Email marketing is a powerful tool when used correctly. It’s all about giving your audience something different than what everyone else is doing. We live in a world where the consumer is savvier than ever, so you can’t market to them as you’ve done in the past. We need to get more creative and spend more time on our emails.
Here are some email marketing best practices to help you get more out of each email that hits your sent folder.
1. Always offer more.
There is nothing more important to an email marketing strategy than your value proposition. Ask yourself:
- What are you offering your audience that they can’t get somewhere else?
- Why should this person open your email?
- What makes them want to consider opting in or filling out that form?
If you’re not offering more to them than the other guy, you’re toast. Burnt toast.
What do we mean by more? We mean, you need to give users something extra if you expect to ask them for something. If you want someone to opt-in to a landing page or start a free trial, you need to give them something in return.
We don’t mean a silly PDF swipe file or an ebook you wrote in five minutes (we know who you are, we’re watching you). No, we mean something of serious value that makes the person on the other end say, “Whoa, this is exciting, let’s go!”
Offering someone something awesome through an email is a great way to get them to open more. How many times have you opened an email to find nothing of value on the other side? When that happens, do you think you’ll continue to open emails from that person?
Kevin Lee from Buffer told a great story once. He talked about Dropbox giving him 10x his original storage space for the same price through an email. He got so much incredible value from that email that he’ll probably have butterflies the next time he sees Dropbox in his inbox.
2. Your audience is human, speak to them like it
There is nothing worse than an impersonal email. The “to whom this may concern” style of email marketing DOES NOT WORK ANYMORE. Stand up from your couch right now and scream to the world because we all could use a hard lesson on email personalization.
There is a real person on the other side of that email who is likely very busy with their own life. If they’re kind enough to open your darn email, the least you can do is treat them like a human.
Put your research into understanding your audience and having variables in place to make a personal connection with them. Alex Berman from Experiment 27 has a great cold email marketing strategy. It mentions the importance of personalizing your emails and including points that show you know who the person is.
On another note, you want to humanize your emails and show your audience that you’re a real person, as well. It’s so great that we live in a world where brands can share their struggles and triumphs with their viewers. Years ago, a brand was simply a word about a product. But today we see brands connecting with people and stepping out from behind the curtain.
Headspace does a great job of sharing communication with their audience. The meditation tool talks about how they appreciate their customers and how fortunate they are to have them. That type of connection is so valuable to an audience, and it helps with customer retention.
3. Be clear and concise
Have you ever received an email that went something like this:
“Hey Mike, I just wanted to reach out today and talk to you about this great offer I have. I’ve been working on this offer for three years now, and I assure you it will change your life once you see it. Before I get to that, let me tell you a little about myself. I’ve worked in the industry for eight years, and I have a ton of experience with email marketing. I’ve helped countless business owners...BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH…………..BLAH.”
Don’t do that! Do not carry on about everything other than what the person is supposed to do with your email. The best way to never convert your emails is to drool over your qualifications and expertise right off the bat.
This person doesn’t care. Unless they are a hot lead, they don’t care about that. All they want to know is what you can do for them. You need to be super clear about it immediately, or else they’ll close the email or even unsubscribe if you piss them off enough.
Another essential thing to remember is that you have to tell your audience what to do. Be as clear as possible about what they need to do if they’re interested. Don’t send them through this endless funnel of pages because they’ll bounce. Make the process from “email open” to “conversion” as seamless as possible.
4. Give your audience what they want
If we go back to the personalization factor, not everyone wants the same things. Each subscriber won’t want to receive emails twice a day, while others may not mind it. Some might want one email a week. You really need to cater to the specifics of your audience if you expect to have the highest conversion rate.
Hubspot does a great job of this by allowing its subscribers to choose how often they want to receive emails. Subscribers can also pause their subscription without having to unsubscribe.
You should always offer that as an alternative when someone chooses to unsubscribe.
Clickfunnels also has a similar process they follow where they let you freeze your account at a much lower price without losing your funnels. If someone loses their funnels after they’ve spent countless hours on them, the chance of them coming back is slim.
But, if they can save all their work but cut the cost of the subscription down to almost nothing, they’ll likely return.
You need to cater to the individual rather than the audience as a whole. Everyone wants something different.
5. Stay out of the spam folder
Let me give you a scenario. You’re sitting and having a nice dinner on a Friday night with your family. You’re unwinding after a long week of work and enjoying yourself.
All of a sudden, your phone starts blowing up with emails reading, “URGENT: OPEN NOW!” You might be thinking, “Holy crap! Is my business collapsing? Have I lost all my money? Are they bringing back the McRib?”
So you open that email to find a slimy sales pitch from that guy you unknowingly subscribed to four months ago and forgot about.
This is a sure-fire way to get yourself thrown into the spam folder for all of eternity, and you don’t want to do this. Sending false alarms, fake urgency, and misleading content is the quickest way to go to spam jail. And once you’re there, your open rates will drop to nearly nothing.
Not to mention the fact that it’s not a cool way to operate your business. If you’re in this for the long-term put the real work in to bring your audience value. That way they will open your emails and connect with you on a personal level.
We’re in the age of “clickbaity” advertisements that draw people in but offer nothing on the back end. Make sure you add a physical address to your email and always give them a way to unsubscribe. Ignoring these two points is against anti-spam laws.
6. Your subject line is no joke
Overall, you should spend more time on your subject line than you do on your email. These headlines are essential to getting people to open your emails, and once you’ve gotten that far, you’re in the clear.
You want to test a variety of subject lines to find the best one for you. Here is a template that works well for most people:
- A name
- With an action verb
- Providing value
If you can mash these three points into one subject line that is not longer than 50 characters, you’ll be good to go. Something like, “Tom, smash that button for three free days of BLANK.” While that strategy won’t work for everyone, it’s worth testing it against something you’re currently having success with.
Never use spammy words like win or urgent. Do not write your headlines in uppercase letters, and never promise something that you can’t deliver.
Email marketing is all about building trust in your audience. The last thing you want to do is get someone to open your email if you can’t deliver on what you promised.
7. Automate as much as possible (without seeming robotic)
You want to ensure your first touches on a potential lead are as personal as possible. Once you’ve established that initial trust, you can start to play around with more automation. Drip campaigns are a great way to automate your email marketing without sounding canned.
Start out with a welcome email with an offer. Throw in some additional information later on. Hand out another free offer and repeat this process for every lead that lands in your funnel.
There are many different email marketing software out there that will help with this process. The key is to know and understand your audience before you start automating. If you’re sending the same offers to everyone, you’re not reaching your full potential.
You should have segmented audiences, so you ensure you’re giving the exact person what they need to feel valuable.
8. Send useful information
Grammarly sends you weekly updates about how much content you’ve written, and they basically tell you how awesome you are. These updates are a great way to remind customers if they’ve fallen off the wagon or haven’t used your service in a while. If you offer SaaS, you should be utilizing this strategy.
From these emails, you can draw people back into the software to get them using it again. For example, you could send an email telling the customer that you’ve made some recent updates regarding an issue. You could also let them know what they’re missing out on by not using your service. Many businesses use this for customer retention and engagement.
9. Test everything
The ultimate key to success with all forms of digital marketing is testing. You want to test a variety of email templates, headlines, content, videos, and so on. You’ll never know what can work if you’re not testing it against something else.
Many people enter an email marketing campaign with the intention of getting everything right on the first try. When it doesn’t work, they grumble and grouch about how email marketing is dead, and it doesn’t work.
Email marketing still has the highest rate of engagement, and so many marketers still consider it their most important avenue for reaching their audience.
Don’t sleep on email and make sure you’re testing a variety of different variables to find out what converts the best.
10. Measure everything
Finally, we’ve come to the last point. Here you have all this data that you’ve built up over time. You have segmented lists of leads. You’re getting conversions, and things seem to be going well so far. What do you do with all this data?
You need to find a way to use it and translate it into dollar signs, right?
Take all of your leads, all your email templates and variables, and all your conversions and see what works best for each particular audience.
When you’ve determined the best action plan for each audience, you can then create robust campaigns that you can scale. Once you start scaling your email marketing efforts, the sky's the limit.
We hope these email marketing best practices were useful for you and you can use them in your business right away. Be sure to understand how to treat your audience the right way and learn who they are before you start throwing yourself onto them.
Email marketing is a lot like picking someone up at the bar. You can’t expect to take them home without wining and dining them a little. Keep that in your mind when you’re creating your email marketing campaigns, and you’ll never have a problem converting!