Email marketing! This happens to be one of my favorite topics. Why? Email is an incredibly efficient ways to market to your audience. Unlike the visitors who wander onto your site from search engine traffic, your email list is filled with subscribers who intentionally opted-in to hear from you on a regular basis.
They want to know about upcoming events and new products. They want a lasting relationship with your brand.
Each subscriber on your list represents an opportunity to expand your business, sell your products, and harness the power of word of mouth marketing.
But don’t get caught up in a numbers game. Whether your email list contains 10 people or 10,000, you can launch a successful email marketing campaign.
Below, we’re sharing favorite email marketing tips from small business entrepreneurs around the country and around the world. A big thank you to everyone who offered their favorite tips! Let’s get started!
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Email Marketing Best Practices
Your subject line is the first thing your audience will see– make it attention grabbing.
Alli Williams, PR Coordinator, AmplifyRelations.com
My favorite tip when creating an email marketing campaign is to pay close attention to the details, namely the subject line. This is the first thing your client’s audience will see when receiving your email, so it’s important that it’s interesting enough for your target to open the email. I like to create subject lines that grab the reader’s attention, for example if your client is hosting a weekend fundraising event your subject line could read any weekend plans?
Tailor your content for the audience’s interests, not your own.
Bonnie Harris, Wax Marketing, Inc.
My favorite email tip is to remember when writing the email, that the content should tailored to your audience’s interests, not your company’s. Include information that would be of interest to them, not just information about your company, product or service. Writing an email newsletter using your customer’s lens will greatly increase your reads and interactions.
Make sure you follow up.
Michael X. Heiligenstein, Fit Small Business
When our team does outreach or promotion, we often get just as many responses from following up as we do from our first round of emails. This is where a CRM can come in handy – we use Insightly to schedule follow-ups and keep leads from falling through the cracks. You can read more about how we use Insightly to manage email here.
A persuasive subject line in the most important part of your email.
Yosepha Greenfield, Director of Marketing & Student Outreach, InGenius Prep
*Nothing* matters more than your subject line. Without a persuasive subject line, the rest of your email is pointless. Your subject line should demonstrate that your email will provide immediate value to the reader. It should convince them to open it. Be specific. Customize it. Don’t feel the need to capitalize the first letter of every word or be afraid to use punctuation.
Consider which email marketing service will best serve your needs.
Brady Donnelly, Managing Director, Hungry
My primary suggestion when setting up a newsletter or campaign is that they first invest heavily in determining which email marketing service will serve their specific needs indefinitely, not just for this campaign. For example, Mailchimp may be great for teams without a developer to code custom emails, but if it doesn’t integrate easily with their website, how will they manage their subscriber lists?
In the event that a client tries to skip this step and resorts to an out of the box, lazy solution, they’re often trapped in the future moving all of their contacts, clients, and targets to a different service, and in the process, becoming highly disorganised and losing all of the data they’ve gathered (A/B tests, CTRs, etc.). In the worst case scenario, they lose track of who unsubscribed and end up spamming their targets.
Make sure your emails are valuable, informative, and educational.
Chase Thompson, Note MBA
When people are putting together emails they need to stop and make sure that the content they’re sending is ‘info-taining’ or ‘edu-taining’.
Everyone is tired of receiving your terrible, ugly newsletter. They can’t wait to hit the delete button the second it comes in.
If you’re a small business, your emails need to be 90% entertaining & 10% offer or pitch or whatever. Attention is the currency in today’s marketplace. And if you want mine, you better educate me, entertain me, and be conversational in your email.
Go with a free email marketing service like MailChimp.
Maggie Nelson, Co-Founder, Keyword Marketing
Use a free email marketing service like MailChimp. This might sound like a no-brainer, but I can’t tell you how many small business owners still use Gmail or Outlook to send emails and BCC their email list. With a service like Mailchimp, you can customize your email design (without being a design pro) and more importantly, you can track the results.
Make use of the “preheader” area. This is the place at the top of an email message where you can add a “teaser” to your email content. It’s the first thing a reader will see when your email pops up in their inbox and if you only have a few seconds to capture a reader’s attention, the pre-header text can make all the difference.
Create a headline that sparks curiosity. Think about what your readers might find surprising about your content and start there. Coschedule has a great tool called the Headline Analyzer and while it’s meant for blog posts, it is a great tool to help cut unnecessary words and focus any headline.
Share useful content. Beware of spending too much time talking about yourself or the features of your products and services. Instead, offer up a story, offers, or advice that your users will find surprising or beneficial.
Keep it short and sweet.
Beth Bridges, Vice President of Digital Identity, J – I.T. Outsource
Email Marketing: Think about it from *their* perspective. They don’t have a lot of time to read, so [use a] short message. Clients also like to know that their perspective and opinions are important, so ask a lot of questions. We’ll send email campaigns just to get input or find out what problems they’re having.
Also, don’t reinvent the wheel. Use a really good email marketing service like MailChimp which has templates and an active blog with posts from their team members with research, how-tos, and best-practices.
Adjust along the way, but only one or two things at a time so you can see exactly what’s causing improvements or not.
Consider this alternative to email marketing:
Molly Antos Morey, Konnect Public Relations
As an alternative to email marketing, a new, secure and targeted approach comes from Cyber Dust, an app created by Mark Cuban and Ryan Ozonian. Cyber Dust allows business owners to communicate in a variety of ways without risk. Messages are protected from screenshots and disappear after being read. They are heavily encrypted and never touch a hard drive – not even the company’s own server.
Users can send blasts of texts, images, etc. to a larger group of people, or engage in 1 on 1 conversations with people they have never had a chance to meet otherwise.
Don’t sell in your email campaign.
Danielle Olesen, Brand Manager, Marketing, StickerYou
Don’t use your email campaign to sell- use it to educate. Inboxes are filled with promotions, and people usually tune them out. Instead of pushing products and deals, seek to advise your customer base in areas surrounding your products. Find a common problem or questions among your customers and offer a solution in the form of an article or blog posts, then send that as the email content. Expected results are higher open rates, click-through rates and a much longer tail (people will open or re-open the email long after it’s been sent).
Personalization goes a long way for creating a viral campaign. There are tools you can use which will automatically add the person’s first name into the image or the copy of an email. customer’s connect more when they see their own name being displayed and are more likely to share that content.
A/B testing helps your craft better messaging and creative over time. A lot of email marketing tools have A/B testing built into the platform capabilities. Testing different subject lines, different artwork, different messaging in your emails on a regular basis will help you determine what
connects better with your customer base. Over time you will be able to create emails that have better open rates and click-through rates.
Use your email to nurture your customer relationships.
Jessica Jobes, Founder, OnTheGrid Marketing Agency
Your email newsletter is a good resource for nurturing customer relationships and sending qualified traffic to your website. To unlock this potential, create a regularly scheduled email to keep communication going. Your email newsletter should be uniquely yours and something that doesn’t feel like work. Maybe you’re great at talking to your smartphone camera – film a 3 minute clip and provide a link to the video with a written summary. Or maybe you prefer writing what’s top of mind, do that. If you comb the news for all the latest stories, keep a clipboard with your favorites and send out a list. Figure out a method that works for you and go with it. And whatever you send, make sure it’s a repeatable process that you can stick to and you’ll build relationships one email at a time.
Don’t use the word “newsletter” in your subject line.
Joe D’Eramo, Copywriter & Marketing/PR Consultant, HiRoad Communications
My advice to people starting a newsletter is never, never include the word newsletter in your subject line. You might as well ask them to delete the e-mail.
With some exceptions, most people, even valued customers, aren’t necessarily looking to read another newsletter. They just want to get through their in-box and move on. Your subject line really must give them a reason to at least view your newsletter in the preview pane. My best advice on subject lines is use a how to line. How to save more money., How to spend less time., anything that tells the reader that they will benefit by opening.
I know this from being a Constant Contact reseller and having written enewsletters for more than 50 clients over the past 10 years.
Stay in touch every 5-7 days.
Katie Hornor, Speaker, Author and Founder, Como Blog
In the first email tell your subscriber what they are getting, where they signed up and what to expect next. Deliver value and build expectation. Stay in touch with them every 5-7 days. Offering great value in every email will help build loyalty among subscribers.
Track your results.
Ashley Orndorff, Market Research Analyst & Copywriter, Visual Impact Group www.visimpact.com
Some of the best things you can do with your first email newsletter or campaign is to make sure you do a solid review and to have tracking available so you can measure results.
A solid review means thoroughly reviewing copy to ensure it says exactly what you want it to say, communicates effectively with your audience, and is, of course, free of spelling and grammar issues. It also means doing a little Q&A testing to ensure it will render correctly in different email providers and creating a plain text email to improve deliverability.
As for tracking, use an ESP (email service provider) and your tracking problems are solved – it comes included with the service, and they usually have tools to help you with Q&A testing as well. For someone just starting out, or who has a smaller list, I recommend starting with MailChimp. It’s very user-friendly and it’s free up to 2,000 subscribers. It’s a good way to get a taste for email marketing, see what results you get from your first eBlast, and then go from there.
Monitor your bounce rate.
The best tip I can provide regarding email campaigns is to closely monitor your bounces, both hard and soft. One of the biggest risks anyone sending mass emails faces is having their ESP (MailChimp, ConstantContact, etc.) shut them down due to a list that is perceived as low quality. Bounce rate, particularly your hard bounce rate, is one of the major factors ESPs use in determining this. Make sure any addresses that hard bounce are scrubbed from your lists between sends and you’re well on your way to ensuring a prosperous campaign.
Don’t send unsolicited emails.
Mark Schmukler, Managing Partner, Sagefrog Marketing Group
Make sure the list is grammatically correct – while this seems like a no brainer, make sure your list is typo free.
Don’t send unsolicited emails – you want to be sure that the email recipient has given their permission before you start sending content their way.
Monitor feedback loops – make sure that the people who are marking your emails as spam are removed from your list.
Track recipient action over time- this will allow you to remove inactive subscribers. This doesn’t mean delete every email address that does not open/click through, instead track the email over time to see which email accounts are active and which are inactive.
Use a welcome program – this allows you to set yourself up for content success. A welcome program helps you determine what topics your customer is interested in. It also allows them to choose the frequency at which they want to receive your emails. Successful welcome programs have led to 63% higher open rates and 105% higher click through rates.
Opt-outs and opt-downs – while you legally must give recipients the option to opt-out, you can also give them the option to opt-down, which limits the frequency at which they receive your emails.
Ask the subscriber to whitelist your email address.
Thomas Wooldridge, Relamark.com
Saving contact email: Make sure you have the subscriber whitelist your email address. They do this by saving your email in their address book.
This way it will prevent your email falling into the spam or promotional folder.
Do A/B split testing.
Brianna Bell, SEO Analyst, American West Jewelry/Relios Inc. Carolyn Pollack
My favorite email marketing tip is A/B testing. No matter how many best practices you read, there’s no solution better than responding to how your customer respond to you.
The best method I’ve discovered is to find 3 different subject line types. They can be promotional, intriguing, specific, vague, but it’s important that the 3 are different approaches to connecting with customers.
Once you’ve defined your subject line types, begin to apply the best practices to that email type. Allow enough time to collect your data and analyze the performance. This lets you truly serve the best content to your subscribers rather than guessing if those best practice alone are working for you.
Keep your subject line short.
Simon Slade, CEO and Co-founder, SaleHoo
The key to successful email marketing is the subject line. No one is going to open an email if the subject line doesn’t appear professional and intriguing. You can achieve this by keeping it short (between 45 and 50 characters), using the active voice, and avoiding symbols and email trigger words.
Create two different subject lines for the same email and test both out to see which works better – the more you do this, the better you’ll become at crafting a compelling subject for your email marketing campaigns.
Forge an emotional connection with your customers.
Dr Frank Farrelly, Darlinghurst Dental
For small businesses, I believe it is crucial to create an emotional connection with your customers. We are a small dental practice, so our email campaigns are certainly local focused. Rather than trying to sell a product, we provide value to our patients with advice, news and competitions. We will mention special offers, but that is not the focus of our newsletter.
By making it about information, it is then valuable to the patient/customer and thus they value our branding. It is important to develop a brand voice to achieve this. For example, ours is professional, caring. Other businesses might be able to add more whimsy, comedy or irony. It will all depend on the type of customer you want to keep and also attract, as the brand voice should be universal across various media.
Have you given thought to your call to action button?
Kristien Matelski, Digital Marketing Specialist Vizion Interactive
My advice for someone setting up their first email newsletter or campaign, is to A/B test different components of your newsletters/campaigns. You’re just starting out and so you won’t know yet which template design, subject line, or Call to Action button is going to get higher engagement, but when you A/B test, the numbers will tell you the winning template, subject line, Call to Action, etc. Doing tests like these will help you get more bang for your buck!
Keep it highly beneficial to your audience.
Adam O’Leary, President, Encite Marketing
Provide content that can be valuable to your client or prospect. An email newsletter gets ignored quickly if you are* only* pitching your product or service. Include specials and promotions in your email, but make sure you include something they can use and is beneficial to them. This will ensure they think favorably about you and your brand while noticing you are genuinely interested in them as a customer. This goes a long way in establishing credibility and trust which is crucial to repeat purchase behavior.
Choose the right email platform.
Anastasiia Demydenko, Marketing & Product Manager, Bonapick
Choose the right email platform. Do your research and choose the best email marketing tool that would fit your budget, satisfy your email and subscribers volume, and can easily be integrated with other marketing solutions that you currently use. Having all email campaigns and subscribers in one place will make your work so much easier. For instance, built in analytical tools will show you how your emails are performing over the time and which of your marketing efforts lead to higher engagement.
Write a compelling headline.
ChrisPontine, Creating a Website Today
I think one key thing when setting it up is to remember to take the time to write a compelling headline for your subject. This is very overlooked, but if you aren’t getting people to open your emails, what’s the point?
Test your subject lines early and often.
Test your subject lines early and often. The greatest email newsletter in the world is worthless if your target audience never opens it. That’s why finding the most compelling subject line is so important. If your email service provider doesn’t already offer testing then an easy way to find the best newsletter subject line is to:
- Create two different subject lines, A and B.
- Pull out a subsection of recipients from your list, such as two different cities or smaller states.
- Send the newsletter to one location with subject line A and to another location with subject line B.
- See which subject line performs better during the first hour or two in terms of opens or content clicks
- Send the newsletter to the rest of the list with the winning subject line.
This approach helps you avoid a real dud of a subject line or missing out on a high performing subject line.
Be aware of spam filters.
Danielle Bedin, Digital Marketing Executive, Receptional
One of the tips that I often discuss with my clients is to be aware of spam filters. People very often forget how smart anti-spam systems can be and once your brand is flagged with an anti-spam filter, your email marketing efforts can be in vain with none of your campaigns ever falling into the desired mailboxes. Make sure to clean out your hard bounces after every newsletter when using software that does not automatically do it. Also make sure that your subject lines do not contain words that can trigger spam filters or are capitalised.
Lay out your goal for your email marketing campaign.
The first thing you must do before initiating any email marketing campaign is to lay out your goal. Are you looking to reconnect with past clients? Turn leads into customers? Provide value to your current customers? Once this is decided, you will need to figure out what metrics will provide you with insight on if your campaign is successful or not. Luckily, most email marketing tools can integrate into your current CRM system, allowing you to not only see basic metrics like CTRs and open rates, but which of these emails led to a metric like monthly revenue – if that’s your objective.
Spend time organizing your database.
Stephanie Lantz, Principal, StarGet Business & Marketing Strategies
Though there are many good tips for setting up customer email campaigns, we believe the most effective and biggest bang for your buck is to spend the time upfront to organize your database. Segmenting one’s customers/clients into groupings upfront including: prospects, current clients, general, etc allows for campaign automation, better customer targeting, and a more robust response rate.
Answer the question “Why should I read this?”
Yiwen L. Cyrus, Managing Director, Your24hCoach.com
My favourite tip for a person setting up their first email newsletter or campaign for clients and prospect would be to focus on the subject line. This is the hook that entices people to open the email and be curious enough to read it.
First find a great subject line that related also to the main content for your email in order for the readers to answer the question
‘Why should I read this?’ If that is achieved, the reader will not be put off that the title was misleading and will be more likely to open similar newsletters in the future.
Send a welcome email.
Carrie McIlveen, U.S. Director of Marketing, Metia
Welcome customers to the program. Use a welcome email series to invite customers into the sales funnel. Demonstrate your brand’s excitement to have a new subscriber by offering a discount on a first or next purchase. You can use referral data to tailor the series to the products, services, or topics that enticed the subscriber to sign up in the first place.
Birthdays are big money. Use milestone campaigns to increase engagement on birthdays and anniversaries. Whether it is the customer’s birthday, or the anniversary of their first purchase from you, you can set up triggered programs with promotions that drive them directly to a discount or promotional page. Fun facts: In a study of 10,000 birthday and anniversary emails sent by 53 Experian Cheetahmail customers, they found that personalized birthday mailings had nearly five-times the transaction rate of standard bulk mailings. Anniversary mailings were even higher.
Don’t use the word “I”
Avoid the word “I” as much as possible.
The word I should be useless than 5% of total word count.
Concentrating on that will automatically help you to focus on your message and on your brand.
Example: Instead of :I wanted to introduce…”, write “XYZ-service helps customers to…”
Send a heartfelt welcome note.
David Klein, Director of Marketing, ClickTime
Your first email newsletter campaign should contain a welcome note to your readers, offer captivating and relevant content, and include a heartfelt thank you. Think of it as any other business or personal interaction: You only get one chance to make a good first impression, and it’s essential that you give your audience a reason to continue reading — and sharing — your content.
Choose your email address carefully.
Victor Clarke, The Marketing Quarterback, Clarke, Inc.
You should do everything possible to ensure your prospect’s experience with your company is a positive one. Do this by making your marketing personal. Personal means that emails come from real people in your company, not just the “info” email address. It can also mean they are connected on social media to people in your company, not just following the company page. Most importantly it means your help-based marketing content really addresses their needs and it’s delivered in a timely manner. This shows your business puts the prospect’s interests ahead of its own.
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