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Series: Beginner’s Guide to Marketing Best Practices [Email]

by Niala Samnarine

We’re kicking off a brand new series on marketing best practices drilling into significant areas of a marketer’s arsenal.

First up: email.

I recently received an email from well-known retailer, J. Crew. Their email caught my attention because the subject line was “Puppies”, and being the obsessed dog-fanatic that I am, I had to click on it. Once inside, J. Crew cleverly informed me there were no puppies, BUT they had another surprise; a discount on my next purchase.

While I did not make a purchase that day, the subject line and preview text were enough to grab my attention and make me open the email. It was so compelling in fact, that I forwarded it to my friends and the odds are, that while they also got a chuckle from the email, they bought something using that promotion.

So to achieve open and CTR success like J. Crew, here are some questions to ask yourself to ensure your emails are optimized for conversion.

Email Marketing Best Practices:

  • Is this content valuable?

    Best Practice: Ensure that if you’re sending an email to someone it’s something you really believe they need. Your prospects’ time is valuable and wasting it by sending them an offer they’re not interested in or that is not relevant to them will only serve to frustrate them. Which leads us to…
  • Am I emailing my database too often or too infrequently?

    Best Practice: If you’re emailing them once a quarter, odds are you’re not emailing them enough. If you’re emailing them several times a day, you’re definitely overdoing it. Unless you’re offering something new, exciting or with a time limit on it, you definitely don’t need to over (or under) do it. Test your engagement rates by sending them at varying intervals and collect data to see how they perform.
  • Do I sound conversational or like a lecturer? Best Practice: No one likes to be talked at. People like to feel as if they’re in a two-way conversation. While it’s easier to achieve this through social media, emails should never EVER just be a lecture. Consider changing your tone to be funny, conversational, casual and more human. Case in point, our J. Crew example!
  • Will this display correctly on a smart phone or tablet?
    Best Practice: Do you read your email or visits websites on a device other than your desktop? Mobile email opens have grown 180% in the last three years and show no signs of slowing. As of Nov. 2013, 61% of all emails were opened on a smartphone or tablet. Ensuring that your emails are mobile-friendly means your recipients will have the best possible experience, and will be more likely to engage with the content or offers you present to them.
  • Are we reviewing our open and CTRs?
    Best Practice: Analyzing your efforts is one way to ensure that you’re optimizing your emails. Reviewing your open rates helps you to determine which of your subject lines is most effective, as well as what time of day will engage your audience the most. CTRs (click through rates) will help you gauge what content your audience most engages with (buttons, images, text, video, etc.) By reviewing these specific metrics, you can help to get the most optimized emails to your database.
  • Does this apply with CAN-SPAM rules? Best Practice: This law serves to protect your database. Compliance with the CAN-SPAM law is simple enough and not following it could result in legal action. For a full explanation of CAN-SPAM click here.
  • How engaging is my preview text?
    Best Practice: Preview text is that bit of text that appears in your browser or email client under the subject line. In short, it’s a preview of your email content. Providing compelling preview text can help boost open rates if your database feels as though they can benefit from the content within. Similarly, omitting or having weak preview text can have adverse effects.
  • Who tested this email?
    Best Practice: Design, code and go simply won’t cut it. Ensuring that your email is free of spelling, grammatical and punctuation errors is one step. The other is testing your email to ensure your images and other media populate correctly and any links or CTAs included work and direct to the right landing pages. Additionally, testing to ensure your email is CAN-SPAM compliant will protect your email from being canned (pun intended) by this law.  

Does your company follow these best practices? Were any of these surprising to you? Is there something that definitely needs to be on the best practice list that we may have missed? Share it in the comments below!