Email Marketing: Best Practices & Pitfalls
September 25, 2023 3 min read
Email marketing is a powerful tool and a critical part of your channel mix. Understanding its role within your overall plan and identifying key strategies to optimize your efforts will help set you up for success.
Planning Your Email Marketing Campaign
If you haven’t started email marketing yet, you can crawl, but running an email marathon should be your goal. If you’ve failed to show value with email in the past, step back and build a roadmap for the future.
The below questions can help you identify the right place to start.
Are We Ready to Improve/Add Email?
We’ve all received emails that show signs of poor preparation or strategy. An email marketing expert can help optimize each part of your funnel. Consider the following before you send your first email campaign:
- Do we need to fix foundational marketing/sales problems?
- Do we have a compliance or legal issue to address?
- Do we have universally understood goals for email?
- Do we have a content strategy in place?
- Do we need to identify an email marketing provider?
- Do we have email lists in order and formatted properly?
Steps For a Successful Email Marketing Plan
Not everyone is going to start sending emails on day one while doing A/B testing. You could be at any point in this journey in the following steps.
- Set goals. Are you sending emails to increase sales, educate, or engage?
- Align your content strategy. Goals and audiences must be in sync with your content plan.
- Select a provider. Consider automation, templates, and data availability in your platform reviews.
- Create your list. Capture email addresses, groom new clients, and grow current relationships.
- Optimize. Review your email results, test new approaches or CTAs, and repeat your experiments.
Email Marketing Services in 2023
Choosing an email marketing platform can be difficult as providers offer different features and pricing options. Platforms like MailChimp, HubSpot, and Constant Contact offer consistent, user-friendly experiences that let you set customer journeys and send emails. Pricing is generally based on the number of contacts and emails you want to send. Enterprise solutions like Salesforce and Marketo offer powerful integrations and additional CRM management. New platforms such as Klaviyo focus on marketing automations and multichannel messaging such as SMS. Tools like ConvertKit offer a streamlined email builder. If you use a CMS like WordPress you can use services like Amazon SES and popular plugins to send email newsletters directly from your website.
Email List Building That Drives Sales
Here are some strategies to help capture quality leads. Always use opt-in methods to ensure you have permission to send future emails.
- Creating high-quality content keeps users engaged and encourages newsletter subscriptions.
- Offering incentives or a piece of content like a guide in return for a subscription can increase sign-ups.
- Deploying double opt-in practices (so the user confirms their email address after they subscribe) helps prevent automated spam bots from ending up on your lists.
- Hosting webinars and events can be a good way to gain new readers.
- Promoting your list via social media and other free networking sites can boost subscriptions.
Email Best Practices: Building Blocks for Success
Here are several best practices to deploy and pitfalls to avoid with your email marketing efforts.
- Set clear goals for email marketing
- Give the program time to work
- Be respectful of user preferences
- Develop business/sales-centric automation to reduce manual labor and enhance the experience
- Review your ‘approved’ email against your agreed business goals
- Build emails/templates that are not overly dependent on images to be downloaded/viewed
- Stay up to date with the latest privacy laws, spam laws, and operating system features
- Regularly run your emails through third-party software like Litmus for issues and suggestions
Pitfalls and Traps
- Ignoring compliance with solicitation laws
- Buying lists and ignoring list hygiene practices
- Getting spammy with your emails and getting blocked
- Ignoring best practices around opt-ins and list buying
- Changing your content strategy monthly/quarterly
- Lack of focus/brevity in your email communications
- Over-designing email templates that can’t be rendered pixel-perfect in Microsoft Outlook
- Utilizing dark patterns to grow email lists
- Thinking past emails have expiration dates; future-proof your communications where possible
- Over-investing in expensive systems before proving the business case for email marketing
Email Analytics for Data-Driven Decision-Making
Email marketing tools and systems provide many metrics to review, from open and re-open rates to unsubscribes to click-through and conversion rates.
Remember to consider your strategy and goals, as it’s important to measure what matters to you.
Whether you’re a seasoned email marketer or in the initial phases of fully integrating it into your marketing plan, these tips and considerations can help ensure you’re set up for success.