While email marketing may not get the attention that some newer marketing channels receive, it’s still a great way to generate leads and convert more prospects for your business.
With this in mind, we want to share some of the best email marketing practices you can use to generate more leads for your business.
Email is not controlled by algorithms in the same way that social media is. When we’re on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, to some extent we only see what they want us to see. But when it comes to email, we have almost total control. Someone can decide whether to open an email, whether to reply to it or forward it, for example.
What is your goal with email marketing?
Why are you sending emails? Why are you contacting in the first place?
Here are some reasons why you might want to use email marketing:
- Convert leads
- Keep in touch with former customers
- Enhance relationships
- Keep in touch with your current customers
- Establish yourself as an expert
- Create a tribe of fans and influencers (this is really important nowadays, because word of mouth is more important than ever)
Email Marketing Best Practices to Improve Your Results
1-Write an eye-catching headline in the email subject line
Believe it or not, getting conversions on your emails often starts with a headline that immediately grabs attention. The subject line is the first thing a user will see before opening the email. If they are new to your email list or just learning about your brand, it can carry a lot of weight as to whether or not they open the email.
Subject lines should be engaging and intriguing, while still staying true to the value of the email. Experiment with different types of subject lines to find the one that best responds to your audience.
The subject line may be the most important part of your email: If the subject line doesn’t inspire someone to open the email, the rest of the email won’t matter.
Think carefully about the subject line. The following will help you create a really good subject line; state these things in your subject line to increase open rates:
- Self-interest: remember that your audience is asking: why am I interested, what’s in it for me? Tell them in the subject line.
- Curiosity: Make people wonder what that means. While you don’t want to write a clickbait title, you do want people to be a little curious.
- Offer: Tell people what they can get.
- Urgency/scarcity: Let people know if there is a deadline.
- Humanity: This is something that makes people feel good, and this type of content is especially important in times of change.
- News: What’s current and important right now?
- Social proof: Share news about 5-star ratings, great reviews, etc.
- Story: Help people understand why something is important to them and how it will make them feel.
2-Use a simple design
It can be tempting to create the most over-designed template with colors, images, graphics, and lots of different modules. But, emails like this can look like an advertisement or scream “automated marketing mail.” While most people are aware that marketing automation exists, it doesn’t mean you want to remind them of it with your emails.
There is value in serving emails to your audience that look like a normal email you would send to a co-worker. A simple email template with just a logo or border can humanize your brand and let the focus of the email be the message and body text. Also, text-based emails will work better on mobile devices and in different email clients because your formatting is less likely to get messed up.
3- Send a welcome email
After a customer has opted in to receive emails, send them a welcome email to establish an early connection and prepare them for what’s to come. Welcome emails typically have an average open rate of over 86% and are worth taking advantage of. Most email marketing services allow you to send an automatic welcome email after a new subscriber joins your mailing list. Make sure your welcome email is evergreen and relevant to newcomers.
Here are a few ways to make your first email to a subscriber count:
- Introduce yourself and your company. A welcome email is a good opportunity to build affinity for your company’s brand and strike an emotional chord with the subscriber. Tell a new reader a little about yourself and why you created your company, taking them behind the scenes of the journey from idea to launch. Add personal touches, such as a photo of your team and a handwritten signature at the end of the email.
- Send a list of your best content. If part of your email marketing strategy is to share useful information and tips, new subscribers will miss out on the rich background of your previous content. Use your first email to a new reader to compile a handful of your most popular articles or posts.
- Offer a discount or promotional offer. Often, companies incentivize website visitors to sign up for an email list by offering them a promotional discount, such as 10% off their first order. In this case, use your welcome email to deliver on that promise, providing subscribers with a discount code and even a selection of products they can spend on. Or, use the element of surprise and offer newcomers to your email list an unexpected discount to delight them.
4-Make emails easy to read
People don’t usually read every word of an email, at least at first. Instead, when reading online, people often adopt an F-shaped reading pattern that is optimized for efficiency, initially focusing on the top of a text, before scrolling vertically. A reader’s eyes skim over important details to get a general idea of what a newsletter mailing is saying.
Structure your emails to help readers quickly assimilate as much information as possible. Here are some tips to avoid giant blocks of text in favor of skimmable content:
- Keep paragraphs short. Use the “one idea per paragraph” rule and keep your message clear, concise and to the point.
- Use bullets and lists. Breaking down information into bullets and lists (like this one) is easier to read than sentences in a block of text.
- Include headings. For longer emails, use eye-catching and informative headers to break up the email.
- Add graphics. Add relevant graphics or photographs, such as snapshots of your products, to break up the text and grab the reader’s attention.
- Bold important information. If your email has a central message, such as asking readers to respond to a survey or announcing a collaboration, bold that message.
- Use CTA buttons. Make the action you want the reader to take obvious with a colored CTA box and clear CTA text that stands out.
- Leave white space. It’s harder to skim without breathing room between lines of text; use white space strategically to keep your email flowing.
These simple tips can make your emails easier to read and ultimately make your message reach subscribers more easily.
5- Use a conversational tone
As a business, you want to address customers in a way that appears polished and professional. However, in practice, this can lead to a stiff formality that makes your emails sound cold and impersonal. Instead, opt for an informal, conversational tone in your emails.
- Avoid complex language. People often subscribe to an email list because they want expert information. However, expertise can be conveyed without using overly complex language that makes the writing difficult to understand and drives readers away. Instead, keep language simple and clear.
- Leave out jargon and acronyms. Your industry probably has jargon and acronyms that industry professionals are familiar with. However, this will not be the case for everyone who reads your emails. Write acronyms in full and use common terms so there is no room for confusion.
- Speak like a trusted advisor or friend. When composing emails, adopt the voice you would use when giving advice to a friend. Be direct and honest, but also lighthearted.
These small changes can be the difference between emails that are immediately filed away and those that subscribers read all the way through.
6- Highlight your call to action
Emails are a great way to inspire action; that’s where calls to action (CTAs) come in. Add CTA buttons to your emails to help make explicit what the reader should do. The CTA text should be short (one to five words) and concise, while the CTA button should stand out from the rest of the email and be clearly visible to the reader.
7- Perform A/B testing
A valuable feature of most email marketing platforms is the opportunity to experiment with your email content through A/B testing by sending different versions of a single email.
A/B testing works as follows:
- One version of your email (A) is sent to a subset of your mailing list (e.g., 100/1,000 subscribers).
- Another version of your email (B) is sent to a different subset of your email list (e.g., 100/1,000 subscribers).
- After a period of time, one of the two emails “wins,” determined by performance based on metrics such as open rate, click-through rate, or another variable you set within your email marketing platform.
- The winning version of the email is then sent to the rest of your email list (e.g., 800/1,000 subscribers). This process can be automatic or manual.
With A/B testing you can compare different elements of your email to see what works best. Here’s a list of the different elements you can experiment with using A/B testing:
- Preview text
- CTA button
- Graphic elements
While A/B testing can be an effective strategy, developing multiple emails can be time-consuming and unrealistic for a small business. To start, test the simplest aspects of your emails, such as headlines and preview text. As your email marketing strategy expands, consider testing other features of your emails as well.
These are an email marketing best practice because they allow you to test your hypotheses. If you suspect that a shorter email will perform better than a longer one, you can run the experiment. If you have a hunch that asking a question in a headline will produce a higher open rate than a statement, you can let your subscribers decide.
A/B testing different elements of your emails over time will get you closer and closer to the winning formula that works best for your business. While email testing is valuable, make sure you’re measuring the right things. While it’s valuable to know metrics like open rate and click-through rate, it’s even more important to know how effective your emails are at goals like converting customers into subscribers.
8- Segment your audience
One of the main advantages of email marketing, compared to other marketing channels, is the ability to send tailored emails by segmenting your audience, allowing for more targeted and granular campaigns.
By capturing important details about subscribers when they sign up, or by creating different segments based on email or website activity, you can send relevant updates to different segments of your mailing list (e.g., four segments of 250 subscribers each) rather than sending broad emails to your entire list (e.g., one segment of 1,000 subscribers).
A small email study by Mailchimp, which sampled 2,000 users who sent segmented campaigns, found evidence that segmented campaigns are more effective than non-segmented campaigns:
- 14.31% higher open rates than non-segmented campaigns
- 100.95% higher click-through rate than non-targeted campaigns
- 9.37% fewer subscribers than non-targeted campaigns
Here are a few different ways to segment your email list:
- Based on demographic information provided, such as gender, age or location. If you have a clothing company that offers clothing for men and women, you can send different emails with product options and information for each segment.
- Based on expressed content interests. A furniture store that sells items for kitchens, living rooms, dining rooms and bedrooms can ask what content a website visitor is interested in during the registration process.
- Based on the frequency of requested emails. If you generate a lot of content via email, you can ask subscribers at signup how often they want to receive your content and then segment them into categories such as “biweekly,” “weekly,” or “daily.”
- Based on website activity. Depending on when an email subscriber last visited your website, or what they viewed while on the site, you can send targeted reminders and alerts.
- Based on purchase history. Segment customers based on what they’ve purchased, allowing you to send follow-ups on reviews or product-specific content.
- Based onemail engagement. Email marketing platforms often provide information on how subscribers interact with your emails, including opens and clicks, which can be used to create segments.
Many email marketing platforms make this process simple and automatic. However, segmentation works best with a large amount of content, which can take time and energy to create. As you grow your business and expand your email marketing strategy, you can make your campaigns more granular and targeted over time.
9- Adapt your email to the mobile version
Since emails are often composed and edited on desktop computers, the appearance of an email on mobile may be secondary. It shouldn’t be: mobile clients account for 41.6% of email opens. Luckily, there’s an easy fix for this: test your email before you send it by checking how it displays on a mobile device.
10- Analyze your results
Use analytics to make data-driven decisions about your email marketing strategy. By paying attention to email marketing metrics across all campaigns, you can adjust your sends to better engage your readers. Here are some metrics worth paying attention to:
- Open rate. The percentage of subscribers who open your email newsletter.
- Click-through rate (CTR). The percentage of subscribers who click on a link in your newsletter after opening it.
- Unsubscribes. The percentage of subscribers who opt out of receiving your email newsletter after opening it.
Compare your campaign analytics to email marketing benchmarks to see how they compare and if there is room for change and improvement. However, while it’s good to be aware of these numbers, avoid giving them too much weight. Ultimately, a good open or click-through rate is one that is better than yesterday’s but they are of no use if they don’t translate into conversions or sales.