In our guide entitled “Email is Your Marketing Clydesdale”, we confirmed that email is a marketing workhorse and worthy of inclusion in most campaigns. ROI is sky-high and it’s deliciously efficient to execute. However, it has to be strategically planned with segmentation in mind and precisely executed to deliver results and uphold your brand. Here are 7.5 tried-and-true email best practices and related emerging trends we see coming down the pike.
Best Practice 1:
Attention spans are short. Emails should be, too. Make your message crystal clear, get to the point speedy fast, and declare your call to action loud and proud.
Related Hot Trend: Make the call to action as simple as clicking a single button and include copy on the button to the effect of, “I want to [insert action here].” Place the button in a couple places within the email.
Best Practice 2:
Get personal with your audience and name drop. There’s no shame in that game. To be clear, we not recommending that you drop names of people you don’t really know like Bill Gates or Madonna. That’s creepy. We’re talking about dropping the name of your email recipient within the email for a personalized touch. People love to see their name in print, and it’s a proven tool for increased engagement.
Related Hot Trend: Get even more up-close and personal by including details like the recipient’s city and value-added content based on personal preferences, past purchases, and behaviors like past click-throughs. (See Best Practice 7.5 for more info on that.)
Best Practice 3:
Embrace and adapt to mobility. More than half of all emails are opened from a mobile device, so it’s a smart idea to make sure yours is easy to access, read and act on from said mobile device. Bonus points for designing the call to action to be a one-click operation from the mobile device. (See Best Practice 1.)
Related Hot Trend: While widespread use of wearables, such as a smartwatch, are bit away, get them on your radar and start to think optimizing emails for them.
Best Practice 4:
Write a mega-supreme subject line. Most of us receive dozens of emails each day, so it’s essential to make yours absolutely irresistible. Strong performers include the recipient’s name (remember name dropping?), avoid words like “FREE” that can trigger spam filters, aren’t overly splashy or salesy, and are no more than 50 characters.
Related Hot Trend: Write mega-supreme intros/snippets (see right). On mobile devices, emails are listed with the subject line, time received and typically the first two lines of the email copy. Make your first two lines earn their keep by packing them with power. Avoid the default, lack-luster copy like “Is this email not displaying correctly? View it in your browser.” Snooze fest. Customize this prized piece of real estate with juicy tidbits that scream “OPEN ME! I have lots of awesomeness to share with you that could change your life!” (We say that figuratively, not literally. Don’t be that guy.) And make their lives easier by putting things like calendar links within the email.
Best Practice 5:
Spruce up your imagery because a picture really does say a thousand words. If you’re promoting a special on moose earmuffs, include a photo of not just the moose earmuffs, but of a customer wearing them while on a hike in the Alaska wilderness, savoring each moment of life because of the comfort and style provided by the moose earmuffs.
Related Hot Trend: Video links and GIFs. If a photo can tell a thousand words, how many words can video tell? You don’t have to answer that, but it’s a lot. At this time, most email clients don’t support inclusion of full videos, but you can include a screen shot of the video of the customer on the hike in the Alaska wilderness wearing the moose earmuffs that serves as a link to the video (housed on YouTube, Vimeo or the like). Another option is GIF (graphics interchange format) images that can support simple animation.
Best Practice 6:
Repeat this to yourself over and over and over: “My emails will always add value.” Make sure that the content you’re offering is worth the reader’s time. Remember, the email doesn’t have to be long (and shouldn’t), but make sure it’s jet-fueled with information that the reader wants and will positively associate with your brand. For more information on determining what the reader wants, see the next Best Practice.
Related Hot Trend: Share-worthy emails. Word of mouth is one of the strongest influencers on the planet, so craft your emails so they’re worthy of forwarding to others and sharing on social media. Bonus points for including a referral code for a special offer or discount.
Best Practice 7.5
(This one gets an extra half point because it’s gargantuan.): Test. Measure. Analyze. Repeat. When it comes to email marketing, data is the Big Cheese. Take advantage of the ability to conduct A/B split tests to see what offers, copy, graphics – even fonts — work and what don’t.
Related Hot Trend: Through data, figure out email’s role in the customer journey – awareness of your product/service, interest, desire, action, loyalty, and advocacy. Build a 360-degree understanding of your customers and prospects and see how and when email can be employed to deliver the right message for moving them to the next stage in the journey.
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