Three Email Best Practices For High-Performing Campaigns
Creating effective and high-performing email marketing campaigns is a challenging endeavor for any marketer.
While on the surface, an email seems to be a fairly straightforward marketing channel, there are many important foundational aspects that fall into areas such as legal compliance, technical development, database management, analysis and, of course, more traditional marketing aspects like the content, offer, call to action, etc.
When you dig into the details, running a successful email marketing program can seem complicated. However, if you start with some basic best practices, you can get your email program off on the right foot. Here are three useful areas to focus on as you establish your email marketing strategy and deployment plans.
Compliance And List Hygiene
Before you even worry about what we might call the marketing aspects of your email campaign (subject lines, design, images, offers, etc.), you first need to establish a few foundations of your program. Two of the most important are compliance and maintaining a clean email list.
Email compliance encompasses a variety of key aspects, but among the most straightforward and important are providing your recipients with a method to opt out of receiving future emails and a way to collect, process, store and then honor those requests going forward. Generally, this means you include an opt-out link in every marketing email you send, and that either your email platform or compliance and suppression list management platform is processing and ensuring those opt-outs are suppressed from future campaigns.
Don’t take for granted that this is working exactly as it should and in the best way for your business. Make sure you evaluate every aspect of email compliance within your email program and engage with the best technologies and partners to ensure your compliance moving forward.
Similarly, you should not view your email list as an asset that you can simply let sit idle and all will be well. Email addresses go stale as people change jobs or simply stop using old addresses. Some recipients continue to receive your email campaigns but flag them as spam or never open them. All of this activity can negatively impact your email campaigns if you aren’t on top of it.
First and foremost, you want your emails to be delivered. One of the best ways to ensure this happens is to maintain a clean and up-to-date list. Regularly cleanse your list to remove all email addresses that are invalid or undeliverable. Then consider more advanced hygiene, such as removing high-frequency nonresponders. Having a clean email list will help your sender reputation with the various email platforms and, in general, make it more likely that your emails reach recipient inboxes.
Effective Audience Targeting
Email marketing provides marketers with the ability to develop extremely granular audience targeting strategies. Depending on the data you have available on the members of your email list, you can develop an audience segmentation that may reach all the way to one-to-one engagement. However, the key to using audience targeting to its greatest effect is to find the right balance between very broad or limited segmentation and extremely narrow segmentation. At a point, efforts to drive additional segmentation will likely bring diminishing returns, as the time and resources put into it are no longer offset by an improved response.
So, what is the right level of audience segmentation? As with most broad marketing questions, the answer is that it depends. It varies by industry, company, product and email audience, among other factors. The only way to identify the right audience targeting strategy for your business is to test.
If you haven’t used audience segmentation much (or at all) previously, then you should start with some basic segmentation. Think about the makeup of your email list and what you know about each member. Customer or prospect? Recent purchase info? Previous email engagement history? How does some of this data line up with your business model, products or services?
Initially, look to make some basic audience segments, and begin looking at your email performance within each segment. This will help you set some baseline performance metrics for comparison purposes. Then, begin changing certain variables in your email campaigns to each segment. Subject lines, offers, send timing, call to action, etc. Evaluate these different elements and begin testing different options for each one across your audience target segments. Over time, you should start to identify tactics that drive better results for each audience segment.
Just remember that even when you think you have dialed in the perfect audience targeting strategy, continue testing. Over time, even the best marketing strategies will see performance fatigue.
Relevant And Engaging Content
If your favorite part of email marketing is writing content, then we’ve finally reached the section that resonates with you. But, you can’t skip the first two best practices above and jump directly to this one. If your email never gets delivered, engaging content is meaningless. And if you don’t know who your audience is, you can’t really create compelling content that is relevant to recipients.
Once you’re here, it’s time to put on your marketing and creative hat and start developing great email copy, subject lines, offers and other content that grabs your recipients’ attention and gets them to respond. As with any content development, it should be driven by your audience. What matters to them? How will your product or service solve a problem, fill a need or otherwise deliver value? If there is any single strategy in content development that is likely to deliver better performance, it is focusing on your audience, rather than yourself.
Even once you have developed the most amazing content anyone could imagine, remember to test. Even the most compelling content will eventually deliver diminished results. Just as your audience evolves and their interests and needs change, your content needs to evolve with them.
By Tom Wozniak, head of Marketing and Communications for OPTIZMO Technologies, first published on https://www.forbes.com/ August 4, 2020