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23 best practices for email marketing

Make sure you're up to date on the latest best practices for this strategy.



How does email marketing work

Take a look at the basic mechanics of this popular online marketing system.



How to get emails for email marketing
Struggling to build a big email list? This article will show how you attract more subscribers.


Is email marketing effective for your small business
Take a look at some of the reasons why you should invest your time and money into email marketing.


What is email marketing
New to this strategy? Take the time to read the basics on how to conduct this strategy.

Related Categories
Top Email Marketing Software

How To Create An Email

Marketing Campaign

Email marketing, simply put, is the act of using email to send out content to customers. Businesses of any size can use email marketing to stay in touch with their customers – and the facts show that businesses of any size should be using email marketing.

Check out our Top 10 Email Marketing Software Comparison Table to see the best tools from a bird's eye view...

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Email ROI

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Research has shown time and time again that email marketing has a fantastic return on investment (ROI) compared to other types of marketing. For example, a businesses is six times more likely to see a click through from an email campaign than from a tweet. That means that email marketing is often a more effective choice for businesses than social media.

As well as giving a fantastic ROI, email marketing is particularly good when it comes to boosting customer retention. Part of the reason for this is that email is more likely to get seen – and in this day and age when customers are bombarded by hundreds of marketing messages on a daily basis, getting seen is absolutely vital. Around 90% of email ends up in the right inbox, whereas only 2% of customers typically see each business' Facebook posts in their newsfeed.

A Versatile Marketing Method

Email marketing can be used to send out a wide variety of content:

•Special offers

•Previews of upcoming products

•Hints tips or tricks

•Informative content such as white papers

•A free mini e-course

•Follow up emails after a purchases

•Event reminders

•Subscription information

And much more. The versatility of email is a great part of why it's so vital for businesses. With careful planning, a business can easily build an effective email marketing campaign that grabs and keeps their customers' attention. This ultimately means more loyal customers and increased sales. The key to a successful email marketing campaign is marketing automation.

Automation Makes Email Easier

Marketing automation software is software that lets businesses plan their email campaign in advance and decide:

•What will get sent

•To whom it will be sent

•When it will be delivered

•How many follow up messages will be sent

A business can decide when to email a customer based on an action they have taken, such as a purchase, or based on any number of other trigger points such as a nearly expired subscription or length of time as a customer. Email automation software lets a business break down their list by a wide variety of categories. Using the software, a business can build a campaign that is relevant for each individual customer, then simply relax knowing the software will take care of the rest. It's easy to learn and no specialist coding knowledge is needed.

Here's how a business can use email marketing software to execute a successful email marketing campaign:

Sign Up To An Email Provider

There are many email marketing software providers, such as Aweber, ConvertKit, ActiveCampaign and StreamSend. All of the main email providers offer similar functionality, although a business should always check out the exact specs to make sure they're choosing the best software for their needs. For the purposes of this article, screenshots are taken from Aweber's software.

Aweber Signup

The sign up process is generally quick and easy – a simple case of filling out business contact and payment details.

Aweber Dashboard

Once sign up is complete, new users can log in and start getting familiar with their dashboard. The dashboard lets users see at a glance what campaigns they have running, and provides easily accessible links for list and message creation, sign up forms and much more.

With email marketing software, businesses can keep track of their subscribers and email campaigns all in one place. There's no risk of forgetting to send an important email, or duplicating an email, because everything can be checked over and fine tuned before a campaign is executed.

Create A List

good email marketing service makes it easy for a business to create a list of recipients for their emails.

Email List Creation

Creating a list isn't just a case of feeding email addresses into the software, however. A business that wants to see success with email marketing needs to segment their email lists so that each email is highly targeted to the recipient. A business might choose to break down their list by:

•Demographics such as age or gender

•Geographical location or nearest store

•Favorite products

•Length of time as a customer

•Purchase history

When a business segments their list in this way, they ensure that customers are only going to receive emails that are truly relevant to them. This is important.


Research has shown that 77% of the ROI of an email campaign comes from segmented, targeted and triggered campaigns.

Careful list segmentation leads to better success with email campaigns. Segmentation allows a business to carefully nurture each lead, based on their stage in the buying cycle. For example, a business might email new customers with information that slowly introduces them to all the ways in which the products or services on offer can improve their lives. Long standing customers might receive emails with new products that, based on their purchase history, they are likely to enjoy, and so on.

A Word On Buying Lists

For businesses who are new to email marketing, it can be tempting to buy a list of email addresses, so that their email list builds up more quickly. This is a big mistake and should be avoided at any cost.

It's worth noting that 95% of customers who opt into email messages from brands find those messages useful. The key here is the opting in part, Customers look forward to receiving messages from brands that they have chosen to engage with.

On the other hand, unsolicited messages from brands are likely to annoy customers and drive them away rather than encourage them to spend.

If that wasn't bad enough, purchased lists may contain unsafe emails of unknown origins, or email addresses that have been scrubbed for hard bounces, meaning that both the reputation of a business' IP address and the deliverability of their emails is at stake.

Make It Easy To Sign Up

It's clear that building an email list is better done without cutting corners. It takes a little longer to build a list from scratch, but it's worth it for the payoff: A list of customers who have chosen to opt In and who will be happy to receive emails.

Building a list of customers who want to receive emails can reap impressive rewards for a business. Emails prompt purchases at a greater rate than most other marketing methods – at least three times the rate of social media – plus customers who click through and purchase from an email tend to spend more.

Email Signup

The question for most businesses is, how can they get subscribers to sign up to their lists? The best way is through creating and displaying an email sign up form. Most email marketing software includes a form creator, which businesses can use to build a personalized form for display.

Email Form

Once the form is built, it's simple enough to grab the code and paste it wherever the form is to be displayed. Some great places to display a sign up form on a website include:

•The top of the sidebar

•The footer

•The header

•In a feature box

•After a specific blog post

•In a pop up

•On the about page

A clearly visible email sign up form is the best way for a business to build an email list. Businesses should be sure to add a call to action near the form letting subscribers know what they'll gain from handing over their email address, such as useful information, exclusive offers, the latest product news and so on.

Set Up An Autoresponder

An autoresponder is a specific series of emails that are sent out on a schedule in response to a specific trigger. Autoresponders are most commonly used for new subscribers.

Emails that are sent out in response to a certain trigger garner more opens and click throughs than any other type of email, which means they stand to generate more revenue.

Auto Responder

Autoresponders can be carefully crafted to drip feed the recipient information about the business, product or service. Because they're sent out as a set rather than a one off email, they stand a better chance of bringing the business to the forefront of the customer's mind. Sometimes more is more – studies have shown that sending for emails rather than just one in a month boost the number of emails that get opened. Autoresponders tap into this by keeping the customer engaged and encouraging them to get to know and trust the business. This builds a long lasting relationship rather than going straight for the hard sell.

Buiild Email Content

Email marketing software is a wonderful tool, but creating a fantastic email campaign is a little like cooking a gourmet meal – the food will only be as good as the ingredients. Email software makes it easy for a business to grow and segment their list, and get the right emails in front of the right customers. The content of the email is absolutely key to success, however.

Each email needs the highest quality content if it's to inspire further action from the customer.

Subject Line

A killer subject line is an absolute must. The subject line makes the difference between whether an email gets read or not. Word choice is key – for example, “secrets” is the most clicked lead nurturing subject line in the world. The subject line needs to entice the reader by offering, for example:

•A fantastic deal

•Useful information

•The secrets to success

•A brand new product

•A healthier life

•Increased happiness

Or whatever the customer most wants and needs. For added effect, businesses can use their email software to personalize their content – emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened.

The body of the email itself needs to be packed full of high quality and useful content. Using email software, businesses can build attractive emails using images, headings and bullet points to break up the email and make it easy to scan.
Finally, an email should end with a call to action. This can be hard (“click here to take advantage of this special offer”) or soft (“keep an eye on your inbox for more useful tips coming your way”), but should encourage the customer to connect with and anticipate messages from the business.

Schedule and Send

The final stage of an email campaign is, of course, sending … or is it?

Email marketing software makes it easy for a business to schedule multiple emails ahead of time for maximum effectiveness. Managing each campaign is as simple as logging into the dashboard and seeing what is scheduled, and adjusting as need be.

Once the email is sent, is the campaign over? No, there is one final stage: evaluation. Most email software providers offer in depth metrics that allow a business to look at subscribe and unsubscribe rates, click through rates, open rates and more, so they an truly assess how well their campaign is doing.

Email Gets The Message Across

With 92% of online adults using email, and 61% checking it every day, it's clear that customers are using email, and businesses need to be too.

Email is a cost effective way for businesses to build customer loyalty and ultimately improve their bottom line. With 57% of email subscribers spending up to an hour browsing marketing emails in an average week email gives businesses a way to get their name and message in front of their customers.

Email marketing software gives businesses a competitive edge by helping them to build and manage email campaigns with ease, for highly targeted messages that inspire customers to action.

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