January 21, 2015
While there are a number of ways to get in front of your customers, connecting with them through email is still one of the most direct, effective and reliable methods to reach your target audience.
That doesn’t mean it’s easy though – setting up a successful email marketing strategy that converts readers to customers is more than saving email addresses and sending out messages. It takes a lot of both highly creative and technical skill to capture potential customers’ personal information and keep them interested in your product.
Though there will always be some trial and error when figuring out what works best for your business and audience, the following 50 tips are a good place to start.
A special thanks to our friends at MessageBus, a company that provides a powerful API-driven email platform, for sponsoring these email marketing tips.
1. Highlight your signup
Seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how simply changing the placement of your newsletter signup can dramatically impact opt-in rates. Make sure your signup is clearly labeled and noticeable throughout your site.
2. Offer an incentive
Create an incentive for users to subscribe to your mailing list. What freebie or resource can you offer exclusive to those who subscribe?
3. Play with pop-ups
Another way to get your email signup in front of users is by implementing a pop-up that surfaces when customers are about to leave your website. While they can ignore the signup on your website page, they certainly can’t ignore the pop-up screen.
4. Put your sign up in multiple places
Don’t just place your sign up in one spot on your website. Maximize the chances of capturing email addresses by putting your sign up in multiple places through the site such as the homepage, about page or blog sidebar.
Make it simple for your users to notice and use the sign up. Also consider placing a signup on your social media accounts or in your email signatures as well.
5. Use a credible email management service
There’s no reason you should be cobbling together subscriber lists and bulk emails on your own. Find a scheduling service that best fits your company and mailing list to streamline managing subscribers, sending out campaigns and tracking results.
While there are a lot of email marketing services out there, they’re not all created equal.
We like MessageBus for its scalability, powerful analytics, real time tracking and Messaging API that allows the service to fully integrate with your business.
6. Guide your subscribers
Make the sign-up process clear and simple by directing subscribers on the sign-up steps. Let them know them know where, how and why to sign up along with what will happen after they do.
7. Ask your readers for help
Ask your readers to help make sure they receive your messages by adding your email to their address book, checking their spam filter and looking for your first email.
8. Remind subscribers about the confirmation link
Once new subscribers input their email address, show a message letting them know that they’ll receive a confirmation linking their email to approve their subscription. Again, clearly lay out all the different steps to make sure they understand and follow through.
9. Make sure people activate
Getting people to simply put in their email address is not enough, they must check their inbox and click on the confirmation link to activate their subscription. Keep an eye on your activation rates and try sending reminders to those who still need to take that last step.
10. Send a welcome email
Those new email addresses mean a lot to your business – send subscribers a welcome email thanking them for signing up and letting them know how important they are.
11. Stay CAN-SPAM compliant
If you’re in the U.S. make sure you stay compliant with the CAN-SPAM Act which outlines what companies must do to directly market to customers and what qualifies as spam. Even if your company isn’t legally bound to the CAN-SPAM Act, it’s still just good practice and common sense to not spam your subscribers.
12. Manage expectations
Let your subscribers know what they can expect to receive from you. What types of information will you be sending them and how often? Who will the messages be coming from? By telling them what to expect they’ll be more receptive to signing up and opening your messages when they come through.
13. Be consistent
Set a regular email schedule and stick with it. If a reader signs up to your mailing list then doesn’t receive anything for months, they may forget who you are and why they signed up in the first place! The point of email marketing is to connect with your audience and stay top of mind, so commit to consistent outreach.
14. Send out HTML and text versions
Make sure to send out both HTML and text versions of your email. It’s no more work on your part and has the added benefit of reaching more readers depending on their email providers.
15. Design your newsletter
Spend some time designing the layout of your email and content so it’s visually appealing and catches your subscribers’ eye. Think about it like a personalized blog post – you want to clearly lay out headlines and text while adding visual interest with logos or photos and keeping plenty of white space.
16. Make sure your message is mobile friendly
Just like your website, your email messages must be mobile-friendly to better reach more people and make their experience with your content a smooth one.
17. Set up autoresponders
Autoresponders are a set of emails written and scheduled ahead of time to go out to subscribers at specific intervals after they sign up to your mailing list. Create a series to automatically get sent to readers educating them more on your business and, of course, providing them with excellent value.
18. Nail the subject line
Once you’re over the hurdle of getting people to sign up to your mailing list, your next challenge will be your email subject lines. Subject lines can be hit or miss and are a major factor in whether or not your subscribers decide to open up your email or immediately send it to the trash bin.
Write subjects that are clear and clever, speak directly to your reader and immediately grab their attention.
19. A/B test subjects
Since subject lines can be difficult, try setting up an A/B test send messages with different headings to different segments of your email list – which one performs better? Getting an idea about what types of words and subjects speak to your subscribers will help you fine tune your copy in the future.
20. Remember the pre-header
Many email services allow you to add text to the pre-header above the body of your message. Think about this as a subheading and use it to your advantage by filling in more information about your message since sometimes this text is visible in people’s inboxes before they’ve even opened the email.
21. Humanize your message
No one wants to get messages from a faceless corporation. Try signing off on an email with your actual name, instead of just the company’s, and use a personalized email address to send message from instead of a generic business one like “info@….”.
22. Call them by name
Set your messages to automatically fill in the subscribers’ first name in the greeting. Don’t use their name throughout the email too much however; it can quickly start to sound spammy!
23. Write your content for one person
Don’t write your content like your speaking to all your subscribers, make it sound like you’ve written the message just for one person by emphasizing the reader instead of the group as a whole.
For example, instead of writing, “I know everyone receiving this email is interested in e-commerce…”, change it to, “I know you’re interested in e-commerce…”. Speak directly to your reader.
24. Create compelling content
Why should your subscribers spend their time reading your email? With inboxes being constantly inundated with messages, your content must be highly relevant, engaging and valuable for your reader to click on it.
25. Don’t waste your customers’ time
If you don’t have something important to say then don’t say it. You want your subscribers to be excited about your next email and by sending unimportant messages or fluffy content they’ll be less likely to open your message the next time around.
26. Include a call to action
Every email should have a clear call to action to engage your subscribers and direct them back to your website, service or product. Sometimes this may be as simple as asking for their input or response to a question while other times it will be encouraging them to make a purchase.
27. Allow people to respond
Email should be a two-way road so ask your subscribers to respond or reply to your messages when the have a question or comment.
28. Remember to proofread
There are a lot of steps in getting your email marketing plan set up and creating content…in the end, don’t forget to proofread! Unlike a blog post or website copy, once you hit send there’s no turning back and to make a change.
29. Segment your contacts
Not all your subscribers may be interested in the same information or content from your company. Segment your contacts into groups hat make sense for your business and reach out to them with targeted messages.
30. Localize your content
Additionally, you can segment your contacts by location and send them localized information, content and details for a more targeted and valuable experience.
31. Include a place to unsubscribe
While you want your subscribers to stick around, you also should aim to curate a list of contacts that truly want to receive your content.
By including a link to unsubscribe at the bottom of your messages you’re putting your customers in the drivers seat and also ensuring you’re not spamming someone with messages they don’t want to get.
32. Remind your readers why they signed up
Though you need to include a place to unsubscribe in your messages, it’s also important to try and make one last effort to keep subscribers who want to opt out. If someone clicks on the unsubscribe link, make sure you have a message explaining how important they are and why you don’t want to see them go.
33. Make it shareable
Again, think of your email messages like more casual, personalized blog posts and make them shareable. Not only do you need to send content that people want to share, but also include buttons and capabilities within your message for easy sharing.
34. Track your results
Your job isn’t done as soon as you hit “send” – you need to then track your results and see how your campaign performed. Tracking your results will help you realize what worked well and what you can do differently the next time around.
35. Focus on your stats
Learn to read and fully understand the stats your email service and website analytics provide to get a clear idea of who is actually reading your messages and how they’re responding to them. Look at things like the email deliverability, open rate, click rate and traffic to your website.
36. Take advantage of analytics
Once you fully understand your stats, take advantage of your analytics by taking the information and tweaking your campaign to be more effective in the future.
Are people signing up for your newsletter but not activating their subscriptions? Maybe you need clearer instructions at sign up. Were people opening your emails but not clicking through to your site? Perhaps you need a stronger call to action.
37. Connect on a personal level
Emails should be personable and conversational – write as if you’re writing to a friend, not as a company to a customer.
38. Focus on engagement
Of course you want a large subscriber list, but really you should be focusing on engagement over signups. If hundreds of people sign up to receive your messages, but they never act on them then it doesn’t do you any good.
39. Remove bounce backs
When you receive bounce backs from undeliverable emails, go through and clean up your list. make sure your contact list represents those who are active and engaged in your community.
40. Reward readers
Having subscribers let you into their inboxes and give you the time of day is a big deal! Reward loyal subscribers with insider information, offers or deals.
41. Keep it short
The most effective messages are often short and sweet. Make the most of subacribers’ short attention span and get to the point.
42. Ask questions
Your email list is a great way for you to connect and get feedback directly from your customers. Ask questions and encourage them to respond or engage with you on social media.
43. Include links
Stuff your email messages full of resources and helpful details including links to the information and examples you’re discussing in your content.
44. Add multimedia
Make your emails more engaging and visually appealing by adding photos, images and logos to catch your reader’s attention and provide more context for your message.
45. Create dedicated landing pages
For certain campaigns consider creating dedicated landing pages that subscribers will see after clicking a link in your email. Talking about a special product offer? Link to a landing page specifically for newsletter subscribers instead of just directing them to the normal product page.
These little touches will help your subscribers feel like they’re special and have a personalized experience with your brand.
46. Focus on one subject
Since your messages should be short and to the point, make sure your emails focus around one main subject. This makes it easier for your readers to digest and helps break down your content to create more campaigns.
Let subscribers know you care about their privacy and will not share their personal information.
48. Monitor the competition
How are your competitors using email marketing? What are they doing well and where do you think they fall short? Sign up for your competitors’ newsletters and mailing lists to see how they’re connecting with customers…do it even better.
49. Build trust with your readers
All the little things you do well, like providing consistent content, sharing valuable advice, caring about your subscribers’ privacy and taking their feedback into consideration will help you build trust among your readers and keep them coming back for more.
Don’t forget the power of “P.S.”. While adding a postscript isn’t necessary in the days of the delete button, it’s a proven way to connect with your readers and make it seem like you’re letting them in on your little secret.