As an outreach channel, email marketing offers a great opportunity to connect with your audience, nurture leads and meet prospects at a critical point in the buyer’s journey.
A few email marketing best practices can help not only improve that interaction, but propel your email marketing performance and ROI to a new level.
Here are a few tips to optimize your email marketing strategy and build a campaign that gets results.
7 Email Marketing Best Practices to Increase Campaign ROI
- Segment your email lists
- Personalize each message
- Choose the right time to send
- Optimize email loading times
- Engage customers with visuals
- Maintain suppression lists
- Don’t waste subject lines
1. Segment your email lists
People do their buying in stages. And if your email marketing strategy isn’t delivering the info prospects need when they need it (at the right stage), you’re unlikely to get the results or ROI you need to justify your email budget.
By segmenting your email list into groups, you’re better equipped to tailor your message to customers at different stages in the sales funnel, creating content that’s both relevant to each group’s needs and more likely to inspire engagement.
For small businesses, this email marketing best practice is a powerful alternative to the “casting a broad net” approach that, though it has the widest appeal, fails to capture genuine interest or persuade customers to take the next step.
How do I segment my email list?
Here’s a look at effective ways to segment your emails and customize your email marketing campaign:
- Narrow your targets by asking readers about their interests in the introductory email
- Create groups based on past purchases (returning customers vs. new customers)
- Segment groups by location to optimize engagement
- Divide lists by relationship or customer status (special event attendees, partners, etc.)
2. Personalize each message
Want people to open your emails? Meeting consumers where they’re at is important, but taking the time to personalize your email messaging strategy is essential to stimulating interaction and pulling customers one step closer to your business.
People are 26% more likely to open emails with personalized subject lines than those that say “Check out this offer. ”
Messages with personalized imagery (based on customer data and location) experience a nearly 30% uptick in clickthrough rate than those without, while emails containing personalized offers improve conversion rates by an average of 10%.
This significant increase demonstrates the potential of personalization on email marketing ROI.
One of the more effective email marketing best practices out there, personalized email strategies allow you to speak to subscribers on a truly individual level, grabbing their attention with relevant, impactful messaging and communicating solutions that address their unique pain points.
3. Choose the right time to send
Grouping emails by location is one way to customize your campaign and connect with different portions of your target audience.
People are more likely to open and engage with emails at certain times of day, making each customer’s time zone a crucial consideration when developing a performance-based email marketing strategy.
A recent study found consumers are most likely to open emails on Tuesday, with Monday and Friday rounding out the top three. Further research has shown the best times to send marketing emails and improve open rates are 10am (shortly after they’ve arrived at work) and 1pm (when they’re sorting through messages after lunch).
What’s more: nearly a quarter of emails are open within an hour of being sent (email open rates fall below 1% after 24 hours from delivery).
With so much competing for your customers’ attention over the course of a day – and an average global email open rate of just over 22% – choosing the right time to automate your email sends is one of those email marketing best practices you can’t afford to ignore.
What to know: Thursday has the worst email open rate during the week, with weekend days experiencing the worse rates overall.
4. Optimize email loading times
Timing and personalization are critical email marketing best practices and key to optimizing email open rates.
But if your emails don’t open and load fast, you can count on losing your customer’s attention and valuable marketing ROI.
Slow load times, especially on mobile, have a dramatic impact on email deletion and subscription rates, as messages taking three seconds or more to load are likely to hit the recycle bin (with 15% of users unsubscribing altogether).
This makes it imperative to understand what impacts email performance and how to improve load speeds wherever possible.
Major factors affecting email load speed (and deliverability)
- Too many images. Each image included in your emails requires an additional request to the server, which can slow downloading speeds.
- Print-optimized images. Print-optimized images tend to be quite large (some as large as 10MB) and severely burden load speeds.
- Unnecessary white space. Too much white space within images may slow down message loads significantly.
- Extensive messaging. Large chunks of content/information can negatively affect load time and subscriber interest.
File size is the main culprit behind slow email load times, making it important to rein in file and image sizes when crafting your emails. Your email marketing engagement and ROI depend on it.
5. Engage customers with visuals
More than ever, content is visual. Images, graphics and other visual elements not only inject some personality into your messaging, but are an essential best email marketing practice key to grabbing attention, driving engagement and enhancing campaign ROI.
When selecting images to boost your performance-based email marketing strategy, be sure each is clear, inviting and relevant to your brand identity.
Note that many email marketing services resize images to improve visibility, and that adjustments will likely be made before making it to the customer’s inbox.
To reiterate, overuse of graphics and images can delay load times, making it crucial to choose and incorporate visuals carefully.
6. Maintain suppression lists
Holding onto nonmailable contacts lists not only helps ensure your email marketing campaigns are compliant with current CAN-SPAM requirements, but may also help when it comes to identifying and creating outreach opportunities down the road.
With suppression lists within reach, your email marketing pros can quickly eliminate or exclude contacts who wouldn’t find your current focus relevant, as well as to identify candidates for any re-engagement campaigns currently on the table.
Profile information and past email engagement gleaned from suppression lists can also help determine any prospects who may still have interest in existing products or services and who may be receptive to a more targeted approach in the future.
People are typically added to suppression lists when:
- They mark one of your emails as spam
- They unsubscribe from your mailing list
- A hard bounce has taken place
7. Don’t waste subject lines
Any email marketing best practices list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning subject lines.
With tens or hundreds of emails coming through a person’s inbox every day, a catchy subject line is what helps your messages stick out, avoid the recycle bin and compel clicks. This makes a good subject line strategy a crucial piece of the email marketing puzzle.
Never overlook or skip through subject line development when building your drip email marketing campaign. The benefits of a good subject line strategy are nearly endless when it comes to engagement and email marketing ROI.
How to create the perfect email subject line
- Keep it short. No more than 50 characters or between 4-6 words is a good rule of thumb
- Keep it personal. People respond to messages that address them as individuals
- Be urgent. Creative calls-to-action must be genuine and strategic
- Be clear. Tell them upfront what they’ll find inside your email
- Be mysterious. Improve your open rates by appealing to their curiosity
- Be relevant. Capitalize on timely topics or and trends whenever possible
- Make an offer. Highlighting an offer is an effective way to get your emails noticed