There is no shortage of data to prove email marketing is one of the most powerful channels in digital marketing. Apart from being highly cost-effective, email marketing offers highly actionable insights.
Email marketing is old and yet there’s no hint it’s slowing down. As a matter of fact, the number of email accounts and the number of email exchanged world-wide have been increasing and are expected to keep rising. (Source: Radicati Group Inc)
If email marketing is perfect, why isn’t everyone getting jaw-dropping results from that? Why is it that a few marketers are making it big while some others aren’t quite there?
The answer is splintered, but one of the most likely – and accurate – reasons is the way marketers approach to email marketing.
Here are the 6 things you should be doing if you hope to get phenomenal results from your email marketing campaign:
1. Partner with a good ESP
Your regular email account is not configured to support sending a huge number of emails. If you try sending out a huge number of emails, your account may be frozen or labeled a spam account.
An Email Service Provider (ESP) is a specialized agency that can carry hundreds of thousands of emails. And they do a lot more than that.
Most ESPs have a number of proven templates you can use to draft your emails. You can A/B test your emails and choose to send out the version that’s performed best.
An ESP will allow you a choice between a dedicated and shared IPs. They also have a large number of integrations with services ranging from social media to email verifications to billing services to CRMs to almost everything you’d ever need.
And of course, they provide you sharp insights into everything related to how your emails have performed. From open rates to click through Rates (CTR) to forwards, they can tell you just about everything you should know about the emails you send out.
That’s why one of the most important things you’ll do is to choose the right ESP.
Costing: Many ESPs have a freemium model. If your volumes are small, you can easily use their basic services for free. Usually, paid plans begin around $10 per month.
2. Clean your list
In all likelihood, you’ve worked pretty hard to build a big mailing list. Would you like it if someone recommended you remove some of the email addresses?
Probably no, but strangely enough, it could actually help your email marketing.
Your mailing list has grown over time. And in that time, some email addresses may have changed and are currently invalid. A few were wrong right from the beginning, maybe it was a typo…Naturally, emails sent to such addresses bounce back undelivered.
When email servers notice these bounces, they begin suspecting you’re a spammer. They’ll treat you as a spammer and soon would begin pushing some of your outgoing emails into spam folders of recipients (rather than into their inboxes). Some servers may outright reject accepting your email.
That’s why you need to verify every single email address on your mailing list. There are specialized tools available online for this. Just Google “email verification service” and you’ll see the most popularly used ones.
Costing: Nearly all these tools have a freemium model, which means you can try them for free before you actually pay for their services. To give you an idea about pricing, verifying 500 email addresses would cost you between $4 and $8. Larger volumes get attractive pricing offers.
3. Use the right metrics
Emails are offer almost unparalleled insights. How many recipients opened the email, how many clicked on the links in the email copy, how many forwarded it, how many unsubscribed from your mailing list… the analytics is huge and comprehensive.
Inexperienced marketers sometimes falter because they can’t appropriately interpret the insights. The situation can worsen if the marketer isn’t clear about the actual goals of the email.
Let’s say a tax consulting agency sets a drip email campaign to get more people to download a thoroughly researched tax guide for free. Many subscribers download it – so far, so good.
The problem begins when the agency starts looking at the number of new clients who signed up. They see a miniscule rise and conclude the campaign failed.
That’s a mistake of using the wrong metrics. The agency began with the objective of getting more downloads, but somewhere along with the campaign, it started believing the campaign was to get more clients.
The campaign hasn’t failed, but the agency has its email goals mixed up.
What you can do: Freeze the goals of your email campaign. Define what success looks like: downloads, increased revenue, more clients, bigger readership for your blog and then stick to it. That will help you use the right metrics for your email marketing campaign.
4. Work hard on email copy and the subject line
Writing an email that will reach thousands of inboxes is not a small challenge. Even small things can make or break your campaign.
So what exactly you should be focusing on?
From the subject line to colors to the design to the fonts to the email copy – everything needs careful consideration.
Marketing experts like Neil Patel and companies like MailChimp recommend you spend a lot of time writing out a different subject line before you finalize the final version. Again, A/B testing is a good idea.
A subject line, HubSpot says, should carry urgency, generate curiosity, be relevant and timely, sound personal and hint at a story you wish to tell.
Writing high-quality email copy is equally challenging. One way to write good emails is to write the email first and then imagine you’re the recipient. Then ask yourself, “Is this is the kind of stuff I’d love to read?” If you can’t stand your own email, no one else will.
As for the length of the email copy, writer and marketer Ann Handley remind us that “Shorter is harder to write than longer”.
Tools you can use: Services like Coschedule and SubjectLine can help you with checking subject lines while EmailOnAcid, PutsMail, and InboxInspector can show you how your email would finally look like (PutsMail and InboxInspector are free services).
5. Always authenticate your emails
Authorities like the EU created the legal framework to protect users and their data. The email ecosystem has built its own set of procedures and protocols to achieve similar results.
Two of such procedures include authentication of your emails.
Sender Policy Framework (SPF)
Recipients get cheated when they believe fraudulent emails have originated from genuine sources. For instance, an email can cheat you into believing it originated from the local tax authority’s office. That way, they could trick you into disclosing your sensitive information.
The SPF is a simple mechanism (actually a record) that tells the recipient’s email server whether the email actually originated from a server authorized by the domain.
Domain Key Identified Mail (DKIM)
The DKIM ensures the email message was not altered in any manner after it left the sender’s server. Put differently, it assures the recipient’s email server that the original message has not been tempered. Think of DKIM as a digital signature in the email header.
If you have a large database and send regular emails to them, it’s strongly advised you authenticate your emails using SPF and DKIM.
6. Follow the rules
Because email marketing is easy (mastering it isn’t), there has been rampant abuse of emails as well. Phishing scams, data privacy breaches and endless spamming are so common some people thought they are the necessary evil within the system.
All this was putting genuine marketers under unnecessary suspicion too. To counter that, marketers began actively pursuing best practices and started to educate email users on how to spot phishing or spoofing attempts.
Authorities, meanwhile, swung into action. Some countries like Israel have amended their telecommunication laws to include email spam legislation. Others like the US formed exclusive laws to fight spam. The idea was to protect users and their data.
One of the strongest and most comprehensive laws to help users protect their data is the General Data Protection Act (GDPR). Enforceable beginning May 25, 2018, the GDPR protects the data of everyone living within the European Union (EU).
In other words, irrespective of where your business is based if you process data of citizens of the EU, the GDPR is applicable to you. Violations of the GDPR can attract a stiff penalty. That means you’ll need to understand GDPR in detail to make sure your email marketing campaign is successful.
Do this: Understand and follow the rules applicable within the countries where you and your customers are based. That’ll protect you from legal hassles and leave you enough resources to build your business better.
Mayank Batavia has been writing about email marketing, data privacy, AI and related technologies. His technology blog focuses on privacy regulations and the technology scene in China. He enjoys solving puzzles, learning about movie trivia and reading everything.