Top 10 Best Practices for Email Marketing

So you’ve made the plunge into email marketing.  You’ve committed your time and effort, and perhaps the time and effort of a whole team, to design an email marketing strategy. 

Your strategy is designed to support your company’s overall marketing efforts…and you want to ensure you focus on how to achieve the best results…by establishing a “Best Practices” procedure.  Email marketing is measurable.  You know, because the saying’s been around for years…”You can only manage what you can measure.”  By tracking, analyzing, and optimizing your campaigns, you can steadily improve your results and increase your ROI.  In today’s economy, there’s no better place to put your…reduced…advertising dollar.  And no better place to make sure you establish and follow a “Best Practices” model.

I invite you to use the following  model, which incorporates not only my own ideas, but suggestions from other professionals in email marketing:

  1. Get permission.  Whether you choose a single opt-in or a double opt-in isn’t as important as making sure the person receiving your email has asked to receive it.  Include opt-in, opt-out and privacy policy links on all of your emails to improve deliverability, and ensure CAN-SPAM compliance.
  2. Get branded.  Use a clear identifier in every email in the “From” notation, and, if possible, in the Subject line.  This allows the recipient to know the email is from a source they trust.
  3. Get attention.  Use the subject line to invite and entice the receiver to open your email.  There is a split of authority on whether using the recipient’s first name increases the open rate.  Keep in mind, however, your subject line is your door key.  A unique key will make the recipient want to use it in order to know what it opens.
  4. Be relevant.  Once the email is opened, the content must be relevant…in this moment…to the person receiving it. The content of the email should follow the subject line.  Like the line that goes from the fish hook to the rod and reel, the connection needs to be flexible, dynamic and tight.  Individualized,  focused on the message…not the method of delivery.  In the vast volume of email that gets delivered every day, every message sent has to stand out to get noticed.  Relevant, meaningful, personal. 
  5. Plan Ahead.   Plan your campaign to keep you focused and on target to achieve your goals.  Always have messages prepared for at least two weeks out, but be ready to adjust quickly. 
  6. Test.  Include a control and run an A/B split test on every campaign.  There really is no justifiable reason to exclude testing.  Testing allows you to maximize your returns while minimizing risk.
  7. Test some more.  Multivariable testing methods can help you find the very best combination of variables to increase your conversion rates.  Increasingly sophisticated programs can help you optimize every email.
  8. Define and refine.  Use your data to speak directly with your email recipient.  Segment by age, gender, occupation, geographical location, previous purchasers, new email recipients, and any other data available.  Use that data to build a personal profile that allows you to create a mental picture of the recipient, and how you would speak to them if you were looking directly at them. 
  9. Be social.  Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites, along with smartphones, add a challenge…as well as opportunity for making connections and providing links.  Links that lead to email opt-in sites…and more opportunity.
  10. Get action.  Email promotions, newsletters, and offers all generate action.  Whether it’s a download, an inquiry, or a sale, every action has the potential to increase brand identity,  loyalty, and  relationship.  Every message needs to be alive and fresh…with the action generated by the recipient’s need to know…”What’s next…what have you got in store for me?”

Like all lists, and all business practices, it’s only as good as its application…with constant review and updates. 

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