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The Do’s and Don’ts of Email Marketing


Happy female employee work at laptop in loft office, sending emails

We’re all familiar with social etiquette. There are unspoken rules in every interaction. They mean the difference between “Wow, what a nice person!” and “That guy is a weirdo.” And lo and behold, the same is true when you use email. There are some things people love to see in their inboxes and some things polite senders just don’t do.

Mastering this etiquette is the key to successful email marketing. So before you start sending messages to new subscribers or starting fresh nurture campaigns, consider these email marketing best practices and let them shape your marketing efforts.

To be successful in email marketing, you need to master this etiquette.

Before you send a message to new subscribers or launch a fresh nurture campaign, take the time to read this article. Let these best practices shape your email marketing efforts.

Email Marketing Dos

Man opening or sending an email on phone

There are a few guiding principles when it comes to email marketing campaigns, and they function kind of like stairs leading to your destination. Each step brings you one step closer to a sale because clients get to know your brand. 

These “do’s” will help you build trust with your clients and increase your engagement.

Build Your Own List

Here’s the number one rule of email marketing: speak to people who want to listen.

Many businesses are convinced that having more contacts is the fastest way to more sales. So they get impatient building their list. They try to get everyone they know to subscribe. Some even buy lists from third-party companies.

And then they’re all surprised when those “leads” don’t increase sales.

The truth is, a qualified list is always better than a big list. Sure, you can fill your CRM with email addresses, but if those contacts don’t care about your business, they’re not doing you any favors. In fact, they cause your open and click rates to plummet—so you can’t see the content that’s resonating with your real audience. 

Take the time to build your list with ideal prospects. You only want to email people who care about what you have to say.

So, how do you find those people? This is where lead generators come into play. Give away free content in exchange for an email address. Think of a helpful how-to guide or a whitepaper with valuable information. This will attract people who are interested in your company and it will begin positioning you as an authority in their mind. Over time you’ll create a tribe of leads, ready to be nurtured and turned into clients.

Set a Goal for the Email

It’s hard to know if you’re winning if you don’t know how the game is scored. You don’t want to be the guy cheering on the golf course when you have the highest score … only for your buddy to tell you points are bad. 

Before you start sending emails, it’s critical to set a goal for the series. This could be gaining new subscribers, increasing engagement, continuing relationships, or reviving inactive contacts and people who have unsubscribed. The purpose of your communication will guide your email content.

Let’s go back to the golf metaphor. If your friend’s goal was to cream you in a round of golf, then not telling you how to score was a brilliant plan. But if his goal was to play an honest game, then his message should have been: “Remember, the lowest score wins!” 

There are plenty of metrics that can tell you if you’re meeting your email goals throughout a campaign. A few include:

  • Open rates show how many people express some interest in your email.
  • Click-through rates show how many people are engaging with your email.
  • Conversion rates show how many people are convinced by your email.
  • The spam folder shows how many people aren’t seeing your email. (Troubleshoot reasons you might be getting caught by spam filters such as specific wording, link structures, or other firewall issues.)

Once you have a goal in mind, you can set the heading for your campaign. You’ll know how to plan the type of content to send and how to measure success.

Send Welcome Emails

Who doesn’t love a big hug when they walk through the door? Okay, some people don’t. But regardless, it’s always nice to be acknowledged right away. Sending a welcome email to new subscribers shows you noticed them and are grateful they joined your group.

There are plenty of ways to approach this message, but two in particular stand out:

  • “We’re so glad you’re here!” These emails are a simple way to welcome your leads to the party. Use the body of your email to inform customers about your brand, suggest some top-selling products, or encourage them to explore popular services. 
  • “Here’s a little something to say welcome!” This email rewards people for joining your list. You could send a 10% coupon or access to a free coaching session. Remember to add some basic information about your brand as well to keep this from feeling like a promotional email. 

Use Dynamic Content

Words are powerful, but dense walls of text are…well, boring. With so many other things vying for your customer’s attention, your emails have to rise above the noise. That’s why mixing up the type of content in your emails is key to keeping audiences interested.

Spice things up with a video every now and then. Services like Loom let you record yourself or your screen and send it to others, which could be a great way to personally introduce your company. Add pictures to emails, links to social media, and maybe even a GIF if it fits your brand. Be the email people are excited to open because they can’t guess exactly what’s inside.

Email Don’ts

Digital marketing business man sitting on chair using laptop working at home to send marketing emails

Those email marketing dos can be the wind in your “sales,” but there are also mistakes that can sink your ship. Here are a few hazards to watch for as you navigate the foggy waters of customer communication.

Don’t Flood Their Inbox

You’ve probably subscribed to a handful of marketing emails yourself, so you know what we’re talking about. Every time you check your email there are four new messages from the same company with subject lines in all caps trying to make you “BUY THIS THING NOW!” It comes off a little desperate.

Don’t be that company. Instead, time your emails strategically just like you would text messages after a first date. 

  • Send a welcome email immediately. The “I had a nice night. Let’s do it again sometime” message, and leave it at that. The ball is in their court, so give them a chance to shoot their shot.
  • If you haven’t heard from them, but you know they’re interested, put them in a nurture email sequence. This is the follow-up text after the date: “Hey, I haven’t heard from you in a while. How have you been?” Send the first email about a week after your welcome email and deliver consistent information about the product or service they’re considering.
  • Keep the emails in your series spaced about a week apart and run them for 4-6 weeks. Just like in dating, you don’t want to come off as desperate. You want to stay top of mind without constantly demanding their attention.

If this sounds like a lot of work and precise timing, you’re right. But don’t worry, email automation can be a huge help when it comes to timing and content. See what your CRM offers and utilize those capabilities as much as possible.

Don’t Forget the Call to Action

This is the torpedo to your hull, except it was fired by your own ship. Okay, that might be a little dramatic. But our point is that CTAs are extremely important! It’s the directions your customer will follow to take the next step with your brand.

Your CTA should tell customers exactly what you want them to do. You’ve given them all the information about a product or service, so now go buy that product. Or schedule a call to discuss the service. Or show up at our office in a red tutu to get a special discount. 

Telling them what to do isn’t enough, though. You also need to make that action as easy as possible. In emails, the simplest way to do this is with a link. If you say, “schedule a call,” link it to your contact page. If you say “buy a product,” link it to that sales page. This can help boost sales and convert leads.

Don’t Send the Same Email to Everyone

Every single contact on your list is unique. So why would you use the same email template to market to all of them? One of the beauties of digital marketing tactics is the ability to create highly personalized content. Use this to your advantage.

Target your emails to the interests of different user groups to more effectively market specific products and services. Your website and CRM analytics can show you which pages they viewed, what products they were interested in, and even where they are in the customer journey. Create separate nurture series to target those specific interests and speak directly to a customer’s unique needs. 

This is another task that sounds incredibly time-consuming, but there’s a marketing tool to help. List segmentation is an easy way to create buckets for your contacts based on common characteristics. It can help you automatically organize your contacts and send specific email campaigns based on interest or other criteria.

Don’t Ignore Your Metrics

Man analyzing analytical data

We’ll say it louder for the people in the back. Don’t ignore your metrics. It’s impossible to optimize your email marketing strategy if you don’t know how it’s performing in the first place. Regularly checking your metrics is an easy way to take the pulse of a campaign and identify problems early when they’re easy to fix.

The data your CRM gathers from email campaigns is kind of like a marketing cheat sheet. You can see what’s working and what needs to be improved. Usually, it’s easy to determine why something is succeeding or falling behind, but sometimes it’s not so obvious. 

For example, why are people opening emails but not clicking through? To find the source of the problem you could use A/B testing. Maybe the font you chose is too aggressive, the colors are unattractive, the CTA button is too small, or even the pre-header might be confusing. A/B testing allows you to try out variations of the same email to see to which version customers respond best.

In Email Marketing, Always Use Your Manners

Now you know the major rules of polite email society, so it’s time to put them to use. We love helping brands hone their email marketing and target the right leads at the right time. Schedule a call to chat with us to see how we can help you create effective email campaigns!

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