The Email Marketing Best Practices You Need To Follow In 2018

Written by Franco Varriano.

Email marketing seems pretty simple – you write an email, click send, and thousands of people read it.

If only! We all know that it takes a lot more work than that. And getting people to open your email is only where the challenge begins. 

Every email marketing campaign has its own unique goals, but there are universal email marketing best practices that you must apply to get the best results every time.

We’ve shown you how to create the perfect email marketing strategy to make your email campaigns more effective, so today we’re providing specific tips to help you avoid simple and unnecessary mistakes.

By following these email marketing best practices, you’ll keep lawmakers and blacklisters away from your email list and get readers to open, read, engage, and take action with your emails.

1. Maintain a Clean List

Before you even start sending emails, you need to make sure you have a clean email list with real, interested subscribers. This will help you avoid spam traps and increase the number of emails that reach your subscribers’ email inboxes.

Spam traps are fake or expired email addresses used by blacklisters that no one else can access.

To ensure that spam emails don’t happen to your email list, there are two main steps to keep your list clean:

  • Require double opt-in. By requiring readers to confirm their email addresses when they subscribe to your email list, you ensure that no fake email addresses are added.
  • Remove invalid email addresses. If you receive two or more hard bounces – where an email isn’t delivered because the receiving address is invalid – remove this email from your list. Your email client may provide this service for you, so make sure you check.

Additionally, don’t ever purchase email addresses. It’s illegal and an easy way to become blacklisted.

By keeping your list clean, more emails will make it to your subscribers’ inboxes. This will improve your open rate and get you closer to your marketing goals.

2. Send a Welcome Email

Every new subscriber should receive a welcome email thanking them for becoming a part of the tribe.

It can be simple, but should definitely include the following:

  • A welcome message and thank you. Welcome and thank the reader so they feel appreciated for joining your group.
  • What to expect. Give them a quick description of what to expect from joining. Will you send product discounts, educational emails, or breaking news? Will you give them the link to a free video for joining? Let them know what benefits they should expect.
  • A call-to-action. Since they just joined your list, they probably want more. Direct them somewhere that can benefit them and your company. It could be your social media, your website, or a sales page. Or ask them to answer a question by replying to your email. A call-to-action earlier in your email marketing campaign is helpful as it gets readers into the habit of doing something with the emails they receive from you.

3. Personalize Your Emails

No one wants to read an email that’s blasted to millions of people with the sole intent of selling more products. They want to get personalized emails that are sent specifically to benefit them.

Segmenting your list allows you to add essential touches of personalization to each message you send. Here are some ideas of what segmentation can do:

  • Instead of sending a discount to every email subscriber, send it to the people who have shown interest in that product.
  • If you’re sending a special on snow gear, send it to people who live in snowy areas. Or better yet, send it to people who just saw snowfall in their city.
  • If you’re looking for product feedback, only send it to customers who’ve purchased that product.

You will have multiple target audiences. It’s important that you define those different groups so you can send emails that matter to them. They’ll be much more likely to open the emails and take action.

4. Customize the “From” Line

After the subject line, the most important piece of information readers consider before opening an email is: “who is this from?” If it comes from someone who they expect to read relevant or entertaining emails from, they’ll be much more likely to open the email.

Thus, how you frame your “from” line can influence the likelihood of your email getting opened.

Here’s a list of potential names you may want to use in your “from” line:

  • Company name
  • Brand name
  • Person’s name
  • Event name
  • Publication name
  • Product name
  • Campaign name

Although there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, there is one good principle you should try to follow: the name on your email “from” line should be the same name that the reader initially opted-in with.

If I joined a newsletter from Nike SB (Nike’s skateboarding brand) that promised to deliver news regarding skateboarding, the “from” line should include the brand name “Nike SB”, not the company Nike.

You also don’t want the “from” line to show your full email address. It should show the name as if it’s a regular contact. It’s a small change, but it will increase the likelihood of your emails being opened.

5. Use a Mouthwatering Subject Line

When we wrote our article on writing the absolute best email subject lines, we outlined six strategies that entice readers to open your emails:

  • Curiosity – People are curious by nature. Hint at the contents of the email without revealing too much. E.g. “This is how we scaled 3x in 9 months…”
  • Scarcity Give the reader a reason to open now rather than later. E.g. “This 50% deal expires tonight…”
  • Social ProofPeople look to others to validate their beliefs. Use this to show readers that others endorse whatever you’re promoting. E.g. “How Sandra saves 2 hours every day using our product…”
  • BrevitySometimes, shorter is better. It shows you’re not wasting their time. E.g. “Last chance…”
  • Great OffersEntice them with a deal that’s hard to pass up. E.g. “30% off all new products until Thursday…”
  • PersonalizationSegment your list and show them this email was selected for them. E.g. “Once the baby comes, you’ll be glad you have this…”

Using a good subject line can dramatically increase your open rate. If you’re able to entice readers to look inside, you’re one step closer to making more sales.

6. Display Your Logo and Newsletter Name

Your logo and name should be clear and visible at the top of your email. They will remember your brand better each time they see it.

Every time you have their attention – like when they open your email – you need to make an impression with your brand, and this is the way to do that.

7. Use Their First Name

Everyone’s favorite word is their own name. Use that to your advantage by addressing your emails to your readers’ first names. This adds a friendly touch that they’ll be sure to enjoy. To delight readers further, insert their first name at random intervals throughout the email. 

8. Have a Refined Email Design

When a reader opens your email, they judge it immediately. If it doesn’t look inviting, they don’t read it.

In our article on email marketing design, we talked about the main design elements that everyone should focus on:

  • White space is good. Simple is elegant. If the reader knows what they are supposed to do, they’re much more likely to do it.
  • Use a simple color scheme. One to three colors in addition to the black and white writing is all you need. Stick to your brand colors.
  • The reader should have one specific action to take at each section. If you want them to start the email by reading, don’t let anything distract them from that. If you want them to click somewhere when they finish reading, make it clear and don’t give them opportunities to wander.

Simplicity wins here. You want to make it easy and enjoyable for people to consume your emails.

9. Write The Highest Quality Content

Email copy is hard, and it’s where many people falter. Many email marketers only think about themselves when creating promotional emails. They only consider how they can sell their stuff to the reader. But they should really be thinking about how they can make the reader’s day better. For example, take a look at the following two lines:

  1. We’ve got a great sale on our leather jackets, grab one up today before they are gone!
  2. Hey Steve, we know you like looking good but don’t want to empty your bank account to do so. Since you’ve been around for a while and have shown interest in our leather line, we want to give you 40% off our latest leather jacket.

The first line doesn’t put the customer first while the second line shows readers that the company wants to help them. That’s the first principle of writing good email copy: putting the customer first.

Having clean copy is the next requirement. All email content should be reviewed by an editor to make sure it’s clear, cohesive and error-free. Any typos or grammatical errors will reflect badly on your brand and/or confuse the reader.

10. Let Your Personality Shine

People connect with people, not inanimate objects or ideas. You can better connect with your readers if you inject some personality into your email copy.

Here are a few ways to help you do this:

  • Write like you talk. Break grammar rules a bit to help your emails sound more like normal speech. Using some colloquial terms and shortened sentences works wonders for injecting some pizzazz into your emails: “Seriously people. Com’on.” Or “OMG. Do we have news for you?!” Or “This. Is. Amazing.” 
  • Write the way your audience talks. Use the words they use. If your audience includes a younger crowd, use words that are current with that crowd. If they’re older, you might write more conservatively. It’s your job to understand your readers and speak in a way they can relate.
  • Speak directly to your reader. Use words like, “I,” “me,” “we,” “you,” and “us,” to build a stronger connection. They want to hear your opinions or know what they should do. Don’t talk abstractly about what other people should do when you’re trying to give your reader a recommendation.

We love the email copy from electric toothbrush brand quip. Quip uses an ultra-casual tone and punchy sentences to connect with their younger adult readers and promote their persona as a modern, approachable toothbrush brand.

11. Provide a Clear Call-to-Action

Every promotional email you send should have a clear goal if you want to improve your click-through rates.

What is it that you want your readers to do? Do you want to drive readers to a blog post? Do you want to send potential customers to a sales or landing page? Do you want existing customers to provide feedback?

Once you know the email’s objective, you need to let the reader know through your call-to-action (CTA).

The CTA is a statement or request that lets the reader know what action to take.

You always want to include a CTA in your email. As long as the action your readers should take is obvious and clear – and you give them a good reason for doing it – your call-to-action will serve its purpose.

12. Put Thought Into Your Email Signature

If you want your readers to communicate and interact with you, tell them how in your email signature. That’s where they’ll look.

Not only should you provide your company’s customer service phone number, email address, and website, you should also link to any social media accounts they use.

This gives your readers a chance to continue the relationship and keep them engaged.

To bring up quip again, check out their friendly signature copy. We also love how they humblebrag about their mention in Time magazine’s Best Inventions of 2016:

13. Make Your Address and Unsubscribe Link Clear

This won’t may not get more customers, but it will keep you out of trouble and build trust.

By law, marketing emails must show their business’s address and provide a link for readers to unsubscribe from promotional emails.

Fortunately, most email clients provide this automatically in their email templates so you don’t have to worry about. Just double check to be safe.

14. Send Emails at the Right Time

You may not know when each individual reader is most likely to open your email, but a good email service provider will.

For example, Rare’s email service tracks your readers’ past behavior and knows when they are most likely to open your emails. Sending your emails at the ideal time for each person is as easy as one click.

If you want to increase your email open rate, choose the best timing.

15. Send Emails on a Regular Basis

You don’t have to send an email every week, but it’s good to establish a consistent emailing routine. Sending marketing emails once every week, bi-monthly, or once every month are all viable options.

If you don’t email readers for a long time, they can forget about your company, and they may be confused when they suddenly get your email again in their inbox. You don’t want that to happen. Keep them engaged and informed by emailing them on a regular basis.

16. Test Variations and Track the Results

Every company is different. What works for one won’t work for another. Test different email variations using A/B testing, which is a way to send similar emails with slight differences to determine which one performs better.

As you track the results, you’ll know which strategies to use in future emails. Rare makes this easy by tracking everything for you and providing a single dashboard to access stats and data.

17. Provide Readers HTML and Plain Text Emails

You want to create beautiful, elegant HTML emails because they are a pleasure to read. But you also want to give readers the option to read a plain text email too:

  • Some readers prefer plain text emails. Whether it’s because of their reading device or just their preference, they want to read their emails in plain text. Give them this option and they’re more likely to read it.
  • Spam filters want to see it. HTML emails get caught in spam filters more often. When you provide a plain text alternative, your emails are more likely to end up in your reader’s inbox.

By giving readers an option to open your email as a plain text email, you’re going to make some people happier. This is a simple way to increase your open rate.

As you can see, there’s a lot that goes into email marketing. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, try incorporating the best practices detailed above gradually. Little by little, you’ll see improvements in your open rate, click-through rate and, your sales.

And if you’re one of the thousands of merchants who are already using Rare’s Smart Email Marketing software and want to see how our Customer Success Team can work with your brand to grow your revenue – feel free to book a call at your convenience here.

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