Email Marketing Best Practices Series: 101

In this series on email marketing best practices, I will be covering many topics and they can get quite technical so to make this digestible and functional I will break these up into short articles and later present the entire document for download at the end.

Email done right is a beautiful thing but there are many complex steps to get correct to reach that goal. In this series, I am going to do my best to simplify these steps and cover the basics, however, understand that when you implement an email marketing strategy you should consult with a professional email marketer. Not getting email right can be the real difference between the success or failure of your project.

Email marketing will constantly evolve, like everything else marketing, but it will surely never die. I have seen many people declare it’s death and march off into the sunset only to have that segment get utilized by a competitor and then have to quickly try to backtrack and reclaim the losses.

Rule #1 – Email is critical.

Keeping this rule in mind will mean that you respect email marketing properly and get the most success possible from it.

Rule #2 – Email deliverability is key.

If someone doesn’t receive your email did it ever really exist? No seriously, don’t waste all of your marketing craft on an email campaign that almost no one sees. Email deliverability draws against many factors including areas such as list quality, reputation, content, and whether or not it is viewed as spam. Even when you get your email deliverability dialed in there will always be a constant battle to keep it that way. Because of this, some great frameworks can be laid out professionally to aid in the war for the inbox.

Understanding the basics here means knowing a little about open rates, complaint rates, bounce rates, and spam.

Open rates are simply the percentage of people opening your emails. Sounds easy, but it doesn’t always mean what you think. The open rate doesn’t tell you the number of people that truly read your email so don’t get it confused. I like to use the CTOR, click to open rate, which is the number of people who open your email and also click on a link within that email as a real guide for open rate and engagement.

Lots of factors can affect the open rates such as sender names, email subjects, email preheaders, personalization, science, optimization, segmentation, frequency, and so much more that I will do an entire sub-series on just this topic later. If you are interested in receiving that just make sure to sign up for the free “marketing-for-the-win” email group on my website. In the open rates sub-series, I get into all the nitty-gritty details and lots of great statistics to back up the information.

Complaint rates are the number of times your emails get marked as spam. The number one culprit here is purchased lists. The 90s were great but we can’t keep emailing like we still live then, lists are a real last result and should never be done without professional guidance if you want to win with email marketing. Other than buying lists which we are all going to agree on from here on it is the red button option, it comes down to sending emails your people expect to receive when they expect to receive them. Don’t act weird, over-excited, or pushy and you should be just fine.

Bounce rates just reflect the number of emails that fail to reach the inbox. This hurts your reputation, and yes that hurts your email marketing success. You might be surprised, no you really shouldn’t be, but using bought lists of emails is a huge red flag for this category. Common sense will tell you that you don’t know the people on a purchased email list so you have no real idea if they are still using those emails or not. Outside of that recurring theme, there are some technical areas to dive into and they get specific to different email providers and such so we will table this topic for now.

Lastly, in our basic general overview here, is spam. Spam happens and without a good professionally laid-out framework for your emails this can happen a lot. Keeping your email list clean, using engaging content, sticking to best practices on gathering emails, and using a spam check tool before sending out your emails will keep spam down to a minimum.

Well, this should lay a good foundation to start our series moving forward. I hope this is all just a basic review for you but if it isn’t and you are left feeling confused or frustrated don’t hesitate to reach out to me and I will do my best to clear things up and get you set up for the win.

Thank you for reading and I look forward to the next post in this series which will drop each Monday until we are done. 

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