It’s been more than 30 years since the first commercial email was sent, but email is still the most important and effective way to reach your audience. However, email has evolved in the 2010s, and millions of businesses are trying to reach their audience on this platform. This means getting your audience’s attention is much more difficult than it was 10 years ago, and it’s getting more difficult every day. In 2020, the email marketing techniques of the 2000s are no longer effective.
Keeping up-to-date on email marketing techniques and tactics allows you to separate your marketing from that of your competitors, which means higher open rates, click-through rates, and conversions. In this article, we will share the top 8 email marketing best practice tips, tricks, and ideas to help put your business ahead of your competitors. These include information on:
- Single Opt-In vs. Double Opt-In
- Engagement and Interaction
- Email Design in the Mobile Era
- Frequency and Timing
- Delivery Volume
- Email Delivery Infrastructure
Some of these are well-known but frequently fall by the wayside. The most successful email marketing campaigns are those that follow these simple but powerful email marketing practices.
Your audience is the most valuable asset in your business. Without it, you cannot make sales. In 2020, knowing and engaging with your audience is more important than anything else — in fact, it’s the key to your success in email marketing.
Firstly, never source your email address list from friends, third-party data providers, or websites. This is no longer an effective strategy. In fact, it’s actually harmful, with the potential to hurt your brand, deliverability, and domain. Your domains and delivery IP addresses are likely to be blacklisted, causing damage to your reputation that could take months to correct. A list of email addresses from a third-party source does not necessarily comprise an audience for your brand. In addition, sending irrelevant emails to uninterested recipients won’t bring you business.
If you don’t yet have an audience, it’s time to add a mail list subscription form to your website. Choose quality over quantity. A highly active list of 100 subscribers is much better than a passive list of 100,000. In 2020, it’s more important than ever to have a highly active audience that opens emails, follows links, and even sends replies. Gmail, Hotmail, and other major email services have the capability to monitor interactions with your email recipients.
Start by putting a mail list subscription form on your website and giving away incentives in exchange for your site visitors’ email addresses. Run Facebook campaigns to reach potential clients on social media. Don’t forget to collect additional information about your site visitors. The more information you have about your audience, the better you can provide tailored services and conduct a more successful email marketing campaign in 2020.
If your mailing list is several years old, it may be time for an update. Make sure email addresses are current. Over time, email accounts are deactivated, and inactive accounts turn into spam traps. Even a small group of invalid email addresses or spam traps may cause damage to your delivery reputation. There are several email verification services available, such as Kickbox and QuickEmailVerification. If your business uses Sendloop, a one-click integration will make sure your data is verified.
Single Opt-In vs. Double Opt-In
One of the most important but undervalued topics in the email marketing world is the topic of single vs. double opt-in. As a business owner, you may have heard that double opt-in causes your subscription rates to drop. Therefore, you might think it sounds better to have a mail list subscription form on your website that accepts new subscriber data without verification.
Single and double opt-in methods are two options for letting users subscribe to your mailing list. Single opt-in allows a site visitor to subscribe by entering their email address without any other information. Double opt-in, however, requires users to confirm their email via a personal email link, after which their subscription is activated. A double opt-in method gives you an extra layer of security by ensuring all your subscribers are real, interested people — not bots or hackers.
While it’s true that you will probably get more subscribers with a single opt-in approach, bear the adage “quality over quantity” in mind. More subscribers don’t necessarily mean more conversions or sales. On top of this, subscribers who haven’t been confirmed with a double opt-in method might cause problems for your system.
A single opt-in leaves your site vulnerable to competitors or hackers who can fill your subscriber list with spam traps and invalid email addresses, giving your email campaigns higher bounce rates and spam trap hits.
Segmentation refers to the practice of segmenting your audience and running several email marketing campaigns simultaneously to these smaller groups to see which is most effective for your business. This kind of highly targeted marketing gets higher open rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates. On the technical side, it also increases the delivery reputation of both your sender domain and IP address.
Creating and sending an email marketing campaign to your subscriber list is quick and easy. However, is it also effective? The simple answer is no, not in 2020.
If you have run Facebook or Google campaigns, you probably know about relevance scores. These are scores that are calculated based on the reaction of your target audience to your ad campaigns. A low relevance score can increase your advertising costs by up to 10 times or stop social media platforms from showing your ads effectively.
Things work similarly in email marketing. If your email is not relevant to your target audience and does not trigger a click reaction, your campaign is in trouble. If you continue to run poor email campaigns, your sender domain and delivery IP address reputation will go down. This is why it is so vital to have prior knowledge of your audience demographics, which allows you to easily segment your audience based on gender, occupation, and so on. You can even program your campaign to stagger send times based on occupations (for example, sending at night to those who work night jobs).
Segmentation also allows you to run simple A/B tests of your audience. We will explore A/B tests vis-a-vis email marketing campaigns later in this article.
Engagement and Interaction
Just as people excuse themselves from conversations that do not interest them, your audience will leave if you do not engage them in meaningful interactions via your email marketing campaigns. These should be centered on topics that are interesting or relevant to your customer base. If they are not, people will simply opt out of your mailing list.
However, if you keep your email marketing campaign content relevant to your audience, they will follow links and you will get conversions. Every time you send a relevant email marketing campaign, your reputation score and email deliverability rate will go up.
Positive interactions consist of actions like:
- Opening Emails
- Opening and Reading Emails
- Clicking Internal Links
- Archiving Emails After Reading
- Replying to Emails
Negative interactions consist of:
- Archiving the Email Without Opening
- Deleting Without Opening
- Marking as Spam
- Clicking the “Unsubscribe” Link
Your primary goal should be to run a campaign that catches the eye of recipients and encourages them to open emails.
Factors that make your email attractive include:
- Sender Name and Address
- Subject Line
- Preview Text
These are the three most important components of an email marketing campaign that will determine whether your recipients have positive interactions (opening the email) or negative reactions (such as deleting). We will discuss email content components more fully later in this article.
The importance of getting email replies should not be overlooked. Many email marketers make the mistake of sending from such addresses as noreply@, info@, sales@, support@, and so on. Make sure your customers know that your office wants to hear from them and that a member of your team monitors your reply address. Even better, use a personal sender email address to encourage recipients to reply.
Replies mean that your business’s email address is added to a potential client’s contact list, ensuring future emails land directly in their inbox and encouraging higher open rates.
Building a personal relationship with your audience will put you ahead of competitors and is the easiest and fastest way to build a loyal, engaged customer base.
Email Design in the Mobile Era
Email design has been a hot topic in recent years thanks to the rise of smartphones. More people than ever are checking email on their mobile device.
Once you know that your email is relevant to your audience, you need to make sure it is also mobile friendly. Imagine a person checking their email via mobile on the subway. They notice an email from a sender they recognize, a favorite e-commerce site. The subject line says there’s a discount on a shirt they like. If you haven’t read “The Benign 99 of the Subject Line” article yet, highly recommend.
The sender name has been recognized, the subject line is relevant, and the only step left is to read the email. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to see the information about the discount and pricing and awkward to click on the links. The email requires zooming to view images or click buttons. Just like that, a customer is lost.
Neglecting email content is a common mistake. It is not enough for an email to look nice — it also has to be user-friendly, which means easy to read and interact with. This is especially true for mobile-friendly content. Don’t forget that each email application and service has its own display standards. Gmail renders HTML emails very differently from Hotmail, and Gmail’s web browser renders differently than its Android application.
The email marketing service you use should provide you with an easy-to-use email builder that allows you to create mobile-friendly content. You can also use third-party testing tools to make sure your email will be properly displayed across 40+ email applications. Some popular testing tools include:
Sendloop and similar email marketing services also provide inbox tests.
Frequency and Timing
In the marketing world, frequency and timing are the keys to the success or failure of your email marketing campaign. Sending too many emails will have you flagged as spam and make your customers opt out, but sending too few will result in lower open rates and conversions.
There is no one formula for frequency and timing. It varies from industry to industry and business to business. You will have to run some tests to find and improve your baseline until you reach the optimum conversion rate.
Of course, it is not feasible for an e-commerce website to send only a monthly newsletter or for a software company to send daily emails. Consider your industry and make logical conclusions, then observe the results. After four or five campaigns, the ways you need to adjust will become clear based on customer responses.
Timing is equally important. Ignore the myths of the industry about certain times being better across the board. Instead, go the opposite way of the crowd. If everyone else sends emails early on Tuesday mornings, why not send yours on Wednesday, just before lunch? Or on Sunday evenings? Don’t be afraid to try out different time intervals for your email marketing campaigns. Being different will increase your chances of getting higher conversion rates instead of trying to catch customer attention in the midst of a crowd.
Successful marketing takes experiments. Don’t be afraid to try out different methods on your audience segments.
As we have mentioned, frequency and repetition are key to successful marketing. Email marketing has one more important factor: delivery volume. This can be defined as the consistency of your outgoing email count.
Your audience’s various email providers (Gmail, Hotmail, etc.) will check your email history, your delivery IP address, and the relationship between the two. When there is no history on these metrics, your incoming emails will be treated as suspicious and may end up in the spam folder. To avoid this, it is a good idea to start slowly with a low volume and increase by 50 percent each campaign. This kind of consistent delivery volume increase will ensure your emails avoid triggering spam filters on customer email accounts.
While this approach means that it will take longer to reach a high delivery volume, bear in mind that this will lead to long-term success. While your competitors struggle with low delivery rates because of volume spikes and low engagement rates, you will reach your audience more consistently, encouraging customer interactions.
Email Delivery Infrastructure
In the early 2000s, sending mass emails was a complicated process. In 2020, it is much easier despite changes in policies, guidelines, and the way email accounts filter junk mail. For legitimate senders, however, nothing has changed in terms of your goals. If you follow basic technical email delivery rules, you should not have problems reaching your audience. Follow the fundamentals of SPF and DKIM authorization, DMARC policy, monitoring blacklists, and IP warmup procedures.
Making Your Email Marketing Stand Out in 2020
If you are looking for ways to improve your email marketing, you cannot afford to stick with outdated methods. Don’t be afraid to try new techniques.
Research trends in email marketing and compare your methods to your competitors. Talk to other email marketers on online forums. Remember that experimentation is an essential part of email marketing. Segmenting your audience and running small tests will help you find the best methods for your business.