There is much to be said for implementing best practices in email marketing. Many practitioners adhere to them religiously; others choose to ignore them completely and further still, there are those who claim that so-called best practices have become obsolete and are no longer relevant. As with most things in life, best practices evolve over time and can be adapted to suit your specific requirements as and when you need, so you can see why people are divided in their opinion.
In the e-marketing industry, almost everyone has their own list of what they deem best practices, in other words, what has worked for them in the past and what is working for them right now.
Below you will find a list of common best practices when it comes to effective email marketing:
1. Don't buy email addresses.
It will do nothing for you in the short or long term and chances are the people on the list aren’t even your desired target market. You are much better off developing and building up your subscriber list the good old fashioned way – by diligently collecting data from people who have signed up to your newsletters via the sign-up form on your website.
2. Make signing up simple and straight forward.
This goes for the actual sign-up link, which should be clear and easy to find on the page and the sign-up form. Remember initially, all you need is a name and email address to get the ball rolling. Be very cautious about sending potential customers to complete a full registration form. It can put them off quickly and this can affect your opt-in rate drastically.
3. Tell them what they can expect to read in your newsletters and how frequently they will receive them.
Let them know if they can expect to receive other campaigns from you that might be of interest to them. If you let them know exactly what your intentions are, they are less likely to become irritated - and possibly unsubscribe - from an email they weren’t expecting or don’t know they signed up for.
All too often this is simply a link right at the bottom of the page that lays out the terms of the policy in fine print that no-one can read. All you really need to state is that you won’t sell, disclose or pass-on their details unknowingly, so make sure this information stands out. Remember, this is your personal guarantee and failing to deliver on this policy may have very negative and irreparable consequences for you.
5. Send a welcome email after someone has subscribed.
The internet is a rather ‘faceless’ medium, so this gesture goes a long way to making people feel that their email has been received and their action was successful. Sending a welcome email has numerous benefits. Besides building trust, it often carries a ‘double opt-in’ link, so you can be sure that the person who has subscribed really is interested in what you have to offer.
6. Keep your content relevant.
People will unsubscribe immediately if what you have promised them is not what they are opening in their inbox. Have a look at our article on ‘Keeping Content Relevant’ for interesting ideas you can use to help ensure that your newsletter appeals to your subscribers and keeps them opening your emails.
7. Know when to send your campaign.
Do your research and find out when it’s the best time for your email to be received. Obvious times like Monday morning or Friday afternoon are out of the question. Think about it logically and practically. When are you more likely to open and act on an email that prompts a further response from you?
8. Don’t spam, ever.
This is a sure-fire way to lose your subscribers trust, loyalty and valued email address. Check your campaign for spam before you even think about hitting ‘send’. Spam filters are a welcome prerequisite and a quick check is all it takes to make sure you are abiding by the CAN-SPAM act and that your email marketing strategies fall well within its regulations.
9. Test, Test, Test.
Just because your campaign looks absolutely fabulous when you send it to yourself, doesn’t mean that it’s going to come out looking the same on everyone else’s email. Is it going to be opened using Outlook, Yahoo or Gmail? Test as many options as you can and adapt it accordingly. A great way to ensure that your subscriber opens your email the way you intended is to ask them what format they would like to receive it in. You can then go about segmenting your list depending on what they requested.
10. Lastly, track and take note of everything.
Delivery rates, open rates, click-through rates and conversions all offer vital data that you can use to improve your campaign and techniques.