No email marketing strategy is perfect, but there are some fundamental elements that make up every successful email marketing program. Some of the following guidelines might seem obvious at first glance, but they’re easy to forget when you’re wrapped up in other day-to-day marketing tasks. Whether you’re new to email marketing or need a quick refresher, here are seven golden rules to maximize your email marketing results.
Rule #1: Deliver Valuable Content at the Right Time
When it comes to creating and delivering valuable content, many businesses still fall short. What does “valuable content” actually mean? In short, it’s about giving your audience the content they want, need, or appreciate. If it’s easy to read, relevant, useful, shareable, and encourages readers to take action, you’re off to a great start. As well as building your reputation, regularly providing valuable content will also increase customer loyalty.
Next, it’s about timing. The “right time” to deliver content depends on your audience and subscribers’ past behaviour. What works for another business may not work for you. The hard truth is that you need to experiment and use your analytics data to determine optimum email send times. Do more subscribers engage with your emails on a Tuesday morning or a Friday night? Keep tracking email engagement metrics over time and adjust your strategy accordingly, because the results may differ from one quarter to the next.
Rule #2: Use Email Segmentation
As already mentioned, relevancy is key to delivering valuable content. What is valuable to one segment of your audience might be useless to another. For example, a new subscriber will be grateful for a series of starter guides, whereas a long-time subscriber is more likely to appreciate more in-depth content.
To make sure subscribers receive more relevant content, segment your email list based on origin of capture, purchase behavior, length of subscription, or location, depending on your marketing goals. Email segmentation ensures every email sent is more relevant and engaging, which should improve conversion rates and reduce unsubscribes. Segmentation also enhances your analytics data, giving you more reliable insights into the performance of every email.
Rule #3: Listen
While many businesses churn out promotional emails and talk mainly about themselves, other businesses are quietly gaining ground by simply listening to their audience and acting on the feedback they receive.
Whether you run a small business selling skin care products, or you’re a multinational providing staffing services, the consumer of your product or service should always be the focus of your marketing strategy. What do they want and need from you? Are you providing them with the information they need to remain loyal to you? Is your product or service meeting their expectations? Just ask – you might be surprised by what you learn.
However, it’s not just about asking your audience the right questions; it’s important to let your audience know what you’ve learned from their feedback and what you’re going to do in response. Going forward, make customer surveys a regular part of your email program. Send subscribers the results of each survey, and tell them what improvements you’re going to make. These interactions can be incredibly valuable in the long term.
Rule #4: Less is More
How long is the perfect email? There’s no one-size-fits-all answer, but shorter emails generally receive more engagement. According to Boomerang, emails with 50 to 125 words of copy typically receive response rates of at least 50 percent (1).
When you’re creating your next email, keep it simple. Try to get your message across in as few words as possible, because most people just don’t have the time to read long emails. One paragraph is often all it takes to inspire readers to act. If you want to give more information, include a link for subscribers that want to find out more. Also, one call-to-action (CTA) is all you need; using more than one will only confuse your readers.
As with all marketing strategies, it’s important to continually experiment. For some industries and audience segments, longer emails can perform well. It really depends on the type of email you’re sending, audience expectations, and the engagement level of your average subscriber.
Rule #5: Optimize for Mobile Devices
According to Statista, in 2019 mobile was the most widely used device to open emails – 49.3 percent of all marketing emails in the United States were read on a mobile device (2). If your emails are difficult to read on smaller screens, this is likely to reduce your open rates and increase your unsubscribe rates.
As a growing number of consumers are opening emails on their smartphones, it’s clear that responsive email design is essential for businesses today. Using responsive design means that your emails will be easy to view and scan on any device that they’re displayed on.
Even with responsive design, there are still some rules every business should follow:
- Use bullet points and short paragraphs of text whenever possible.
- Instead of text links, use CTA buttons that are easier to click for mobile users.
- To ensure mobile users can read all of your subject line, make it around 30 to 40 characters long. On mobile devices, longer subject lines are often cut off.
Rule #6: Double-Check Every Email Before Sending
If you’re busy managing a variety of marketing tasks, it’s easy to overlook mistakes from time to time. But mistakes can be costly when it comes to email marketing. Even small errors in an email can have a big impact on the reputation of a business. If your emails include any spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, incorrect links, or inconsistent messages, potential customers won’t take you seriously.
To avoid mistakes, create a checklist for everyone on your team to follow. Here are a few example questions to include:
- Is the CTA clear and persuasive?
- Is the subject line compelling and concise?
- Does it read well, even if images don’t load?
- Do the links that are included work correctly?
- Is the language consistent with your brand’s voice?
- Are the sentences and paragraphs easy to read and short?
- Has the email been checked for spelling and grammatical errors?
Create a unique checklist for your own business and make sure one or two people complete it before any email is given the green light. Having this kind of process in place will ensure everyone is checking for the same things and you don’t send emails that are potentially damaging to your business.
Rule #7: Analyse and Test
Most email service providers offer analytics that show open rates, click-through rates, and other important metrics. This data shouldn’t be ignored; it provides you with unique insights into how subscribers interact with your email content and behave over time.
Do you know if your most recent email campaign was more successful than the one before? Obviously, it depends on your marketing goals for each campaign, but this is an important question to answer after every campaign. When you know the purpose of each email, you can decide which metrics are important to track. To get an overall picture of your progress, compare open rates, click-through rates, conversion rates, and unsubscribe rates from one email to the next.
To take it to the next level, you need to A/B test emails. Basically, this means sending one version of an email to “list A,” then changing one variable and sending the second version to “list B.” You can then look at the data to determine which version performed best. Here are some variables to experiment with:
- Button Size
- Button Color
- The headline
- CTA wording
- The subject line
- Image versus no image
- Send time (day of week or time of day)
The beauty of A/B testing is that you can run multiple tests until you’re happy with the results. And fortunately, most email marketing platforms have built-in A/B testing features.
Email continues to be one of the most powerful marketing channels, helping all sizes of business communicate openly with their target audience, deliver helpful information, nurture leads, and reward loyal customers. Achieving consistently good results is a long-term challenge, but if you follow the fundamental email marketing rules outlined here you’ll already be one step ahead of many other businesses.