6 Email Marketing Best Practices

You’ve probably heard that email marketing is dying or dead—but that’s wrong. Objectively wrong, and recent stats prove it:

  • Email marketing was the largest driver of online sales on Black Friday in 2015, credited with over a quarter of total sales, according to Custora E-commerce Pulse.
  • Litmus examined the percentage of emails opened on different platforms: mobile opens in 2015 increased by 17 percent and now represent over half of all email opens, a great indication that email has successfully weathered the mobile transition.
  • MarketingSherpa’s study of consumer attitudes toward email marketing was also encouraging, with 72 percent preferring email communication over any other type of communication from companies.

So, how should your company be taking advantage of email marketing’s present effectiveness and bright future? Here are some of our tried and true email marketing best practices.

1. Automation

Software that helps automate marketing processes is one of the leading forces of innovation today. Automation can help you with not only deploying campaigns, but with developing them and analyzing your results. And today’s marketing automation software solutions do much more than email marketing.

The right solution can serve as a hub that integrates all aspects of your marketing efforts, from email to social media to website design. For more information about today’s best automation software and how it can boost your email marketing effectiveness, check out our guide to marketing automation solutions.

2. Relationship Building

Relationship building isn’t just about getting clicks. It’s about getting to know your audience, and them getting to know you. It’s about empathizing with and understanding their perspectives, and building from there. What is it you’re providing? What do they need? How do the costs and benefits of your product or service impact their lives?

Email marketing gives you the chance to send an uninterrupted message, and it’s one that they’ve chosen to open, and chosen to read. They want to hear what you have to say. So take the time to craft a message that really speaks to their perspective.

Marketing automation doesn’t mean the end of personalization. In fact, automation can actually help you reach your audience on a more personal level. Segmenting your message for different groups of potential clients based on their unique needs is easier than ever with the ability to build databases complete with detailed profiles of consumers and their relationships with the company.

3. Value-Adding

We all know the phrase “call to action,” and we all know we need to include one. But “call to action” doesn’t always mean “click here to buy something.” Today’s consumers are used to receiving content in exchange for their attention, which is something you can use to your and their mutual advantage. Don’t focus on trying to sell a product or service with a single email. Instead, think of that email as a chance to further your relationship with the consumer.

A great way to do this is to give them a call to action that isn’t just asking them to do something, but rewards them for doing it. For example, if you want to opt in to a newsletter, or SMS promotions, tie that to providing them with a free e-book with useful information, or access to an online guide that can help them. Approach creating this content the same way you would with any type of product or service. Customers usually approach content with one (or more) of the following questions:

What is this issue? (Or, “Do I have this issue?”)
How can I fix it?
Which solution is right for my issue?
Incentivize your call to action with added value by answering these questions for your customers.

5. Know Who’s Reading, and Who’s Buying

Because they aren’t always one and the same, depending on your product or service. That’s not to say you always need to reach the direct decision-maker (although that’s ideal, it’s not always realistic). You do however need to reach someone who has impact on the decision, whether it’s someone that will be using the product or service, someone who is part of a department’s decision making unit, or someone who will be tangentially related to the product (like IT staff, if your product is software).

6. Communication Comes First

There are plenty of marketing best practice guides that focus on templates, layouts, the psychology of color, branding, and so forth. These are all important considerations, in any type of marketing campaign, including email marketing. But in email marketing, communication always comes first. An email isn’t a billboard that flies by, it’s something that your customers and potential customers can look at their leisure—so make sure that it communicates clearly, first and foremost.