Hear me loud and clear: Email marketing works.
In fact, it delivers astonishing results with an average ROI of 3800%. Need another impressive statistic to convince you?
Email is the third most influential source of information for B2B audiences behind colleague recommendations and industry thought leaders.
If your 2021 marketing plan doesn’t include email, there’s still time to build your strategy. While your mind is racing with ideas for nurture campaigns, lead generation and follow-up emails, consider the essential elements that should be included in every email before you jump into your automated email marketing tool (HubSpot is our platform of choice).
As part of our internal proofing and QA process, we use this checklist to ensure best practices are in place.
❏ Write clear and clickable subject lines.
❏ Keep it short — 41 characters or 7 words — it shouldn’t sound like a marketing email, but an email from a business acquaintance.
❏ Include the first name when relevant, but don’t go overboard on personalization.
❏ Preview text should build on the subject line.
❏ Subject line and preview text together should cover what the offer is, why it’s important and how to get it if possible.
❏ Send your emails from a real person (name and email address), not your company. Even in automated follow-up emails, nobody likes to receive emails from a bot.
❏ Use the inverted pyramid methodology.
❏ Keep your emails concise. Unless it’s a newsletter, emails should have one core goal or focus.
❏ Don’t allow any distractions from the core goal. All links in the email should drive toward the goal.
❏ Use personalization — such as first name and/or company.
❏ Write like you talk. Don’t make it just another easy-to-spot marketing material.
❏ Place at least one clickable item above the fold.
❏ Include noticeable text links.
❏ Add alt text to all images.
❏ Include one call-to-action button per email. Multiple CTAs in an email dilute your message and goal. (See new research about CTA click-through rates.)
❏ Use non-abrasive copy in CTA buttons. Instead of “Buy Now!” try “Learn More Today.” Remember, the goal at this point is to get a click. Once you have that, your landing page can tell the next part of the story.
❏ Add alt text to your CTA image to ensure the viewer knows what they’re being offered if the email doesn’t render correctly.
❏ Be selective to who receives the email. You want only the most relevant people to receive your message.
❏ Don’t be afraid to “clean up” your contact list. Remove any contacts who haven’t engaged with your emails or website within the past year.
❏ Don’t send to disengaged contacts unless it’s necessary for all contacts to receive the email.
Time of Send
❏ Best practice is to send emails between 9 and 11 a.m. You could test other times to see what works best for your audience.
❏ Do a quick review of past sends to see if a particular send time has worked better than others. Let the analytics guide your strategy.
❏ Preview and test your emails before sending them. Be sure to check all links and view them on desktop and mobile devices.
Refine and Resend
❏ Did your email not perform as expected? Dig into the analytics to gain insight on how to improve. For example, a low click rate often is caused by a shoddy list or a stale subject line. A high open rate and a low click rate is often due to a weak CTA.
❏ Make small changes, do an A/B test, and try again.
As you dig deeper into email marketing, you’ll discover what works best for you and your audience. Email marketing best practices and trends will continue to change over time. Stay nimble with your tactics and efforts, make time for continuous learning and experiment with new ideas.
Remember, when executed correctly email marketing will appear in its simplest form: one human being talking to another human being.