Email stands as one of the best marketing methods available in the 21st-century. Every person and his dog has one or more email addresses and can access them from a click of a button on their smartphone.
But whilst this makes emails a great marketing tool, it also makes it extremely competitive. No matter what industry you’re in, the chances are you have one or more competitors who understand the importance of email marketing and are using it too.
And even if you don’t have competitors, the average person receives around 15 new emails into their personal (non-work) email address every single day. That makes it hard for your email to stand out.
As a result, the typical email open rate for an email campaign in any industry is about 15% on a good day. It doesn’t sound like a lot, and sure it isn't. But through optimization, testing and measuring different emails and learning from them — any business can surpass 15% open rates.
PLUS. opening an email is just one goal. The second goal is to get the person opening your email to take the action you want them to — whether that’s to click a link to your website, sign up for a webinar, buy a product, etc.
That being said, it’s not all about getting the most opens — it’s about making the most of those opens.
Would you rather have 1,000 opens and 100 people taking action from it, or half of the opens and twice the action takers?
As I say, the key is to test — measure — optimize, and in doing so your email marketing results will increase constantly. But there are also some best practices that any business, in any industry, should be following when it comes to their email marketing.
These practices will net them better results, with some additional bonuses too. They’ll also get fewer subscriptions from every email they send out because they’ll be annoying fewer people.
There are sadly far too many emails that are sent out every single day that are pure spam — or direct selling emails. These don’t work! And only serve to annoy people.
So without further ado, let’s dive into the best practices for email marketing.
Firstly, emails that are personalized get by far the highest results. So what do I mean by personalization? The most common type of this is using first names in the subject of emails, as well as at the start of them.
These do well because they stand out more to the receivers — as long as the first name used is the correct one!
How often a business sends out emails is critical. Whilst this post is about best practice, different audiences and groups of people prefer different email frequency — so it’s a case of testing, measuring and optimizing accordingly.
That said, a simple rule of thumb is this;
Don’t send too much!
As I say, what that means for people will differ. 1 a day should more than suffice, however many businesses (and places I’ve worked at) easily do 3–4 emails a day.
Whatever your email frequency turns out to be, you want to avoid repeating the same content inside of your emails. Depending on the campaign you’re running, you may easily send 5+ emails over a week with the same goal — perhaps to promote a new product.
The key is to not repeat the email content. As an absolute minimum, you want to change up every single subject. But ideally, you want to go further. Your emails will typically be structured like this:
Identify problems the reader has
Give value, advise how to overcome
Offer a solution
Call to action
So the best practice by far is to change up every single one of these sections for every email that goes out. That can easily turn in to a lot of work. I think an acceptable level of change is to change the subject, introduction, and value. The problems, solution, and CTA can stay relatively the same.
Next up, we have the length of emails. Now again, this is something that should be tested — measured — optimized. As different audiences and groups of people will prefer different lengths of emails.
That being said, there is still a general rule of thumb.
An email should always be fairly short — a paragraph for each of the section I outlined in Repetition.
HOWEVER, what should impact the overall length is the call to action. If you’re asking somebody to click a link to visit your website, you’re not asking for much. Therefore your email can be fairly short.
BUT, if you’re trying to sell a $10,000 product. Your email needs to be much longer to justify even considering the purchase.
As I mentioned in repetition, value is a key part of all emails. By value I mean the giving of useful information and resources to the reader — for free. Every email should always give some sort of value. Value is essential to the successful marketing of any business, in any industry and in any niche in the 21st century.
How the value can be given can be changed up and through different mediums. Links to videos/webinars are a great way of giving value. Attaching eBooks and other literature is again very good. Or simply having tips in the email content.
Always give, and you’ll always get something from your emails.
The chances are, your business will sell more than one product/service, that meets different needs and solves different problems. As such, you’ll also have different target audiences.
Where possible, you want to segment your email list to identify which problems people have, and thus which products/services to offer them.
This will allow you to only send emails with offers and value of interest to those people — and not sending out an offer to the whole list, half of which you know you not be interested.
As I mentioned at the start of the post, more or less everybody has an email address — and many have several. Some they use daily, others get neglected. And sadly many others get hacked and taken over.
That’s why it’s essential to cleanse your email list often. Cleansing means identifying which emails are not engaging with your email sends. If an email address hasn’t opened a single email in 3 months — you want to get rid of it.
Now the numbers that need to be cleansed can soon get high, and you’ll naturally feel hesitant to get rid. But again it’s about having quality over quantity. There's no point having 1,000 email addresses if only 100 ever open your emails.
Plus, the more emails you send out that don’t get opened, the worse your domain reputation will get — and more of your emails will end up in spam and junk folders.
Just cleanse every quarter, and you’ll be fine!
Call to action
Last but not least — every email needs a call to action at the very end. But call to actions that are structured in certain ways performs better.
Firstly, the action you’re wanting people to make via your email needs to be really clear and easy to follow.
Secondly, remind people what will happen if they don’t take that action. Earlier in your email, you would have identified problems the reader has — leading to a CTA that will solve that. So simply remind people that these problems will not go away if they do not take the action you specify.
Thirdly, set some sort of limit on the call to action. This can take many forms. One way is to have a timer — so the offer you’ve made is only available for the next 24 hours for example. Another way is to offer a limited number of spaces on whatever it is you’re offering — a new product/service, a webinar, event, etc.
This creates scarcity, meaning people realize they have to decide to take action sooner rather than later.
By following these 8 best practices, you’ll soon find your email campaigns yielding much higher results — in terms of opens, clicks, and action taken.
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