10 email marketing tips

Here's a collection of 10 short tips that will help you improve your email marketing!

1. Don't use a purchased list of email addresses. The essence of good email marketing is that you are building and maintaining a relationship with the recipients. That means the recipients must consent to receiving email from you. Nobody likes getting spam!

2. Make unsubscription easy and make it obvious how to do so. Always give your subscribers an obvious "unsubscribe" link or button - and if it takes more than one mouse click your unsubscribe process is too difficult. Remember - it only takes one click to "mark as spam", and that's the worst possible outcome.

3. Polish the copy. No matter how pretty your design and how tasteful your typography may be, it'll all fall apart if the words themselves feel wrong. If you're not a skilful writer engage a professional copywriter to help craft your message.

4. Personalise. At a simple level this means engaging the reader - singular - with his or her name. "Dear Simon" certainly gets my attention more effectively than "Dear recipient". Easy. But at a deeper level this means tailoring the email to what your readers - plural - care about and how they react to emails from you. You're not emailing your recipients to lecture them, you're emailing them to share a relationship with them. How do you know what your readers' preferences are? Well...

5. Analyse the results. Of the people you sent your message to, who actually received it? Of the people who received it, who opened it? At what time of day? On what day of the week? Of the people who opened it who took an action as a direct result? Of all the people on your database, who are the people most likely to read an email from you? Of the people on your database who are the most likely to do something you ask them to do? Get this information and use it.

6. Tidy up your database. A professional email marketing firm will have processes in place to automate things like unsubscriptions and the removal of invalid email addresses, but nothing can replace personal human attention. No computer (or a programmer) will handle names properly 100% of the time, so make sure that your email treats things like titles, hyphenated names, addresses shared by two people, and mononyms sensibly.

7. Test diligently. Test like crazy. Email clients render text, styles, and layouts in unpredictable and sometimes totally illogical ways. Code and designs that are 100% valid and which look perfect in an editor or a web browser will be broken and ugly for no apparent reason when viewed in a mail client. Test and tweak until everything looks perfect and then test again!

8. Have a goal and work towards it. Email marketing is a fantastic and effective tool, but it needs to be used for something. Have a criterion by which success or failure can be judged - website visits, online sales, newsletter subscriptions, donations - and make sure your email is crafted to achieve your goal. Measure your success or failure against that goal - not against some sort of fuzzy gut feeling.

9. Be ready for the email to work. If you're driving people to a website make sure the site is ready for an influx of traffic. If you're asking people to sign up for something make sure the signup form works. If you're selling something make sure you can process the sales and have stock on hand. Be prepared for success!

10. Do more testing!

Email marketing is an incredibly powerful marketing tool when used properly. So use it properly!


(Image credit: Jo@net, Creative Commons.)