19 Email Marketing Best Practices That Drive ROI
Whether you’re a novice or an expert in email marketing, there is always something new to learn when it comes to sending the best email marketing campaigns. These 19 email marketing best practices will help keep your customers engaged, improve your ROI, and get your campaigns going in 2021 and beyond.
1. Send Welcome Emails
The welcome email is the single most effective message you can send.
According to the latest data, average open rates soar above 80% – and click-through rates are around 22-25%.
Welcome emails help keep your list clean and improve your email deliverability. If someone enters the wrong email address, the welcome email will generate a hard bounce. That then notifies your email provider to remove it from your list.
They also reassure your new email recipients that the signup worked and the information they want is on its way.
Plus, they help you connect with new subscribers. Offer something valuable or exclusive at the start of their journey and watch click-throughs rise.
2. Send Your Campaigns at the Right Time
Every email marketer wants their campaign to be at the top of the inbox.
After all, most subscribers will pick the emails they see first.
So when should you send your emails?
The best time to send email is largely an individual thing. It varies across different locations, industries, and audiences. The best practice is to adjust your send-time to match your subscribers’ behavior and needs.
You’ll want to keep in mind the following results & most likely send your emails early in the morning.
3. Pick the Right Email Frequency
Know how often you should contact your subscribers.
If we look at mailing frequency data, we see that email marketers who send just one campaign a week get the highest average open and click-through rates. Bear in mind this data doesn’t exclude marketers who also send triggered emails or RSS emails.
Around 19.5% send two campaigns a week and 9.32% send three. Just 5.5% and 3.93% send four and five emails respectively.
At the same time, since most marketers want to maximize their email campaign ROI, instead of average CTRs we should look at the total number of conversions they generate.
We must also consider some other factors, such as extra revenue you’d make from sending an extra campaign, how many subscribers would leave your list after receiving too many messages, plus the cost to replace those leads.
In short, undermailing leads to missed revenue opportunities, lower lifetime value, lack of inbox presence, poor or inconsistent sender reputation, inability to maintain a clean list and avoid spam traps, and counterintuitively – increased complaint rates.
Overmailing, on the other hand, leads to decreased engagement, increased opt-outs, reduced visibility for all subscribers, and more total complaints.
The frequency of your sends will depend on your particular market and types of products and services. Divide your audience into two or more groups and see if sending one extra email campaign boosts your results – both in the short and long term.
If you’re not interested in experimenting, you can also ask your audience to manage their own frequency, using an email preference center.
Remember that while it’s easy to control how often you email, it’s often harder to see how many triggered emails are sent to your contacts each week – especially if they’re sent in response to an action.
4. Pay Attention to Email Deliverability
Email deliverability is crucial to your campaign success. It doesn’t matter how interesting or beautiful your emails are. If subscribers never see them, they won’t convert.
Many marketers think only their email service provider handles email deliverability. But it goes beyond that.
Your email content, frequency, and list-building methods all impact your deliverability.
All the email campaign best practices mentioned in this article will help improve your performance, but you should especially keep an eye on:
- How email deliverability works and how to improve it
- How to measure and track email marketing metrics like bounce rates, complaint rates, and list churn rate
- Key reasons why your emails go to spam and what you can do about it
5. Use A Memorable Sender Name
First impressions matter. And in email marketing, it can also be the last one you make. If your email doesn’t stand out and build trust, your subscribers probably won’t bother opening it. And if they ignore your newsletters a few times, your future campaigns could go straight to junk.
That’s why paying attention to your sender name is an email marketing best practice. Think of it as your brand name. Your customers should respond well to it. They’ll then check out the subject line and preheader – or open the email right away.
What to Do
First, your sender name should be recognizable and memorable. You always need to offer value. Most brands use one of the following formats to make their sender name identifiable:
- [Brand Name]
- [Employee Name] from [Brand Name]
- [Employee Name] @ [Brand Name]
- [Brand Name] Customer Support
- [Brand Name] Newsletter
- [Brand Name] Digest
Take these ideas, compare them with your brand voice guidelines, and A/B test them. Then stick to the one that works. Over time, people will get used to seeing the same name. If you change it later on, they might not immediately connect it with your brand.
You also have to think about the sender address because it builds its own reputation over time – in the eyes of ISPs. Changing it too often can affect whether your recipient’s email provider accepts your emails. To avoid problems with your email deliverability, don’t change it too often, send from a company domain (not freemail like Gmail or Yahoo), and use a trustworthy address.
6. Ditch the noreply@ Address
The noreply@ addresses is a little ironic. Most marketers will swear their customers are at the center of their business. That they care about their opinions and feedback, both positive and negative.
And then, after earning their trust and convincing them to complete an opt-in form, they use an email address that straight-out says:
“We don’t care enough about you to check this inbox.”
It’s understandable that the sheer volume of auto-reply and out of office messages can often be overwhelming. Sometimes your email doesn’t seem like something people will respond to, but your customers might see things differently.
Don’t make it harder for them to give feedback. You probably have business profiles on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn – all to be where your customers are. And to be available. It’s the same with email marketing. Maybe those who care enough to hit reply will be your best brand ambassadors. The benefits of ditching the noreply@ address outweigh the negatives.
7. Test Your Email Subject Lines
Studies show up to 50% of subscribers decide to open a message based on the subject line.
Setting aside those who open every email, your recipients will generally only see three things before they decide to open or ignore your message:
- Sender name
- Subject line
Depending on their email client and your own settings, they might also see filters and labels. But given that the subject line is much longer than the sender name and preheader, it plays a big part in the action subscribers take.
How do you write effective email titles?
First of all, take time to craft them. Treat them as the most important element of your email campaign – which they are. Don’t leave it as an afterthought. Set aside time to A/B test your subject lines. And use data, not your gut feeling.
Try personalization and emojis. Both have shown to have a positive effect on average email open rates. Pull all the aces out of your copywriting sleeves. Use power words, questions, idioms, and other tactics that may move the needle for you.
Always remember who you’re contacting. What devices do they use to open your emails? When and where do they click on them? And what are they interested in?
8. Use Confirmed Opt-in
Whenever we talk about good email practices, we always say email list quality beats quantity. But we meet many marketers who are scared to use confirmed opt-in.
Double opt-in lists have been shown to get up to double the clicks and double the opens of single opt-in lists. They also get half the hard bounces and half the unsubscribes of single opt-in. Double opt-in lists keep you from adding a spam trap to your list. They tend to reduce spam complaints, too, though they won’t eliminate them.
Basically, double opt-in creates a higher quality list long term, though it will indeed slow your list growth compared to using single opt-in.
Ultimately, the whole double versus single opt-in debate comes down to quality versus quantity. Do you want a larger list or a more responsive list?
There are other, smaller downsides to single opt-in, too. Some of the names added to your list may be fake, or may have typos.
When you compare the average email marketing results by industry with the use of double opt-in by industry data, you can see a link. Industries that use confirmed opt-in more often usually outperform those who don’t. At the very least, it will positively affect your deliverability – which is still a big win.
9. Use Lead Magnets
With more competition, building an email list isn’t as easy as it once was. It’s challenging because your audience has far more information sources to choose from. Another pain point is that some marketers have abused the privilege of getting into their subscribers’ inboxes. They’ve sent too many irrelevant, uninteresting, or (worse) misleading email campaigns.
That means website visitors might think twice before filling out a form and they’ll expect far more value in return for their email address.
It’s hard to prove your newsletter is worth it in a simple web form, but a lead magnet can be a great way to offer value upfront. Lead magnets – also known as incentives or freebies – are the best way to overcome people’s hesitation.
Lead Magnet Examples
- Downloadable eBook or Guides
- Special Industry Report
- Calendar or Planner
- Enticing Giveaway
- Free Quote & Price Estimate
- Free Delivery
- Chance to Win Something
Since there are so many to choose from, you’ll need to test them to see which one gets the biggest conversion rate.
10. Engaging Content Drives Click-thru Rates
If you look at your favorite newsletters, you’ll probably find some common threads. They either offer great products, interesting stories, thought-provoking articles, funny videos, or something else.
But what are some common features?
Data suggests emails with a video observe click-through rates of up to 8%. Emails with images perform better than those without. There’s over one percentage point difference in click-through rates (4.11% vs 2.87%). You will need to analyze your email campaigns and see what worked well in the past.
If you haven’t tried videos, animated gifs, interactive content, personalization, or emojis, it might be time to give them a go.
11. Test Emails Before Sending
Test and preview your emails before each send.
We’ve all seen emails with broken subject lines, images, or inaccurate personalization. The ones that call you Emma when your name is Bob. The ones that say you’d look great in a dress when you prefer cargo shorts. The emails that are so broken, you don’t know where to look.
But all of these mistakes can be avoided.
Take the time to preview your emails in popular email clients, make sure they won’t land in the junk folder, and send the message to yourself – before it reaches your entire list. It pays to double-check your emails for silly mistakes.
12. Design Emails for Accessibility
It’s easy to forget you have a diverse audience.
Serving them goes beyond simple segmentation and personalization. You also want to make sure your marketing messages are accessible. According to World Health Organization, over 2.2 billion people live with some form of visual impairment. Odds are, some of your subscribers do too.
There are ways to make your emails easier for them to access. First, add ALT text to your images. People using a screen reader can then understand the content better. Tip: Add a period after the image text. The screen reader will then pause, so it’s easier to understand your email.
You can also check the image contrast ratio to improve readability.
13. Use a Matching Preheader
Do you remember we said the sender name, subject line, and the preheader are the first things subscribers see?
Even if half your subscribers open your message on the subject line alone, the rest are swayed by other things. While they’ll likely see the sender name first, the preheader still plays a part.
This is especially the case for email campaigns with shorter subject lines, since the preheader will take up more space. The preheader can enhance your email subject line and increase your open rates. Data shows messages with preheaders have average open rates of around 29%. That’s almost 7 percentage points more than emails without preheaders. Yet surprisingly, only 11% of messages have one. That’s a missed opportunity.
Here are some examples where preheaders enhance subject lines:
Subject Line: Drop Everything. Sitewide Sale. Now.
Preheader: It’s our birthday 🎉 Sitewide Sale + Free Shipping & Returns to celebrate!
Subject Line: It’s now or never!
Preheader: Only 8 hours left on these Cyber Monday deals
See how the preheaders add more information to sway someone to open up?
14. Make Your Emails Skimmable
We’re all busy people these days.
We’re also distracted by different things, people, and marketing messages every single moment. That’s why we often choose the easiest and quickest path to get the job done, whatever that job is. This approach applies to reading emails and cleaning our inbox, too.
If you want your emails to convert better, you need to make sure to communicate your message as quickly as possible. Structure your content in a way that makes it easy to read and understand.
Use bullet points, headlines, lists, and the preheader text to clearly and quickly state your main message. If you do it well, you’ll likely see an increase in your email engagement metrics like the click to open rates. You don’t even need to scroll below the fold to understand the offer. In that one sentence, presented in a highly visible place, they’ve covered everything that matters.
This approach is great for two reasons. It saves the subscriber’s time – they can move along if they’re not interested – and lets the brand quickly capture the attention of those who are in the buying mood.
Simple, yet effective tactic. An email best practice worth adopting.
15. Use a Professional Email Marketing Tool
Marketers often start their businesses by sending their marketing messages from their own company domain using a tool like Outlook or Apple Mail.
Your business grows as does your email list. Although at some point, you start noticing people aren’t replying to your messages, even though just a moment ago they seemed interested in your offer. Their change of behavior often may not be related to your sales pitch being ineffective, but in how you’re sending your email campaigns.
Email marketing tools like iLoyal’s Loyalty eClubs help you not only make your emails visually attractive with high-quality, on-brand design, but also help you manage your reputation and deliver your messages effectively.
iLoyal encourages you to grow your database as BIG as you can without restrictions and we offer UNLIMITED features that will have your marketing department’s budget under control. You don’t deserve to pay more for the success you achieve.
If you want your emails to avoid the junk folder, exercise this best practice and contact us today. We will help you develop a Loyalty eClub Program that works for you.
16. Create a Marketing Funnel
Not a single marketing channel can work on its own.
If you want to sell your products or services online, you need to have an audience. To have an audience to talk to, you need to build an email list. To do that, you need to create a landing page and drive traffic to it. Once you’ve done that, you need to offer them a lead magnet and nurture them after they’ve successfully signed up.
This process goes on and on, and it’s easy to get lost on the way. That’s where marketing funnels come into play. They’ll help you use your marketing channels together more effectively, keep track of your business objectives, and maximize your conversion rates.
While nearly all advertising campaigns are aimed at generating sales – in one way or another – not all of them are designed to do so directly.
Using a funnel helps marketers visualize the stages and tasks advertising campaigns should fulfill first before the consumer makes a decision to buy a given product or service. In other words, marketing and sales funnels will help you keep your campaigns organized and drive your target audience strategically towards action.
17. Segment Your Audience
Sending an email blast to your entire list may work from time to time. Although, your chances of generating sales with your email campaigns are the highest when you create personalized content designed for individual customer segments.
Identify the key segments, e.g. your most-engaged subscribers or those with high RFM scores, see how much revenue they’re generating, and target them with your email campaigns separately.
If you can’t find these customers, then stick to the segments you can think of right at the top of your head (the chances are you know your audience so well you’ll identify the best segments without additional research.)
If your email content answers your customers’ needs and wants, you’ll see an upwards shift in the results. But it’s likely that you’ll see even higher results if you nail down your segmentation.
18. Use Targeted Pop-Ups
Despite how you feel about them, popup forms are one of the most effective methods for building email lists. Plus, there’s a way to make them less annoying for those who aren’t looking to join another email list.
The solution? Targeting.
When building your web forms, ask yourself these questions before they go live:
- When should the web form appear?
- When should it be hidden?
- Should it be shown to the same user again, and if so, how often?
Since you don’t want to irritate your users, you’ll want to present your option forms only when it makes sense.
Sometimes that’ll be a few seconds after they’ve entered the page (rarely). Sometimes it’ll be after they’ve scrolled through 50-75% of your article (which may be a sign that they’re engaged), after a certain amount of time, or as they’re about to leave the page.
Tip: To choose the best time to display your web forms, look at the average time users spend on that page and your bounce rate. Try to set up your forms to only come up when users have shown they’re enjoying the content they’re reading.
19. Make Better Use of the Footer
Most email marketers use their email footer suboptimally. They use it to provide all the legally required information, like the unsubscribe button or their company address, and that’s about it.
Yet, there’s so much more you could be doing with your footer. And it could be helping you drive more conversion, too.
Here are a few ideas you could include in your footer:
- A quote from your customer acting as a social proof
- Logos of the sites that featured you
- Your unique selling proposition, like 100% money-back guarantee or world-wide free returns
- Option to review your message
- Results of your latest newsletter give-away
- Special discounts or offers
Grow Love and Loyalty
Unlike other email providers, iLoyal will not nickel and dime you for having a stronger email database. We encourage you to grow your database as BIG as you can without restrictions.
iLoyal offers many UNLIMITED features that will have your budget under control. Best of all, you’ll have an all-inclusive support team to actually get emails done.