Best practices for email marketing
Email marketing has evolved to something magnificent you need to actively monitor it and tailor your list. In this guide, we will go over email marketing and the best practices that are associated with it. If you have feedback just leave it in the comments below.
Build Your Own List
Take the time to build your very own list. Buying email list almost always leads you to be in the spam folder of the mailbox and has been shown to be a sure way to have your email domain blacklisted. Ways to build your own email list is to ask your customers at the register for their email. You can also have opt-ins on your website, the best kind of opt-ins are those that are content lockers, Content lockers prevent a user from viewing content before they subscribe to your email list. By building your email list you are ensuring your customers are also interested in your content which allows you to have better outcomes for your emails if you are trying to sell something.
Ways to manage your own building list
- Create multiple opportunities for email sign-up
- Optimize your opt-in pages
- Send a stellar welcome email
- Develop valuable email content
- Provide an email preference center
- Focus on email deliverability
Types of opt-ins
When a single step, like entering an email address into a collection field or selecting a checkbox, is taken to subscribe to an email marketing list. This practice is considered dangerous for a sender because nothing is preventing typos or forged email addresses from being added to your subscriber lists. With a single opt-in, there could be risks to your email delivery and reputation due to both a high number of bounced addresses and from blacklistings due to high spam traps.
In this situation, your subscriber receives a confirmation “welcome” email or the start of a welcome series once they opt in. This confirms that your recipient wants your email (and did not unknowingly sign up or change their mind). This form of consent decreases the likelihood of anyone being on an email marketing list long-term who does not want to be, but just as importantly verifies to you, the sender, that their email address actually exists. This also helps prevent frequent “typo” and “recycled” spam trap hits.
In this scenario, a subscription checkbox is pre-selected for users to receive promotional emails where they would be including their email address (during a purchase process, for example). By leaving the checked box intact, users consent to receive an email from you. This option is not flawless, as some users may not realize they’ve given their permission to receive marketing email and could be much more likely to report your email as spam, resulting in damage to your sending reputation and your company.
Pre-Selected Opt-in With Confirmation
This version of “pre-selected” consent will send a confirmation email to any recipient who has left the pre-selected opt-in checkbox intact. But unlike “pre-selected opt-in,” the confirmation content helps decrease the possibility of unintentional subscribers, therefore reducing the potential for spam complaints.
This practice gives users the option (or forces them) to agree to receive an email from third parties. Co-registration is very risky and should be used with caution because it can be confusing to recipients if they did not remember leaving boxes checked and accidentally signed up for emails they did not expect. This can easily lead to spam reports and corresponding email deliverability issues.
This is considered the best form of consent a user can provide a sender since it requires a secondary action from the email address owner to confirm subscription to an email list. This typically comes in the form of a confirmation link call to action, a URL to post in a browser, etc. For senders, this is the ideal method of collecting addresses because you demonstrate a genuine desire to make sure your subscriber absolutely wants your content, and it sets an effective foundation for your sender/recipient relationship moving forward.
Call To Actions
Your call(s) to action is one of the most important pieces of content in your email. Beyond persuading your subscribers to open your email (via a compelling subject line), your next goal is to get your subscribers to click on your content.
Delivering an actionable, inspiring (and dare we say, clever) CTA is your biggest content opportunity in your email. Be sure to build contextual content around your CTA that also helps inspire a click.
Be clear and concise in your CTA, and don’t ask for too much up front. Sometimes one CTA in your email is enough (like if you’re promoting a sale, or want someone to download an eBook) while other times a few CTAs are appropriate. Test what resonates best with your audience and don’t be afraid to take some risks.
When you design and email it should match the branding of your website. This allows an easy and comprehensive approach to designing emails that fit your brand. You will want to match the header with your emails as its displayed in your emails.
Start with the larger foundational design elements of your website, such as column layout, when you start to lay out your email templates. But, just because you might have a three column break on your website doesn’t mean you must have the same in your email designs. Again, the goal is to keep the idea and feel the same.
Images: making your emails responsive
Imagery is a powerful design component and tool that can bring emails to life and increase recipient engagement. But images in emails (along with other digital mediums) can become problematic, quickly. Every inbox handles and renders images differently and the more images you include, the slower your email will load. Some ISPs may even view your emails unfavorably and place your email in the spam folder if there are too many images. Make sure your images are responsive to the user allowing them to display fluidly in every email client.
Keep in mind that some inboxes won’t even display images, so the more you rely on the images to communicate your messages, the more likely that you risk your entire email.
Buttons and CTAs
Buttons and CTAs within your email should also be as similar as possible to your brand’s website so that the user knows exactly where to go if they want to learn more or continue their experience. Here is an example of a CTA with a button:
As you can see the message is very clear with this CTA, you will always want the message to be clear and the text should never be a full paragraph one to two sentences are best. You’ll also want a headline that speaks volumes, in this example, this call to action clearly states the user will be signing up for something.
If you are sending out an email the font in that email should match the font on your website. For example, we use Montserrat as our font, in the marketing campaigns we always use this font to match the branding of our website. Because some fonts aren’t always supported, you should always use fallback fonts (similar looking and supported fonts readily on hand). Having these fonts on hand will help you quickly be able to create your email campaigns. As long as you compare the fonts side by side, you will be able to find a good match
An IP address is a unique number block that identifies a device using the Internet Protocol to communicate over a certain network. When it comes to your email, your IP address is directly linked to your sender reputation and how ISPs judge your sending patterns.
Most email service providers (ESPs) provide the option to send email on a shared IP pool or a dedicated IP address. When you’re sending from a dedicated IP address, you are the sole sender and your reputation (and how it affects your deliverability) is yours, and yours alone.
If you’re sending both transactional and marketing email, it’s a good idea to separate those two streams of email. Because transactional email is crucial and requested by your user, it’s wise not to risk that delivery by combining it with the reputation of your marketing emails (typically much lower engagement).
As your list grows you will most likely have subscribers from different countries. It is very important that you make sure you are compliant with all the laws of those jurisdictions. Just like you have to comply with the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 in the United States you will want to familiarize yourself with other laws that govern email marketing.
For US and Canadian senders, keep in mind that in order to be compliant with both CAN-SPAM and the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL), you need to include your physical business address in your email (usually the footer).
You will want to study how your emails are doing. This can be done by generating reports on your campaigns. This will help you determine how your emails are stacking up against other companies and what you can do to improve your emails for better response and better engagement.
To determine what metrics are best to monitor, first determine the purpose of your email. If you want recipients to read an important update to your terms of service (and the content is directly in your email), you will want to use a compelling subject line and measure your opens. If you want to extend an offer or discount, clicks (and subsequently visits and conversions from your offer) are your main metric to watch.
Quit Using “No-Reply” In Your From Line
An email is a powerful tool for communication, but it should be much more than a one-way conversation. Using a “no-reply” email address as the reply-to address in your marketing email is like putting a wall between you and your recipients and stunts two-way communication–a factor that will likely discourage recipient engagement.
Allowing your customers to reply directly to an email campaign opens up opportunities for conversations you may have never been able to start before. All feedback is valuable, so opening yourself up to this form of communication feedback will only help your program in the long run.
If you are suffering from low engagement rates this is the perfect thing for you to do. Re-engagement Campaigns allow you to see who will engage and who will not. You can also ask for feedback about your emails you have been sending, if they are not engaging with your emails the best thing to do is find out why. Removal (or sunsetting) rates allow you to know when to remove a subscriber from your list. If after this campaign you do not get any response or engagement it is best to remove the person from your list, this is a risk you will have to decide on.
Quality Over Quantity
This ties into our last point, if you have 25,000 people subscribed but only 5,000 engage with your email it is best to remove the other ones from your list. This will free up resources for you and allow you to target the users that are generating something for your business.
When you hear the word segmentation in reference to email, just think of it as a form of personalization. Email marketing (much like direct marketing) used to be more of a “batch and blast” form of communication—everyone gets the same message at the same time. But now you have to target your users correctly. By creating segments you enable your team to target the right people with your emails. For example, if you are a yogurt shop and you have people that only like vanilla you can create a segment for those people and send them a coupon for vanilla yogurt. This will prove to be very beneficial to you in the long run.
Segment your email streams according to factors such as:
- What did they purchase lately?
- Where do they live?
- What time are they opening your other mail?