11 Email Marketing Best Practices To Drive Engagement in 2021
Written By Tyler Riddell
Twenty-Twenty-one is going to be challenging, but optimism will help fuel our endeavors to achieve greater success! With that in mind, it is time to get more out of your email marketing program and impact the Top of the Funnel, Bottom of the Funnel, and every buyer stage in between.
Email marketing is one of the best channels to engage target audiences and nurture them to accelerate customer acquisition. Unlike Paid Media, you have much more control in targeting, message delivery to drive your sales and customer success efforts.
There are definitive strategies for you to follow to improve your chances for success this year. Below are eleven tips to ramp up your email marketing program this year.
1. Create A Campaign Overview
Your campaign overview is a roadmap (develop in a Word Doc) for you to build out your email marketing program. One off emails are not recommended, so you need to document your goals, who, what, the cadence, and call to actions for each email.
One primary recommendation is to develop your emails into a storyline with a progressive value offering then ask for something. Have you heard of the jab, jab, jab, right hook method by Gary Vaynerchuk?
2. Segment your Database
Email segmentation helps develop sub-lists so you can tailor messaging to these personas or market segments. Start tagging sources and adding fields that define your audience into categories. It’s essential that messaging is personalized and relevant to market segments based on a set criterion (markets, buyers, influencers, etc.)
Major benefits include:
When you create segments, you can send more personalized and relevant emails and pillar content to prospects and customers based on similar interests, geography, purchase history, etc. This leads to a higher open rate, click rate, and customer conversation rates, translating into increased revenue.
3. Automate Your Email Campaigns
Automating email campaigns means that you can set up multiple emails to run in a sequence with a pre-defined workflow and cadence. Once you set up the campaign, it runs on autopilot. Multiple personalized emails can be sent at the right time with the right message to the right people. An automation email campaign can save your team hours and hours of manual tasks.
An example of an automated email marketing campaign is when someone downloads an eBook on your website and receives weekly article emails discussing the same topic for the next two months. Countless marketing research studies have proven that email click and open rates increase 6X when you develop high-value nurturing drips for subscribers than one-off promotional emails.
There many email automation campaigns that you can build for your firm:
— Cart abandonments
— Welcome subscriber, Sign Up or Thank You for the download
— Confirmation of an opt-in
— Event triggers – such as birthday or anniversary
— Power webpage visited on your website
— “We miss you” emails if a customer has not opened an email in a few months
— Webinar, eBook, Job Title, Market Segment
Automated email campaigns save you a ton a time and deliver better results, but even auto-pilots need analysis and optimization to improve results. You always want to have the mindset to try to improve outcomes.
Try sending a spot survey and offer a promotional incentive to get them to participate.
4. Emails Need to Be Engaging
Create emails that are engaging and interesting, not Spammy. There are technical and communicative hurdles to overcome to develop engaging emails. Remember, you are fighting through the noise, so Email subject lines should be eight words or less. Develop clear and concise text (bullets, CTAs) with very few graphics early in your campaigns to ensure that your prospect trusts your email and will engage.
Firewalls prevent most graphics and ensuring deliverability are issues to consider part of your email strategy. Most important is to keep your content relevant and consistent with your brand and use your subject line and auto preview to be concise.
5. Develop Call to Actions
Start with developing a list of Calls to Action (CTAs) in your new email program overview. CTAs are the most crucial result or action you want the recipient to take, highlighting them three times in the email (link, button, etc.) Even for sales enablement emails, there needs to be a CTA (subscribe, download, read on, etc.) because this a critical element for you to assess the email campaign delivering business value. Even “Thank You” emails should include an additional list of resources that the recipient might enjoy, such as hyperlinking to other blog or resource articles.
The goal is to increase engagement (e.g., at your online store, website, resource center, etc.) until they are ready to buy. The more prospects engage with your brand, the less they will be engaging with your competition. Why? They are getting more value from you.
6. Confirming Opt-in & Email Collection
Adding more contacts or leads to your database is the fuel for your email campaigns. A best practice is to build signup forms via a landing page on all your social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter) and other digital channels (e.g., referral websites).
Create a slick landing page loaded with reasons for the user to want to sign up. Also, remember to set up a Thank You confirmation email to confirm their email (and subscriber options if you are that sophisticated) to increase the quality of emails in your database. This also helps improve response rates.
Progressive profiling can also improve segmentation, which is when you send automated survey questions to provide more targeted content.
7. Clean Your Email List
Another effective best practice for email marketing is to clean your database. Many email solutions charge you fees based on the number of records in your database, so it’s a waste of money to send to dead records. Other more essential benefits to cleaning out bounces include:
— Improving your reputation as a good sender.
— Eliminating potential spam complaints.
— Improving your open/click rates because those bounces are removed from the total number of delivered emails.
Another best practice for cleaning your email list is to remove contacts that have never engaged with your emails over a specific period after you have sent two “we miss you” clawback emails. Let us say, three months. You need to clean your email list of “hard bounces” weekly.
8. Do Not Use a No-Reply Email Address
Sending email from a “no-reply” email address does not build trust with your audience, so why do it. Would you open an email (email@example.com) that you have no idea how to contact them?
A few reasons for not sending from a “no-reply” address include decreasing deliverability and increases chances of being lables as spam. Lastly, you are creating a poor customer experience because who will they reply.
Instead of having a “no-reply” email address, you need to create a dedicated email from a person or department (e.g., firstname.lastname@example.org, Webinars@domain.com, Go-Acme@domain.com, etc.). Either way, to ensure your customers or prospects have questions answered promptly, make sure you have someone actively managing this email address.
9. Test Emails Before Sending
Emails reflect your brand—both positively and negatively. The sales team was ripe with sending out emails with poor grammar and mistakes at a previous employer. It wasn’t a surprise that they underperformed, but we altered our QC processes to ensure sales emails met the same standards as marketing emails. Whether you are creating marketing email campaigns or sales enablement email templates, always (1) proof-read and (2) test. These are critical steps before pressing “send” or “publishing,” making the templates available to others.
Most email platforms allow for single testing emails. It is also a best practice to load seed emails into email marketing drip campaigns as a safety precaution. In a drip-email campaign, you can make changes before the second or third email goes out, which can mitigate big headaches.
Set up your checklist to review these elements:
— Send yourself a test email
— Is the email is rendering properly
— Are Images loading
— Add Alt text for your images to indicate what they are
— Check for spelling mistakes
— Check hyperlinks and CTA buttons point to pages
— Does it look good on mobile and desktop?
— Does it pass your Spam Checker?
10. A/B Split Test Your Email Campaigns
A/B Testing is when you send one email with slightly different elements to a subset of your target audience, with the results determining which email to send to the larger audience.
Not all email platforms offer this feature, so that you may execute it manually.
If you want to remarkable email experience for your prospects or customers, you need to split test. But what should you test?
Here a few suggestions:
— Different subject line messages
— Image vs. no image
— Different color call to action button – Green is a strong recommendation
— Time of day, week – Review your current trends.
— Short subject line vs. long subject line
— Short email message vs. long email message
— Email From Line – a person, department, company name
— Testing helps you understand your audience better, which will lead to a better experience and response rates.
Remember, once your test is done, analyze your stats. Let the winner run.
11. Analyze Your Email Marketing Stats
Without some level of analysis, you will never improve your email campaign results. You also need to consider the target audience and the source for which you’re collecting the emails. For example, if you mix ZoomInfo and Apollo emails without identifiers or create separate lists within your own data, how do you know which source brings you more business?
Therefore, segmentation and tagging records are extremely critical before you press “send.”
Best practices to understand how your emails are performing involve reviewing the following statistics.
There are many other states, but these are the core. In parenthesis, you can use some of these assumptions in correlating the results:
— Open Rate (Subject Line, Interest, Timing, Trusted Source (you)
— Click Rate (Value prop, Timing, and CTAs in body text)
— Delivery Rate (Good Email Records, Good Sender, Trusted Source (you))
— Unsubscribe Rate (Poor Fit, Not Interested)
— High Bounce Rate (Bad Email Records – Find another source, or increase security on your forms – Keep your Bounces below 2%)
Email marketing is not rocket science, but it requires your attention and resources to do it right and get better results. By following these email marketing best practices, you will start seeing your business grow — and have some fun during the journey.
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