This handy article covers 10 email marketing best practices that - when applied - will greatly boost your results with email.
In fact, applying these principles can often mean the difference between an email campaign that produces an impressive ROI, generating you more revenue while also creating loyal fans in the process - and one that bombs hard.
Did you know that email marketing STILL vastly outperforms every other marketing channel by up to 38X when you look at ROI numbers?
In essence, that means that for every $1 you spend on email marketing, you can expect $38 in revenue on average.
In today's world, that's pretty much unprecedented!
Not only that but you also OWN your email list...
...unlike other channels that put you at the mercy of their search algorithm or terms of service.
When there's real money involved, you need assets that you can control. Just like your email list.
And because of that, smart marketers say that the 'money is in the list'.
And you know what? They're totally right.
Your email list is one of THE most important (and valuable) assets in your business.
But you have to use it wisely.
So that's why I wrote this post. The 10 email marketing best practices explained here will help you make the most out of your incredibly valuable list in 2020 and beyond!
This article is part of a bigger Copywriting Resource Hub. If you want to learn more about the exact science of converting casual leads into profitable customers, you might want to take a look at it.
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Email Marketing Best Practice #1: Always Give Value
'Always Be Giving Value, Even When Selling'
WHY IT WORKS: It's a well-known fact that giving someone something in advance creates a need for reciprocity.
Or in other words, they'll want to give something back to you with greater probability (this could be buying more stuff from you, sharing your emails more often, or even simply opening them more in anticipation of a "reward", a.k.a, your valuable content.
Problem is, nowadays, everybody is trying to add value...
There are endless amounts of lead magnets, checklists, free consultations, ebooks - you name it.
And since most of these are crap, people have grown much more reluctant to give away their email address and ATTENTION just to receive your free resource.
Nowadays, the REAL value is giving them something that cuts through all the clutter and can genuinely help them, based on their unique needs (and that's exactly why Best Practice #5 is so important).
But what constitutes genuinely helpful value?
It depends, mainly on the context.
Since you're here reading this post about email marketing best practices (when you could be binge-watching Netflix instead), chances are, you'll get a lot of value from a quick & easy go-to resource that can help you boost your email game consistently.
Just like my 27-point Ultimate Email Checklist. Check it out and discover how you can ensure your emails consistently get more opens, clicks, and sales.
So remember to always give value in your emails, regardless of their objective, and you'll no doubt see a massive boost in your open rates and click-through rates.
Email Marketing Best Practice #2: Respect Your Subscribers
'Treat your subscribers with respect and develop a relationship with them '
WHY IT WORKS: In 2020, there's a huge need for genuine business relationships. Too many people have been burned before.
In this post-social media attention-starved world, people are craving good relationships because deep down, most of them are lonely, and the last thing they want is to feel like being just another number.
Sure, Average Subscriber Value, Lifetime Customer Value, and Earnings Per Click are important - but the most important thing is to handle them like human beings, not drones.
Unfortunately, a lot of email marketers still have the mentality of "Milking the list", a.k.a. treating people like an udder, useful only for extracting resources (like an ATM).
It's a big mistake.
Bombarding your readers with promotional emails non-stop will quickly burn them out, and make them despise you. Never do this, please. Instead, build actual relationships, because here's the thing:
Your email list is actually one of - if not - THE most important assets you own in your online business. So you gotta treat it like such and take care of it.
Email Marketing Best Practice #3: Have Good Copywriting
'Use email copywriting to transform your message from boring to high-converting'
WHY IT WORKS: Copywriting allows you to have an emotional impact on people so that they actually take action and click on your link - instead of doing the default thing they always do: nothing.
While this post isn't necessarily about copywriting, it's such an extremely powerful concept that it cannot be ignored.
If you only take away ONE thing from this email marketing best practices guide, let it be this: Copywriting is the highest value skill you can ever learn.
When you learn how to truly speak to your ideal customer's pains, fears, hopes, and dreams, and you can connect with them emotionally... they'll gladly open their hearts (and wallets) for you.
And although learning copywriting (especially email copywriting) isn't a walk in the park, here are 5 super-simple but deceptively powerful copywriting best practices that you can use in your next email to create a nice boost in your results.
For more information on the 5 Stages of Awareness (and why it should be the basis for each and every single one of your marketing efforts), check out my in-depth video about it.
Also, for an awesome example of good email copywriting, check out my in-depth case study about a sales email that helped catapult a Kickstarter campaign to over $100k+.
Email Marketing Best Practice #4: Know Your Subscribers
'Uncover the pains, fears, hopes, and dreams of your audience to hook them emotionally'
WHY IT WORKS: People convert into customers much easier when they feel like you understand them and you have emotional rapport.
Look, I mentioned this in an email best practice above, and I'll mention it again because it's that important: You should *primarily* sell anything based on emotions (and not with logic).
Unlike what many marketers think, people aren't rational animals.
It may often SEEM like you can logic your way to success - but in reality - people don't give a squat about you or your product (or your arguments).
They only care about their own needs and problems.
It's your job to discover those needs and problems, and offer a relevant solution that can help these people overcome their challenges and reach their ideal situation.
And you do this by developing a genuine relationship with your subscribers, giving them value with each email (ex: good content, valuable discounts, stories, funny things, case studies), and investing time and effort into knowing them better.
Once you do and you've earned their trust, you can use this to gather valuable customer research information regarding their true needs, problems, hopes, and dreams via surveys, questionnaires, interviews, or just simple email replies.
Here's a great methodology for using surveys to gather extremely valuable data from your subscribers quickly and efficiently.
Finally, once you have this information, you just build a product that addresses the unique needs of your target audience and they'll LOVE you for it.
However, this all starts with you knowing your subscribers first.
Email Marketing Best Practice #5: Segment Your List
'Segment your list and start sending people personalized, specifically targeted emails.'
WHY IT WORKS: People prefer something that they feel like was made specifically for them and their needs.
Alright, all of the other email marketing best practices up until this point have been kind of leading up to this: email segmentation - the often-overlooked bastard child of email marketing.
Some people don't use it at all. Others totally overuse it and get buried under complicated automation systems and a messy back-end.
The problem is that due to our modern lifestyle, we've gotten used to personalized experiences and customized offers... so it's not enough to send the same cookie-cutter emails to everyone on the list.
So how should you approach email segmentation?
Well, if you're a solopreneur or you're just starting out, your capacity for advanced segmentation strategies will be pretty limited, and it's totally fine if you start with a simple post opt-in email offering people 2-3 options that they can click on to get 'tagged' for different autoresponder campaigns.
However, it's undeniably true that more segmentation = higher conversion rates = more revenue.
So if you have the budget/capacity for this, you should definitely build out advanced automations in your email marketing software, as well as personalize your website with dynamic content that's synced to your email list.
Well, it is... but you don't necessarily have to do it alone.
For example, if you're using ConvertKit, Brennan Dunn has a game-changing online course on how to make the most of it with robust automation & segmentation strategies.
I joined this course as soon as it came out and it completely changed the way I see email marketing and personalization.
It's a lot of work to build all of these out, but it will no doubt supercharge the effectiveness of your email list (which, remember, is one of THE most valuable assets you can have in your online business!)
Email Marketing Best Practice #6: Don't Be Sleazy
'You're better than that... gain respect and loyal fans by leaving scammy sales tactics behind'
WHY IT WORKS: In an interconnected world where the customer has a myriad of options, sleazy, aggressive selling won't cut it anymore.
Before the internet, it was pretty easy to scam people and keep them in the dark regarding offers, prices, and products.
Anyone can Google anything in an instant.
There are endless review sites, YouTube videos, blogs, and price comparison tools that give never-before-seen powers to the consumer, allowing them to double-check anything and ignore you for the slightest transgression.
Naturally, sleazy marketers hate this because it forces them to work harder (which they don't want as they're always trying to chase the lowest hanging fruit possible in whatever they do).
However, this trend is also a double-edged sword.
Why? Because it gives a cool boost to people who engage in genuine business practices and don't treat their customers like fools, ripe for the taking.
Being honest and ethical in your marketing *may* result in lower short-term sales (since you're not after a quick buck) but it's definitely the way to go if you want to maximize Lifetime Customer Value in the long-run.
Plus, it also allows you to create a sustainable business that people actually look up to and wholeheartedly recommend to their friends.
That's also how I try to run my business, Game of Conversions. Here's my manifesto on how I work and the Game of Conversions Framework.
Also, to learn more about this mindset and strategy, check out the legendary Jay Abraham's Strategy of Preeminence.
Email Marketing Best Practice #7: Make it Fun
'No one wants formal emails anymore. Infuse some sizzle and your personality into your messages'
WHY IT WORKS: In marketing, being boring = death. People notice things that stand out, make them laugh or angry, or make their lives better.
For years and years, most marketing consisted of "professional" messages that were dryer than the Gobi desert.
The argument was that - by formulating these cold, impersonal messages hidden behind the power of a big brand - marketers would be able to showcase how professional their products/services are, and that somehow... people would automatically be impressed by that and would buy as a result.
While this *kind of* worked in the B2B sector in more rigid industries, today you have little chance of converting your subscribers into profitable customers if you send these "professional" messages.
No one cares.
If it's boring, if it requires too much work, or if it seems just like anybody else, people will ignore it in a heartbeat.
Instead, why not try being funnier? Or sassy? Or highlighting your unique personality, whatever that might be?
Chances are, you will connect with your target audience MUCH more effectively and weed out people who aren't a good fit and would never buy from you anyway (they're just dead weight on your email list, never opening emails, and raising your spam score).
In today's marketing, polarizing is good.
And if you ARE going to be polarizing, at least do it with style.
For example, check out this confirmation email from Jon Buchan @ Charm Offensive:
Pretty funny and original, wouldn't you say? 🙂
Email Marketing Best Practice #8: Email More Often
'Email marketing still has the highest ROI of all marketing channels. Why not scale it up?'
WHY IT WORKS: Having more contact with your subscribers via a personal channel like email gives you more chances to convert them at very little extra cost.
Back in the day, I used to work for a wealth management company and my main job was to cold call 50 high net-worth individuals and C-level executives a day.
I absolutely HATED it.
Not because I was particularly bad at it or couldn't hit my targets... but because my boss demanded that I call my prospects often, with ever-increasing pushiness and aggressiveness because - according to her - this is what works.
And to my surprise, it DID work, surprisingly well, actually (at least in the Eastern European market I was working for at the time).
However, I never really felt good about it. It just went against my values and how I interact with people generally. But it did work - albeit the emotional toll.
So here's the moral of the story: frequency works in sales, even if you're doing it wrong. So imagine what you could achieve by doing it right!
For example, by sending segmented, relevant, valuable emails 3-5 times a week to people who willingly signed up for your email list.
I guarantee it would make a huge difference in your bottom line.
Sure, you'd get more unsubscribes but you'd also gain loyal fans and dedicated customers in the process. In my book, that's a big win.
And if you're a freelancer or consultant working with clients, you might want to check out my post about a proven 5-part consulting email sequence that can help you get more qualified leads on autopilot (plus you can also swipe it! ?)
Email Marketing Best Practice #9: Leverage the Power of Automation
'Use even more drip campaigns, flows, and autoresponders to build a recurring revenue engine'
WHY IT WORKS: Leverage in your email marketing is one of THE most powerful things you can do in your business. It literally prints money while you sleep.
Not only that but building out various automations allows you to supercharge all the other email marketing best practices I've mentioned so far.
You could easily email them more often, send targeted emails based on their behavior, and nurture them through a personalized customer value journey, without you doing anything real-time.
Most email marketing software already comes with several basic yet effective automations pre-installed, but you can also create custom-tailored automations specific to your business and your needs quite easily.
If you need help with this, Brennan Dunn's Mastering ConvertKit is THE go-to resource when it comes to ConvertKit automation - you should definitely check it out if you're using CK (btw, this isn't an affiliate link, I just think it's the best of its kind on the market right now).
But what if you just want the basics?
No problem, here are 5 simple but effective automations that you can start using right now:
When it comes to email marketing automation, the sky's the limit. However, if you get the basics right (by using the 5 automations mentioned above), you'll see a major difference in your success very quickly.
Email Marketing Best Practice #10: Never Stop Testing
'Keep testing, refining, and optimizing like a mofo. There's always room to improve'
WHY IT WORKS: Just like evolution, consistent testing of new variations is the only way to reliably find new winning strategies in an ever-changing marketing landscape.
Today, everything is moving at blistering speeds:
Google keeps pumping out algorithm updates daily, Facebook is busy changing its terms and services ridiculously often, and even the buying behavior of your ideal customers is always morphing.
You simply HAVE to adapt, there's no way around it.
However, the only thing that isn't changing is how human persuasion and the buying process itself works.
Tools and mediums change, but the process remains.
So your best bet moving forward is to learn timeless direct response strategies from the greatest marketers of all time, and apply it to email marketing, methodically, step by step.
For example, you can always A/B test new headline variations based on timeless formulas, create new hooks & stories that are fundamentally different, or come up with new offers that are irresistible to your ever-evolving target audience.
The important thing is to have an open mind and try out new, often "weird" things consistently... you'd be surprised by how well these can work.
Aaaand that's all for now, folks...
I hope you enjoyed this in-depth guide about 10 email marketing best practices that work well today, and will continue to work well in 2020 and beyond.
If you feel like it was helpful, feel free to share it with other like-minded people because they'll probably appreciate you for it. ?
But what if you want to dive even deeper into the world of email marketing and email copywriting??
In that case, you'll probably enjoy this in-depth case study dissecting the anatomy of a profitable email that elevated a Kickstarter campaign above the $100k mark - and turned it into a huge success.
Thanks for reading.
Interested in more great content on copywriting? Check out my Copywriting Resource Hub where you'll find in-depth guides, interesting case studies, and practical resources that will help you boost your conversions and sell more, without being salesy or aggressive.