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21 Email Marketing Best Practices

Okay, before we dive in. We have to address the burning question that everyone asks…

Is Email Marketing Dead?

Email marketing is not dead. In fact, this is where the money is made from both new customers and upselling existing clients. But let’s look at the data… On average, email marketing achieves a higher conversion rate than social media. This is most likely because you’ve (hopefully) built your email list, so your subscribers are already somewhat warm and have opted in to get emails from you. 

Your audience expects you to talk about your offers and deals in their inbox. Whereas social media emphasizes providing something entertaining, nice to look at, or valuable to your followers. You should do this within emails as well but we’re bringing this up just to point out the fact that people’s expectations are different for emails versus social media marketing. 

Bonus: Email marketing is a great way to keep current customers engaged who have already bought in the past.

Here are best email practices:

  1. Personalize
  2. Start with the best info 
  3. The most important part is the subject line
  4. Stay away from super sales-y language
  5. Cater to the audience
  6. Keep it concise 
  7. Stick to consistent branding
  8. Follow CAN-SPAM act
  9. Clear calls to action
  10. Test your email on various screens
  11. Build your list; don’t buy
  12. Make it timely
  13. Pick a memorable name
  14. Segment your audience
  15. Set up workflows
  16. Embrace email automation
  17. Keep the design simple
  18. Cross-promote the latest news, offers, and blogs
  19. Keep showing up
  20. Remember to be human
  21. Analyze and adjust

1. Personalize

This goes past just using the customer’s first name (although, this can help a lot especially if it’s being used in the subject line). You can take it even further and personalize the email content to who they are to you—did they already buy? Are they a new prospect? What are their interests?

With all of the digital noise, personalization is essential to not only reach your people but get their attention. 

2. Start with the best info 

We’re used to having long introductions, setting the stage, and then leading into the best parts. But you have to lead with the juiciest parts and give the reader a reason to care and to keep reading. Don’t make the reader search for the most valuable and compelling parts of the email. 

Keep them above the fold. 

3. The most important part is the subject line

Spend time with your subject lines. This is what really determines if your email will be opened or if it gets tossed in the trash. Subject lines should give a sneak peek of what’s inside. Entice the recipient to learn more, open up, and read. 

A tip worth trying is keeping your subject lines as organic as possible. I like to think about using subject lines we’d use when reaching out to a co-worker or connection about a meeting or call. It would be kept simple like:

|FNAME| quick question

Opportunity for you

|FNAME| Follow up

These are great if they’re coming from an individual at your company. For more general marketing updates and emails. Here are a few ideas:

# Ways to improve _______

Top trends in [industry name] you need to know

Something big is coming

Smartest investment ever?

You get the idea. Promote curiosity without being too spammy and sales-y. This is actually the perfect segue into the next tip…

4. Cater to the audience

This goes for any marketing you do and any content you create. The customer and their needs should be at the center of it all. What you might think the customer is interested in or how they purchase is usually very different from the reality of it. 

Make sure you understand your customer’s needs and questions. Provide value to them and they will either convert or keep you top of mind until they’re ready. 

5. Keep it concise

Think about how you read emails. You most likely are checking it from your phone and check out as soon as you see giant blocks of texts. 

Keep your email short and to the point with lots of line breaks so it’s easy to digest.

6. Stick to consistent branding

My best tip here is to create a few templates that you can stick to and edit assets as needed. Less work for you and the look and branding stays consistent. It’s a win-win. 

7. Follow CAN-SPAM act

  • The CAN-SPAM Act is a set of requirements that email marketers must follow. Here’s a TLDR version of it summed up into seven main points:
  • Keep your email header honest (meaning the “to”, “from”, and routing information should be accurate.
  • Email subject line must accurately reflect what’s inside the email.
  • If it’s an ad, say so. Disclose when your message is an advertisement.
  • Include where you’re located.
  • Tell recipients how they can opt-out of future emails from you.
  • Follow through with opt-out requests ASAP.

If you hire a company to handle your email marketing, monitor what they’re doing on behalf of your brand. Both companies may be held liable if anything happens. 

Visit CAN-SPAM ACT: A Compliance Guide For Business for more details. 

8. Clear calls to action

Make sure your audience knows what the next steps are. Do you want them to read a full blog? Book a demo? Call you? Visit your website?

Your content should always have a call to action. 

9. Test your email on various screens

I’m guilty of worrying about how desktop view looks even though over half of users are using their phones to view your email. Old habits die hard I guess. Make sure your email looks good on any kind of device. Check for any wonky spacing and sizing issues for emails.

10. Build your list; don’t buy

Building a solid list over time of customers who have bought or are genuinely interested in what you have to say is going to produce way more results than just buying a random list of people whom you know nothing about. They also didn’t opt-in to receive your emails—not a great move. 

11. Make it timely

Take note of any upcoming holidays or releases your company has on the calendar. 

Lots of offers and updates might be time sensitive. Plan ahead to keep your emails relevant and consistent.

12, Pick a memorable name

I encourage you to username @ [company] or something that’s a bit personal than a no reply address or just a generic email. For example, Lauren @ Blubird. People are more likely to pay attention to someone that’s tied to a real name. They might assume it’s going to be very spammy or sales content if you just use a company name. 

However, there’s no right or wrong here. Please test different things and see what works best for you!

13. Segment your audience

As tempting as it is to throw all contacts into a list and call it a day, this throws out the ability for any kind of personalization. You should segment your audiences. You can divide them up by who they are to your company, where they are in the buyer’s journey, interested, etc. 

That way you can personalize and cater your messaging specifically for them. 

14. Stay away from super sales-y language

Carefully choose your words specifically when building your subject lines. You want to avoid sounding too pushy, manipulative, or too good to be true. Here are just a few spam trigger words:

  • Apply now
  • Action
  • Buy
  • Call
  • Urgent
  • This won’t last
  • Satisfaction guaranteed
  • Free
  • Free trial

Visit here for a full list

15. Set up workflows

If someone signs up for a demo on your site, are you nurturing them? Even if it’s just general updates and helpful tips, they should still be engaged. Make it easier on your team and set up a workflow so you don’t have to send out these emails by hand. 

16. Embrace email automation

This is very similar to the previous point about email workflows. You can set up trigger emails and workflows to send out or begin based on your customer or prospect’s behavior. Some examples of trigger emails are welcome emails, abandoned cart emails, referral emails, and special occasion emails (such as a birthday or anniversary). It’s just what they sound like—emails that are triggered based on the user’s behavior. 

17. Keep the design simple

It’s tempting to go all out with a heavily branded email and although you should have your brand elements included, we advise keeping it simple. It can be overwhelming or come off as super sales-y if you go overboard with the email design. The point is to provide value to your subscriber in a simple and concise way. 

18, Cross promote latest news, offers, and blogs

Are you stuck on what to send out to engage your email lists? All of your latest news, announcements, and blogs should be sent out in an email. You can give a brief intro and include a link to the blog or web page the reader can visit to learn more. 

19. Keep showing up

Like with anything else in digital marketing, consistency is key. Sending an email out once a year isn’t going to engage your subscribers and keep you top of mind for them. Set a realistic goal for sending out emails and have your team stick to it. 

20. Remember to be human

Keep emails to the point in language that your users can easily understand. The more personal and more human you can get, the easier it is for people to read and engage with your content (this goes for not only emails, but blogs, social posts, and well, any copywriting). 

21. Analyze and adjust

Make sure you’re tracking your progress. Here are a few email marketing metrics to track:

  • Open rates
  • Click-through rate (CTR)
  • Number of unsubscribes
  • Bounce rate
  • Conversion rate 

If you don’t know where to start or feel like you have room to improve when it comes to engaging your email list, let’s chat. Book a free consultation here where we’ll talk about what you’re currently doing, your goals, and what’s missing to get you there.

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