Top 10 Email Best Practices

Email Marketing is part art part science. Its a dialog that you build over a period of time with your consumers.  It is an endless topic but I wanted to capture the top 10 things you must do / ask yourself about Email Marketing.

I Love EmailHere they are:

  1. Email subscription process
    1. Simple subscription form: Don’t ask 100 questions. Name and email will do to begin with. Why should the reader subscribe? What are the benefits? Show some of the archived emails to build trust.
    2. Email opt-in: Follow a double opt-in process. It builds credibility and improves quality of your lists
    3. Welcome email: Don’t forget to send a welcome note immediately after registration. Include what to expect in subsequent emails.
  2. Email list management :
    1. Track where your email address was obtained from. This will help you grow the list later.
    2. Refrain from purchasing blanket lists
    3. Remove bounced, undeliverable and unsubscribed emails. Keep working at cleaning the list. Use free tools to correct wrong email address formats
    4. Set a goal to grow your list
  3. Spam Laws
    1. Read the Direct Marketing Association of USA and UK for a pointer to the best practices even though Indian laws are still evolving.  Not having clear laws places greater responsibility on your company. It is not an invitation to flout common sense rules.
    2. Always include the name of your company in your communication.
    3. Always have a visibly clear unsubscribe process in the email. Don’t make it difficult for the reader to unsubscribe. Every time a reader hits the spam button on your email it hurts your IP reputation. Check your email against popular spam filters.
    4. Add terms and conditions and disclaimers where needed.
  4. Email frequency
    1. Plan your campaigns in advance
    2. Be regular and on time while sending your campaigns. Readers will come to expect your timely emails
    3. Do not flood your readers’ inbox
    4. Assess what is the best  frequency by a poll or survey
  5. IP reputation
    1. Monitor spam lists and black lists regularly
    2. Publish which mail servers belong to you and which will be used to send emails. This is called Sender Policy Framework.
  6. Email Headers
    1. See how your email received and appears in the email headers.
    2. Use your company name or readily recognized brand name as the from-address.
    3. Avoid using do-not-reply addresses. Use a valid reply-to address and customize them for various types of emails if necessary.
    4. Put a human behind the email address to scan, read, reply or process these emails.
  7. Email Content
    1. Subject lines – short, snappy, up to 50 chars (best case) should elicit response from the reader
    2. Images in email – use properly sized images in emails. Don’t simply stretch them to fit the content.
    3. Image to text ratio – use a balance of Image and text. Too much text puts the reader off while too many images affect the aesthetics of the email if images are disabled. Full image as the email is an absolute no-no.
    4. Spammy words – avoid using spammy words that may get caught in the spam filters. Use various Spam checker tools available with your email service provider
    5. Font sizes – Using large fonts might be considered spammy.
    6. Call to action – Have clean simple and clear call to action in your email design and copy.
    7. View online –  its a good practice to allow readers to view the email online.
    8. Social media connections – include your social media buttons in your email
    9. Online archives – its a good practice to host your emails as an online archive. This builds trust, allows readers to sample content and see the value
    10. Test the email 3 times from various people before you hit the send button.
  8. Email design
    1. HTML vs Text – Unfortunately you can’t have tracking with text based emails hence HTML format is a must if you want to track.
    2. Email clients – HTML rendering is notoriously different in various clients. Test your design in the important email clients.
  9. Email Analytics
    1. Definition of KPI: Define what you want to achieve in a set period of time. Forget what the email marketing tool can do. Use your head, paper and a pencil.
    2. Consumer segmentation: Understand how you can track emails, create segments of customer, how you can plan customized content
    3. What reports: what reports do you get? What reports should you get? Make a laundry list.
  10. Email marketing department organization
    1. How is your eMarketing / email marketing team organized? What skills do they have? What best practices to they follow? Who do they report to? How is does your IT, CRM, marketing, Loyalty and email marketing teams connect with each other.
    2. Who does your creative, copy, execution of campaign, email Analytics and reporting? Define a clear structure and chain of command.
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