Email marketing has long been the cornerstone of every digital marketing strategy. The reason is simple: it works.
Email is the primary method by which consumers want to hear from a trusted brand, it is cost-efficient and effective, and accordingly offers an unbeatable ROI when compared to other digital channels. In fact, for every $1 you spend on email marketing, you can expect an average return of $36 (Litmus’ 2021 State of Email Survey).
Email plays a significant role for businesses in not only advising their existing customer base on promotions and company updates, or strengthening relationships, but also allows you to safely collect customer data to continue personalizing communications.
If you’re looking to ramp up your email marketing in 2022, this guide will cover off the 10 best-practice email marketing rules to follow when crafting your emails. Plus, we'll share the most important metrics to track, and how to stay out of spam folders.
10 ways to level up your email marketing practices
Adding personalization to your emails isn’t a new concept, but it is a simple, effective way to grab the reader's attention immediately and make your content more relevant to their needs. The average email open rate across all industries sits at 21.5%, while personalized emails perform better with a 26% open rate (Campaign Monitor).
Personalization can be as simple as adding a contact’s first name into the subject line, or using a unique greeting based on their timezone. While these are nice to have, personalization can be much more granular. Such as using the prospects’ website visits to send them content matching what they showed interest in.
For example, using a platform like Ortto and our Google Ads integration can allow you to track visits to unique pages, and use previous contact behavior (saved in your CDP) to send a personalized email follow-up. All automated. This kind of personalization is based on taking a contact’s preference data and tailoring your content to suit.
2. Relevant content only
There are more than 333 billion emails sent and received every day (Statista), and that number is set to grow to 376.4 billion by 2025. This highlights two things: firstly, email marketing is a powerful channel of communication, and; secondly, it will become increasingly difficult for brands to compete for the attention of their audience.
This is why it is integral that your content is actually relevant to your audience's interests. You should know what those interests are based on data. For a lead, what was the lead source? For a return customer, what have they purchased before, and what has their engagement been either with your website or your communications?
And if you still don’t know — ask. With a simple data enrichment email, you can ask your contacts to identify exactly what they need or want. Again, increasing the preference data at your disposal and enables you to tailor email content to their interests and needs.
We also recommend using A/B split tests for your content. In an A/B split, you can segment a portion of your contacts away from the rest to selectively target them and test out two pieces of content. For example, two different subject lines or layouts.
3. Keep your emails simple
It’s important not to overwhelm your customers with such an onslaught of information and several CTAs, only to have them scrolling 10 times over. An over-stimulus of content within your emails will only deter people.
Sending simpler emails will keep your email focused on just one central idea that the reader will be able to grasp instantly. This shows that you value the reader’s time and you’re not trying to suffocate them with too many offers, irrelevant information, or junk content.
You can even send out a few different versions of emails and conduct A/B split testing using Ortto. This will help determine what format or content works best for your readers.
More than 14% of commercial emails will never reach an intended recipient’s inbox. It’s why building and maintaining a high sender reputation is so important, as a relevant, personalized email has no value if it’s never read.
There are a number of ways to improve your sender reputation, but you should focus on two in particular when approaching a campaign.
Firstly, avoid the use of any spam trigger words in your email subject line. Typically, these words can be grouped into these 6 broad categories:
The second consideration is the audience you have created for your email campaign, ensuring it is a quality list of subscribed contacts. Short term, if your subscribers are unengaged, this will reduce engagement rates (opens and clicks) and reflect on the performance of the campaign. Long term, it will also impact your deliverability as email clients use these engagement metrics to judge the quality of your sends.
One suggestion is to set up a list-specific unsubscribe option in your emails or an option to reduce the frequency (e.g. from once a week to once a month), to allow contacts to opt-out of some emails, rather than all of them. This will ensure subscribers who are not interested and won’t engage with those email types can be removed, improving the quality of your lists.
Manipulative: creating unnecessary urgency or pressure
Needy: sounding desperate or exaggerated claims
Sleazy: being too pushy
Cheap: no pre-qualifications, everybody wins
Far-fetched: statements that are too good to be true
Shady: ethically or legally questionable behavior
5. Optimize for mobile
It’s 2022, very few of us ever leave the house without our phones, and still only 73% of companies optimize their emails for mobile devices. Given that people check their emails on their mobile device more than any other device type, it’s surprising that email optimization rate is not a number one priority for every business.
If you want to talk about low-hanging fruit to level up your email marketing practices, this is it. The same report also states that 50% of readers will immediately delete an email that doesn’t display properly on their devices.
Put mobile first! Focus on how your emails look on mobile, before worrying about how it will look on a laptop or desktop. This is easy to achieve in Ortto, when you preview your email campaign, simply click the mobile toggle to see how the email looks.
6. Craft an enticing subject line
There’s no point in creating the best email in the world if no one will read it. Your subject line can mean the difference between impressive open rates or landing you in spam folders.
Your best bet to ensure the latter doesn’t happen is to avoid using spam trigger words such as “no catch,” symbols like $$$, and writing in all caps. Instead, craft subject lines that are likely to grab your reader’s attention, sell what’s inside the email, and are too good not to click.
Capturing the attention of your audience may involve taking some time to work out what gets your audience interested. Generally speaking though, the perfect subject line should be relevant, straightforward, and smart. It should never be generic and you should always avoid copying what your competitors are saying.
If you are looking for inspiration when creating a captivating subject line, Ortto’s AI functionality can provide some excellent copywriting suggestions. The more emails you send the more it can learn with what makes your customers click!
7. Use email templates
Work smart, not hard. Templates allow you to save an incredible amount of time as you don’t need to format every single aspect of your email. Templates are usually created with all the best-in-practice elements included. All the CTA’s are in the right spot, there’s the perfect level of copy versus imagery to engage the customer and provide a better user experience to your audience.
Templates also mean you’re not writing fresh copy from scratch every time. With the base of content there, you can simply tweak it to fit in with your company’s tone and messaging. We do want to stress the importance of not using the template word for word. Add your own spin and brand identity to it, that way, your customers feel your brand's authenticity. Ortto has a range of templates to get you started on the right path, log into your account now to explore the templates that suit your brand.
8. Know your optimal email send times
There’s no single perfect time to email your subscribers — it varies by demographic, industry, and the habits of your contact base. What you can do, however, is experiment your way to the optimal send time for your situation using Ortto’s A/B testing functionality.
As you start testing your emails, be sure to ask yourself questions such as:
Once you discover the best send time for your situation, you can then automate your sends within specific delivery windows.
Do we get more opens on Wednesdays or Fridays?
Are our click-through rates higher with 8 am or 2 pm sends?
Is it better to ping West Coast subscribers in the morning or at the end of the day?
9. Don’t send too many emails
It’s a nice feeling when you discover the optimal email send time for your audience but make sure you resist the temptation to bombard them with emails. If you send emails to the same list too frequently, you’ll start to annoy your users and your unsubscribe rates will increase.
The optimal frequency largely depends on the journey or campaign type. For example, a drip nurture campaign requires you to maintain a regular cadence of communication with leads, so an email every 2 to 4 weeks is appropriate. However, onboarding or product trial journeys are designed to educate users quickly, so 5 to 10 targeted emails within 30 days would be the expectation.
10. Check your emails before sending
Finally, be sure to test your emails. We are not just talking about the all-important spell checks and making sure all the links are working. Check that the email looks great on mobile, that none of the images are broken, and your message and call to action are crystal clear. Having a fresh pair of eyes (or more!) go through it will work wonders.
5 Email marketing metrics you should be tracking
We know how powerful email marketing is, but you are what you measure and if you’re not tracking and evaluating the success of your campaigns, you’ll never improve your results
Measuring the performance of your email campaign involves looking at several different metrics. While there’s no need to analyze every single metric, it’s important to determine to pay attention to a handful. We’ve compiled a list of the 5 most important metrics to help you find out if your email marketing practices are working.
This metric tells us how many subscribers opened your email. The higher the rate, the better you’re performing…to a certain extent. While it’s great that people are opening your emails, if your customers are not clicking on the embedded links or responding to your calls to action (CTA), then it’s time to review your content.
The open rate is a reliable indicator of how many readers have cast their eyes over your email. This helps marketers understand whether their readers are engaged and assesses the effectiveness of the subject line as well as the key factor that prompts the recipient to open the email.
Often referred to as CTR, this metric tells us how many people clicked on the links embedded in your email. Strongly correlated with user engagement, the CTR tells us whether:
your content is interesting or useful (and therefore, engaging)
the CTA is effective
your email is easy to understand and respond to
If your open rate is high but you’re not seeing good results elsewhere, you can look at your CTR to identify specific areas of the email that may need work.
Sometimes, emails don’t get delivered; the bounce rate refers to the percentage of emails that are returned. There are many reasons why this happens; perhaps there was a temporary or permanent issue with your recipient’s mail server, or maybe the email address was entered incorrectly.
It’s normal for new email lists to have a higher-than-average bounce rate. Over time though, the bounce rate should plateau; ideally, you should aim for a bounce rate of less than 1%.
It’s not a great feeling when people unsubscribe from your emails. That said, it’s worth paying attention to the reasons why they hit the “unsubscribe” button. Perhaps your readers aren’t interested in your offers, maybe they don’t find your content engaging, or maybe they don’t actually mind reading your emails but they think you’re sending way too many of them.
The goal is to keep the unsubscribe rate as low as possible; at the same time, we must accept the fact that people will unsubscribe here and there. It’s nothing personal, just a chance to learn more about your ideal audience.
This is a crucial metric in any campaign. The conversion rate is calculated by dividing the number of conversions (for example, sales or sign-ups) by the number of emails either delivered, opened, or clicked. The aim is for your conversion rate to be as high as possible, after all, more conversions equal more revenue.
What should your conversion rate be? It depends on your goal. You can get started by benchmarking your conversion rate directly from recipients clicking on your item and taking action, then optimize it by continual testing and tweaking. And if you notice your conversion rate dropping at any point, then something needs to be refined (for example, your messaging or content experience).
Putting it all together
Measuring and analyzing your email marketing metrics is the key to qualifying and converting more quality leads. The actions you take as a result of your metrics will determine the direction of your efforts and the quality of your outcomes.
Ortto makes it easy for you to track all of these metrics (and more) in one spot. Easily build reports to help answer questions across the entire customer journey and empower your team to incorporate any learnings into the next email campaign.
Staying out of spam folders
For every 5 emails you send, 1 will fail to land in your intended recipient’s inbox. This means that 20% of opportunities to connect with your customers are being missed.
Using spam trigger words in subject lines, intentionally or otherwise, isn’t the only factor hurting your email deliverability. The following things may also be preventing your emails from being received:
Your emails may contain triggers such as poor HTML codes and excessive punctuation;
You’re not practicing good email list hygiene;
Your emails aren’t engaging enough;
You’re not complying with data privacy laws; and
Your contacts haven’t given you their explicit permission to receive your emails.
If these are ringing some warning bells, don’t stress, we have 5 email marketing practices to keep your emails from landing in spam folders.
Be cautious with HTML codes, capital letters, and exclamation marks
Spam filters spot bad HTML codes from miles away, especially if they’re done in Microsoft Word or by placing plain text in an element that’s intended to be rendered as HTML. If you’re not a coder, you may be prone to creating sloppy HTML templates, resulting in emails being sent to spam folders.
Additionally, spam filters check for other red flags such as messages in ALL caps, the use of too many exclamation marks!!!!!, emails missing an unsubscribe button, and links to dodgy websites.
Clean out your mailing list regularly
A clean list is a must when it comes to getting your emails delivered to your subscribers’ inboxes.
Email list hygiene is a process that involves verifying or removing invalid or inactive email subscribers from your database. Here’s what will happen to your business if you don’t clean out your database regularly:
The more unengaged subscribers you have, the lower your overall open rates will be
Together, low open and engagement rates lead to an impact on your sender reputation
The lower your sender reputation, the lower your deliverability rate
When your deliverability rate is low, your emails may even be marked as spam
There are several ways you can clean your email list. Traditionally, this process of cleaning involves manually segmenting email lists and filtering out disengaged contacts, one by one. We understand that this process can be time-consuming and tedious for businesses with large databases.
Once these disengaged contacts have been cleaned out, it’s important to note that they have not actively unsubscribed from your emails. This means that you can still try to reach out to them in an attempt to re-engage, creating the appropriate customer journey for them.
Comply with data privacy laws
Data breaches have become increasingly common in today’s digital world. Legislation such as the CAN-SPAM Act and the GDPR now govern how businesses and marketers can promote or sell a product or service. Failure to comply may result in your business being slapped with severe penalties.
There are a number of ways to ensure your business complies with the various data privacy laws, including the following:
Consider giving customers a chance to double opt-in
Avoid using false or misleading information
Give contacts a simple way to access their data — and opt-out of your emails
Allow contacts to have their data deleted from your database
Honor all opt-out requests quickly
Consider a double opt-in
You should only email people who have given you their explicit consent to receive your emails. There are two sign-up methods available when it comes to email marketing:
A single opt-in process requires the subscriber to enter their email address once in the sign-up field on a website and they immediately become a subscriber.
A double opt-in involves a two-step process where a person enters their email in the sign-up field but must then click on a link in a confirmation email to confirm their subscription.
Use Ortto to configure a double opt-in process to help improve your email engagement and deliverability rates high.
The final word
There’s no magic bullet to drastically improve your engagement rates, sales and ultimately bottom line. However, these tips are simple yet effective email marketing practices to consider every time you build a campaign or playbook. Commit to gathering insights and continuously improving your campaigns. In time, you’ll start to see the benefits and reap ROI on your email marketing spend well in excess of that $36.
To start implementing these email best practices, log in or sign up to your Ortto account today.