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Top 6 Best Practices for Your Email Marketing Strategy

Top 6 Best Practices for Your Email Marketing Strategy
Email marketing has been largely acknowledged as having some of the best ROI among all small business marketing efforts. But with so many brands sending out emails, it can be difficult to determine how to create a strategy that produces consistent results. In this article, we will outline six best practices for email marketing that brands should follow.

1. List Segmentation

Gone are the days when you could create an email and send it off to all your subscribers. Your target audience is not homogenous and your email marketing needs to reflect that.  You need to segment your audience—according to demographics, particular interests in your brand, and how they interact with your content.  When you receive subscription requests, you need to analyze your subscribers and determine which group they belong to.  This is to ensure that the right content reaches the right person, at the right time, and in the right way. Segmentation also ties into personalization, which we will be discussing shortly. Here are a few ways that you can segment your list:
  • Job titles
  • Salary ranges
  • Location
  • Demographic
  • Social media use
  • Purchase history
  • Brand loyalty
  • New vs old customer
The above are just a few ways that brands can segment their lists—there is a multitude of points that could lead to segmented lists for a more targeted email marketing approach. Segmentation requires a great deal of analysis, which means you need to get enough data to understand what your customers need from you and how. It would be best to use an email automation tool that will give you these analytics but you can also manually gather some of the data through detailed forms on your website.

2. A/B Testing

No strategy is perfect—all marketers should know that the best way to improve is to test out different hypotheses.  In email marketing, A/B testing is a must—it’s the best way to understand what works and what needs improvement. A/B testing is essentially a controlled experiment—you send your regular email format to one set of subscribers.  Alongside this, you will send an altered version of your email—the one you want to adopt—to a similar list to see which one gets better results. There are a number of ways that you can A/B test your email campaigns.
  • Adopt different subject lines with the same email content
  • Try different calls to action
  • Make subtle variations in the text
  • Vary your newsletter templates
  • Change the time you send out newsletters
When you send out your emails to your separate lists, you should closely examine the results. Remember that a slight increase in click rates and open rates shouldn’t be the determining factor for which method you should use thenceforth. There should be a sizeable increase in open rate—think 10%-20%—for you to determine what your next course of action should be. A number of email scheduling assistants allow you to conduct A/B tests from within the system, but you can also do it manually by splitting up your subscriber list. Keep in mind that A/B testing can take time to yield results and that it is an ongoing process—there are always ways to improve your email marketing and you must be open to it. 

3. Personalization

In point one, we had mentioned the importance of creating segmented lists and one of the chief reasons for that is the rise of personalized content. It is no longer enough to simply send out the same content to everyone—even when a group of people is interacting with your brand, they are doing so in very different ways from each other. You need to understand what your targeted lists need from you so you can personalize your email content for them—thus, increasing the chances of repeat purchases. The reason why personalization works is because of the increasing number of emails people receive in their promotions tab.  There are numerous brands trying to reach the same people—you need to give them a reason to click on your email. The best way to do this is by tailoring your content to your customer segment—make it seem like your content was made specifically for them and not a homogenous group. Personalization requires you to adapt your email subject lines and your salutations for each person receiving the email—this can easily be achieved with automation software. But personalization goes further than greetings—it means creating content, including text and visuals, that will be attractive for each target segment. This does increase the work of the marketer but, at the same time, the ROI is much higher than when you send a generic email to your entire database. 

4. Stay on-Brand

We have already mentioned how people receive numerous emails in their inbox every day.  Even if you manage to segment your lists and personalize your email, how do you ensure that people recognize your brand and don’t confuse it with someone else? This is where branding comes in and it is an important part of all content marketing, not just email marketing. Your brand needs to be memorable but not in-your-face in your email content. You should definitely include your brand logo and use your brand fonts and colors. But that isn’t all you should focus on. There’s a delicate balance between being subtle and being obvious that you must strike. Here are a few ways that you can highlight your brand in your email marketing:
  • Use welcome emails to bring customers into your brand family
  • Share stories about employees and customers
  • Showcase your brand’s CSR or charitable work
  • Highlight employees and their work
  • Include customer testimonials
A company’s brand isn’t just it’s easily recognizable visual elements but the personality and ethics behind it.

5. Call to Action

Your emails must include a call to action—without it, you are not encouraging readers to engage with your brand. Sending people emails with content that doesn’t ask them to do anything is a waste of your time—it’s like reading something for free. You don’t want your email marketing to be so hands-off. You want people to act on your email. To do this, you need to create a perfect call to action—something that is relevant and encourages people to take further steps to engage with your brand. Here are some calls to action that you can adopt:
  • Buy now
  • Visit our store
  • Shop now
  • Get your discount
  • Read more
  • Get your free gift
  • Claim your coupon
  • Download now
  • Watch now
You can tailor your call to action to your content and to your end goal. You should also try A/B testing to see what kind of call to action works best for your email marketing.

6. Set the Right Metrics

Sending out emails, even after segmenting lists and A/B testing isn’t the end goal. You need to know whether the email marketing strategy is working and how you can better it. The best way to do this is by examining certain metrics. But not all metrics have the same weight, nor the same importance for every brand. You need to know which metrics work best for your brand. Certain metrics that are usually associated with email marketing include:
  • Open rate
  • Click rate
  • Opening time
  • Bounce rate
  • Unsubscribers
  • Conversions
  • Purchase rate
  • Revenue generation
Not all of these metrics can be uniformly applied across all emails and all brands.  Some emails that you send may be informational in purpose—you want people to visit a page. Other emails may be geared towards encouraging purchases. You need to plan out your metrics for each email in advance to understand the efficacy of your email marketing strategy. That is the best way to get results.

Summing Up

Email marketing requires time, patience, and practice. By following the above six best practices, you will be in a better position to run email campaigns with high yields and excellent ROI.

About the Author

venngage Ronita Mohan is a content marketer at Venngage, the online infographic and design platform. She enjoys writing about content marketing, productivity, design, the digital world, as well as pop culture, and diversity. Twitter: @Venngage
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