Marketers are being increasingly encouraged to go where our customers are and communicate in ways they prefer. We’re expected to be flexible, be able to pivot and to stay up-to-date on the latest trends. Sometimes that means distinguishing between fads and proven methods and determining if tools like chatbots make sense for our company.
Chatbots and social media are excellent avenues to expand our communication channels and connect with our audience, but email marketing will not be eclipsed by either any time soon. The following stats show just how ubiquitous email is:
- Active email accounts are expected to hit 5.6 billion by 2019 (Source)
- 86% of business professionals prefer to use email when communicating for business purposes (Source)
- 81% of SMBs still rely on email as their primary customer acquisition channel (Source)
If anything, new ways of communicating will complement and augment existing email marketing tools and strategies. This is why you should still be invested in email and continually look for ways to optimize your email strategy and maximize the ROI of your email marketing.
Even though the subject matter is vastly different, high-performing emails have a few things in common. They both have interesting subject lines, the brand personality is very clear in the tone and voice of the copy, there are no obvious mistakes or errors, and the emails are geared towards our interests.
In contrast, it doesn’t take much to create a bad email. Consider how many emails you get in a day from colleagues, salespeople, publications and more. The easiest way to quickly sort through your inbox is to delete emails that look like spam. Salesy subject line? Delete. Rife with spelling mistakes? Delete. Broken links? Delete. Images that don’t load? Delete.
To reduce the chances of your emails being sent straight to the junk folder, here are some things to avoid:
- Clickbait in your subject line. You may be inclined to use catchy or provocative subject lines, but tread carefully. There’s a fine line between compelling and clickbait. Let your personality show, but don’t put contacts off before they even open the email.
- No message preview. Many email clients provide a line or two of preview text under the subject line. You only have so many words in your subject line, so preview text is crucial marketing real estate. Use this extra space as another opportunity to communicate value (why should they open the email?).
- Sending from a generic email addresses. In a world where we expect a degree of personalization from all service providers, sending an email from a generic admin or noreply email address can hurt your email performance. Consider sending emails from an actual email address instead.
- Spelling mistakes. Spelling mistakes are easy to avoid by carefully reviewing your copy. Having a colleague review it will help catch things you may have missed. Something as small as a minor spelling mistake in your subject line can make your emails seem unprofessional and negatively impact your brand.
- Too sales-oriented. Inbound and content marketing is all about helping prospects move through the buyer’s journey. Avoid sending marketing emails that focus more on the product than the customer. If you’re sharing useful, engaging content that helps them with their purchasing decision, there will be a time for product-focused communications later.
- Too many calls to action. It’s easy to use email as an opportunity to ply contacts with links and CTAs, but resist the urge to do too much in a single email. An effective CTA should be clear and concise; your contacts should understand the purpose of the email and know what they’re supposed to do (e.g. fill out a form).
- Email is too long. People spend a lot of their day skimming, reading, sorting, prioritizing, writing and responding to emails. Sending lengthy marketing emails is the surest way to end up in the junk or deleted folder. Be conscious of your recipients’ time when writing your copy.
- Personalization mistakes. If you’re using personalization tokens, be sure to test your emails beforehand to ensure they render correctly. Nothing is more embarrassing than opening with “Hi %FIRST.NAME%” in an email that went to 10,000 people.
- Plaintext emails. While image can add to emails, they aren’t always necessary. If you’re sending an onboarding email, for example, you want it to be a quick, plain note coming from a member of your team, in which case plaintext is perfect. It all depends on why you’re sending the email and who you’re sending it to.
- Not optimized for mobile. A significant number of mobile users regularly look at emails on their phone. To ensure you aren’t missing out on this segment of your contact database, your emails should be optimized for mobile.
This is by no means an exhaustive list and it’s important to note that there are always exceptions to the rule. The above best practices are a good starting point, but remember to test, test and test some more. There are always improvements you can make to increase your open and click rates.
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