Your email program has launched. Your first campaign enticed two old customers to reach out. Several current customers and colleagues sent you a note to say nice job. And you were encouraged to see “Opens” from prospects who have been ignoring your efforts to connect in other ways.
A good start. The next step? Get to know and follow email marketing best practices. Here are several:
Manage your email lists. We frequently hear, “I’ve got a stack of business cards on my desk…” Keeping lists current is tedious and time-consuming and, no surprise, often ignored. But adding, removing and updating contacts, which includes the cleanup of bounced emails that don’t get delivered, should be an ongoing endeavor. Carve out time before and after each campaign to work on your lists. You’ll always have attrition. Adding new contacts along with updating old records on a schedule will keep it to a minimum.
Keep your design simple. If you’re unsure of what constitutes good email design, do some research. For example, here are 15 campaigns highlighted by HubSpot and Campaign Monitor’s Top 100 campaigns. Start to pay close attention to the emails you receive. The most inviting ones probably limit the use of fonts and colors; feature properly-sized, scaled images; draw you in with copy flows from top to bottom; and prominently display a call to action.
Before you schedule release, test your campaigns in multiple email clients (e.g., Outlook and Gmail) and on desktop computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones. What you’ve created isn’t guaranteed to render the same way on all platforms and devices. By testing, you may discover that you need to move elements around or that the phone number in your footer changes to a color that isn’t easy to read.
Create content your audience will enjoy. Remember, it’s not about you. All those vital selling points about your products and company? Give it a rest. Wait until your audience steps up and says, “OK, tell me more.” For now, develop content that will help and interest your audience. Include videos and links to useful articles. Tell stories. Surprise and delight your readers. Even transactional emails that acknowledge orders can be playful and memorable.
Embrace the technology. Oftentimes once we master the basics of software we leave it at that. But Email Service Providers are continually enhancing their platforms to help users generate more engagement and get better results. For instance, your platform probably has the option to set up Autoresponders -- a series of emails that release automatically each time you add new contacts to a designated list. It may also provide integrations with your CRM, website or social media accounts to simplify adding new subscribers to your email account. There are bound to be features you can use so check them out.
Carefully craft your subject lines. Don’t slough off subject lines as unimportant. While studies show that emails are opened first based on who they are from, subject line is a close second. When you’re drafting ideas, strive to create urgency and curiosity; tailor your text so it’s relevant to your readers; and tease with what makes your email an interesting read. Read this post, 164 Email Subject Lines to Boost Your Email Open Rates, for inspiration.
Set reasonable expectations. Most companies launch an email program for two reasons: they need a system for keeping in front of their existing buyers and they want to generate new business.
Some email programs quickly lead to inquiries and conversations that turn into sales. When it happens, it’s easy to think, “Wow – that email accomplished a lot. We need to send more emails.” But your email program on its own will never be a rainmaker. No matter how engaging and stunning an email campaign might be, it isn’t solely responsible for generating sales. If you think it is – or should be -- you’re setting yourself up for disappointment in the months to come. What likely happened is your first email served as a catalyst, leading a select group of people who already knew about your company, your quality offerings and your strong customer support, to reach out. If you plan to build on that experience, you’ve got a good understanding of how to make the most of an email program.