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Blog post By Paula Chiocchi on 2019-05-29

With email marketing rapidly evolving, we all need to maintain an “always be learning” mentality.

At the same time, there are those tried-and-true best practices that we all should abide by in order to improve campaign performance. Here are the email do’s and don’ts that are top of mind for me and my team right now:


1.Don’t: Stress about unsubscribes: Despite your best efforts, not everyone is going to be open to your messages. Unsubscribes are a part of marketing life, so don’t freak out. Just make sure you quickly act on these requests and see if there’s a specific demographic or pattern behind them so that you can adjust future campaigns. For example, are you sending too often? Is your message not rendering correctly on mobile devices? Is your content off target? Be honest about your campaign strategy, shake off unsubscribes (they were likely never going to convert anyway), and focus on those who do want to engage with you. And remember, not taking the appropriate action when you do receive unsubscribe requests is against the law in the U.S. and other countries.


2.Do: Personalize your messages: Email personalization starts with addressing the recipient by name but it goes much farther than that. It can include leveraging personas, determining the best time to send, customizing content, and much more. Using personalization can transform a generic blast to one that feels more relevant to your specific audience based on their interests or situations. Studies show only 61% of marketers are personalizing at least some of the emails they send, and almost a third aren’t personalizing at all – so there’s an opportunity to stand out in the inbox by making small improvements.


3.Don’t: Mislead your recipients with your subject lines: Email subject lines are meant to pique interest in a clever or intriguing way to get the recipient to open your message. While these can be subjective and vary for different companies, markets and prospects, steer clear of getting overly cute with them, and don’t use ineffective puns or jokes, or too many emojis.  (Always test your subject lines!) The worst approach to a subject line involves deception. While it’s OK to be creative or use humor, you shouldn’t trick your audience into opening your email. Instead, communicate the contents of your message and the value the recipient will get for opening it.


4.Do: Conduct A/B testing: A proven way to improve email results over time is with ongoing A/B testing. This can be done with subject lines, send times, content, calls to-action -- indeed any aspect of your campaign. Any data collected about your audience through A/B testing will only improve your email results: the campaign to elect Barack Obama reportedly increased donation conversions by almost 50% and raised an additional $60 million through A/B testing alone.


5.Don’t: Ignore mobile screens: Be sure your email message and layout renders correctly on mobile devices: 80% of recipients will delete it if it doesn’t and 30% will unsubscribe entirely. Make your message easy to scan with large fonts, subheads and bullets, and a “tap-able” call-to-action button and test your message on multiple devices.


6.Do: Use strategic audience building and segmentation: Your email audience is a business asset and should be treated that way. So take a strategic approach to building it and developing it. That means scaling it, enriching it and optimizing it over time. Your email database can also decay over time, so it is critical to cleanse the contact data records on a regular basis. And remember, audience building is a process, not a one-step solution. It involves carefully orchestrated segmentation. With it, you can optimize your reach to new prospects based on their interests and stage in the buyer journey. It’s the opposite of those haphazard email blasts to anyone and everyone. Consistently and effectively identifying the right audiences lets you target your campaigns and add a level of personalization. Hyper-relevant messages delivered at the optimal time to your prospects can deliver exceptional results – 39% of email marketers that segment their lists see better open rates, and 24% see better email delivery.


What email do’s and don’ts are top of mind for you right now in terms of driving stronger campaign results?


Outward Media’s proven data cleansing services and targeted, accurate email data can enable you to achieve better email marketing ROI and, ultimately, convert more prospects into customers. Take a look at our case studies to find out more

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At OMI, we believe good things happen when you share your knowledge. That's why we're proud to educate marketers at every level - in every size and type of organization - about the basics of email marketing and the contact data that powers it.

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