In recent years, email marketing has become more challenging than ever before – especially since the introduction of GDPR. But when done right, it can be highly effective.
You see, email marketing isn’t as simple as picking a promotion and hitting ‘send’. A successful email marketing campaign nurtures leads until they’re ready to convert – whether that’s buying from your website or booking a call with your sales team.
Not sure of the difference? Or want to move towards more effective email strategies? Take note of these best practices. There are a few dos and don’ts of email marketing to consider…
Do: Define your potential customer
The first step to a successful email marketing campaign is to define your target audience – the potential customer you want to reach with your message. You simply can’t begin to create quality content that grabs attention before knowing who’s in your database and how they behave.
That’s why it’s a good idea to start small. Rather than targeting all your contacts with a promotion, start with some less conversion-focused campaigns directed at a narrower pool. Through split-testing aspects like tone of voice, pictures and theme, you can learn what your target audience is interested in.
From here, you can begin to use your new and improved knowledge of your target audience to create relevant content that connects with their unique interests and needs.
Do: Set goals for your email marketing campaign
Once you know who you want to reach, determine what it is you want them to do. It’s important to set specific goals and define exactly what you want to achieve from your email marketing campaign.
This could be to:
- Drive sales or the number of offers redeemed
- Increase the number of people who open your email
- Improve email click-throughs
- Upsell your products and services
- Connect with existing subscribers
- Bring inactive subscribers back
If you’re targeting a new, completely cold database, you may want to educate prospects about your company first rather than get them to take action. Your goal here might be simply to get a certain number of opens. And the best way to do that? Well…
Do: Create engaging subject lines
The subject line: it’s arguably the most important component of a successful email marketing campaign. Yet it’s also one of the most overlooked. You could write the most compelling email in the world, but it has absolutely no value if no one opens it.
To create a killer subject line, remember the four Us:
In other words, your subject lines must have a unique angle, provide useful information, be specific, and induce a sense of urgency. You can do this by making bold statements, asking questions that either intrigue or provoke a response or adding mystery to your subject lines.
At the end of the day, it’s all about capturing their attention. Just avoid words that trigger spam filters, such as ‘buy’, ‘50%’ and ‘free’.
Finally, bear in mind that emails are now opened more on mobile devices than desktops. To ensure that your email is optimised for mobile, we recommend using subject lines with 50 characters or less so that people can actually read them.
Do: Send a follow-up and analyse data
There’s no hard and fast rule as to how many emails should be in a campaign, but it’s always a good idea to follow up on your initial communication. This could be resending the same email to an unopened address with a different subject line or sending your whole database a second or third email that builds on the message of the first.
Throughout any campaign, it’s critical to track the performance of emails by analysing data, such as open and click-through rates. Do this, and you’ll be able to better understand how to create successful email campaigns in the future to drive maximum results. It will also allow you to compare the performance of your email campaigns with other marketing channels such as social media or PPC.
Don’t: Spam your readers
Although it’s important to follow up on your initial email, sending an excessive amount will only drive customers away. Your emails may even end up in their junk folder.
If you see that people are reading your emails and hitting ‘unsubscribe’ en masse, you seriously need to question the quality of your email marketing. It could be that you’re sending emails too often, going too heavy on the sales pitch, or simply not adding value to your audience.
Don’t: Prevent people from opting out of your email list
A huge email marketing ‘what not to do’ is preventing people from unsubscribing from your email list.
If you don’t include an option for people to opt out, you’re not merely going to frustrate a few potential customers, you’re going to break the law. Every single email marketing campaign you send to your target audience must include the option to unsubscribe (or opt out of) any further emails you plan on sending.
Even if you didn’t legally have to include an opt-out option, offering one will keep your prospects happy – it keeps them in control, and shows that you respect their wishes. If you can ensure that the process is as simple as possible, even better.
Don’t: Forget to double-check your email before sending
Once you’ve created an email campaign, don’t give into the temptation to hit the ‘send’ button straight away. Take your time, and check everything again to avoid minor spelling or formatting errors that are easy to overlook. Make sure that you or someone with fresh eyes is looking not only at the copy, but at the links or share buttons too.
We know that you want to get your message out to your customers as soon as possible. But taking some extra time to get everything right will save you from embarrassing mistakes (we’ve all received one of those ‘Oops!’ emails, haven’t we?). So, double-check your message, the email list you’re sending the campaign to, and read the content aloud if it helps.
Don’t: Forget to add a call to action
A call to action is something that many businesses forget to include in their email campaign. This could be as simple as prompting customers to click on a link that leads to a landing page, or to claim a coupon code for a brand-new item you have in stock.
When creating an email, it’s important that you make the call to action as clear as possible, both visually and grammatically. Tell the reader what you want them to do. Do you want them to shop for a specific product? Follow your new social page? Or do you simply want them to read your latest blog?
With this in mind, you should avoid including an excessive number of links in your email. Unless you’re sending something like a monthly newsletter, try to only include one or two.