Broadly speaking, email marketing is every email that you send to a potential or current customer.

Email marketing is not going away, and in this post, we will discuss best practices for sending emails to your audience with a useful bunch of email marketing tips.

The strategies in this guide will keep your emails out of the spam folder, increase user engagement, and ultimately, increase sales.

So, how do you develop the best email marketing strategy? Read on to find out.

Step 1: Leverage Software

Unfortunately, spam filters are more sophisticated today than ever before. You can’t use Gmail or Yahoo to run an e-mail marketing campaign. Plus, who wants to keep track of all those emails manually, anyway?

That’s why it’s so important to leverage software. If you have never purchased email marketing software before, this Market Radar™ will help you understand the market, as there’s a range of software solutions you can choose from:

It might also be useful to refer to this list of Top 20 Email Marketing Software that we’ve published recently.

Once you’ve decided on what software to use, sign up and start exploring the email templates.

Use a template

One nice feature of email marketing software is that they come with beautifully designed templates. These templates allow you to plug in your company logo, address, other branding elements like color schemes, and more without having to learn HTML.

Segment your audience

Would you send a 65-year old female from South Bend, Indiana the same email as a 21-year old male from Berkeley, California? I sure hope not.

Using an email marketing solution like Mailchimp allows you to segment your subscriber list by a variety of demographic information and activities so you are sending the most relevant content to the right people. You can use Mailchimp’s built-in segmentation lists or you can build your own.

Track your performance

Using a service like Mailchimp not only gives you the ability to automate email marketing, but also it gives you relevant industry data to track your performance.

MailChimp tracks everything, in one reporting area. You should continuously look at your open rates, click rates, unsubscribes, and bounces so that you know how your email campaign is doing.

A great open rate means that your subject lines are hitting the mark, but a poor click rate could indicate that the content is struggling. Conversely, a high bounce rate means that email ISPs are unhappy with something that you’re sending out, and you can perform sophisticated analyses to find out.

Once you know what is working with your current email campaigns, you can launch new campaigns.

A/B Testing

You won’t ever really know how good your subject line or content is without creating a comparison. There’s a reason that all scientific studies have control groups.

Key Takeaway: Email marketing software provides you with all the tools you need to create a great email campaign. All you have to do is provide the content. So leverage the email marketing software that fits your needs the best out of all the options available.

In email marketing, you should A/B test every aspect of your campaign. A/B testing is comparing two versions of your email, with usually only one difference, to determine which performs better.

I recommend you test different subject lines and also experiment with sending emails at different times of the day. Different industries, and company sizes have varying best case practices for when to send your email, but this is what Neil Patel says about the best times.

Once you’ve tested a few times, you’ll know exactly when to send out your emails, with what type of subject line, to which segment of your audience, targeting what geographic region or time zone. In the long-term, this information is invaluable and will lead to increased sales.

Step 2: Make an Amazing First Impression

Avoiding the spam folder is harder today than ever before. When we make it past the spam folder, we then have to convince our audience to open our emails.

A huge percentage of people today read emails on their mobile devices. What does that mean for email marketing? You need to create a subject line and preview that stands out from the crowd and avoids a right swipe.

Subject Lines

You get up to 80 characters to convince someone to open your email. As a reference, the previous sentence was 76 characters.

What makes a great subject line? It should be brief, descriptive, and compelling. And what does that mean?

It means that you need to keep your audience in mind. Conveying urgency on a sale is effective, as is the use of numbers.

“24 hours left to get 3 months for just $0.99” is better than “Our $0.99 sale closes tomorrow, don’t miss out.”

Another effective tactic is to use a question and engage your audience’s fear of missing out. “Why is your house not selling?” creates more urgency and fear than “We’re ready to help you sell your house.”

Now, putting it all together, you might get “John, you have 24 hours to get our premium plan for 50% off. What are you waiting for?” It’s personal, it’s urgent, and it uses numbers.

Get your wordsmith to further reduce the length of the subject and you might end up with “24 hours to get Premium at 50% off, John!”

A/B test for best results.

Now that you have a strong subject line, who’s the email going to come from?

Who’s it from?

There are multiple ‘From’s you can use, and it’s worth testing to figure out what works best. Does jane@domain make you want to open the email more than hello@domain?

It depends on the context. Personalized emails that start with “Hi, John, I just wanted to share with you…” will work better if they’re from: jane@domain because it feels like a human-to-human conversation. Personalization works very well for business to consumer (B2C) email marketing.

Key Takeaway: Without a great subject line, readers are likely to swipe right and delete or archive your email without opening it. Aim to make a great first impression with a memorable subject line and a relatable ‘From’ address.

For business to business (B2B), less personal is okay at times, but it’s important to remember that there is no rule of thumb here. Sometimes, there isn’t even a greeting, you just get straight to the point. “40% off MailChimp for a limited time. Start sending.” If I received that from hello@mailchimp, I wouldn’t mind because it’s simple and straight to the point.

Who the email is from matters. Matching the content of the email to the subject line and to email address used creates a narrative that gives lets your audience know what to expect, giving you a chance to then meet those expectations.

Step 3: Create Great Content Using These Tips

Great content starts with understanding your audience. In step 1, we learned how we need to use email marketing software to reach out and understand our audiences. In step 2, we discussed the importance of making a great first impression to improve our open rates. Now, we must make great content to drive home sales, deliver the promise, sail the ship home, rescue the millennium falcon – there are many ways to say this.

Tip #1: Personalize

You should personalize everything about your email. The subject line. The opening. Inside the email itself.

A customer service tactic that’s very effective is to use the customer’s name as much as possible as it creates empathy. The same applies to email marketing.

For example,

“Hi Mike,

For a limited time, we are offering 25% off for our new customers! It looks like you signed up on September 4th. Take advantage of this offer in the next 48 hours before it expires.”

Tip #2: Strategize

A content management strategy that tells your story in a strategic way is the best way to create great content. When your audience knows what’s coming in the next email because you’ve laid a foundation through a strong content management strategy, they get excited to open up the email and gobble the content up, ready for more.

Tip #3: Encourage Sharing

The easiest way to grow your email list is to have your current subscribers share and refer. So, in your email marketing campaigns, it’s critical to add easy, simple sharing buttons so your subscribers can share your posts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media outlets.

In most cases, it is perfectly reasonable to ask them to announce something on social media on your behalf.

Tip #4: Survey

You don’t know what you don’t know, so ask for input. Creating small, one-question surveys help you determine when to email and whether your emails are effective, and much more.

For example, “How likely are you to recommend Mike’s widgets to a friend or colleague?”

Key Takeaway: A strategy that maps out how to create great content will set you apart from those who just send emails aimlessly without a coherent, underlying strategy bringing it all together.

And then use a 1-10 scale or a 5-star scale to get a quick, fast response. MailChimp has a great tool to add a short survey to the end of your emails. All readers need to do is click once and their responses are collected.

Content is King. Creating personalized content that is easily shareable will increase your audience’s engagement. A strategy that maps out how to create great content will set you apart from those who just send emails aimlessly without a coherent, underlying strategy bringing it all together.

Step 4: Get started!

Email marketing is the most important tool in your marketing toolkit. Do it right, and you have customers that will engage with you even after their purchase. Don’t do it, and you risk spending thousands of dollars on Facebook and Google ads that may never match the level of return on investment you can get from email marketing. (It’s generally much higher in the long run.)

Key Takeaway: Keep an eye out on current events that may be relevant to your audience, and tie that into your overall content strategy with a timely email or witty remark in the email body

In the end, email marketing is about how proactive you are. Keep an eye out on current events that may be relevant to your audience, and tie that into your overall content strategy with a timely email or witty remark in the email body. Found a customer praising you on social media? Utilize their quotes and turn it into a case study. Respond to emails as fast as you can. Avoid automated ‘zombie’ responses and make sure you sound human in the responses that you do automate.

And here’s an email marketing tip that has always worked wonders for me, ridiculous as it sounds: Always smile when you’re composing email messages (templates included). Your optimism will shine through your words – it does for me.

If you have any thoughts on this guide, leave a comment below!

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