The Beginner's Guide to Effective Email Marketing: Email Marketing Best Practices

How long should my emails be? How often should I send them? Should I write emails as if they’re coming from me, or should they be written as if they were sent by the entire company? And when should I send my emails to ensure they actually get opened?

Table of Contents:
The Beginner’s Guide to Effective Email Marketing

  1. Why Email Marketing?
  2. Creating Your Email Strategy
  3. How to Start and Grow Your List of Subscribers
  4. Email Content 101
  5. Email Design 101
  6. Which Email Platform is Right for You?
  7. How to Write and Send Your First Email
  8. Email Marketing Best Practices
  9. Email Automation and Drip Campaigns
  10. Helpful Resources

For new email marketers, these are all common questions. And truthfully, the best way to find out the answers is to test your emails — because no two audiences are the same. Your subscribers may prefer long messages, while others may prefer short ones. So we can’t tell you with certainty that you should keep your emails to 400 words or under.

However, there are some standards and best practices that apply to everyone — not just one audience or another. So let’s take a look at some email tips that will help you get better response rates and meet your goals with more of your campaigns.

Design for Mobile

The current mobile email statistics are fairly eye-opening:

  •  80.3% of consumers will delete an email — without reading it — if it’s not mobile-friendly
  •  Only 6.3% try to read it anyway
  •  13.5% will make the effort to view it on a computer instead of their mobile device
  •  30.2% will actually unsubscribe from your list if your emails aren’t optimized for mobile!

As you can see, you have a lot to lose when your email templates and content aren’t designed with mobile compatibility in mind. Remember this when you are choosing your email template or working with a designer. Do you really want to drive away 30% of your subscribers, especially when your list is new?

Something else to keep in mind: MarketingLand found that around 48% of emails are currently opened on mobile devices. However, only about 11% of emails are actually responsive (or designed with mobile in mind)! So by having a responsive email template, you may be able to stand out from your competitors and potentially capitalize on their lost business. (The same applies for a responsive website design, too!)

Make Subject Lines Pertinent Up Front

Many email clients have a character length on subject lines in their inboxes. Additionally, depending on the browser or device used to access email, the amount of space you have for your subject may be limited even further.

You don’t want your email subject lines to look like this:

Who knows what this email is even offering or talking about? What do the holidays have to do with Android devices? However, you can get a pretty clear picture with a concise subject line like this one:

Hey, gifts are awesome! Better open that one.

Keep your subject lines short and simple to get the point across quickly. If the subject has to be longer or is a complete sentence, that’s fine… but make sure you put the most pertinent information up front.

For example, an email from a software company about an expiring subscription could use this subject line:

Your Blue Widget Software Subscription Will Expire in 30 Days

But on mobile devices, a recipient might only see “Your Blue Widget Software Subscription” and assume its junk mail. Instead, you could try this:

[Action Required] Renew Your Blue Widget Software Subscription Now

Or this:

Subscription Expiring! Act Now to Avoid Losing Your Blue Widget Software

Both options put the most pertinent information — an expiring subscription that needs to be renewed soon — up front, making the subscriber more likely to click on the email and view its contents.

You can also do the same thing with ecommerce or B2B emails. It may take some practice, but soon you’ll be a pro at structuring your email subjects to get the point across quickly, and on all devices to boot.

Watch Your Subject Line Word Choice

Did you know that using the word “newsletter” in your email subject line can reduce click rates by as much as 18%? It’s true: this now antiquated word can make your emails seem out-of-date and less worth a read.

Additional research on email subject lines has found that 45% of subscribers will open emails if a word like “deal” or “coupon,” or phrase like “special offer” is used. These are highly motivational terms, especially to customers who want to save money on your products or services.

Think carefully about the words or phrases you use in your subject lines. Are they up-to-date and modern, or do they date your company? Are they motivating and clear, or do they leave the point of your messages murky?

Try Personalization

On a final note about subject lines, one study showed that approximately 17% of emails are opened if the message is personalized in some way. Notice how both the examples above were personalized?

Personalized emails can boost engagement rates and make subscribers feel better about the communication they’re receiving. And personalization doesn’t just mean using their name to address them in the email body — it might mean doing something like:

  •  Addressing them by name in the subject line
  •  Sending emails or special deals around the time of their birthday or anniversary
  •  Sending personalized product or service recommendations
  •  Using email automation to send cart abandonment or follow-up emails triggered by an action they took on your website (which we’ll explore in the next chapter)

Any or all of these can make your emails feel less like an untargeted “blast” and more like one-on-one communication that your subscribers might be a little more eager to receive.

Set a Schedule — And Stick to It

Is there a TV show or other event that you look forward to each and every week? Have you ever thought about an email the same way? Some people do, but the only way you’ll ever know if you inspire those feelings is by sticking to a schedule.

You might want to send all of your email messages at a specific time or day of the week, which will get your subscribers used to your messages coming at that time. If your content is great, they’ll even start looking forward to your emails.

Of course, there’s another benefit of setting an email schedule, too: it will give you specific dates and times to plan your workaround, so you’ll always know when it’s time to write or design a new email.

Let’s move on to one final topic you need to know about email marketing: automation. In the next chapter, we’ll explore what email automation is, how it works, and how it can help you make even deeper connections with some of your subscribers.


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