As the primary tool for communicating with customers and prospects, be it B2B or B2C audiences, email marketing drives the marketing/sales channel for any business. To get best results, staying plugged-in with latest trends and best practices of email marketing helps.
Though it is easier said than done, there is a lot that goes into planning a well-executed email marketing campaign – audience segmentation, upgrading transactional emails, setting the right time and tone, and more. This post is about 10 most important email marketing best practices to get more subscribers by enhancing email deliverability and responsiveness.
1. A big ‘NO’ to buying email lists
As rightly said by Suzy Kassem, “In life, most shortcuts end up taking longer than taking the longer route.” So buying email lists will actually kill your email marketing initiatives. Marketers are tempted to buy email lists, however, they come with the risk of unknown subscribers and ‘cold’ contact will only result in lower conversion rate and increased spam rate. It is also well-known that 90% of decision-makers don’t respond to cold calls.
Building your own list will involve time and resources – but it will be well invested. You will gain more benefits from this process than buying an email list where you have no clue of the prospects and their interests. Custom built lists will keep you on top of your email campaigns because you know the audience, you understand their needs and interests, or sometimes their budget.
How to build your own list? There are multiple ways to build and add to your email list. Promote email sign-ups on website, popups, blog, landing pages, and social media pages. It’s important to communicate with subscribers once they leave their email addresses with you. Building a subscriber list improves your chances of whitelisting and reduces spam.
2. Audience preferred frequency
As mentioned earlier, it’s important to communicate with the audience once they sign up – it is important to understand clearly what they expect and how often they expect. Most businesses opt for quantity over quality, their approach is quantitative – ‘more emails means more customers/branding’!
How often should you email? That’s a tough question to answer because overdoing it can lead to high unsubscribe rates and under-doing can decrease brand awareness and loss of sales opportunities. To answer this, consider engagement metrics that showcase how often a recipient would like to be contacted. A much better method is allowing them to answer themselves.
An example: How much *brand name* do you want?
2-3 emails a week
I need a month break
Marketing automation tools allow users to set their preferences during the subscription process. Preferences could be based on time, content or both. Time-based emails allow audiences to choose their specific cadence for emails. Content allows them to pick the type of content they want to see in their emails. You can also use a combination of both in the subscription forms.
3. Optimize your Calls-To-Action (CTAs)
Now that you have subscribers, you know what they want, you know how often they want – what’s the next step? It is to get these subscribers to click and perform a certain action. Enter – CTAs. I cannot stress more about how important calls-to-action are on emails, without which there is no point of email marketing in the first place. Including a call-to-action in place of a text link can increase conversion rates by as much as 28%. CTA conversion rates indicate the success of email marketing campaign.
How to optimize CTA? Creating an actionable, inspiring and persuading call to action button is a high click opportunity in the email. Start with creating a contextual content around the CTA. As you may already know – ‘Shop Now’ is more effective than ‘Click Here’. Test some keywords for the business, offer, and the type of audience. Follow these simple steps:
- Design the email copy based on the CTA
- Make it more obvious – prominent
- Don’t clutter the space around CTA
- Don’t include too many CTAs – if you should, link them to a single landing page
4. Offer something valuable
Any marketer’s quick answer to increasing their subscriber list is to offer informative content. When you offer something valuable to subscribers, you build a genuinely interesting mailing list that comes with a lower unsubscription rate. Your emails will be perceived as spam or promotional when they do not offer value.
Because you are giving away something for free, you cannot ask too much from the audience. Keep the questions limited – an email address alone would suffice in many cases or include the name and email address.
What to offer ? This depends on the niche and what you want the customers to perceive your brand as. It could be a free download of a white paper or a case study. Offering a free trial of the product can encourage the audience to use it, understand it or in the least, will serve as free branding.
If you tag a sense of urgency to valuable content, chances of opting for the offer increases. Grammarly uses this in their email content by offering 50% off on taking a premium account, which is their product.
5. Provide exclusive offers to your loyal customers
Now that you have a list of subscribers, it’s important to differentiate between the loyal email readers from those who occasionally do or do not open them at all (there’s another approach to such subscribers – you’ll find later). Making your email readers feel special consistently is a great way to up the excitement and trust factor. It will also encourage them to check for brand updates in their inboxes. This is the way to go to build a niche community.
6. Unique subject lines with interesting email content
Email recipients look at the sender name and subject line before they decide to open. Most email service providers show 40-60 characters of subject lines along with the opening line of the email message. It’s good to include compelling and clear subject lines. Gmail shows close to 120 characters which include subject line as well as the first line of the email. Here is the chance to intrigue the reader with a question or facts related to the industry in the subject line.
Neil Patel works very well on his subject lines – which are thought-provoking and compelling. He includes questions based on the content – ‘Why ranking #1 on Google is bad?’ or ‘How many backlinks do you really need?’.
7. Include ‘unsubscribe’ or ‘manage subscriptions’ in emails
Though you can create emails with high interactive content, few subscribers don’t engage with them as often as you would want them, and then one fine day they choose to unsubscribe from the mailing list. It is quite common to come across such unsubscriptions. Ideally, you should look forward to 0% unsubscription rate, but it is mandatory to include the ‘unsubscribe’ button in emails. Make the unsubscription process as easy as possible for email recipients.
Or, you can even divert them to other options as “Marketing Sherpa” does in their emails. Since there may be various reasons behind an ‘unsubscribe’ so Marketing Sherpa includes buttons for – ‘Manage subscriptions’, ‘Unsubscribe from pro/lead-generation-tips-and-tricks/mos’, ‘Unsubscribe from newsletters’. A click on manage subscriptions leads email subscribers to choose the content they would like to receive and others like research journal, best of the month, newsletter, unsubscribe me from all promotional emails, and at the end, they put – unsubscribe me from all content.
8. Having a dedicated IP address
When the business starts leaning more on email marketing, one should start learning about dedicated internet protocols (IPs). Let’s understand email deliverability before digging deep into IP. Did you know that the email deliverability depends highly on the IP reputation? It does. The higher the number of emails gets ‘spammed’ or ‘trashed’, the lower your IP reputation is. And vice-versa.
So, when you increase your email marketing efforts and do that typically through a single IP, you may be at high risk of keeping out of the recipients’ inboxes. Most of the email service providers use a collection of shared IP addresses to send the emails – i.e more companies use a single IP. This means the email deliverability depends on other companies email deliverability scores. But with a dedicated IP, you alone have control over the deliverability of emails and the reputation is not determined by third parties.
When do you need a dedicated IP address? When you send a consistent high-volumes of emails with high email engagement – typically around 100,000 email messages per week. Since you are the only influence, make sure that the list consists of email addresses which are authentic. Email service providers monitor the reputation of dedicated IPs to ensure that emails have high deliverability score.
9. Disclose your location
When your business is on different continents or even countries, make sure that you are compliant with each country’s email legislations before planning the email campaigns.
If you have the USA and Canada geographies in the business plan, read the CAN-SPAM and the Canada Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) carefully. They require you to include the physical business address in the footer of all the emails. If you are email marketing in Europe, you will need to be compliant with GDPR regulations that will come into force on 25th May 2018.
10. Get back your old subscribers
With the advent of email marketing, direct postal mail has become obsolete. And the same was thought about email when social media came into vogue. But email marketing has survived the scare and is here to stay and today, remains the most effective marketing tool. Even though it’s powerful, the red flag is you have no control over the unresponsiveness – while you can try and reduce the unresponsiveness, you cannot totally eliminate it.
Let’s look at the bright side, what can you do to increase the engagement of non-engaged users? Number one, religiously engage with them over emails. If you see them for the first time in a month or two, send an email reading, ‘Nice to see you, It’s your first time in awhile, we’re glad you’re back’ – LinkedIn does this effectively.
Hope you include the above practices in your email marketing efforts, if you are already using some, please let us know in the comments below.