In the age of technology, it’s easy to get lost in the mix of digital media channels and social media platforms. But if you really want to grow your business, email marketing is the real MVP. According to Mckinsey, email marketing is 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook or Twitter – but only if you do it correctly.

If you’re considering email marketing for the first time or looking for ways to upgrade your current strategy, there are a few things you should know. Crafting the perfect email isn’t as easy as it sounds. There’s a whole strategy behind email marketing – knowing what works and what doesn’t, what to do and what not to do.

Before hitting send, check out this list of email marketing do’s and don’ts to help make sure you don’t end up in the spam box.

Thou Shalt Develop an Email Marketing Strategy

Before you start writing your email ask yourself a few questions: Why are you sending out this email? Who are you sending it to? How often will you send out emails? Do you have a set day and time your email will go out each week? What are your goals for this email?

If you can’t answer these questions, you shouldn’t be sending out any emails.

Developing a strategy and plan is the first step to success. Once complete, this will be your business’s roadmap to email marketing.

Thou Shalt Divide and Conquer

Once you have a solid list of email subscribers built, you need to begin email marketing segmentation. Segmented email campaigns have a 14% higher open rate than non-segmented campaigns. Developing lists based on demographic data can tell you a lot about your leads and how to nurture them. You can then use the information about prospects’ interests, concerns and needs to nurture them through the buyer’s journey.

You should always know who your target audience is, and you should always be sure you have permission to email your prospects and customers.

Thou Shalt Be a Headline Hero

More than 30% of email recipients decide whether or not to open a email based on the subject alone, so here are some tips to keep in mind:

● Make it click-worthy. Don’t be boring.
● Keep it short.
● Don’t use all caps. You’re not yelling at your subscribers.
● Make readers curious. E.g., “Are you making these social media mistakes?”
● Entice with an incentive or an offer.
● Use a sense of urgency, without using the word “URGENT.”
● Tell them what’s inside. “Your free ebook is inside.” or “Your exclusive offer awaits.”
● Use numbers. “5 social media hacks that work.”

Think about what makes you want to open an email or news article. Be creative and have some fun with it.

Thou Shalt Make it Personal

Subscribers are 18% more likely to open personalized emails compared to emails without any personalization. Use their first name in the introduction, make it personal in the body of the copy – mention their industry or location.

This is where marketing automation features like dynamic content play in, which let you use one email to appeal to the individual needs of a variety of recipients. You can take that personalization a step further by having the email link to a dynamic landing page with more information that caters to the user’s interests.

Thou Shalt Include These Email Must-Haves

First and foremost, have a template. Use that template as the foundation for all of your emails. Make sure your template includes the following:

● Your brand’s logo
● A headline
● A call to action (CTA)
● Social media buttons
● An unsubscribe button
● Links, links, links! (Links to reference articles, links to your website, etc.)

Thou Shalt Be Mindful With Your Copy

The body of your email should feature copy and content that add value to the reader’s life. Whether you’re providing useful tips, highlighting a giveaway, or breaking down important industry news, you need to know what you want to say before you start writing your email.

Outline the types of content you want to share with your subscribers: company blog posts, upcoming events, general news, featured photos, etc.

Don’t be too wordy in your copy. This isn’t your diary. Make it short and to-the-point. You don’t want to give away all the goodies in your email. You want to intrigue subscribers so they’ll keep reading, so add a link or CTA for them to get to the full-length version.

Thou Shalt Use Creative Content

Always remember, content is king. Whether your email is promoting a new product or sharing industry information, content is the heart of your email.

Make your email stand out with bold fonts, colors, segments, infographics, special headline fonts, and images. Subscribers are more likely to engage with your email if something stands out to them.

Thou Shalt Proofread and Test

Before hitting send, don’t forget to test your email. Not only is this vital to make sure all your links work, but with most subscribers checking emails on their smart devices, it’s more important than ever to know what your email will look like to readers on both mobile and desktop.

Thou Shalt Remember That “Timing Is Everything”

There’s a right and wrong time to send out emails. Use analytics to determine what works best for your subscribers. You might need to to try sending out emails at different times and and on different days to see what works.

Set a schedule. Decide if your email campaign will be sent out on a daily, weekly, or biweekly basis. Be careful not to overdo it. Your customers want to hear from you, but they don’t want their inbox constantly bombarded. There’s no cheat-sheet on how often you should email your customers, but one thing’s for sure – if you send too often, your users will unsubscribe faster than you can hit “send” on that next email.

Thou Shalt Invest in Marketing Automation Software

Once you have a solid email marketing strategy, you will need to invest in marketing automation software. Marketing automation allows you to create personalized, automated emails – for example, a “thank you” email that triggers when a new subscriber signs up for your newsletter.

Marketing automation software also lets you see how readers interact with your content – through click rates, open rates and more – ultimately letting you know what’s working and what isn’t.

Follow These Rules… And You Shall Succeed

Achieving success with your email marketing campaigns isn’t an impossible feat, as long as you put in the work and make sure you’re always using best practices. Develop a clear strategy, keep your lists clean, create an attractive template that represents your brand, stick to a solid sending schedule, and don’t forget to test, test, test. Then add marketing automation into the mix to make it all more manageable – and you can expect to start seeing stellar results.

Isabel Hasty
Isabel Hasty writes and edits case studies to share client success stories and industry trends. She produces a variety of lead-generation content, including white papers, blogs, infographics, and thought leadership articles.