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Email Marketing Best Practices



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Email marketing is a tool that every business owner should utilize to build brand awareness, customer loyalty, and lead generation. But it isn’t as simple as launching a campaign every month and hoping for the best, and there certainly isn’t a one size fits all approach to developing a strategy that actually gets more customers in the door.
Your product is unique, your customer base is unique and your email campaigns must be tailored to reflect the distinctiveness that is your brand and audience. It is important for business owners to develop and test every tool that they have at their disposal so that the strategy they use can be refined to reflect changes in technology and consumer culture.

Email marketing is a tool with measurable results and in this day and age, it is imperative for business owners to regularly test their strategy to ensure that they are keeping up with their competitors. The key to getting the most out of email marketing is first understanding each element that makes up a single campaign, testing those elements regularly, and applying the information yielded to build an effective strategy.

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Email Marketing Best Practices

  2. 2. Email marketing is a tool that every business owner should utilize to build brand awareness, customer loyalty, and lead generation. But it isn’t as simple as launching a campaign every month and hoping for the best, and there certainly isn’t a one size fits all approach to developing a strategy that actually gets more customers in the door. Your product is unique, your customer base is unique and your email campaigns must be tailored to reflect the distinctiveness that is your brand and audience. It is important for business owners to develop and test every tool that they have at their disposal so that the strategy they use can be refined to reflect changes in technology and consumer culture. Email marketing is a tool with measurable results and in this day and age, it is imperative for business owners to regularly test their strategy to ensure that they are keeping up with their competitors. The key to getting the most out of email marketing is first understanding each element that makes up a single campaign, testing those elements regularly, and applying the information yielded to build an effective strategy. Source: Why should business owners invest so much of their time in developing an effective email strategy? The short answer is, it works. The numbers don’t lie. 72%prefer companies to communicate with them via email. 23%purposely leave their online transactions pending in an attempt to take advantage of any coupons they can obtain from retailers before closing the sale. 25.1%of all transactions carried-out on Black Friday were driven by email marketing in 2015.
  3. 3. As a productive person in 2016, you probably receive a ton of emails every day. Few people have the time (or care enough) to open every email they receive. There might have even been an instance in which you were so swamped that you ignored an email from your own mother. SUBJECT LINES In this day and age, it is imperative that your subject line is able to captivate the recipient while maintaining brevity. If the person receiving your email feels as though their time is being wasted from the get-go, why would they bother to explore your message further? A high open rate is indicative of a successful email marketing campaign, but more importantly, it is the benchmark of a business owner that understands their customer base. Picture yourself sifting through a bunch of personal emails on a Monday following a week-long vacation. You haven’t bothered to check your Gmail account because you were busy soaking in the sun and sipping on margaritas without a care in the world. Now it’s Monday. You’re back at work putting out several fires that have occurred during your getaway, you’re trying to muster up the courage to take a look at your bank account and you finally have found a moment for a bite to eat. As you sift through your emails on your 5-minute lunch break, are you going to find the time for an email with a subject line like, “FREE, FREE, TOTALLY FREE!!!!” The answer is, presumably, a resounding “no way in hell.”
  4. 4. So what could catch your eye on a day like this? Here are a few subject lines that we think broke the mold and could yield a highly coveted open from a hypothetical sad-sack such as yourself: Don’t Open This Email – Manicube You’re Missing Out on Points – JetBlue Let’s go back to exasperated, hypothetical you on that foreboding Monday afternoon. This subject line is ambiguously titillating and is likely to make you stop sobbing into your sandwich and say, “Wait, what?” This subject line also works because it tells us not to do something. As humans, we have an innate impulse to defy a vague, inexplicable order. The success of this subject line hinges on the wager that most people will see it, pause, and say “I’ll open whatever email I want, Manicube. Don’t tell me how to live my life”. What Can You Afford? – Zillow This subject line is effective because it stimulates the recipients’ emotions. It holds up a mirror to the person who finds it in their inbox and immediately puts them on the defensive. It also evokes a feeling of urgency. “What can I afford?” they may ask themselves, puzzled and intrigued. This subject line is a great example of inciting interest without giving too much away. Humans are inherently self-interested. Your subject line should function as a promise that is delivered by the message of your broadcast. A subject line that implies the recipient is missing out on something is likely to illicit a feeling that justice has been miscarried and more importantly, prompts an involuntary urge within them to act now to ensure that they receive what they deserve.
  5. 5. What these examples have in common is that they are unique, and they reflect their creators’ extensive knowledge of the consumer’s psyche. We are insecure, defiant, curious, and passionate and hate feeling like we are not in the proverbial loop, or being short-changed. It is your job as a business owner to play on those universal characteristics and use it your advantage.
  6. 6. It is easy to allow the content of your email campaign become the predominant concern during the design process after all, as long as customers see that your offer will be of some benefit to them, who has time to worry about the colors and fonts that are used? Just get the point of the broadcast across to your customers and you are on Easy Street, right? Wrong! Your email campaign should be aesthetically appealing and draw customers in with your choice of colors, images and fonts. Emails that look outdated or are flat-out ugly will cause recipients to question the legitimacy of the offer and your business as a whole. Your customers are constantly inundated with advertisements from billion dollar companies that can afford to pay the best designers to create top-of-the-line visual content. You want the recipients of your emails to consider your business one of the top dogs, and it all starts with your design! An email that is carefully designed and strategically arranged will get your point across and as a bonus, suggest to the recipient that your business is all about professionalism. There are a number of important factors to consider regarding the design of your email marketing campaign, but there are some basic guidelines that can be followed when it comes to color, font choice and the images that you choose. DESIGN
  7. 7. Digital marketing is about creating brand recognition. In an ideal world, customers would see an email from your business in their inbox and say to themselves, “Yes! I love that place – I am going there right now to give them my money!” Unfortunately, we live in the real world, and customers are always skeptical of an offer, sale or discount. This “What’s the catch?” mentality is what makes branding and consistency so important when it comes to digital marketing. While it is hard to become trusted enough that customers immediately suspend their disbelief when they receive an email from your business, strategic design can make you more familiar in their eyes and keep your brand fresh in their brains. This is where color comes into play. When choosing the right colors to use for a broadcast, you must consider your own branding. You want the primary colors that are being used to reflect the colors that are immediately associated with your business. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it is easy to allow details, such as an up- coming holiday or the offer itself, to muddy the waters of your branded design. We aren’t saying that different colors should never be used – you should have fun with your designs and use colors to your advantage so that your email pops! But it is important that there is an element of brand consistency in every broadcast so that customers recognize your business from the jump. Another good rule of thumb is to keep it simple when it comes to your color scheme. Although all of the colors of the rainbow are beautiful, try to stick to three or four colors at the most. Don’t allow your color scheme to overshadow the content of your email! COLOR
  8. 8. This example exemplifies the use of color to promote Sysco’s brand while still using vibrant images to draw the recipient’s attention. Notice the separation between sections that are predominantly blue and green and the sections that feature a multitude of colors. This allows for an interesting, eye-catching broadcast that isn’t saturated with too much color.
  9. 9. The use of color-branding in this example is much more subtle than the previous example, but it still follows a similar formula. The colors in the logo are represented minimally at the top, but then in the “Daily Events” section (the section we are most likely to notice last) the colors are revisited. This is effective because instead of merely listing the events, the colors remind the recipient of the brand.
  10. 10. Choosing the correct font is another pivotal aspect of email design that is often overlooked. The legibility of your message is of the importance! Choosing a font is about finding the perfect balance between readability, emphasis when appropriate, and reinforcing brand recognition. Using too many fonts will distract and inhibit the message of the email from being understood. If your customers are distracted by your font choices, it is unlikely that they will take the time to savor the meat and potatoes of your email campaign. Your main goal is to get the reader to focus on the content in front of them. It is best to limit your font to two different styles, creating an aesthetic hierarchy. This allows recipients to quickly glance at the email and understand the main point of the marketing material. The first font style should be considered your headline font. Its purpose is to get the main point across to the email recipient. Phrases like, Buy one, get one free, and 50% off, will be written using the headline font. This text will exist to get the recipient’s attention and urge them to investigate your broadcast further. Headlines will typically be larger, bolder, and relatively more emphasized. The font you choose for your headline should also be easy to read. Your customer is not going to take any extra time than they see fit to decipher your message. The second font style will be your body, or complimentary font. This font style will be used to include any details that are secondary. The idea is that the recipient will immediately notice the primary message and understand the layout of the email based on the arrangement of the information. The way blocks of text are arranged in an email is referred to as readability. Remember that contrast is your friend! Utilizing space and different font styles is a good way to ensure that your message is being conveyed clearly in an efficient manner. If a customer understands your message, they’re more likely to pay attention to your brand. FONT
  11. 11. SERIF VS. SANS SERIF Serif fonts are those which have lines added to the edges of letters. Times New Roman is an example of a serif font.A Sans serif fonts are those that do not have lines added to the edges of letters. Calibri is an example of a sans serif font.A Sans serif fonts translate better on the web due to the fact that the text is being viewed on a computer monitor which only has a screen resolution of 100 dots per inch. Sans serif fonts are easier to read on a computer because they translate better in small sizes than serif fonts. For the most part, it is best to stick to using sans serif fonts for email campaigns, especially for headline text.
  12. 12. This use of alternating texts with different weights is effective in this broadcast because our eyes are immediately directed to the phrase “save money.” There is less weight on the phrase “with these specials” and then we naturally look at the coupons below. The various services that are offered are displayed in a much smaller font. Even though these menial details are displayed at the very top of the broadcast, this designer’s font choices dictate where our eyes are drawn.
  13. 13. The use of font in this email is effective because the first thing you see is, “Pick a Cord. Any Cord.” This grabs your attention. The use of contrast with the smaller, italicized “See what’s new in corduroy,” and bringing back the more commanding font for the call to action is an effective use of space and emphasis in smart places. The arrangement of the different font choices in this broadcast is effective because we are naturally drawn to the main message of the email – “Give Blood.” We then notice the supplementary message of, “Do something amazing today.” This works because we immediately understand the point of the broadcast, and recipients that are interested will more than likely add to this campaign’s click through rate.
  14. 14. One of the more rewarding aspects of designing an email campaign is seeking out the perfect image to accompany your content. A good image for an email marketing campaign has the ability to compliment the text and entice the recipient. When you include an image in an email marketing campaign, you should do so in an attempt to bring your content to life, and you should be careful not to allow an image to detract from your message. The perfect image is often illusive, and it is sometimes even harder to use the image correctly when it is identified. Whatever image you choose, you should try to remember the value of simplicity. One focal point that embodies the message you are trying to convey will suffice. The placement of an image within an email can make or break your campaign as a whole. For instance, you never want a single image to take up the entire top half of the email. It should be seamlessly blended with your logo and the main selling point of your email campaign. You want the image to be tied to your brand and supplement the call to action. IMAGES
  15. 15. Images have the ability evoke emotion in the recipient and are an important part of email marketing today. The right image doesn’t just strengthen your content; it can define your brand. A timeless marketing-practice is the use of human beings to sell a product. We like to be able to identify with what we are seeing. We like to say, “Hey, that guy’s just like me! Strikingly handsome, strong, intelligent and he likes…Folger’s Coffee…I love Folger’s Coffee!” Using people to market your product humanizes your business. However, there is an art to including people in your broadcasts. The goal is to guide the recipient’s eye to your message. An effective practice is arranging the image so that the person included in your email is facing the offer. Again, the idea is to guide the recipients’ eyes – not distract.
  16. 16. The fact is, the bells and whistles of your marketing campaign are useless without a compelling message. If your broadcasts are devoid of well-written content, you will begin to notice your number of opens diminish along with your contact list. It is important to keep in mind who you are writing for – your customers! This may seem like an obvious, benign, or even irrelevant reminder, but writing good email copy hinges on this way of thinking. A good rule of thumb is to write in the second person as much as possible. Making references to the customer and alluding to what they are going to get by acknowledging your broadcast is key. Which sounds better to you? COPY EXAMPLE 1 “Our chili can wash away the Winter Blues! Moving Targets Chili is made with only the finest ingredients that we hand prepare on-site daily. Now until the end of February, enjoy a bowl for just $2.99!” EXAMPLE 2 “Warm up this winter with our Chili! You can save $3.00 on a bowl of Chili now until the end of February! We know you care about quality, which is why our chili is made with only the finest ingredients.” How to write for email: At this point, you may be thinking to yourself, “Alright, alright we get it. The goal is to draw the recipient’s attention to your message. Are you ever going to talk about the freaking message!?!” Example 1 is hell-bent on talking up the brand, while Example 2 focuses on the customer. Example 2 demonstrates to the recipient why the broadcast should be of interest to them, while Example 1 assumes an air of, “We’re the best. You should already know that.” By writing directly to the recipient, you are appealing to his/her self-interested tendencies. You are telling them, “Here is what we want to give you,” rather than “Here is what we have.”
  17. 17. Brevity is also an important aspect of copywriting for an email marketing campaign. The main message of your broadcast should be conveyed quickly and smoothly. Business owners are often tempted to try and cram an entire novel into their broadcast; after all, we need to convey the whole message, right? Most people will merely skim an email in search of an important point to determine whether or not they need to take action. The main message of your broadcast should actually be a summary of what your customer is going to receive. Of course it is important to include details, but the goal is to pique the recipient’s interest enough so that they feel compelled to explore your message further. This is where links are your friends! If there are a lot of stipulations that need to be noted in your message, provide a link to your landing page with relevant information included. If you can direct a sizable amount of your customers to the website for more information, your copy was effective!
  18. 18. CALL TO ACTION WARNING: The following paragraph may or may not (it does) contain a trite marketing cliché. Possible side effects include intense eye-rolling and vomiting. Just humor us for crying out loud! Sending an email marketing campaign can be looked at as fishing. The ocean in which you are trying to catch a juicy flounder represents your customer database and the big, juicy fish swimming around represent your customers! So far, we tied the hook (created a compelling subject line), baited the line (developed a strong design), cast the line (composed effective copy and successfully conveyed a message that the recipient understands), and got a bite (customers are opening our campaign). Congratulations – the flounder, stripers, and cod are clamoring for what is on the end of your fishing pole! Now, all we need to do is reel- in our customer and reap the benefits of our successful campaign. This is where our call-to-action comes into play! Pedestrian metaphors aside, including an easily identifiable call-to-action is a simple, yet pivotal step that can make your email marketing campaign infinitely stronger. You don’t want to successfully gain the recipient’s attention to the point that they understand your message, only to leave them sitting there puzzled, wondering “Yeah, I get that…but so what? What now?”
  19. 19. This is an example of an effective call-to- action. The button provided is large, the verbiage is concise, and it is a clear message to the recipient that action is required. When creating a call-to-action, it is best to avoid generalizations. For instance, a less effective choice of words would be something like, “More Details,” or “Learn More.” The call-to-action should be a short, yet definitive statement to the customer. In Nursery School, the rule was always, “Don’t boss others around. Don’t tell people what to do.” Creating a call-to- action requires the opposite. Be sure to boss people around and tell them what to do when implementing a call-to-action. The call-to-action should act as a brief instruction that directs your recipient to the right place.
  20. 20. CLICK THROUGH RATES The click through rate of an email campaign is a calculation of the percentage of recipients who received a broadcast that actually bit (there’s that ground breaking fishing analogy again!) on your call to action and clicked on a link. The same way that a high open rate is indicative of a strong subject line, a high click through rate demonstrates that a particular campaign has efficient copy writing and a strong call-to-action. Examining your click through rate allows you to audit your campaigns because it provides you with a concrete figure regarding the number of subscribers that find your marketing content to be useful. As an email marketer, it is important to scrutinize readily available statistics, because it is often the most accurate appraisal of what works, and what doesn’t.
  21. 21. AUTORESPONDERS Why it’s important for customers to opt in With regard to the debate between digital marketing experts about the merits of social media marketing vs. email marketing, the former has been lauded as the proverbial “Golden Child” for several years. However, there is something inherently intimate about an individual’s personal email account that just doesn’t seem to apply equally to their social media accounts. To subscribe to a business’s email list is a major declaration of trust and allegiance. In the eyes of your run-of-the-mill customer, it is his or her way of saying, “I’ve used or consumed your product(s) at least once. I didn’t absolutely hate it the one or more times I used or consumed your product(s). I will allow you to occasionally bother me, the most important person in the world, via email. I, the most important person in the world, can’t promise that I won’t completely forget that I subscribed to your email list a month after doing so and become inconsolable when I receive exactly what I signed up for in my inbox.” All kidding and pent-up animosity aside, it really is a vote of confidence in a business’s product when a customer subscribes to receive emails from that business. This is why email marketing experts choose to set up autoresponders.
  22. 22. Aside from the fact that autoresponders save email marketers a ton of time (could you imagine sending a “thanks for subscribing” email manually every time a new customer signed up?), autoresponders show the customer gratitude for their decision to sign up for your email list and often reward them for that decision. It is also a warm introduction to your brand that will familiarize your customer early-on in your relationship. Autoresponders are pre-scheduled emails that are sent automatically when a particular action or trigger is performed by a user involving his or her email address. Your customer should receive an autoresponder like this one shortly after they sign up for your email list.
  23. 23. Giving subscribers the opportunity to opt in perpetuates a feeling of trust in your business and legitimizes your email marketing to them. It’s your way of saying, “Thanks for signing up! We only want to send emails to people who want to receive them, so confirm your subscription.” Many businesses like to include an offer when they gain a new subscriber to appreciation for signing up. This email is a good example of this tactic.
  24. 24. LANDING PAGES Landing pages can be extremely useful when they are implemented effectively. Landing pages allow you to showcase your products, draw customers to your website, and provide customers with a more comprehensive explanation of your email copy. Landing pages are useful, for example, if you are promoting a particular event that requires a reservation.
  25. 25. The use of this landing page is effective because it is short and sweet and it directly refers to the call-to-action. The email recipient has clicked on the text that says, “Make a reservation!” Unless the recipient is redirected to a page that unequivocally corresponds with the call-to-action, they are unlikely to stick around and search for the necessary form to make a reservation for the dinner. For instance, if the link redirected to the restaurant’s homepage instead of the reservation page, the average user would feel as though they needed to go the extra mile to actually make the reservation. More than likely, this would result in a significantly lower conversion rate for this offer. A simple landing page that caters to a short attention span and lack of patience is key. The Email The Landing Page
  26. 26. TESTING Email marketing is such an amazing tool for businesses to utilize for a number of reasons. One of the main reasons, however, is the fact that multiple aspects of your marketing strategy can be tested, allowing you to make adjustments based on reliable data.
  27. 27. A/B Testing is an effective method for testing your online marketing strategies because it allows you to test separate elements of particular campaigns, identify the most effective strategies, and combine them. You can test images, calls-to- action, subject lines, design style, landing pages, and even the format of your broadcast. Suppose for instance, you wanted to test one subject line against another. The first subject line might be, “Product A on Sale!” while the other is “Discounts on Product A.” Tracking the open rate each subject line yields will determine which subject line is more effective. Analyzing your statistics is the first step in determining what elements of your marketing efforts should be tested. For instance, if you happen to notice that click through rates are down, the most logical conclusion would be an A/B test for your call-to-action. A/B TESTING
  28. 28. Based on research conducted by in 2015, 15 to 70% of email opens will be recorded from a tablet or smartphone. This changing of the guard dictates that email marketers must adjust and be prepared to design email campaigns so that they are viewable on all platforms. This adjustment can be referred to as responsive design. Responsive design uses media queries to ensure that size adjustments are made to images, text, and other elements of your broadcast accordingly so that your message gets across to the recipient the way that it is intended to appear. This change effects the way campaigns are designed. For example, before the integration of mobile email, marketers only needed to account for the design on a desktop platform. As long as the images and fonts were proportionate on a desktop, customers would have no problem viewing their campaign. Now, font and image size must respond to several different email platforms and different sizes of smartphones and tablets. TESTING RESPONSIVE DESIGN One of the most important aspects of testing you will conduct is ensuring that your broadcasts are translating on a mobile or tablet platform.
  29. 29. We suggest that email marketers test their campaigns using one of the many email testing services available for free online. Most of these services typically provide the user with an image of how their broadcast will appear on nearly every desktop email application, but how the email will appear on smartphones and tablets as well.
  30. 30. Social media has been instrumental in the growth of email marketing and has been a catalyst in business owners’ ability to grow their email database faster than ever before. If you are a business owner that sends email marketing campaigns and are not taking advantage of social media advertising to yield new subscribers, you are missing out! The future is now! Particularly, Facebook offers a Custom Audience feature which allows business owners to reach a much larger group of potential subscribers. The way this feature functions is simple: a business owner simply uploads a spreadsheet containing their contact database. The business owner then tailors their own Facebook-generated custom audience by incorporating stipulating characteristics such as interests, age, and location. Facebook will then be able to create a “lookalike” audience that shares characteristics with your existing database. Once this process is complete, the business owner will create a Facebook ad to target these lookalike leads. The ad will provide them with a link that directs them to a landing page where the new potential customer may subscribe to the business’s email list. List-building tools such as the custom audience feature in Facebook is a new step in integrating email and social media marketing to work together. The merger of these two marketing platforms is an invaluable innovation that every smart business over should attempt to take advantage of. Your database is never big enough, so you should use any tool at your disposal to bolster your contact list! USING DATA FOR SOCIAL ADVERTISING
  31. 31. Effective email marketing can accomplish a number of things for your business. It informs your customers and demonstrates that you care about them, and it keeps your brand fresh in their minds. Most importantly, it has the ability to get more customers in the door and keep your business booming! Creating a marketing strategy that works well for your business is crucial in this day and age, and it is important to ensure that you are appealing to the sensibilities of the modern consumer. A successful email campaign is a relatively cost-effective resource that any business owner can use to grow their brand and build loyalty amongst their customers. An effective email campaign can also be the difference between 20 and 50 customers that decide to make a purchase!
  32. 32. Something else we can help you with? Just ask, We love marketing, we do this every day.
  33. 33. Veteran Experience. Modern Perspective. 800.926.2451