E-Mail Marketing Best Practices

Posted by Sarah Hargreaves

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January 17, 2018 at 1:30 PM

e-mail marketing best practicesWhether you use it to engage with your clients, grow your business, or generate prospects, there’s no question that e-mail plays a valuable role in your professional life. In fact, according to the Radicati Group, the average business professional sends and receives 140 e-mails per day. Worldwide, nearly 2.8 million people use e-mail for both business and consumer purposes. Given the digital world we live in, these statistics may not be all that surprising. But have you ever taken the time to reflect on why you use e-mail? Would you like to improve client engagement? Foster brand loyalty? Maximize your return on investment?

Whatever your “why,” the e-mail marketing best practices described here can help! And it all starts with identifying your purpose.

Identify the Purpose

Although it may sound obvious, to effectively reach and engage with your target audience, you must first identify the purpose of your e-mail. What do you want the recipients to do once they see it? Are you addressing their needs or answering their questions in a meaningful and interesting way? Once you’ve identified your primary focus, I think you’ll find tailoring the content of your e-mail that much easier.

Segment Distribution Lists and Personalize Content

Of course, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to e-mail. As such, you must pinpoint the interests of your subscribers before you can send them personalized content. According to HubSpot, one of the most effective ways marketers can increase engagement and open rates is by segmenting their distribution lists. Here’s how you do it: 

  1. Divide your entire mailing list into smaller, more targeted groups based on your subscribers’ interests, demographics, or product preferences.
  2. Adapt your content for each distribution group, such as a weekly or monthly newsletter list for existing subscribers or a welcome e-mail for new subscribers.

Once you have pinpointed the interests of your subscribers and divided them into distribution groups, create e-mail content that aligns with those interests. Given personalized content, recipients are more likely to open and actually read your e-mails. Plus, they will come to recognize and appreciate your consistency and efforts in providing material that is relatable and valuable.

Craft Enticing Subject Lines

As the subject line is one of the first components your recipient notices and reads, you should dedicate time to creating catchy and meaningful subject lines. Consider leading with a benefit that encourages the reader to open your message. For example, “Monthly Market Update” may not be as enticing as “Important Fiscal Considerations for December.” Also, it’s important to keep in mind that many individuals view e-mails on their mobile devices. So, as a general best practice, your subject lines should be clear, concise, and generally around 5 to 7 words.

Personalize the From Field

If you don’t recognize the name or the e-mail address in the From field, how likely are you to read an e-mail? Hint: not very likely! To prevent your e-mails from being ignored or deleted, personalize the From field with your name to provide validity and recognition. Remember, some clients might know only you—not necessarily your firm name—so including your personal name in this field is key.

Include a Clear Call to Action

When it comes to determining an appropriate call to action, revisit the purpose of your e-mail. Are you looking for recipients to schedule an appointment with you? Or are you just trying to stay top of mind? If there is a specific action you want your recipients to take after reading your e-mail, be sure that your call to action is well-defined and clearly visible.

Pay Attention to E-Mail Metrics

They say that “numbers don’t lie,” and this certainly holds true for e-mail marketing. While there is no definitive rule regarding distribution frequency or timing, Tuesday mornings around 11:00 A.M. have demonstrated consistently high click-through rates. (A "click-through rate" shows the percentage of e-mail recipients who clicked on one or more links in an e-mail, and it is a strong indication of what content recipients find engaging or useful.)

To gain insight into how your content is performing, here are some other metrics worth tracking: 

  • Open rate: This measures the percentage of people on your distribution list who opened your e-mail. Open rate is best used as a comparative metric only (e.g., comparing the open rate of separate e-mails to the same distribution list).
  • Bounce rate: The bounce rate is the percentage of total e-mails that bounced back because your e-mail was not successfully delivered to your recipient’s inbox. You can help ensure a lower bounce rate by periodically reviewing your distribution lists to weed out any invalid e-mail addresses.
  • List growth rate: Simply put, this metric displays how quickly your e-mail list is growing. You can calculate the list growth rate by subtracting the number of unsubscribers from the number of new subscribers and then dividing by your total number of subscribers.

You’ll want to track these metrics at a consistent time frame after sending e-mails (e.g., 24 or 72 hours after sending, monthly).

Before Hitting Send . . .

Did you know that up to 48% of e-mails are now opened on smartphones? So, before hitting Send, be sure to test your e-mails across multiple devices. In addition, double-check that all links direct users to the proper page, and confirm that any images you use render properly. You want to ensure that all customers can read and engage with your content, or recipients may delete your e-mails or—even worseunsubscribe from your content altogether.

Are You Ready?

When it comes to devising your e-mail marketing strategy for the year ahead, I hope you will keep these best practices in mind. Whether you start tracking metrics or create new distribution lists, focusing on just one or two of these areas will help make your e-mail marketing efforts more effective for your business and more meaningful for your clients.

Which e-mail metrics do you track? Have you tried segmenting your distribution lists? Please share your thoughts with us below. Thanks!

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