For many marketers, email marketing seems to be a hit or miss marketing strategy. They never know what to expect from their campaigns.
But what if there was a way you could ensure that every campaign you send ends in success?
Yes, it is possible. However, a few other factors will come into play, such as:
Putting all these factors together well will help you run winning campaigns. And that’s exactly why I want to help you master the top email marketing best practices for 2020 (and beyond). All 30 of them.
So, without further ado, let’s get to it, shall we?
The very first email was sent way back in the internet dark ages. 1971 to be exact. And half a century later, email is still one of the most effective marketing channels available to every marketer.
So what makes email as relevant today (if not more relevant) than it was a decade ago?
One of the biggest reasons email is so powerful is that it gives you direct access to your customers. People value their inboxes and as such, being afforded the privilege of accessing them is a big deal. It is a sign that they trust you and value your content.
True. Email is not the only channel brands can use to communicate with their customers. Channels such as social media and push notifications are typical examples. However, the likelihood of your email being seen and consumed is much higher than that of a social media post or push notification being seen. And implementing the email marketing best practices outlined below will increase the impact of your emails on your bottom line.
When it comes to running a successful business, you need to master the art of relationship building. Email is the perfect tool to help you do just that. Not only is email a great relationship builder, but it also helps you move your customers down your sales funnel more effectively.
I could go on and on showing you why email should be one of your main marketing tools, but that’s not our core business for the day. Our main business today is to take a look at the top email marketing best practices for 2020. So let’s dive right in.
A winning email campaign starts with a winning strategy. When planning your email marketing strategy, there are some best practices you need to follow to ensure your campaign pays off handsomely.
That’s why our journey into the best email marketing best practices of 2020 starts at the planning stage. Here’s what you need to get right at this stage:
As much as it would be awesome to have the entire world as your customer, it just isn’t possible. No matter what your product or service is and how great it is. For your email marketing campaigns to be successful, you need to know and understand your target audience.
Knowing your audience will help you:
Of all the steps you need to ensure you nail, audience research is it. Everything else you do hinges on your findings at this stage.
What do you intend on achieving with your email marketing? That’s one of the preliminary questions you need to ask before you even send your first email. Setting goals for your email campaigns is critical to your success. Are you hoping to:
The answer to those questions will direct your campaigns. But how will you know if you achieve your goals?
You need to determine the key performance indicators (KPIs) you’ll use to track the success (or failure) of your campaigns. Some common KPIs you can use include:
Running an email marketing campaign without setting goals and the KPIs you’ll use to measure them with is like shooting in the dark. You won’t know if you’re hitting or missing.
A great email marketing campaign is a result of a great email marketing strategy. To plan an effective email marketing strategy you need to understand 2 critical elements of your marketing:
Before you blast your email list with your promotion, carefully plan your campaign based on where each of your subscribers is on their customer journey. This will help you maximize your conversions.
An email marketing campaign has many moving parts. And all parts depend on each other for the campaign to be a success. One simple slip up and the entire campaign will be a flop.
This is exactly why you need to create a pre-send checklist.
A pre-send checklist is simply a checklist that helps you keep tabs on all the processes involved in sending out a campaign. This will help you ensure you include every element needed in your emails and help ensure design errors and other types of flaws are avoided.
Now that, you’ve laid the foundation for a successful campaign, let’s move on and take a look at the email marketing best practices involved in building and managing an engaged (and profitable) email list.
You’ve probably heard it a gazillion times – the money’s in the list. Sadly, that statement can be misleading as it implies you can make money from just any email list. The truth of the matter is that the money is in a quality list.
That’s why you need to ensure that every email address on your list is profitable – well, as many as possible. To do that, you have to follow opt-in best practices, some of which include:
When it comes to opt-in, make sure you do it right. If not, it will not only lead to a poor quality list but might also get you into legal trouble.
Another email marketing best practice when growing an email list is to try as much as possible to only attract your ideal buyer persona. This is one of the stages your audience research will start proving valuable. To ensure you target the right audience:
Targeting the right audience cannot be overemphasized. Doing so will result in higher engagement rates and successful campaigns.
Redundant email addresses and inactive subscribers can negatively impact your campaigns. That’s why regular email list cleaning is advisable. How do you go about cleaning your email list?
Maintaining a clean and healthy email list is one of the best things you can do for your business. Remember, the money’s in the list – a healthy list.
No matter how brilliant your email is, unless it lands in the intended inbox, it won’t do you any good. This is why email delivery and deliverability are important factors to consider as we look at the best email marketing best practices for 2020. Let’s briefly look at what these 2 terms mean before we move on:
Both delivery and deliverability play an important role in your campaigns, so what can you do to improve them?
Running regular email deliverability tests is something every email marketer should proactively do. Don’t worry, this isn’t something to crack your head over as there are plenty of tools to help you do it. Most tools will help check your emails for:
Using these tools will help you ensure your email lands in the right folder. They also help you catch some errors in your email that can result in it landing in the spam folder.
Another simple way to test your deliverability is by sending out an email to a few “seed” email addresses. Your seed list should feature addresses:
This will help you pinpoint if some of your issues stem from a particular domain or client.
Many ESPs provide a lot of insight into how your emails perform. Successful marketers keep tabs on their email analytics as they help reveal a delivery or deliverability problem. For example, if a segment that had high engagement rates suddenly experiences a dip in certain metrics, it could be an indicator of a delivery or deliverability problem – like a blacklisted IP for example.
Spam trap emails are email addresses created by ISPs and blacklist providers to identify bulk emailers that don’t practice email marketing best practices – particularly list hygiene. The danger of spam traps is that they could lead to:
The only way to avoid spam traps is to practice proper list management – so never put it off for anything.
Email authentication is simply a set of techniques used to verify the authenticity of an email and its source. Email authentication is usually used to block fraudulent emails and scammers. In other words, your recipient’s server will conduct some tests to ensure your email is legitimate. Failure to pass these tests will result in your email being blocked.
So what do receiving servers look for?
In most cases, email servers look for a few important types of security files as a way of authenticating an email:
Most ESPs handle the technical aspects of authentication as it plays an important part in email delivery. However, understanding this will also help you know what to look for when faced with delivery problems.
Sender reputation is a score used to determine your reputation or the quality of your campaigns. A poor sender reputation can result in poor deliverability, with a number of your emails ending up in the spam folder. So how can you ensure you build a good sender reputation?
To check your sender reputation, use a tool like Sender Score. Not only will it show you your reputation, but it will also give you tips on how to improve it.
It’s impossible to talk about email marketing best practices without touching on email design – particularly email design best practices. One thing you should always remember when designing your emails is that you should always design them with conversions in mind, not just aesthetics. Let’s quickly see how you can do just that.
When it comes to email design, less really is more. Avoid noisy templates and design elements as they can distract your readers from doing the one thing they’re supposed to do – click your CTA. To keep your email design simple, yet elegant and attractive:
Any bold elements you include in your email design should serve the purpose of either highlighting an important part of your email or pointing to it. Otherwise, keep your email design clean and simple.
Email layout is another factor that you need to pay attention to. This is because the way you place each element of your email should take your reader on a journey down your email. Some best practices to follow in this aspect include:
Your layout plays an important role in encouraging the way your readers consume your email. Done well, it will encourage readers to focus on the most important elements of your email.
Visuals are another important aspect of your email design that you just have to get right. And when it comes to visuals, one of the email marketing best practices you need to remember is to assume images won’t be displayed by default. This is because many email clients and users block images. This is why you always need to have fallback text for every image you use. Other email design best practices you need to observe include:
Visuals are a powerful component of a good email. However, any slight mistake in implementing them could end in an unreadable email. So make sure to follow these tips to ensure your visuals make for a good UX.
It’s easy to give the main email body all the attention and neglect your header and footer.
While these elements don’t necessarily sell, it’s important that you design them well as they are important. Here are a few tips to do so:
Your header and footer are prime real estate for elements that don’t contribute to your campaign’s goals but are necessary for compliance and to bolster relationships.
If there’s one element that can make or break your campaign, it’s your call-to-action. While it’s a small part of your email (visually), it plays one of the biggest roles in your entire email campaign. And that’s exactly why you need to make sure your CTA is well designed.
Follow these CTA best practices and you’ll have your subscribers hungrily clicking into your offer:
Besides these tips, always try to make sure your CTA is above the fold. You can repeat it a couple of times in the email if necessary.
Email copy plays a crucial role in ensuring your email succeeds in selling your product or service. Consider it a sales pitch, whether you’re actually selling something or simply encouraging an action as simple as downloading a white paper. So how can you increase the chances of your email achieving its goal?
Your subject line is your one shot to convince readers to open your email. As such, you have to make sure you take the time to craft an effective one. Here are a few tips to help you do that:
If you can nail your subject line, chances of enjoying high open rates are high. And that, at the end of the day, will result in a successful email marketing campaign.
When crafting your body copy, always make sure to use short punchy sentences and paragraphs.
The main purpose of your email body is to clearly convey your message. Long, drawn-out sentences defeat this purpose. As for long paragraphs, they discourage readers from consuming your content as it ends up looking like your content is difficult and boring to read.
In copywriting, power words are words that trigger an emotional response. These are usually persuasive or descriptive in nature. Their benefit in email copy include:
Obviously, to pull this off, you’d need to learn how to become a copywriter or outsource to a professional who knows how to use words to inspire action.
For your email copy to achieve its intended purpose, it has to be relevant to your reader’s needs. Again, this is where audience research comes to play. So what makes for relevant email copy?
Following email segmentation best practices will help you pull this off as segmentation allows you to treat each subscriber as an individual.
Every industry has its own special words. These can be buzzwords or acronyms that make it fun and easy to communicate. That’s exactly what jargon is. However, when it comes to writing email copy for your subscribers, avoid these as much as possible. The danger of jargon is that:
Email copy should always be crystal clear and should leave no room for confusion. So make sure to eliminate jargon as it defeats the purpose of your copy.
To succeed with your email marketing, you’ll need to understand the different types of emails you should be sending to your subscribers. So, let’s briefly take a look at them as they will help you master the email marketing best practices for each type.
Transactional emails are automated emails that are sent to an individual to facilitate an agreed-upon transaction between you and your customer.
An example would be a purchase order confirmation email after a customer buys something from you.
So, what makes for an effective transactional email?
Executed well, transactional emails can also help build trust with your audience.
Promotional emails. These are the darling of every email marketer as they are responsible for generating revenue.
How do you ensure they help you meet your revenue goals?
Promotional emails are the lifeblood of every online business. Getting yours right will ensure you have an edge over the competition.
As the name suggests, this type of email serves the purpose of helping you build stronger relationships with your customers. This leads to brand loyalty and increased customer lifetime value (CLV). A typical example of a relational email is a newsletter. The key to creating and sending winning relational emails includes:
The key to a successful business is to build strong relationships with your customers. And that’s exactly what relational emails will help you achieve.
If your emails don’t convert well, your campaign would have been a waste of time and money. That’s why our email marketing best practices list can’t be complete without talking about best practices that lead to improved conversions.
The first step in designing campaigns optimized for conversions is to understand your customer journey. This will help you:
As a result of the above points, you’ll be able to create emails that address every concern your customer may have at each stage. As a result, you’ll be able to convert more subscribers and move them to the next stage of the buyer journey.
A major key to increasing your conversion rates is to segment your email list. One way of doing this is to allow your subscribers to self-segment by setting their own preferences. Another way to ensure that your email list gives you maximum ROI is to employ dynamic segmentation. This is where your segments constantly evolve depending on where your customer is in the customer journey or actions they take.
Research shows that personalized campaigns generate 6x more transaction rates than generic campaigns.
Creating personalized campaigns is simple as all you need is:
While email blasts can work when sharing general information, when it comes to conversions and driving sales, you can’t do without personalization.
With research showing that email opens on mobile devices are quickly overtaking desktop opens, you can’t ignore your subscribers who prefer mobile devices. Failure to do so will result in your conversion rates plummeting. So how can you optimize your emails for mobile?
Optimizing for mobile is no longer an option if you’re planning an email marketing campaign. You just have to do it.
A/B testing is the process of testing different elements of your emails to find out which works best. Doing this helps you craft high converting emails. Important elements to A/B test can include:
Sending different versions of your email to 2 different seed lists will help you know which email will convert better when sent to your main list.
Now that you’ve seen 30 top email marketing best practices, let’s briefly take a look at some email marketing mistakes you need to avoid – at all costs.
Buying an email list is one of the biggest email marketing mistakes that will cost your business. Besides money, here’s the price you’ll pay
If you don’t build a list, monetizing it is practically impossible.
As much as no one likes unsubscribes, they are a natural part of email marketing. And email marketing best practices dictate that you make it easy for your customers to unsubscribe. This will help you:
So, make sure there’s an easy to see unsubscribe link on your emails.
As much as you may want to increase your open rates, avoid clickbaity subject lines at all costs. Employing them may give you a temporary increase in open rates but, in the long run, it will:
If your subject line has to include a promise, make sure to avoid hype. Instead, fulfill that promise in the content of your email.
As much as images work well on many other platforms, you’ll have to be careful with how you use them in your email. The problem with images in email is:
So, use images wisely – don’t overdo them.
We are in an age where you can almost DIY anything. While it may sound like a good idea to DIY your email marketing, outsource to professionals if you can. This is because email marketing is:
So, no. DIY email marketing, particularly on a large scale is not such a good idea.
Need to turbocharge your campaigns in 2020 and beyond?
The key lies in following proven email marketing best practices. With this list at your disposal, your next email marketing campaign will definitely result in you smiling all the way to the bank.
Get in touch to start a conversation.