Email continues to be the work horse of inbound marketing campaigns. According to Content Marketing Institute's 2018 report, 93 percent of marketers rely on email to distribute content to their target audiences, and 75 percent say it's the most effective distribution tool they have.
As a marketing agency, we rely on email. The reason that email marketing is so effective is that it's versatile. You can tailor it to fit your needs and match your audience's precise preferences when you know how. That's what this guide is for. We've compiled a list of the best practices you should be following to make email the most powerful tool in your marketing belt.
Segment your email lists
You probably already know that you should be segmenting your database lists to better target your email campaigns to different buyer personas.
This might be as simple as dividing up prospects and customers into two separate groups, with the former getting messages that educate them about the benefits of your products and services, while the latter gets engagement messages that promote upsell opportunities. Of course, your list segmentation might go deeper to target people at specific stages of the buyer cycle for hyper-optimized campaigns.
Hubspot took this concept one step further with 'Smart content,' which can tailor the user experience and the content on the page, so every customer sees marketing materials that speak to where he or she is in the sales cycle. You could use the same concept in email marketing by showing customers content that's been targeted to exactly where they are in the buyer lifecycle.
Send your messages at the ideal time
The best time of day to send an email is 10 a.m., according to MailChimp’s Send Time Optimization insights.
Thursday is statistically the best day for sending emails. However, it only performs slightly better than Monday and Tuesday, so an email marketing campaign on any day of the week should perform well. It all depends on your audience and industry. You can find the best day and time for your business by sending email messages on different days and seeing how open rates change. If there are any big differences in results, then adjust your plans to send during those windows when your audience is more engaged.
Include a preview line in your email
Aside from the normal email structure (subject line, greeting, links, CTA and signature), your emails should include: A preview line.
This is the little snippet of text that you see after the subject line, if you're looking at messages sitting in your inbox. In the past, people never created something custom to fit in this space, but it’s becoming common practice to write a custom preview line to avoid issues like this.
Optimize your CTA
The primary goal of an email is to nurture leads. People have already given you their email addresses. They’ve expressed interest in learning about your business. Now you need to provide them with information, selling points, etc. that convince them to take the next step.
And how do they take the next step? By clicking a CTA. This typically takes the form of button, but it could also be a simple link. No matter the format, use actionable language – verbs over nouns. Click here, download the guide, learn more, etc. It prompts readers to do something.
CTA buttons perform better when they’re easy to see, so use a color that catches readers’ eyes. And limit the amount of text on the button to keep things simple.
Capture readers' attention with a great subject line
The ideal subject line is between 61 and 70 characters, according to Return Path, so try to keep yours in this range. Emails with a subject line this length have an open rate of around 17 percent - the highest of all the subject lines tested - and most marketers are sending subject lines that are shorter at 41-50 characters long, which have a lower open rate at 12 percent.
Offer easy unsubscribe options
The CAN-SPAM Act, which was passed in 2003, is now in effect and requires that you include an unsubscribe link in the message, so people who don’t want to receive your content can easily opt-out.
If people unsubscribe from your campaign, you must have a system in place to opt them out promptly – immediately if possible. You could be penalized if you continue sending them messages after they’ve opted out from the messages.
Don't purchase email lists for your email marketing
Be wary of vendors that are selling email lists, because they could be peddling lists that contain old, unused, or even nonexistent email addresses.
This may sound harmless and you might imagine that at least some of the people on the list are in your target audience, but it's better to steer clear of any practice that seems the least bit spammy.
If you use a purchased list with expired email addresses, and your emails are bounced back, your deliverability rates plummet. This can trigger email spam filters and email services might restrict your sending privileges for a certain period of time.
Use visuals for stronger engagement, better results
Don't waste opportunities on bad user experience. Create a web version of your emails for people who cannot view it correctly through an email service.
And while you're thinking about visuals, consider video in email marketing. It can increase your open rates by 19 percent and click through rates by 50 percent, according to Campaign Monitor. Unfortunately, Apple is currently the only email provider that supports live video in emails. You have to link to a video in the content for everyone else.
Email marketing has proven year after year to be one of the most effective ways to keep audiences engaged and nurture leads - if you do it right. Keep these recommendations in mind to stay ahead of the curve and tackle your top marketing goals as you coordinate your 2018 email campaigns.
Samantha, an Inbound and HubSpot Certified Marketer is the Social Media Director for InTouch Marketing.