Email is an incredibly efficient way 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.
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 are some email marketing best practices from small business owners and marketing professionals. A big thank you to everyone who offered their favorite tips! Let’s get started!
Find out which email marketing software is right for you by reading our in-depth buyer’s guide.
Brianna Valleskey, Marketing Consultant and Owner, Brave Ink LLC
Many email marketing tools allow you to pull a contact’s name or even company into the subject line of an email, which really grabs their attention. Even better is the ability to include a personalization token in the call to action of an email, because it helps your readers feel as though you are speaking specifically to them. Even if your email tool can’t specifically pull in someone’s info, using second person language like “you” and “your company” can yield similar (though not as effective) results.
Tiffany Barry, Moonlit13 Clothing Co.
Always, always, always include a call to action in your email. It doesn’t have to be a button, though that’s best, but it should be located above the fold and in multiple places. This means your subscribers should be able to see a call to action without scrolling at all or, at the very least, very much. Seal the deal by using high quality graphics and another call to action toward the end of the email.
People simply won’t open emails they don’t think holds any value for them. User data from MailChimp shows that segmented campaigns on that platform get 14.64% more opens and 59.99% more clicks than non-segmented campaigns.
Joel Razi Lutfiyya, Small Business Growth
Invite subscribers to follow you on social media platforms or join your Facebook group. Adding social media icons linked to your profiles inside an email isn’t a direct enough call to action. Be purposeful and ask the email recipient to like, follow or join whatever profiles you frequently update at the end of each email so they receive up to the minute information from you.
If you haven’t set up a Facebook page for your business yet, learn how to do so in our guide.
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.
7. Make sure your email is mobile-friendly.
Check out more mobile marketing tips here.
Nicole Stelmar, Digital Marketing Specialist, Inseev Interactive
The email recipient shouldn’t have to wait until the second paragraph to know why you’re emailing them. Make your purpose clear within the first two sentences. If you start off your email with a bunch of fluff, your reader is more likely to get bored and move on to another email. To make your email more effective, the recipient should know exactly why you’re emailing them within the first two sentences. Then, the rest of the email can provide more background and what their next steps should be.
Genni Threet, Small Business Marketing Consultant, Lucky Penny Marketing
Email is the highest converting medium so it’s important to retain and grow your subscriber list. An effective way to reward your subscribers and monitor conversions is to offer a discount code through email only. It is important to communicate that the offer is only promoted to e-mail subscribers, not Facebook or Instagram followers, so your audience recognizes the value of not hitting the unsubscribe button. Plus, good friends will spread the news about your e-mail exclusive offers (as long as they’re valuable enough) and encourage others to sign up and reap the same rewards.
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?
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.
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.
14. Track your results.
Nick Brennan, Founder & CEO, Watch Social Media
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.
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 customers 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.
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.
Ricky Garvey, www.RickyGarvey.com
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 with 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.
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.
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.
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.
Check out our 3 rules to choosing a professional email address on Fit Small Business.
22. Don’t make it hard for people to unsubscribe.
Natalie Hornyak, Junior Copywriter, Garfield Group
Keeping your mailing list clean is important for improving data accuracy and deliverability, so while you don’t want readers to unsubscribe, you want to make sure that those who do wish to unsubscribe can do so easily. About half of email users will report your email as spam if they can’t figure out how to unsubscribe which will further harm your reputation and deliverability. Respect your subscribers and their free will, and if you don’t want them to unsubscribe, send them high-value content and solicit their input.
Mark Schmukler, Managing Partner, Sagefrog Marketing Group
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.
Also 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.
James Meincke, Marketing Manager, CloserIQ
In order to test the functionality and effectiveness of automations, you should periodically go through the customer workflow as if you were a first time user. In other words, taste the soup. From the user perspective you’ll often realize new insights to improve the workflow.
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. I know this from being a Constant Contact reseller and having written e-newsletters for more than 50 clients over the past 10 years.
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).
Melissa DeLay, Founder, TruPerception
Check your grammar and spelling. Weed out mistakes in the drafting process. Errors reflect laziness on your part, which shows a lack of respect for the reader.
Hope you enjoyed reading these email marketing best practices! Check out the email marketing section of our website for even more tips and tricks.