Email Marketing Best Practices

Email marketing is a great way to increase business and generate additional revenues from current and prospective customers. Additionally, email marketing is an excellent way to monetize traffic that went to your site in the past, but did not convert. When starting an effective email marketing campaign, you may come across the following questions:

How do I go about getting a list for my email marketing campaign?

Generating a list for your email marketing campaign can be accomplished in many ways. In a previous post we discussed ways of generating revenues from free content and other free giveaways. This is a great way of building your list. Be certain to make sure you have a way of users to opt-in to your email list. Opting in ensures your business stays in compliance with the 2003 Congress action – Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing (CAN-SPAM) Act to curb spam.

Another option for getting a list for your email marketing campaign would be buying a list. While this option is widely available – it’s not a recommended option. If you buy a list you can’t be assured that subscribers have opted in to receive your offers and it’s likely you won’t know until you start to receive complaints from your ISP. If you get too many complaints from your ISP – you may be barred from sending out emails and this can be a costly problem to have.

Some companies may offer your business the option of renting a list from them. While on the surface this may seem like a good idea – the rental company takes on most of the risk, but be wary as you may have no way of remarketing to this group. In addition, this is a very expensive way of generating a list for your email marketing program and in some cases are not the right customers you would like to be targeting.

The most obvious way of creating a list is to reach out to your past customer base. This is a great way to generate referrals for your products or repeat purchases. When customers purchase from your site or even abandon their shopping carts – as long as they are opted in you can continually advertise to them via your email marketing campaign.

How often should I send out emails to people on my list?

You should send out emails consistently to your list, but more important than timing is the quality of your email content. Your subscribers and your ISP will reward you for sending out relevant/quality emails and in the reverse penalize you for sending out junk/spam. Sending non-relevant emails to your list will also cause you to get ignored, deleted or sent to spam. It is also important to note that email addresses not sent to within the past six months may be of a lower quality. This is something that tracking can help you test. Depending on how often you send emails to your list you may build up trust and credibility with your audience. Testing will help you determine how often you should send your email (without receiving unsubscribes). We also posed this question to our pals on Twitter and I think the responses are very interesting.

What should my emails contain?

Any email that you send should include information that users find valuable. Some useful ideas include sales, discounts, how to articles, electronic magazines and the like. For any email that you send out it is important to keep your calls to action clear and you should clearly let the recipient know what you want them to do. Industry best practices suggest that your ‘call-to-actions’ should usually steer people back to your website.

Other important areas you should pay special attention to include the subject line of your email and your images. Your subject line should include your brand name and remember that only the first 40 characters often appear within most email boxes. Any images should be optimized for the preview pane and there should be alt-tags on all images. Alt-tags are HTML tags that can easily be added to show alternative text to users with images turned off within their email boxes. ALT-Tags are also great additions to your emails for users with certain disabilities and for users with slow connection speeds.

How do I know if my email marketing campaign is successful?

Testing is key to finding out if your email marketing campaign is successful. You may consider your email campaign a success if you have a 3% click-through rate to your website or if you generate revenue in excess of your costs of running the campaign. The important point to keep in mind is that through testing of set variables within your email marketing campaign you may find yourself generating additional visits to your site, higher user engagement or even higher revenues from a set of traffic that you may otherwise not have focused your efforts on.

Email marketing is and can be a great option for many businesses, if you plan your strategy and continue to test your offers on a consistent basis.