Whether you’re an email marketing pro or just getting started, there are ways you can improve your strategy. (Trust us, your subscribers and ROI will thank you.) We’ll cover what you need to know to create a winning email marketing strategy:
- Why creating an email strategy is important
- 16 best practices for an effective email marketing strategy
- How to collect email addresses
- Picking an email service provider
Why you need an email strategyCreating a solid email marketing strategy isn’t just good practice. It’s also an important part of boosting your conversions and revenue. Just look at these statistics:
- Conversion rates for emails are higher than social media, direct traffic, and search.
- Email offers result in shoppers spending 138 percent on their purchases.
- For every $1 spent, email marketing generates $32 in ROI.
- More than half of marketers say email is their No. 1 source of ROI.
16 elements of an effective email marketing strategyWe’ll share all of the insider tips, tricks, and techniques you need to know about creating the best email marketing strategy. 1. Define your audience. Who is your ideal consumer? If you want to engage that person with your email campaigns, you need to know who they are first. And the answer is right in front of you. Your target audience is who your company serves. For example, if you sell dog food, your target audience would be pet owners. If you sell children’s clothes, your audience would be moms, like in this Carter’s email: You get the idea. Make sure all of your email marketing campaigns are tailored to your brand’s specific audience. 2. Craft engaging subject lines. Your email’s subject lines should tell subscribers what the email is about and why they should open it. Here are a few things to consider when crafting your subject lines:
- Use their name. By adding [FIRSTNAME] — or whatever the formatting is for your ESP — to the subject line and/or email copy, it makes the email seem more personal.
- Give recommendations. “You viewed this, so you might like these other options.” That kind of approach followed by some products related to their recent searches or purchases shows them you care about what they like. This email from Lyst pulls recommendations based off of the brand they viewed.
- Include a real reply-to address. Don’t use those email@example.com. That gives the email an automated, un-personalized feel. Plus, that limits their ability to engage with your brand if they want to ask you something.
- Use a real email signature. Include your name and contact information (or the information for the person who’s responsible for customer service) at the bottom of the email. You want your emails to seem as genuine and approachable as possible. They should feel like messages between two friends.
How to segmentThese are a few factors you can use to segment your audience:
- Job title
- Purchase history
- Interest level
- CTA clicks
- Company size
Popular trigger emails
- Welcome: Confirm they signed up, send a double opt-in, or let them know what type of emails they can look forward to from your brand.
- Thank you: Thank them for taking an action, like entering an online giveaway.
- Transactional: This could be a confirmation email or email receipt.
- Cart abandonment: Remind them they left something in their cart so they will go back and complete the purchase with a cart abandonment email.
- Browse abandonment: Unlike with cart abandonment, these shoppers never add anything to their cart. They simply look and leave — similar to window shoppers at physical stores.
- Milestone: These emails help you build long-lasting relationships with your customers. It could be a customer’s birthday or anniversary with your company. This type of campaign is known for great open and click-through rates because of their personalized nature.
- Much higher open rates
- An average click-through rate that is more than double the rate
Other ways to use A/B testing
- Plain text vs. HTML campaigns: You’re probably already sending a plain text version of your email. But, have you considered testing an email campaign that is plain text only? That approach can look like it was written just for that subscriber, especially if you throw in a personalized element.
- “From” address: This is the name that appears in the “From” field of the email, and it has a huge impact on whether or not the subscriber opens your email. The sender name is often the main reason why people do or don’t open an email. Test your “From” address by sending your campaigns from a person’s name, person + company, or from your company’s CEO.
- Short vs. long emails: Try a short and sweet approach, and then create another version that’s longer with more details. Shorter emails can link to a targeted landing page if they want more information. Whereas long-form emails can include more of that information directly in the copy. See which one your subscribers prefer, and use more of that format going forward.
- Stay compliant with the CAN-SPAM Act
- Use a double opt-in approach
- Regularly clean your lists
- Don’t send attachments or media
- Follow email marketing best practices
- Avoid spammy words
- Open rate: The number of emails opened compared to the total amount delivered
- Click-through rate: The number of clicks on the link contained in the email message
- Bounce rate: The number of emails that returned an error after being sent (hard or soft)
- Unsubscribe rate: The number of people who unsubscribed to your emails
- Return on investment: The total sales value resulting from an email campaign minus the cost to create it, divided by the same cost — multiply that number by 100 to get your ROI
Optimization tipsHow can you do that? Here are a few methods to making sure your email is optimized for mobile devices:
- Keep the subject line short. Smaller devices mean a smaller space to read your text. Someone who views a subject line on a mobile device is going to see fewer characters compared to someone on a desktop. So, make sure they can still understand what your email is about in the 30 to 40 characters they can view.
- Use a responsive email design. This design ensures the subscriber sees your email correctly, regardless of the device or screen size they use. Most ESPs offer this solution within their email functionality.
- Go with an easy-to-spot CTA. You have limited real estate on a mobile device, so be straightforward with the CTA. It needs to be large enough that they don’t have any issue clicking it with their fingers.
- Time: Between 10 and 11 a.m. (local time)
- Day (best opens): Thursday
- Day (best click-through): Tuesday
- Posting something to your followers about signing up for your newsletter/emails.
- Running a social media ad with a signup form.
- Read your email, subject line, and “From” text.
- Use an editing tool like Grammarly (if your editing skills are lacking)
- Send yourself and a friend or coworker a test email.
How to collect email addressesYou want to create an email strategy that engages your audience. And if you follow all of the techniques we’ve listed above, you’ll be on the right path. But, what if you don’t have much of an audience yet? Don’t worry: We’ll help you with that too! There are a few different ways to collect email addresses, and here are some of the most popular methods:
- Sign-up form on your website. If visitors are interested in your brand, they’ll want to subscribe to your emails so they don’t miss anything.
- Ecommerce site. When someone makes a purchase, follow up with a transaction email and then continue to engage with them from there.
- Lead magnets. Have an ebook, whitepaper, or other content that your audience would find valuable? Post about it on social media, and include buttons or pop-ups to it on your homepage. When people sign up to download the materials, they’ll be added to your email list.
- Physical sign-up sheet. If your brand is more focused on a brick-and-mortar store, be sure to have a sign-up sheet people can add their email addresses to. These can also be useful for events.
- Social media links. Post a link to your newsletter signup on your social media pages. People who follow your pages are already engaging with your brand, so help them take the next step. You can even run a contest that’s only for email subscribers, encouraging them to sign up.
- Use GetEmails. At GetEmails, we identify up to 35 percent of your website’s anonymous traffic via a code snippet that’s placed on your website. We do that through either cookies or a contact database. And yes, you can send marketing emails without opt-ins.
Pick an email service provider (ESP)An important component in having an effective email strategy is picking the right ESP. The ESP is your partner when it comes to sending email marketing campaigns, and they can also take some of the guesswork out of the equation. So, how do you go about picking the right one for your company? There are several to choose from — both with free and paid options — but we’ve put together a list of some of the top ones:
- Mailchimp is one of the leading email service providers and is known for its easy-to-use interface — perfect for beginners wanting to send newsletters and automated messages with little to no learning curve.
- Autopilot allows you to personalize the customer’s experience by sending emails, in-app messages, SMS, and postcards to deliver your marketing.
- Constant Contact gives you the tools you need to manage your email marketing, social media ads, website, and e-commerce store.
- Robly is known for its OpenGen technology, which resends your email campaign within 10 days after the initial send (with a different subject line) to your subscribers who didn’t open it the first time.
- AWeber is pretty intuitive and it integrates well with platforms like WordPress, Facebook and PayPal.
- Drip has a lead-scoring algorithm that tracks a variety of events to show which of your subscribers are the most engaged.