If you’re new here, just know I’m not about to make you scroll down a list of mainstream email marketing best practices with a bunch of words that make you feel inadequate. Sure, in the world of email marketing there are certain best practices that everyone follows. To be honest? Some I love and some I don’t agree with. So, I figured why not Liz-ify this shiz and give you a no fluff list that keeps it simple?
The Problem with Traditional Email Marketing Best Practices
Simply put, some best practices ain’t the best. As the cool kids would say “the math ain’t mathin’.” With ever increasing competition, it’s become harder and harder to cut through the noise with generic advice like “always use a call-to-action” or “include social sharing buttons”. #ewgross
Look friend– behind all those email addresses you collect for your list? There are real livePEOPLE! Some of the best practices out there tend to forget that. To truly engage customers, you must be more creative and strategic in how you approach email campaigns.
But don’t worry. Just because I said creative and strategic doesn’t mean I want this to be hard for you. Turn those overthinking wheels off in your brain and let the Fresh Princess of Email ease your mind.
Liz’s Email Marketing Best Practices
Here’s what we’re covering today:
- ways to stand out from the crowd
- How to keep you at top of mind with your audience
- testing different subject lines
- finding unique visuals
- personalizing message copy
- offering incentives
For me, these are the real deal best practices of email marketing. Each one of these will boost customer engagement levels and amplify your brand messaging. And if you do it right, that all leads to dollar signs. Okay?! 🤑🤑🤑
Stop overthinking email
It’s easy to get tripped up over all the info out there about what to do and what not to do when it comes to emailing your list. But one key rule of thumb that will never steer you wrong: don’t overthink it.
Focus on sending messages that are simple and straightforward. Keep it conversational and provide value. If you spend more than an hour researching best practices of email marketing, STOP! You could’ve written an email to your community in less time than that. #shesaidthat
Remember that fine tuning your strategy takes time and experimentation—you won’t always hit the bullseye right away! Action does NOT come from confidence. Confidence comes from taking action. So just start sending emails. 🙂
Get three newsletter ideas for free so you can start emailing today by downloading them here.
My word, my word. If you don’t have consistency, you have nothing in this email game, okay? Aim for consistency above all else. This builds trust and credibility with subscribers so they’ll keep opening your emails instead of hitting delete–or worse! Ignoring your emails altogether. It’s vital to make sure your audience knows what they can expect from you in terms of
See what I did there? Consistency doesn’t necessarily mean you gotta email everyday or week. It just means tell your email subscribers when you’re going to email, what you’ll email about, and how often. Then go out and do what the heck you said you were gonna do.
Set this expectation during your welcome sequence once they’ve opted into your email list. You can get my welcome sequence (with three newsletter ideas) templates right here.
Last bit: When you stay consistent, you can stay top of mind. You become the go-to within your niche.
Example: A RV travel blogger emails her list twice a month. The first Thursday of the month they get a newsletter with updates on the blog, while the third Thursday of the month they receive a quick RV adventure story in their inbox about her travels with a reminder to check out those new blog updates. There’s tons of RV bloggers out there, but the community will go to that person for questions, because her emails are consistent, valuable, and keep the audience engaged.
Subject lines aren’t for Google!
Heck, as I’m writing this blog post, I’m trying to think about how Google will translate this while not sacrificing how I actually talk and teach. But here’s the thing, boo. Unlike our websites and social media content, our broadcast/newsletter emails are not indexed by Google and other search engines.
Furtherrrr…The communities we serve don’t search their emails the same way they do with traditional search engines. Nobody is going into their inbox and typing in, “5 Ways to Fix My RV,” right?
The inbox is so different. It’s an intimate channel where people are finding solutions, but in a much different way. Instead of a Google-like search, our folks are opening up their inbox and searching for someone they want to hear from. And subject lines that were written just for them.
So what to do? An email best practice for subject lines it to write them write as if you’re talking to a friend. One of my most popular and converting email subject lines is “Can I have $9?” This is the exact subject line I would send if I was sending it to just one person….who I really wanted nine bucks from. Ha!
When you’ve crafted a subject line that is relevant to your audience they will skip right past every other email in their inbox. Think about your snail mail. You get marketing flyers, coupons, bills, etc. But what happens when you’re sorting that mail and you see a card from Memaw Wilcox? Just how quickly do you toss every piece of mail aside and open Memaw’s card right away? That.. THAT is our inbox! Become the person they look forward to hearing from. Become Memaw.
(Okay, maybe you don’t resonate with Memaw. But you get what I’m saying, right?)
As far as traditional subject line best practices go, I do agree with the common recommendation that you should try to keep your subject line to five words. People are likely opening their email up on their phones. So you don’t want that subject line to get cut off. It should be really clear what’s going to be inside that email.
Example: All your tax questions answered
I can predict what’s going to be in that email and it’s relevant to me now.
For the love of…have a proper welcome sequence!
Your emails will go straight to TRASH if you don’t welcome your new subscribers properly. 🗑️Your welcome sequence should show off your personality, vision, and values.
When I say personality, I mean surface level personality. There’s no need to get too deep. After all, there’s a point when it becomes oversharing. #IFYKYK
Especially in your welcome sequence, you just want to give enough to get them to connect on a human to human level. Showing off a little bit of personality is going to help our audience determine if they align with us.
For me? People who opt-in to my list will immediately know I’m very 90’s. It’s part of my welcome sequence. Heck, it’s even on my landing page before they even get on my list.
Then there’s our vision. The perfect example is in the movie Forrest Gump. There’s that scene where he gains a huge following running across the nation, but then he abruptly stops in the middle of the desert and says “I’ll think I’ll go home now.”
While it’s one of my faves, that movie got something big wrong. No one is going to blindly follow you if they don’t know where they are going! You’ve got to tell people where they’re going with you– share the vision you have for your future customers! It’s so important. We can’t expect people to stick around while we clog up their inbox if they don’t know what you’re doing for them and where you’re going together.
Our vision gives them clarity on where and why we’re “running,” right?
For me? People who opt-in know almost right away that I want them to make money with email marketing.
People want to buy from brands that they align with–they want to feel good when spending their money with you. One way to make sure you’re both on the same page and that they can feel good when sending their hard earned cash your way? Share your values. Nope, this isn’t me telling you to spew your political beliefs everywhere. But it is an invitation to share what drives you forward in your business. Or maybe why you do business the way you do. Or for whom you do business in the first place.
For me? People on my list learn that one of my values is affordability. I say this right in my welcome sequence. It’s the reason why my prices tend to be much lower than the competition and it drives a lot of my business decisions.
A proper welcome sequence is really about building relationships with your new contacts and encouraging them to open future emails from you. Not because you asked! But because they see value in continuing the relationship beyond whatever lead magnet got them to sign up.
A well written and thought out welcome sequence really is the most important email best practice. I could write a whole dissertation on it, honestly. But in short, remember that when you set up your welcome sequence, it’s showing your new and excited leads that you care about providing quality content. This establishes trust between you and potential customers, which is key for successful email campaigns down the road.
Give it a rinse, cold scrub those lists!
Yep, another great email best practice. Take people who aren’t opening your emails and get them off your email list. I recommend going into your email service provider and scrubbing your list at least two times per year. Four times if your list grows quickly. How to make this an easy practice to follow? Most email service providers have a feature that identifies those subscribers for you.
But wait! Don’t just delete them!
First, send them a series of emails that checks their interest level. For instance, “hey, are you still interested in this topic?” or “Are you still interested in getting emails from me?” We want to save any interested subscribers that may have gone cold simply because of bad timing or others that aren’t actually cold. (Tech isn’t perfect and sometimes mistakes like that happen.)
Scrubbing your list ensures that all contacts are
- interested in receiving messages from you.
Cold scrubbing will also help your overall deliverability rate since you won’t be wasting resources on inactive accounts. Woop to the woop, baby. Need I say more?
Okay fine. I’ll summarize. Cold scrubbing allows you to reach only those people who would be most likely to engage with your message/emails, which helps you create more effective campaigns. 🥳🥳
Do NOT buy an email list
Okay, lemme repeat that in case ya’ll in the back didn’t hear me. Do NOT buy an email list. This is especially true due to GDPR and other regulations in place. Technically, you probably wouldn’t legally be allowed to send emails to some of those subscribers based on their country, because they didn’t give you permission to email them.
At the end of the day, email works because it’s consent based. I go in depth on this in my post Respect the Inbox. When you purchase a list, you take away that consent, therefore taking away that ROI. Which, come on, boo. Email marketing has the highest ROI– why mess up a good thing?
(This does not mean you cannot purchase a whole business to include an email list. But that’s a post for another day. Hit me in the comments if you’ve got questions about that.)
Personalize the experience
Everybody likes a little attention! Greetings at the top of your emails should include your subscriber’s name and include a bit of personality. Again, people want to buy from people they trust. If you’re leaving generic greetings like those mailers in your real mailbox that says “residence of” it’s kind of like you’re saying “I don’t care who reads this, just that someone reads this.”
Which is sooo not the look we’re going for with Liz-ified email marketing, okay?
Using a personal touch in emails is like adding the secret sauce to your marketing efforts. Everyone loves feeling special and that’s exactly what personalized emails do – they make customers feel valued.
You can also add the recipient’s name and other information you’ve gathered throughout the email. I love doing this in a sales email.
CLICK HERE TO GO TO CHECKOUT
I might write
I know you signed up for my list to get better at email, right FIRST NAME? So why not check out the sales page and see if this is the right offer for you?
See how the experience is better?
Be familiar but not predictable
I don’t think this is gonna be on any other best practices of email marketing blog post, but it’s on mine! You absolutely do not want your email newsletters to all look and sound the same. Whether it’s your
It should be familiar but not predictable. Imagine your subscriber seeing your email and thinking…
“I know who this is, but I don’t know what’s inside.”
Predictability makes people confident that they know what’s inside. When your emails are predictable, your subscribers don’t even have to open them to know whether it’s relevant to them or not. They make the decision simply by seeing you pop up.
Yeesh! They’re not even gonna give you a chance?
Nope. Most likely not.
Instead, opt for being familiar. Become a friendly face in the inbox, so to speak. We want them thinking…
“Oh that’s Liz. She always has the best emails. Lemme open that up.”
We do this by switching up our content. Yes! Always make it relevant and on topic/brand, but don’t always make it look the same.
Vary the length of your emails. Change up your signature from time to time. Offer up different points of view. Share a picture for a few weeks, and then stop doing that.
Always be yourself–that’s the familiar part.
But don’t always look and feel the exact same way in the inbox. That’s where you become predictable and people start to drift away.
There are a lot of best practices of email marketing out there, my friend. But the most important thing is to stop overthinking it. Once you’ve nailed that and feel you’re consistent with sending emails you can worry about the rest.
After all, you’ve got a great blog post here to help you.
Stay fresh! (and leave a comment with your questions if you’ve got ‘em. I’m here.)