The Most Impactful Email Marketing Do’s & Don’ts Every Marketer Should Know
Mastering the art and science of growing an email list and sending the right emails to the right people at the right times can lead to tremendous wins for marketers.
On average, email marketing drives an ROI of $36 for every dollar spent—which is considerably higher than any other marketing channel. When done thoughtfully, email is a proven marketing tool that enables companies to drive website traffic, increase revenue, spark engagement and build essential relationships with prospects along various points of their customer/user journey.
Yet the biggest challenge for so many email marketers is the amount of planning and nuance required to develop, manage and scale a strong email marketing program robust enough to yield significant results consistently.
Given the current digital marketing landscape where it seems that just about everyone is inundated with promotional emails, it can be all too easy for companies to rush into emailing without taking the time to consider some critical ground rules on how best to incorporate it into their marketing strategy.
Here’s what you need to know to succeed at email marketing and avoid some of the most common mistakes email marketers can make.
How to use email marketing to effectively boost your engagement, revenue & brand visibility
Top 5 Critical Email Marketing Do’s
1) DO develop an email marketing content strategy.
Being intentional and consistent with your email marketing efforts is incredibly important for establishing a trusted reputation with web domains, email service providers, and your subscribers.
This is why it’s vital to develop a scalable content strategy designed with storytelling, engagement, compliance, and relevancy in mind. Remember, email is an ideal channel to drive traffic back to your website pages, promote sales, share blogs/education/thought leadership, and send important alerts. Therefore, your plan needs to center on the value you intend to deliver to subscribers in exchange for the actions you want them to take.
As an email marketer, it’s your job to build the vision for the different types of emails you’ll send along with a consistent but realistic sending schedule and content calendar you can sustain and optimize as you grow your list and start to see more results from your efforts.
2. DO personalize and target your emails as much as possible.
To keep your subscribers opening your emails and engaging with your business you need to serve them the communications they want to see most. The days of batching and blasting one email to all subscribers on your list are gone. Now, sending highly targeted, personalized communications is the new normal. So segmenting your list based on subscriber topic preferences, behavior, or requested email frequency is key.
You’ll want to make sure your email capture forms have the necessary fields to collect the data you want to use to send your audiences personalized communications such as emails with their name, based on topics of interest, for their birthday, or for messages using their preferred pronouns or location.
3. DO clean your list regularly.
Maintaining email deliverability is integral for the performance of your emails and the success of your strategy. There are a number of important factors that impact deliverability; including how healthy your email list is.
A healthy subscriber base is an engaged audience who actively opens, clicks, and forwards your emails regularly. If you have lists or segments that are not engaging consistently, complaining about your emails, or unsubscribing often, then you need to make a point to clean your list to remove these stale, unengaged contacts.
Doing so will improve email engagement metrics across the board and ensure you aren’t sending emails to people who don’t want to receive them while also helping to improve your deliverability and domain reputation score.
Depending on the size of your list and the unique needs of your company, your list cleaning schedule will vary. But generally, it’s recommended to give your list a clean-up to remove unengaged subscribers and segments at least once every six months.
4. DO test: A/B… copy or creative tests, subject line tests, and send time tests.
Running regular tests will be hugely helpful while you execute and iterate your email strategy in real-time. As marketers, we don’t always know what will land. So implementing testing into your schedule is a solid way to help you determine which visual assets, subject lines, send times and email copy will make a formidable impact on audiences. Just know that it’s important to try different testing strategies on various segments of your audience, starting with a small sample size of each and then using the data to help you inform what communications you send out to the remainder of your segments.
The goal is to create a content strategy that factors in the tests you want to perform so that you can implement the results strategically and seamlessly with your content calendar and planned initiatives.
5. DO create & deploy email automations.
Knowing how to leverage email automations to serve relevant journey-based communications is the hallmark of a solid email marketing strategy. Email flows offer marketers a unique advantage by allowing you to control which communications your customers and/or subscribers receive based on actions they take or information you have about them.
This is especially important for critical engagements like welcoming a new subscriber right after they sign up or closing a sale from your ecommerce store with an abandoned cart email to remind your customer to buy the items they left in their cart.
Sending these types of emails requires focused planning, and foresight on the front end because you need to understand the various touch points for each communication in order to set up the sequence of triggers properly so your contacts receive the right messages at the right time.
But the beauty is, once set up, email flows run themselves efficiently to deliver the messages you automate specifically for certain audiences. Your job is to make sure everything stays running and to make any tweaks or optimization to the content as you collect more data and performance metrics.
Top 5 Critical Email Marketing Don’ts
1. DON’T buy email lists, ever.
When starting out with email marketing it can be all too easy to cut corners by purchasing a third-party email list to quickly build a following or get your message out. Truthfully, this is a mistake that could potentially cause you more harm than good.
Buying an email list could result in very poor engagement that could negatively affect your sending reputation. And essentially, when you buy an email list, you’re acquiring contacts who have never agreed to receive email communications from you. This most often leads to spam complaints, unsubscribes, and a general lack of engagement.
Also, most email service providers have very strict rules against adding purchased lists to your account. So your best bet when growing an email list is to develop an opt-in form, with a double opt-in to confirm the subscriber wants to be added to your list.
When you set up your opt-in form, you need to clearly communicate the expectation of what types of information subscribers will be receiving in exchange for signing up for your list.
This is a valuable process that compounds over time as you grow your list with more highly-qualified subscribers. But, it requires patience and consistency to work.
2. DON’T ignore CAN-SPAM rules & email marketing compliance best practices.
The CAN-SPAM Act is an important law for email marketers outlining the rules for commercial email and contains the requirements for commercial messages. It expressly empowers recipients with the right to not be emailed or contacted by a marketer and states that you must stop emailing anyone who revokes permission or makes it known they do not want to be contacted by you. The act also provides documentation on the penalties for violations.
Knowing and following these regulations will save you time, stress, and effort as you plan and execute your email marketing strategy.
3. DON’T try too hard to sell subscribers.
More than anything you want to create a genuine experience that provides value for your subscriber. Overly sales-focused emails with nothing but a transactional angle feel generic and lack the personalization that subscribers have come to enjoy and expect. Your goal as an email marketer is to get creative about selling your products/services and stand out from all the other marketers in their inbox.
So when in doubt, remember to educate, entertain, and inspire, but don’t hard sell. Use your transactional emails as an opportunity to demonstrate the benefits of your offering, what problems you solve, and tell a story that persuades them to make a purchase.
4. DON’T use spammy words or phrases in your emails.
To avoid getting your messages sent to a user’s spam folder, you’ll want to stay away from using certain words in the subject line and the preview text of your emails.
In reality, there are hundreds of spam trigger words to watch out for. So make sure to do solid research to see which words have been marked so you know which ones to steer clear of. Depending on your industry, certain words will be more or less applicable. Overall, you’ll want to make sure that if you do use any spam trigger words you do so within the context of your message and why you’re sending it.
As you write your subject lines, it’s also important to make sure you don’t use odd formatting in an attempt to stand out in your subscriber’s inbox and that you don’t try to over-promise or overtly sensationalize the title and tone of your subject as these tactics can trigger your message being sent to spam.
5. DON’T forget to implement a solid review and approval process before sending.
Maintaining quality control of your email content is essential to ensure the right information reaches the right contacts on your list.
Incorporate link checks, send and preview on both desktop and mobile, check to ensure no content is clipping, make sure your images are the correct size, proof your copy, verify your send times and targets, etc.
Every review process will have the same basic fundamentals but may be slightly different in practice depending on your company and content strategy.
If you’re struggling to figure out where to begin with your email marketing plan, or you’ve hit a wall with your current email sending strategy, we can help. Set up a meeting with us to discuss your email marketing goals.