Despite the sheer number of marketing platforms we have out there, good old email is still one of the most effective mediums there is.
But just because it’s been around a while doesn’t mean it hasn’t changed. Just like the very consumers we’re trying to reach, email marketing has evolved over the years — and as such, so have email marketing best practices.
Email Marketing: Best Practices For Brands
Want to make sure you’re following the most current best practices for email marketing campaigns? Let’s look at them now:
1. Segmenting and targeting
Above all else, your email campaigns need to be targeted to the exact people you’re sending it to. This requires segmenting your audience into narrowed-down groups, and then taking the time to get to know them, understand them and put yourself in their shoes.
Use that knowledge to create tailored messaging and graphics, and even to choose the right time and day of the week to send on.
Here’s 7 segments we recommend focusing on:
- Segment #1: (Before a first purchase is made…)
- Segment #2: Low Value Customers
- Segment #3: First Time Customers
- Segment #4: VIP’s
- Segment #5: Replenishable Customers
- Segment #6: Abandoned Cart
- Segment #7: Defecting Customers
You can learn about how to build each of these segments via our recent guide “THE RETAILER’S GUIDE TO CUSTOMER NURTURE EMAILS“
2. Open and close strong
The most effective email messages pack a one-two punch, starting with a killer, intriguing subject line and ending with a compelling and inspiring call to action.
If you’re not great at creating either of these, try doing A/B tests with your campaigns. See which subjects and CTAs get the most clicks, and start honing in on an effective strategy that way.
3. Give them options
When it comes to best practices for email marketing, this is one of the most important. Opting your customers into a blanket once-a-week or once-a-month email list isn’t just ineffective, it’s probably going to annoy your customers, too. Instead, give them options.
Send them a preference survey, and let them tell you how often they’d like to be contacted. Just during a sale? Around the holidays? Once a week? Take these preferences and customize your efforts moving forward.
4. Build, don’t buy
Buying email lists is never a smart business move — at least not if you want some return on that money. You’re better off investing in a great content person who can craft effective lead-generating landing pages or spending those dollars on in-person events like trade shows and conferences.
5. Check all the boxes
Your emails shouldn’t be cookie-cutter by any means, but use a checklist to ensure each message has all the right pieces of the puzzle.
Every email should include a subject line, copy, image, text version and CTA, and you should have it proofread multiple times for possible errors. Don’t let a silly mistake cost you a sale (or thousands of them).
6. Be generous
Though the ultimate goal of your message might be to drum up sales, if you’re following email campaign best practices, your emails shouldn’t be all about YOU.
Every message should come with specific value to the recipient — something they need, want or might learn from. Focus on being generous first (maybe offering a discount code or free shipping?) and then ask them to complete your CTA after that. Remember that customer relationships are two-way streets!
7. Keep adjusting
Just because you have one successful email campaign doesn’t mean they all will follow suit. Watch your metrics, and monitor the ebbs and flows.
Track opens, clicks and CTA completes to better understand your audience (and better tailor your future campaigns). Don’t get comfortable, and keep tracking your KPIs.
8. Ditch the “no reply”
Sending email marketing from “no reply” addresses is a thing of the past. Not only does it look spammy, but it also prevents the user from getting the hands-on service that could push them from casual onlooker to well-paying customer.
Always send your marketing messages from a legitimate email address that is monitored regularly. Assign a staff member to read any replies and respond to them (or reroute them) appropriately.
9. Make unsubscribing easy
There’s no point in marketing to someone who doesn’t read your emails or even want your products, so if someone wants to unsubscribe — let them. In fact, make it easy.
Don’t make them log in or go through 10 different surveys to do it. Have a reliable system that can let them unsubscribe with just a click.
Final word from the expert:
We consulted with Kestrel Lemen, our Email Marketing Manager at CPC Strategy with seven years of email marketing experience under her belt, to get her take on some of the best email marketing practices:
Email is very powerful in the world for ecommerce, but it’s only as effective at driving sales as your mobile site experience and CRO. Because at the end of the day, email is just a tool. You also have social, PPC, and Amazon as potential tools. If we pare email down to its main function, it’s retention marketing–a way to keep people coming back. But don’t get too comfortable with your strategy–always be thinking ahead about what your customers want.
To learn more, check out Lemen’s complete interview in “5 Email Platforms for Retailers: An Expert’s Opinion”