How many emails have you deleted today without even reading them?

The sad fact is, most of what ends up in our inboxes is pretty poor. It’s badly timed, badly thought out, badly executed. It doesn’t draw us in or make us want to take the next step.

On the plus side, there are certain tried-and-tested email marketing best practices that will instantly raise your missives above the rest. In fact, if you take the time to implement them, we’re confident you’ll start seeing better open rates and conversions in no time at all.

In this article, we’ll explain why you should always:

  1. Have a Plan
  2. Segment Your List
  3. Stick to the Same Subject Line
  4. Give Them Something For Free
  5. Use the Zeigarnik Effect
  6. Hone Your Design

Let’s get stuck in.

1. Have a Plan

A successful email marketing strategy involves carefully building on each communication to strengthen your relationship with your audience; and lead them closer to the finish line. You can’t do that if you’re haphazardly sending out emails without any structure, goal, or schedule.

Depending on your type of business, that could mean sending a regular email in a set style at an appointed time, so people get used to looking out for it. It could mean that each new person who signs up to your list is sent the same series of welcome, support, sales and retention emails, paced at regular intervals, to guide them towards a sale.

The point is, you need to know what you want each person to do, and where they are in their customer journey; and then create a solid email marketing strategy and implement these email marketing best practices. The odd email out of the blue will likely head straight for the recycle bin.

2. Segment Your List

Looking for a quick way to get your list unsubscribing en masse? Send them emails that aren’t relevant to them. No one likes to have their time wasted; if they feel they’re being scatter-gunned with stuff that doesn’t apply to them, they’ll lose interest.

Instead, use the information you collected during sign up, as well as detailed website analytics, to divide up your list based on appropriate interests and demographics – and only send each email to people who may genuinely want to see it.

3. Stick to the Same Subject Line

If you have certain emails you send on a daily, weekly or monthly basis (for example, “deals of the day”, account summaries, news roundups and so on), it’s better to lean on recognition than a novelty. Figure out a subject line that works and keep using it, so that your audience says, ‘Oh, there it is’ rather than ‘What’s that? I don’t have time right now’.

4. Give Them Something For Free

Everyone likes a freebie and what better way to emphasise the value of opening your emails than by giving your audience a reward when they do? Whether it’s a referral code, a discount voucher, a complimentary upgrade or a link to awesome, exclusive content, generosity will get you everywhere.

5. Use the Zeigarnik Effect

If you haven’t heard of it before, the Zeigarnik Effect refers to an odd little quirk about us humans: we can’t stand to leave things unfinished or unresolved. It’s why cliffhanger endings drive us nuts, why it’s so hard to leave just one cookie on the plate… and why emails that show us how tantalisingly close we are to finishing the process are so effective.

For example, if you are sending a verification email that is the last step in the process, indicate this visually at the top of the email. If the email is the third of four steps before they get a free upgrade, or finish registering their product, or whatever else, find a way to indicate how much work they’ve already done; and how close they are to the finish line.

6. Hone (and Test) Your Design

People are busy. No matter how much your email brings to the table, they will probably skim it quickly, picking out the main points of value to them. That means you need to make it easy for them.

Keep your text minimal, using short paragraphs and plenty of white space. Ensure there’s a logical progression in the way the eye is drawn from the email’s hook, to building interest, to the call to action; and, experiment with bold, prominent buttons that scream ‘click me’

Use split testing and inbox previews to find out what works best; and keep refining your design for maximum success by carrying out these email marketing best practices.

Looking for an email marketing tool that will help you to implement these email marketing best practices? Check out EmailOut – it’s completely free.

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