In our ongoing Email Marketing Essentials series, we have already covered a lot of ground for both beginners in the digital marketing space, as well as for those who want to see how their efforts stack against best practices and current trends. If you’re just catching up, feel free to look over our previous articles:
- What is email marketing and how does it work
- Generate your email marketing strategy
- Building, growing and maintaining email lists
Based on what we have learned so far, you should be ready to start sending out email campaigns to your subscribers. This is going to be the coronation of all of your efforts so far, meaning that you will need to pay close attention to what exactly you include in your first communication, but also to how you send out the newsletter.
What to include in your email
Depending on your specific needs, your Email Service Provider must be the first place you check to make sure that you can actually implement your plan. After verifying that everything works as planned, that you have all the tools and features that will help your email campaign succeed, the next step is to create the best email for your recipients.
Keep in mind the goals you have for each specific campaign you send out and correlate the elements that we will be discussing with what you want to achieve.
Main elements of an email
- Subject line: A short, attractive and interesting message that will be your email’s first interaction with your subscribers
- Copy: Your email’s body needs to be entirely related to the main goal and topics of your campaign
- Images: Try to include a few eye-catching images that are optimized for responsive emails, so that the campaign is properly rendered by all email clients
- Call to Action: Placed either as links, images or buttons, your CTA should take subscribers to a page where they can take the appropriate action, depending on your goals (buy, download, read more and so on)
- Footer: This is the home of your contact information, social media accounts and the unsubscribe link
When to send out the campaign
According to Campaign Monitor, the best day of the week to schedule your email campaign is either Tuesday or Thursday, with some industries showing higher open rates on other days of the week. If this is your first newsletter, you can use these benchmarks as an indicator, but the best solution is to always test things out.
There will never be a one-fits-all solution for deciding when to communicate with your subscribers. But looking over data for your industry and market will always be a good first step in trying to understand the behaviour of online users and get the most out of your email lists.
Whenever possible, make an effort to include personalization in your email. This will ensure that you are not shouting out the same message to each of your customers, but that you are trying to engage with them on a more direct level. Personalization always comes in handy when you are using email in your conversion funnel, because users that feel a connection with your brand are more likely to develop brand loyalty.
A good place to start when including personalization in your emails is either in your subject line or in the first paragraph of the email’s body. That way, whether you are inserting their name, company or some other information you have collected regarding your contacts, they will react more positively and will be more likely to engage.
Another way you can unlock the power of personalization with email is by creating dynamic content. Dynamic content is an HTML code that changes parts of your email, like the image, CTA or copy, based on what you know about your end user. Some more advanced email marketing platforms allow you to dynamically change the content of your emails for buyer personas, lead score, the email lists that they belong to or any other info that you might find relevant. Find out more about dynamic content for email and discover some great use cases in this article from Marketo.
Get familiar with email segments
Email segments go hand in hand with personalization, because they make communication via email customizable to the needs, expectations and engagement behaviors of your customers. A segment, for those who have not used one yet, is a section of your overall email list that fits a certain criteria. To better understand segments, we will try to explain them by referring to a B2B company. But, before doing so, it is important to mention that segmentation is suitable for both B2B and B2C emails.
If you have a large email list, but you are sending out a notification regarding an upcoming live event, for example, you will want to segment recipients based on their location. For this situation, you would create a segment of all your contacts that live in the city where the event is taking place. Why is this the best practice? First of all, you need to make sure that you are reaching subscribers who will actually be able to participate. Furthermore, you can segment contacts based on their job title, industry or level of experience, if you have records for all these fields.
What to avoid
There are several things you can do to ensure that the email you are delivering to your customers respects etiquette and best practices.
Here are some good advice to include in your checklist:
- Don’t just write and send your emails
Always check for typos and make sure you proofread the copy of your emails before deploying a campaign.
- Don’t overwhelm your subscribers with a lot of emails
You might have a multitude of announcements to make, but sending out too many emails will eventually backfire. Make sure to include multiple topics in a single email, to avoid your contacts unsubscribing.
- Don’t buy an email lists
While buying an email list might sound like an easy way to grow your database, this will create more problems than it will solve.
- Don’t repeat emails
Sending the same email repeatedly to subscribers is something you need to avoid, because you want your contacts to be up-to-date with the latest brand announcements, not to feel like you are just recycling content.
- Don’t forget to analyze your reports
As with every digital marketing effort, you should make a habit out of reviewing the results of your email campaigns as an ongoing process. This will help you make the appropriate decisions to correct negative results, as well as give you an overview on how your subscribers’ behavior changes over time.
- Don’t send the email without testing it first
Creating a test email list or just sending out tests to stakeholders and to yourself is a must. You will be able to see if your email is displayed correctly on various email clients and devices, but you will also have the approval from decision makers in your company to proceed with your current campaign.
Given how important email marketing is, respecting email etiquette and best practices is fundamental to guaranteeing success. Here is what we have learned about the dos and don’ts to keep in mind when sending emails:
- Make sure to include all relevant elements in your email: subject line, copy, images, CTAs, footer
- Take into account benchmarks for your industry and/or market when deciding on a day and time to send out the newsletter
- Try to include personalization in your emails to engage with customers on a one-to-one level
- Segment lists to make sure you only include relevant contacts in each campaign
- Make a habit out of checking for typos, proofreading the copy and sending out test emails before deployment
- Never send the same email to the same subscriber more than once
- Keep a clear schedule of your email campaign so that you don’t overwhelm your contacts
- Don’t forget about your metrics, compare them with previous newsletters and keep tracking the results so that you can act on any issues that might occur