Email marketing is an essential component to any digital marketing strategy. Billions of people use email. It’s the driving force behind customer acquisition as well as retention. And it is a direct way to engage with your audience. A lot goes into crafting the perfect email, curating your email list, and setting up automations. These email best practices will keep your subscribers engaged and your business thriving!
Email Best Practices for Sending Emails
There is a science to sending emails. It’s not as simple as it sounds. When should you send them? How often? What type of subject line gets the most clicks? Before you start sending, make sure you are following these email best practices.
The subject line. Your email subject line is SO important. Email best practices for your subject line range from just plain writing great subject lines to including emojis. When writing a subject grab subscribers’ attention. You want something catchy and a little bit clickbaity. Make your email subscribers curious but don’t give away too much in your subject line. The goal of a subject is to get them to click and keep reading your email.
Other email best practices for subject lines include making them time-sensitive. Things like “get it before it’s gone” or “last-minute savings” or “sale closes at midnight” are all attention grabbers that make customers feel like they need to shop right now.
When you are writing your subject be careful and don’t include all caps or too much punctuation. This can look spammy not only to customers but to email servers. Getting marked as spam by users can automatically land you in the spam folder for other users that didn’t mark you as spam.
Another way to jazz up your subject lines is to use emojis but only if it makes since for your business. It can really help your emails stand out! Just be careful not to use too many emojis. You don’t want to distract from the meaning of your subject line. You should also be mindful that not every email server will show your emoji so your subject line should be able to stand alone without it just in case.
Which email did you see first? Probably the one with the emoji right? Emojis add a little bit of flare and color to a very grey inbox.
Personalize everything! Make your subject line personal. Use your subscribers’ names. You don’t have to stop at the subject line. Just like Spotify and Netflix offer suggestions on which songs you should hear and movies you should watch, you can do the same in your copy. Show your subscribers products that were chosen just for them or come up with other creative ways to personalize your brand. Make customers feel like the email is tailored to them.
Take advantage of holidays and birthdays. Black Friday is already a huge holiday and almost every business partakes in advertising their big sales. But what about national sunglasses day? Ever heard of it? Well the sunglasses company, Knockaround wants to make sure you know all about it and get free shipping! It seems like almost every other day it’s either National Wine Day or National Macaroni & Cheese Day. Take advantage of these small holidays!
Didn’t gather your subscribers date of birth when they signed up? Not a problem. Send an email like this.
Rareform did a great job with this email. Their subject line is simply “Happy Birthday” and even if it’s not your birthday, wouldn’t you be curious as to what’s inside? They then proceed with telling subscribers happy early birthday and if it’s not their birthday to tell them when it is so that they can send something special. This is a great tactic to gather additional information about your subscribers so that you can send them a discount or a freebie on their birthday.
Send an email telling customers you missed them. This can help you get customers to go back and shop on your site if they haven’t in a while or it can help clean your lists.
Pottery Barn sends this email with two options, for you to stay subscribed or to simply unsubscribe. Most email APIs are not free. When you have a certain amount of contacts you will have to start paying. Cleaning your list is a good way to find users who aren’t engaging with your emails and to keep your costs down. Remember, users who aren’t opening your emails or engaging with them are doing nothing for your business. Make room for subscribers who will engage and turn into loyal customers. They also offer a discount to get subscribers who they haven’t heard from in a while to make a purchase on their site.
Reward your loyal customers. Or just reward your customers in general – make them feel like just because they are your customers, they receive special treatment. This automatically makes you superior over competitor brands. 1-800-PetMeds does a great job with this email. They’re following a number of email best practices. Their subject line is enticing, and by saying that the subscriber is getting 20% off just for being a customer it makes it seem less salesy. Imagine if the subject line just said “20% off.” It probably wouldn’t stand out amongst the clutter and you might not click it. They also mirror their website in this email so it’s easy to follow links to their site.
Ask for reviews. Reviews can drive traffic to your website. The more reviews you have, the more trustworthy your brand will seem to potential customers. Amazon has used personalization in their subject line and in their copy as well as asked for a product review. This is an easy way to get your customers to leave reviews for your product or business. You can even offer something in exchange for their review such as a discount or coupon code for their next purchase.
Split test your emails. Just like Facebook or Google Ads, you can A/B split test emails. Split test your subject lines to see which receives a higher open rate. Test different phrasing of your copy or different calls to action. You can even compare which color combination on your buttons gets more clicks. When you split test, you can see what your customers like and what type of language will get them to click. Once you figure out the perfect email formula for your business, creating new emails will be a breeze.
Make a schedule for your emails. Map out when you are going to send what. If you are running a specific sale on your site make sure your emails align with it. If your site has a 3 day sale on rugs and you send emails about couches your customers may be confused. This is one of those email best practices that sets some companies apart from the rest. It is so smart to lay everything out and have a schedule set in place.
We scheduled this email for a client for the Earth Day celebration and was able to increase their open rates and brand-consumer relationship.
Once you have a schedule of what emails you want to send figure out when you want to send them. Typically email open rates are highest when companies send emails on Tuesdays but not every industry is the same. Pick a day that works best for you. Test out which days and times get you the highest open and click rates. Maybe Saturday mornings work best for your company – you never know until you test.
Don’t spam your subscribers. By spam we mean don’t send too many emails. People already receive a ton of emails every day. You don’t want to be that business that clogs up their inbox with multiple emails each day. If you really want to get your point across spend time crafting a catchy subject line with a great email body. Find your sweet spot – whether that’s two emails a month or 2-3 a week. It all depends on your customer base and your products.
Quality over quantity. We don’t suggest sending emails unless you have some valuable content to put in them. If you find that you are digging for content in order to send two emails a week, take a step back. Spend time creating that one email that is powerful and is going to get conversions. Don’t create a bunch of sub par emails. Your open and click rates will be much better with a high quality email.
Be prepared for unsubscribers. You will without a doubt get people who unsubscribe from your list. Don’t worry, you can always rebuild. Which brings us to our next set of email best practices: list management.
Email Best Practices for List Management
How are you growing your lists? If people are undoubtedly unsubscribing, you need a way to keep growing your lists. Capture leads on your website. Include a popup that asks people to give you their emails. But most people won’t just give you their emails without something in return. Many businesses offer a discount, a free trial, free shipping, or an ebook in exchange for emails. It’s a small price to pay so that you can have a solid email list. You can also ask for emails through a social media campaign. Just remember that asking for emails works best if users are getting something in return.
Don’t buy lists. You don’t have permission to email these people. They didn’t opt in to receive your emails. Imagine receiving an email out of the blue from a company that you didn’t want to receive emails from. Yes some people may be interested but it’s not worth the risk of being reported as spam. If people report you as spam this could affect your deliverability in the future. In addition to getting marked as spam, buying email lists will not earn you engagement. Just like buying followers in Instagram is a bad idea, it works the same way for emails. You want qualified leads that are going to open your emails, click to your website and make a purchase.
Organize your contacts. Do this in a way that makes sense to you. There is not set way that you have to organize your contacts. Every business is different. Some email APIs like MailChimp don’t allow you to send to multiple email lists. Instead you need to organize by groups if you want to segment subscribers as well as include multiple on the same email.
Segment your subscribers! If you have several categories like coffee and tea or surfing and golfing you wouldn’t want to send someone who is interested in surfing a golfing email. Email segmentation makes it really easy to keep your contacts aligned with their interests. Running a workshop? Segment users by who has signed up for your workshop. Then you can send reminder emails to the subscribers who haven’t registered yet. According to a MailChimp study, segmented campaigns received an unsubscribe rate 9.37% lower than campaigns that were not segmented. Why? Because the emails they are receiving are more relevant to them, so they have no need to get rid of the email.
Email Best Practices for Automations
Automations are great! Once you set up your automation, you can save loads of time and more easily target specific customers. There are several automations you can set up such as welcome and retargeting automation. Let’s start with welcome emails.
When people sign up to receive your emails it’s a good idea to have an automated campaign ready to go. This acts as confirmation that you received their request to subscribe and as a way for you to introduce your business to a new customer. A pro tip here is to offer a discount to customers in your welcome email. People who buy products through email offers spend 138% more than people who do not receive special offers or discounts. If you offer a discount in that first email, subscribers will be more likely to try your product. Not to mention, they’ll feel pretty special. Welcome emails should also be sent within the first 24 hours of a user signing up so that the email is timely.
The Muse has a simple subject line. When you open their welcome email they give a short description of what their company does. The user can also start searching for jobs directly from the email.
Retargeting automation. These automations are what bring in that extra margin of sales. They can include emails like cart abandonment reminders. Don’t miss out on those people who forgot about what they put in their carts. A friendly email that reminds them to go back and shop can capture lost sales.
Remember the sales cycle. A good email automation takes your sales cycle into account. Know your sales cycle and map it out in your emails. This will help you tailor your content as well as help you decide how many emails should be in your automation. If your sales cycle is relatively short, your automation does not need to go on forever. If it’s longer, you will want to invest some time building out a bigger automation campaign.
Keep the salesy emails to a fraction. You don’t want every email you send to push sales. Include content that is valuable to your subscribers. Sprinkle in a sale or discount every now and then. Coupons and discounts should be something that is exciting for customers. If you send them in every email they become the norm and lose the sense of urgency that one time carried.
Email Best Practices for Style and Content
Styling your emails is just as important as writing a good subject line or segmenting your lists. If you have a great subject line but subscribers open your email to find boring content and low quality images, you can bet they will hit that delete button.
CTAs. Start out with a bold call to action. Make sure people can read and understand what you want them to do. Your CTA belongs towards the top of your email because it is the most important! Blue Apron is offering two free meals to subscribers. Their CTA is at the very top of their email but they also include it at the bottom just in case the user forgets to click the first time.
Choose your format. This is an important decision you need to make when designing your emails. Do you want your emails to be image focused, text focused or a little bit of both? If you are an ecommerce brand and have great photos of your products you should probably lean towards having mostly images in your emails. Photos grab people’s attention. Make them even more visually compelling with colors that pop! Without a doubt Apple has some of the coolest products and they are able to make them even more visually pleasing in their emails.
If your company does not have a lot of products or you aren’t selling any products, then you can format your emails so that they have some text and some images or just plain text. Email best practices for text-only emails include making sure there’s not too much text. If you feel like you need to go into depth about an issue, link to a landing page with more information. If there is a lot of text, break it up into manageable paragraphs. This makes your content easy to digest.
Link everything. If you have a bunch of product images in an email, link them all directly to their individual pages on your site. Most importantly, double check your links. Make sure they work and that they go to the correct page.
Visually pleasing to the eye. Your colors shouldn’t interfere with the email’s readability. Using bright yellow text is never a good idea unless it’s on a black background. Keep color in mind when designing. If it hurts your eyes or you have even the slightest trouble reading it, change it. No matter how amazing your design is if your subscribers can’t read it, they won’t click – which means they won’t convert.
Don’t hide your unsubscribe button. Of course you don’t want people to unsubscribe but if you make sure people can easily unsubscribe you can avoid getting marked as spam. Like we said before, this can hurt your deliverability. If enough users mark your email as spam there’s a good chance your next email campaign could automatically end up in other users spam folders. And if you’re still not convinced, it’s also unlawful in most countries not to offer a way for users to unsubscribe.
Optimize for mobile. Almost half of all emails are opened on mobile devices. Most email APIs will optimize your content for mobile devices automatically. However, it is wise to double check the mobile version of your email and make sure your layout still looks good. A staggered layout may look great on your desktop, but when you switch to mobile it could become distorted.
Stay social. Include social icons that link to your social media sites. Increasing your followers on social media is crucial for the continued growth of your business. Gain followers everywhere you can – email is a great place to start. If you link to your social media sites then your subscribers are just a click away from giving you a follow. You can even devote an email to asking people to follow you on social media. Entice them further with a discount or other special offers if they give you that follow. But before you do this make sure that you have a social media strategy in place or a social media marketing company managing your social media channels.
Make your emails match. Mirror your website with your emails. If you include a menu type bar in your email that looks similar to the one on your website it offers easy access to your products. In this email from Crate&Barrel, they align their menu bar with their website. Although they do not include every menu item that is on their site, they have chosen the ones that are important.
Here is what their email looks like.
And here is their website. Pretty similar right?
Try video. Emails that contain videos see click through rates 96% higher than emails that do not include video. If you have a how-to video or one that makes sense for your brand, send an email about it! Dollar Shave Club sent a video about how their members get ready in the bathroom. It’s humorous, engaging, and gets people excited about their brand.
It’s already received over 50,000 views on YouTube in less than 2 days. This is a great way to spike engagement – just make sure your video is high quality and adds value for your subscribers.
Put These Email Best Practices into Action
If you do not have an email marketing strategy in place, now is the time to start mapping out a campaign and putting your newly found email best practices into action! Start collecting emails from your customers and build up your email list. Set up that welcome automation and brainstorm creative ways to capture your customers attention. Remember to keep these email best practices in mind while you are creating content. Contact us today to get started!