Use these best practices for email marketing, and you will earn more sales from your customer base. Think of this article as a toolbox to improve your next email campaign. Please bookmark this page and come back to it whenever you get stuck in reaching your digital marketing goals. Remember, there is a good chance that your entire target market uses email, whereas they may not all be on Facebook.
Set Your Email Marketing Foundation
These best practices for email marketing only need to set up once and then reviewed quarterly. By putting these best practices into place, you will progress toward achieving marketing goals like a reasonable open rate and conversion rate. It might sound counterintuitive, but it is generally best to focus your limited lead generation efforts on growing a mailing list rather than social media marketing. Email marketing tends to have the best return on investment of any online marketing channel.
1 Build your email list with an email service provider
Sending a large volume of email through Outlook, Gmail, or your email account to everyone in your address book is not a workable email marketing plan. That’s not what those tools were designed for, and you will not get open rate data. Instead, do yourself a favor and use a marketing platform like Mailchimp. When you use Mailchimp, they will automatically track your bounce rate, click rates, and give you advanced features like list segmentation.
Sending your email from HubSpot or Mailchimp also means that you can use your domain name in your email marketing. Using an email service provider will also avoid the temptation to use ineffective tactics (e.g., send emails to everyone in your contact list). Even better, a proper email service provider gives you fantastic marketing automation capabilities (e.g., send a specific email to subscribers when they sign up for a webinar).
Tip: Look for an email service provider that gives you the option to preview emails on a mobile device. Failing to consider the mobile device experience (e.g., how does this email look in the Gmail mobile app?) will make email much less effective as a marketing channel.
2 Use double opt-in for each new subscriber to maximize overall deliverability
A double opt-in process means that a subscriber must perform two steps to join your email marketing list. They enter their email address on your website or landing page. A few minutes later, the email service provider (e.g., Mailchimp) sends a message to the person’s inbox asking them to confirm their email subscription. This two-step process is one of the best ways to ensure your marketing email arrives in the inbox rather than getting stuck in the spam filter.
Using a double opt-in will also increase your open rate because your subscribers have signaled twice that they wish to receive your email marketing messages. If you are not sure about whether your marketing automation tool supports double opt-in, test it by signing up for your email list and see if you receive a confirmation email
3 Set expectations upfront for email frequency
When a potential subscriber joins your email list from an opt-in form or landing page, they have shown some interest in your value proposition. In your welcome email, make it clear how often you will send emails to them. For example, your welcome email (i.e., an automated email sent to new subscribers when they sign up for your email list) might tell people to expect a new email newsletter from you every Friday.
Tip: By setting expectations upfront, you will improve customer retention and find it easier to scale up your digital marketing.
Growing Your Mailing List Faster With These Best Practices for email marketing
By consistently adding new people in your target audience to your mailing list, you will get closer to hitting your marketing strategy goals. For example, if you have an ongoing webinar series where you share relevant content each month, get a quote from a past attendee that you can use as social proof on the webinar landing page. Adding social proof is a proven way to enhance all of the other best practices for email marketing outlined in this article.
4 Use content marketing to build your email list
Right now, your target audience is looking for answers. For example, they want to know how to improve their SaaS conversion rate. By providing relevant answers in your content marketing, you have the opportunity to include a call to action to invite potential customers to join your mailing list. High-quality content is a digital marketing asset that continually works in all time zones. After all, people are continually looking for new insights on Google, other search engines, and social media platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook.
What if you have an extensive contact list of past customers? Should you add all of those people directly to your email marketing list? No, that is not a good idea. Adding people to your email list without permission is not a smart idea from a legal perspective. Further, your messages are likely to get caught in a spam filter when people click the spam button in Gmail and other email apps. The short term boost (e.g., a one percentage point increase in sales) is not worth the risk involved in departing from best practices for email marketing.
5 Create a new landing page for email marketing
Your email marketing strategy should include at least one landing page. Unlike traditional webpages, a landing page is designed with a single digital marketing goal: grow your mailing list. To keep it simple, I recommend offering a free resource (e.g., an ebook, a video, a cheat sheet) as an incentive to join your mailing list. When relevant, you can also direct people on Quora to visit your landing page if the landing page offers a specific resource that answers their question.
In smaller companies, you might not have a dedicated email marketing professional. In that case, focus your landing page efforts on high-value activities like driving signups for a webinar.
Tip: Since a landing page is a crucial digital marketing asset, allocate some of your link building efforts to drive traffic directly from Google to the landing page.
6 Update your social media – including Facebook – for email marketing
While social media is significant in some ways, it has a significant drawback as a marketing channel. You cannot easily export members of your target audience. That’s why I recommend using social media to grow your mailing list. When you create a new landing page offering a free resource, post about it on social media.
Social media platforms like Facebook are great for brand awareness. However, it is best to view Facebook and Instagram as supporting lead generation tools. Focus your marketing strategy on growing your email list. It is much easier to grow your customer base by sending promotional emails to your email list versus posting a call to action on Facebook.
7 Understand the risk of using financial or quasi-financial incentives to grow your mailing list
Some companies give subscribers a gift card as an incentive. As a general rule, I suggest that you not use a gift card promotion to grow your mailing list. The reason is simple. Many different people would like to have an Amazon gift card, and many of these gift card seekers may not match your target market profile. Too many irrelevant people on your mailing list mean you run the risk of a higher bounce rate, lower customer engagement, and reduce online marketing effectiveness. Instead, focus your content strategy and copywriting on growing your mailing list. With an extensive email list, you can produce new orders on demand, especially during significant buying seasons like Black Friday.
If you have the option to spend $1,000 to grow your mailing list, apply that budget to creating high-quality content like a new infographic. A high-quality digital asset can drive traffic from your target market for years into the future.
Making sales with email marketing: the end game of digital marketing
Use these best practices for email marketing to generate more sales from your customer base.
8 Balance engaging content and promotional emails in your email marketing
As a best practice, the email content you send to your email list should include valuable information (e.g., tips to help them get more done). However, sending valuable information alone is not good enough to generate sales. You also need to include a sales pitch in your email to drive revenue. For example, use email communication to tell customers when you launch a new product. You can also use social media marketing to announce a new product.
Tip: Use email copy techniques like a strong call to action when offering something for sale. If there is a special discount for buying today, make that clear in your email. To learn the fundamentals of copywriting, I recommend reading “The Ultimate Sales Letter” by Dan Kennedy. It will change the way you write email body text forever.
9 Create an email campaign for sales
You have put in the hard work to build an email list using Mailchimp or another email service provider. Now, you need to create sales-focused email content to generate more income. As a starting point, I recommend using a three email sequence. Of course, you will want to double-check critical elements like including clickable links (i.e., a hyperlink to a sales page with a high conversion rate) before you send your email to the list. Without a clickable link, your email marketing will only contribute to increased brand awareness.
Email 1: introduce the offer to your email subscribers
Use the email subject for the first message to introduce the current promotion and why it matters. For example, you might offer a buy one get one deal for Black Friday in your sales pitch if they buy through your online shopping cart this week.
Tip: If your email open rate is below 30%, use segmentation to identify people who never opened the message. You will then resend the same message to those people but using a different email subject. This tip can quickly increase your email conversion rate. If your email service provider tells you that most of your subscribers use a mobile device to view your emails, then keep this fact in mind. Test your emails on a mobile device before sending them to your entire mailing list.
Email 2: answer questions from your email subscribers
In nearly any kind of email campaign for sales, you will get questions. That’s a positive sign that you have good email engagement even while sending promotional emails. The second email in the sequence should answer the questions your customers have sent in. Remember to include a buy now call to action hyperlink or some other sales pitch in your body copy even as you answer customer questions. If customers have to speak to you first, then provide a simple lead generation call to action (e.g. “reply to this email to find out more”)
Tip: If you already have relevant content on your website that answers a question (e.g., “how much does shipping cost?”), then provide a link to that video, article, or another resource
Email 3: close the sale with social proof
Your third email is going to leverage several factors of influence. Start with social proof. If your product has received reviews, testimonials, and ratings, tell your email subscribers all about it in the email’s body copy.
That’s it! This simple three email approach is one of the easiest ways to plan out a sequence of promotional emails that generate more sales. You can scale up this email marketing campaign over time as your content strategy attracts more people from Google, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram.
10 Improve your email template with copywriting and visual design
Revising your email template is another effective way to improve your email marketing effectiveness. Many email service providers like Mailchimp provide several email templates. For instance, you can use email design with several columns. Or you can work from an email template with nothing but text. A simple email design – nothing but body text and bullet points – tends to work quite well in email marketing.
In general, I recommend using a simple email template with minimal graphics to have the best chance to be seen. Adding multiple images to your email content may cause problems for an email client on a mobile device.
11 Review your email deliverability data
Your email deliverability rate is one way you can improve your email marketing success without adding more subscribers. For example, if you see a low open rate (e.g., 10%), that probably means that you have an email deliverability problem and unappealing email subject lines.
Start by using a tool like Spam Check by Post Mark to check your email sender reputation. If you find that your spam score is high, you may need to register a new domain to send an email. At the very least, you will need to revise your email subject lines and body copy.
Tip: There is a way to improve email deliverability, starting with your welcome message. Use copywriting to craft a simple call to action. Ask your customer base of subscribers to send you a short email reply. When email systems like Gmail see a two email interaction, your customer engagement will improve, and you will not need to worry about a spam filter stopping your messages. Besides, the ability to write back and forth with customers tends to improve your conversion rate for sales.
12 Build an email marketing workflow to maintain customer engagement
Consistently achieving a high level of email marketing results takes work. There are so many details to manage. Sure, it helps to use a high-quality mailing list application like Mailchimp. Email service provider tools will give you a workflow at the campaign level. However, they generally will not include other critical elements like testing your emails on Android and including a call to action to drive sales or improve customer retention.
For example, let’s say you publish an infographic. You might start your content marketing efforts by posting about the new infographic on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. You may focus some of your link building efforts to get people to discuss the infographic. In addition to those online marketing activities, tell your email list about this new digital asset. Apply your copywriting skill to encourage people to click the hyperlink and view the infographic on your website. Every email you send, whether it has a sales call to action or not, is another opportunity to apply best practices for email marketing.
What’s next in your online marketing strategy?
Growing your email list is probably a significant priority in your marketing strategy. Using the best practices for email marketing in this article will help you make great progress in your marketing emails.
However, there are other online marketing matters to consider. For example, do you have a plan to increase your conversion rate? Are you using the compound interest effort of content marketing to reduce your customer acquisition cost?