. People like listening to stories. Storytelling can increase your customer's desire to know more, and even purchase your product or service. When creating stories, try to focus on the problems that your product or service will solve for your customers.
Create a personalized story, with beginning, middle and end. Don't forget to offer an action at the end, like downloading a content or trying out your product, for example.
47)Clean and update your email list
Keeping your mailing list clean and updated will improve your results. Sending emails to unexisting email addresses or low engagement customers might make you look like a spammer. To clean your list, get rid of bad email addresses so your bounce rate doesn't impact your reputation, remove inactive subscribers on a regular basis and diminish the chances of being blocked by Internet Service Providers.
48)Track and analyze your results
Are your emails being opened? Are your customers reading them? What are your conversion rates? In other words, are you keeping track of your results? If you're not following up your results, you will never know what are you doing right, how to improve your email marketing automation strategy or how to convert more leads. By monitoring your email marketing metrics you can identify different chances of improving your approach, finding out what messages convert more and so on.
49)Keep an eye on industry trends
Always, always, always be updated, show your customers that you know what's going in the market. Check for new trends and see where the industry is heading to. A new trend might be the answer for an old problem and you can always learn from new strategies. Try new strategies but never leave the old ones behind. You can achieve different and unexpected results with a new, more updated view of the market.
50)Use a marketing automation tool
There's a great number of benefits of using a marketing automation platform to create and send your email campaigns. You can track your results more effectively, hyper-segment your lists, personalize your emails with tons of variables, set up automation flows that send messages automatically, and much more. Don't forget to choose carefully the best platform to fulfill all your company's needs.
Most of these tips are simple and easy to be implemented. With a little bit of effort and a lot of creativity, you can build great email marketing campaigns and increase your open, click-through and conversion rates. Don't be afraid of trying new things and always keep track of your experiments and results.
Email marketing brings some great results for companies and marketing automation is capable of optimizing it. Because it offers more analytics capabilities and higher interaction with customers, automated email marketing makes it easier to reach customers no matter their stages in the customer journey.