Top Email Marketing Best Practices for 2018
Updated May 2018
How can you sign up more subscribers, boost engagement, optimize deliverability, and increase the opens, clicks, and conversions for your email campaigns? Here’s our list of the top best practices for email marketing in 2018.
As we pointed out in a recent NewsLever blog, email continues to generate a better return on investment (ROI) compared to other marketing channels. For example, a survey of marketers in the United States conducted by the Direct Marketing Association and Demand Metric demonstrated that email achieved a median ROI of 122%, which was more than 4 times greater than any other marketing channel, including social media (28%), direct mail (27%), and paid search (25%). In addition, email marketing generated $44 ROI for every $1 spent in 2016, which was up from $38 in 2015.
13 Top Email Marketing Best Practices of 2018
So how do companies create great email marketing campaigns that achieve such outstanding ROI? We’ve compiled 13 tips and top email-marketing best practices to help you develop effective email campaigns to reach (and even exceed) your company’s sales and revenue goals.
Keep your mobile users in mind always. The use of mobile devices to read and interact with emails is on the rise. That’s why it’s so important to be sure your email marketing design best practices are sensitive to mobile users. A study by Litmus looked at over 13 billion emails opened in 2016 and revealed that mobile devices accounted for more than half (54%) of the opens. This compares to desktop computers, which accounted for 19% of the opens in the beginning of 2016 and dropped to 16% of opens by the end of the year. In another study, more than 70% of the respondents said that they would delete an email if it doesn’t look good on their mobile device.
Using responsive design is one of the best ways to help ensure that the mobile users in your target audience are getting an optimum experience when reading your emails. In addition, use single-column design, large typeface for all the content in the email message, and call-to-action buttons that are big enough to tap with a finger. Click here for more mobile email campaigns’ best practices, mobile marketing tips, and effective ways to optimize your mobile audience’s response.
Integrate your email marketing strategy with social media. Integrating your social media marketing and email marketing strategies is one of the best ways to both grow your email list and extend the reach of your email campaigns. For example, including “connect with” social media icons in your emails is an easy and effective way to let your subscribers know where they can find you on social media networks. Click here for 7 tips to effectively integrate social media and email marketing.
In addition, make YouTube videos part of your email and social media strategies. Adding video to your emails has been shown to dramatically boost engagement, increasing open rates by 19% and click-through rates by 65%. For information about how to best add videos to your emails, prepare and optimize your videos on the YouTube channel, as well as use email to let your subscribers know about your YouTube videos, read our recent feature on the topic: How to Effectively Add YouTube Videos to Your Email Marketing and Social Media Strategies.
Optimize your email send frequency and cadence. There’s typically a positive correlation between email send frequency and revenue, so companies often keep increasing their email send volume. But that practice can backfire, resulting in customers unsubscribing or even marking your emails as spam because of getting too many emails from a brand. In fact, receiving too many emails from a company is the No. 1 reason why subscribers both unsubscribe or mark emails as spam. And that can have a negative impact on your email deliverability. On the other hand, you may be missing an opportunity to increase your sales and revenue by sending too few emails to your subscribers.
So how do you determine the “sweet spot” for both your email send frequency and closely-related cadence (i.e., the timing and pattern of emails sent)? Check out the following 2 articles for email frequency best practices and guidance on how to do just that:
Have a strong welcome email campaign to get your relationship off to a great start with new subscribers. Did you know that welcome emails generate 320% more revenue per email than other promotional emails? Plus, welcome emails have higher unique open rates (86%), unique click rates (196%), and transaction rates (336%) compared to promotional or bulk marketing email.
Once prospects or customers opt in to receive your emails, be sure to send a welcome email immediately that sets expectations for the content and frequency of emails they’ll be getting from your brand. In addition, send a series of welcome emails to educate and nurture new subscribers about your product, as well as incentivize them to purchase.
For additional advice and best marketing practices for optimizing the response to your welcome emails, read this FulcrumTech article on the topic: How to Optimize Your Welcome Emails for a Big Boost in Revenue.
Build and maintain a high-quality email list. Did you know that a typical email list loses as much as 25% of its subscribers every year? That means that you must continuously work at attracting new subscribers who have the potential of becoming valuable customers in the future. So how do you build and maintain a list of quality subscribers? Check out this FulcrumTech article for 13 tips on how to build both a bigger and better email list.
In addition, your opt-in forms play an important role in getting prospects and customers to join your email list. Check out our article, Email-List Building Best Practices—How to Create Opt-in Forms That Convert, for some great advice on how to design opt-in forms that can help you build a quality email list of engaged and loyal subscribers.
Personalize your emails. Using subscribers’ names in the subject line is a surefire way to capture their attention as they scan their inboxes. Email personalization goes beyond simply using a subscriber’s name, however, to incorporate content that uses such personal information as purchase history, demographics, and customer behavior.
To help create personalized email campaigns that leverage customer demographics and behavior, predictive analytics is being used more widely in email marketing. And, the good news is there are many predictive platforms and tools available today that can help you easily and cost-effectively create more-personalized messages for your different customer segments.
Segment your email list. Email-marketing list segmentation is one of the most effective ways to send more-personalized and relevant content to your prospects and customers. For example, studies show that email list segmentation can have a huge positive impact on email engagement and performance results: increasing opens by more than 14%, clicks by more than 100%, and email campaign revenue by 760%.
Click here for examples of the types of data you can use to segment your email list, as well as email segmentation best practices to help ensure that you’re sending the right email message to the right subscribers at the right time.
Let email automation do a lot of the work for you. Automation is another important tool for creating personalized and relevant email campaigns. From nurturing new leads to convincing current customers to make an additional product purchase, email automation increases your one-to-one communications and reduces the number of employee-hours needed to accomplish your email-marketing goals. And, thanks to advancements in automation software, email-marketing automation is more affordable than ever.
As your business looks to automate your email-marketing efforts, the 3 types of triggered campaigns that have the biggest impact on your ROI include welcome campaigns, online shopping cart-abandonment campaigns, and post-purchase nurturing campaigns.
For more information about email automation, check out these 2 FulcrumTech articles:
Spend time creating and improving your subject lines and preheaders. For most people, deciding whether to open an email that lands in their inbox is largely determined by the sender’s name and the subject line. In one survey, for example, 47% of respondents said that it’s the subject line that makes them open an email from a company. This was second only to the organization (64%) the email was sent from. And, in terms of driving opens, the subject line had significantly more impact than recipients liking the offer (26%).
Although it’s the subject line that often drives people to the top of the sales funnel in email campaigns, many businesses still spend little time crafting and optimizing them. For proven subject line catalysts that drive email opens, as well as information about what you should test to continually optimize your subject lines, check out the following FulcrumTech articles:
- “The Key to Subject Line Success: Testing, Not Guessing”
- “How to Create Email Subject Lines That Motivate Action”
- “10 Tips for Subject Lines to Boost Your Open Rates”
The preheader—the snippet of text that appears right next to or below the subject line on iPhones, iPads, some Android phones, and most email clients—can also influence whether a subscriber chooses to open an email. Yet, a Salesforce Marketing Cloud study showed that most B2C brands don’t fully optimize their preheaders, whereas 41% of the businesses surveyed said they don’t optimize preheaders at all. So, what should you include in your preheaders and how do you create a preheader that renders correctly? We cover that information in this article: Email Preheader Best Practices.
Test and optimize your emails’ dedicated landing pages. When it comes to optimizing email campaigns, marketers may invest time and effort in improving their subject lines and email open rates, but frequently ignore a key area of optimization—the dedicated landing pages. Yet, that’s where you seal the deal and convert prospects and customers who click through from your email campaigns. Email-marketing best practices for landing pages include:
- Ensuring that the landing page design and content is consistent with the email that generated the visit
- Using benefit-driven headlines that grab the audience’s attention and are congruent with content in the subject line and headline of the email that brought visitors to the landing page
- Building trust and credibility in your landing page with such content as customer reviews and product recommendations.
For more ways to optimize your landing page design and content to drive more conversions, read FulcrumTech’s article: 5 Best Practices for E-Commerce Landing Page Optimization.
Make sure that your email campaigns comply with spam regulation and personal-data protection laws. You’re likely familiar with the United States’ CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 that sets rules and requirements for commercial email and gives recipients the right to have organizations stop emailing them. For example, to be CAN-SPAM compliant you must provide your audience with a prominent and easy, one-click option to unsubscribe. In addition, you must include a mailing address in your footer, which also provides the means for subscribers to communicate with your company.
Marketers also need to be aware of more recent spam and personal data regulations that impact email marketing. This includes a new European Union (EU) privacy law—General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)—that takes effect in May 2018, which has stricter regulations and imposes hefty fines for businesses that don’t comply. You may think that since your company is US-based, it doesn’t apply to you. But that may not be the case: GDPR applies to all organizations that collect and process personal data or behavioral information from individuals who reside in the EU—even if no financial transactions occur.
For more information about how to implement email-marketing best practices that comply with spam regulation and personal-data protection laws, check out the following FulcrumTech articles:
Limit the number of images in your emails and be sure to use alternative text for subscribers who don’t download the images. An image-heavy email can take an excessive amount of time to load, which may end up frustrating many subscribers to the point of abandoning your email before the download is done. In addition, emails with too many images are more likely to be flagged as spam. So, be sure to test your email campaigns before hitting the Send button because various spam filters use different criteria for what characterizes a proper graphics-to-text balance. For example, the anti-spam platform SpamAssassin recommends a minimum of 60% text and a maximum of 40% images with at least 400 characters of text, whereas MailChimp recommends a ratio of 80% text to 20% images.
Also keep in mind that a significant portion of your subscribers won’t see the images in your emails because their email clients blocks images by default. In fact, research indicates that about 40% of email recipients don’t see images because their email clients block them and only about 5% of users change the provider’s default settings.
That’s why it’s important to include descriptive and styled alternative text to get your message across to those recipients who don’t download the images, especially if the images contain content that is crucial to the email message.
- Track key email metrics to make smarter data-driven decisions. What are your open, click, conversion, bounce, spam complaint, and unsubscribe rates for different campaigns? How’s your email deliverability? In other words, how many of the emails that you send actually make it into your subscribers’ inboxes? What about your sales, revenue, and overall email ROI? When it comes to taking your email marketing results to the next level, these and other metrics are vital to establishing a data-driven strategy.
If your company is like many businesses today, organizing and analyzing your email-marketing data is a huge challenge. That’s why FulcrumTech developed IntelliSents — an online email analytics platform that presents all your key email data in easy-to-read dashboards for real-time monitoring of email campaign performance. For more information about IntelliSents, as well as which email metrics you should be measuring and analyzing for success, check out this recent NewsLever article: Data-Driven Email Marketing—Key Metrics You Should Be Tracking.
Need some help in putting these email campaign best practices into action? Contact the email-marketing experts at FulcrumTech and we’ll get your business moving forward quickly and on the right track!
Other Articles You Might Like
- Email-Marketing List Segmentation—Give a Lift to Your ROI With These 5 Best Practices
- Drip Email Campaign Best Practices
- Email List-Building Best Practices—How to Create E-Commerce Opt-in Forms That Convert
- 8 Best Practices to Design Powerful Calls to Action that Convert
- Mobile Email-Marketing Best Practices