Email is one of the most powerful mediums to generate leads and turn them into customers, whether you’re running a freelance business or a large corporation. Of course, it’s a little easier said than done, especially if you’re new to the game, with the wrong move potentially ruining your chances to success.
To help you get started (and avoid disaster), we’ve put together these email marketing tips and best practices to convert leads into customers, share your message and, ultimately, ensure a successful email marketing campaign that gets your products and services in front of the right audience.
Creating a Strategy
Creating your first email marketing campaign can, quite naturally, be a little daunting, but fret not – we’ve got your back. Here are some guidelines and best practices you should take into consideration when devising a strategy for your email marketing.
1. Define Your Audience
The first step you need to take when developing your strategy is to identify the audience you plan on serving. Find out what their problem is, how they feel about it and what they currently do to try and solve it. Knowing these little details will benefit you immensely, as you’ll be able to target them better with content they’ll respond to.
2. Build Your Email Marketing List
I mean build your own email marketing list. While it might be tempting to purchase a list of email addresses, it’s pretty much a one-way ticket to blacklists and spam folders. In other words, you need to ask for people’s permission before adding them to your email list.
You can do this on your website or blog, through the use of landing pages or subscription forms, or even at live events. Another great way to prompt people to subscribe is through lead magnets – offering them something in return for signing up, like a free eBook, for example.
Make sure subscribers understand what they’re subscribing to and consider sending a confirmation email after they’ve signed up. Also, it’s a good idea to remove any inactive subscribers to keep your list fresh (don’t forget to make it easy for people to unsubscribe).
3. Segment Your List
Even if you only have 40 or so subscribers, the earlier you start segmenting your email list, the better. Email segmentation is the process of splitting up your list into more targeted groups. This allows you to send more relevant campaigns to your subscribers which, in effect, achieves better results. In fact, it can achieve up to a 760% increase in revenue!
4. Choose the Right Type of Campaign
There are many different types of email campaigns, and it’s important that you choose the one that best fits your end-goal. Some ideas include:
- Email newsletters: These can be sent on a weekly or monthly basis, and they’re great for keeping your business and products on top of people’s minds and driving them back to your website.
- Marketing offers: These are great for showcasing your latest stock, offering a discount or special promotion, and encouraging people to make a purchase.
- Announcements: This sort of campaign is perfect when you want to promote a new product, feature or service.
5. Craft Compelling Content
Content is key to any digital marketing campaign. Here are some tips to create email copy that stands out and gets people to do what you want:
- Keep it useful: Your email should provide new, valuable information to recipients.
- Show your personality: Chances are, people joined your newsletter because of your tone, voice and sense of humour. Make sure your personality in your email matches that on your website.
- Include a call-to-action: Always, always do this – otherwise, what’s the point?
- Keep it short: The average human attention span is a whole eight seconds, so make sure your emails are straight to the point.
- Proof and edit: Beyond general grammar and spelling errors, you should also check that the links you’ve added work. After all, you don’t want to send people to a 404 page.
- Don’t forget the subject line: Part of writing effective email copy is nailing the subject line, especially considering it’s the first thing people see. It should be short (no more than 50 characters) and use actionable language that invokes a sense of curiosity or urgency. Meanwhile, avoid using exclamation marks and all CAPS – it’s annoying and IT LOOKS LIKE YOU’RE SHOUTING AT PEOPLE!
6. Start Small
If you’re not entirely sure how often you should email subscribers, especially at the beginning, you should aim for one or two emails a month – or more if that’s what you offered when they signed up. Remember, though: be consistent and only send what you promised – don’t bombard their inbox with hourly messages! You can always increase the frequency of emails later on, but don’t forget to notify subscribers in advance if you do!
Designing Your Emails
The design of your emails is just as important as their content. Here are some valuable tips to put to good use:
7. Put the Most Important Information at the Top
The message you want to get across shouldn’t be buried in a sea of information. Make sure it takes centre stage toward the top of the email, so that even the busiest of busy recipients can quickly get the gist of it even if they’re short on time.
8. Make it Readable
Break down large chunks of text into easily digestible pieces of information with a combination of short paragraphs and bullet points. Choose a legible font (whatever you do, avoid Comic Sans like the plague!) within the 14-16px range.
9. Code Your Own Templates
This will provide you with the opportunity to align your email design with your company branding. If you’ve only recently started a one-man (or woman) company, and HTML isn’t your strongest suit, then it’s perfectly alright to use a ready-made, customisable template from a top email marketing service like ActiveCampaign or MailChimp.
10. Optimise for Mobile
Mobile is, in one word, huge. In fact, mobile accounts for 20-75% of all email opens, so not making your emails mobile-friendly is simply stupid. Use single column formatting and smaller images to reduce load times, and don’t place two links next to each other (doing so makes it easy for the recipient to tap the wrong one by accident).
Testing Your Campaigns
You’ve designed your emails and created dynamic and compelling content to accompany them on their way to your subscribers. The next thing you have to do now is send them, right? Not so fast!
Before you press ‘Send’, take the time to test your campaigns to ensure that they look good in different email clients and devices – and the more, the merrier! Here’s what you can do:
11. Test in Different Email Clients and ISPs
Remember: your recipients don’t all use the same email client and internet service provider. And considering how your campaign may look slightly different from one email client to another, it’s important that you ensure everything is in place before you hit ‘Send’.
12. A/B Test Every Part of Your Email
If you’ve got two subject lines in mind and not sure which of the two will have a higher open rate, the smart thing to do would be to A/B test them. In other words, you’ll send your email with one subject line to half the people on your email list and the other subject line to the other half. This will essentially provide you cold, hard facts about which works better, and you can use your findings to improve future emails. But be warned: testing isn’t a one-time thing – your products, services and even recipients change over time, so what works now might not work next week!
You, naturally, don’t have the time to send individualised messages to your customers, and that’s where email automation comes in.
Generally speaking, email automation is a targeted email or series of emails that you set up and, well, then forget about. These emails can be anything from welcoming new users to your website to confirming a purchase.
13. Set Up Autoresponders
Firstly, you need to figure out what your goal is. Is it to welcome people on board, make sales or to be used as a lead magnet? Once you’ve identified your goal, the next thing you need to do is map out the autoresponder’s sequence. Figure out how many emails you’ll send and how often (how many days apart), and use these emails to share your story, a quick tip, a case study or a success story.
14. Don’t Rely on Automation
While email automation is an effective part of any campaign, it shouldn’t replace you. You should only use automation to eliminate tedious processes like welcoming every subscriber on board, for example.
Measuring Your Performance
Now that you’ve finally pressed that darned ‘Send’ button, you might be wondering if there’s anything else you need to do? The answer is: you bet'cha.
15. Track Your Campaigns
Most email marketing services provide reports for your campaigns, and you should make it a point to check these regularly to track and measure your campaigns’ performance – and basically avoid joining other businesses on lists of misguided marketing campaigns. They will generally provide information on things like open rate, click rate, bounce rate and unsubscribe rate.
You should also keep an eye on e-commerce data (how much money your campaigns and automations are making, for example) and website traffic.
Have any other tips about email marketing you’d love to share? Join the conversation down below and let us know!
Don’t forget to check out these four marketing tools to help you influence your brand image! Another great read you might find particularly useful is our guide to going solo in the business world!