I’ve been helping clients grow their businesses with email marketing for over 14 years and it’s truly one of the most cost effective ways to reach and engage your audience. Whether you’re marketing to consumers or businesses, you can’t beat it. The average return on investment is $41 per every $1 spent* and since it’s so cost effective, it’s easy to test and try new things to help get the best results.
Online marketing is constantly changing and evolving so it’s important to keep up-to-date with the latest trends and incorporate best practice in order to achieve optimal results.
Recent studies indicate that email marketing is on the rise and will increase over the next 5 years and to help you make the most out of your efforts, I’ve listed out the Top 10 Email Marketing Best Practices for Optimal Results.
Follow these email marketing best practices:
Between 55% - 65% of all emails are currently opened on mobile devices and in order to provide the best user experience, your top priority should be designing your email campaigns for mobile. On average people, check their phones 150 times per day. If readers have to “pinch” to “enlarge” to read your emails they’re not going to take the time to read your message and you have a higher likelihood that they will unsubscribe and you’ll lose them. Focus on a single column layout that will look great on mobile devices. Constant Contact has a number of great mobile responsive email templates that you can easily customize with your logo and branding so you’ll look great in the inbox! Don’t forget to send yourself a preview of your emails and open them on your smartphone/ mobile devices before hitting send.
2. Less is More
Since more than half of all emails are read on mobile devices, it’s important to keep your messaging concise and to the point. Avoid having lengthy content that goes on and on, instead include a catchy headline, excerpt and link to read more/buy today/register now which drives traffic to your website. If you’re using an email service provider, you’ll get detailed reporting including who clicked on which links. Think of your next email campaign design in terms of a picture, a paragraph and a call to action. Keep your audience focused on your message and avoid including a lot of links. Having fewer links within your email will likely results in a higher click thru rate.
3. Feature Call to Action
As you start working on your next email campaign, outline your goal and what action you want your readers to take. Feature a concise and compelling single call to action within the top 25% of your email so that it will appear above the scroll – especially on mobile devices. You want to make sure that it’s one of the first things your readers see when first opening your email.
4. Use Images & Videos to Increase Engagement
Just like with social media, it’s important to include visually stimulating images within your email campaigns to capture reader’s attention. It’s best to use a balance of text and images without over relying on images. For example, don’t include all of your content within a single image in the email. If your image doesn’t load for the reader, none of your messaging will reach them. We’ve seen that keeping the number of images within your email to 3-5 provides best results. Keep in mind that less is more. In addition, you can further increase engagement when including a video within your emails. An additional tip is to include the word “video” in your subject line.
5. Use a Permission Based List
When it comes to email marketing for your business it’s important that you keep in compliance and follow best practices. A key best practice is to utilize a permission based list and not through a purchased list or emails found online. You don’t want to be viewed as a spammer and while it can take time to build a quality list, it is well worth the effort. Permission based email lists consists of both explicit and implied consent. For example, your current customers follow under this umbrella because you have permission to contact them. If you’re at a networking event and exchange business cards with someone then that is also consider permission based since they provided you with their contact information. Based on our experience, we’ve found that if you specifically ask permission or give people the ability to opt-in (i.e. sign up form on your website), you’ll see best results. After all, your email marketing results largely depends on the quality of your database so this is not a place to take shortcuts.
If you’re using email marketing for your business, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the CAN-SPAM Act
6. Optimize the From Line – Will the Reader Recognize You?
7. Create a Compelling & Short Subject
What’s going to help you stand out in the inbox? Creating a compelling subject line that will grab the reader’s attention and motivate them to open the email “now” is key. If the reader classifies the email as they’ll read it “later” that will more than likely become “never”. Put yourself in your audience’s shoes and consider what’s in it for them/why they should open your email? Test different subject lines conducting A/B tests. Shorter subject lines consistently outperform longer subject lines so keep it to 5-7 words and be clear and creative. A good subject line can make all of the difference in how effective your campaign will be. Top performing subject lines include: discounts & offers, create a sense of urgency, ask questions, provide top tips, include a sense of mystery, personalize, exclusivity, entertain…bottom line is be creative!
8. Don’t Use Spam Tactics
Avoid using any spam tactics & terms. Be authentic in your messaging and don’t use trickery in your subject lines just to get the email opened. Avoid spam terms in your subject line like: refund, free, guarantee, urgent, fees, credit, act now, etc…Follow the best practices outlined in this article.
9. Test, Test, Test
Since email marketing is so cost effective, it makes it easy to test and try new things. As with ANY marketing method, the key to success with email marketing is to test, test and test some more! Take a close look at your email statistics to help determine the effectiveness of your campaigns. Conduct A/B Test for the following:
· Subject Lines
· Calls to Action
· Targeted Messages
· Day and Time of Day emails are sent
The more testing you conduct, the more educated you’ll be in regards to what’s working and what’s not.
10. Review & Analyze Reporting
One of the benefits of using an Email Service Provider is the detailed reports that you’ll receive for your campaigns. For example, what is your open rate? It is above your industry’s average? An open rate of 20-25% is considered to be a good open rate, on average. The more you can personalize and include relevant content for your readers, the more likely you are to build a strong following where your customers look forward to receiving your email, thus resulting in a significantly higher open rate. Review the following for each campaign:
· Open rate
· Click thru rate
· Bounce Rate
· Spam Reports
Review and analyze the reports for every campaign you send and use the insights to apply the knowledge you’ve gained into action items for your next campaign.
For best results, send email campaigns on a monthly, consistent basis to keep top of mind with your audience.
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*Sources: American Marketing Association, Adobe Systems Email Survey, Forbes.com, Constant Contact