8 Best Practices for Setting Your Email Strategy
A successful email campaign flows from a carefully constructed plan to find the right audience and engage them over time.
Here are 8 best practices for setting your email marketing strategy:
Only send mail to those who have expressed interest in receiving it. The best way to ensure that your recipients want to read their message is to use a double-opt-in strategy. This approach is called “double opt in” because recipients essentially gives permission twice: Once when they fill out a form or check a box consenting to receive your mail, and again when they click a confirming link in a message you send. Requiring your audience to click a confirmation link ensures that the recipients gave you their correct contact info.
Double-opt-in mails reduce the number of people on your mailing list, but they also reduce the number bounced messages and spam complaints while ensuring you have a receptive audience. For more information on bouncing and spam, see Ensure delivery.
2. Make it easy to opt out
Just as you should get permission before you send bulk email to a group of people, you should also make it easy for people to change their minds. Make sure your email includes a link that lets them remove themselves from your mailing address.
3. Let readers reconfirm
Just because someone gave you their business card a year ago doesn’t mean they want to start getting your newsletter now. Give them a chance to reaffirm their interest in your messages every six to nine months. This is especially important if they haven’t received any mail from you for a while.
4. Target your mails
Use Contact Manager’s list feature to create custom lists for specific purposes. The more focused your list, the more likely it is that your audience is interested in your message. And narrowing lists by interest, demographic, and other factors makes it easier for you to devise content suitable for each list.
5. Time it right
The timing of your mail can determine whether it gets read or not, For a business audience, mail sent on the weekend might get buried in a pile of messages the reader faces on a Monday morning. Send it too late in the week, and your audience might just skip out on reading it as they rush to get home on a Friday night.
For mail sent to a business audience, Tuesday through Thursday are the ideal days, either just after the start of the day (around 9:30) or just after lunch (around 1:30). For a home audience, consider sending your message between 5:00 and 8:00 pm Tuesday through Thursday, or from Friday evening through Sunday afternoon.
Finally, remember to consider the impact of different time zones. If you are mailing a large number of contacts spread out over many time zones, you may want to make specialized mailing lists that are grouped geographically.
6. Set a sensible schedule
Just because someone signed up to get special offers from you, doesn’t mean they want to see those offers in their inbox every single day. Set a regular schedule that factors in the nature of your audience and your content. Then stick to it. Your readers will appreciate your respect for their time.
7. Test first, send later
Previewing your mail helps avoid many problems. But for a thorough sense of how your mail appears to all of your readers will require more testing. If you don’t have multiple computers, enlist some colleagues to put on a test list. See how your mail looks in several email apps and webmail services as well as multiple browsers, platforms (Mac and PC) and even mobile devices. Read Eli’s post to learn the five simple steps to test your email before sending it.
8. Measure and track results
Preparing and sending bulk mail is just the beginning. Once you’ve sent your message, you need to gather as much data as possible about its success or failure: How many people opened it? How many clicked its links? How many became customers? What did each of those groups have in common? Use this information to refine your mailing lists and tailor your message for future mailings.
Additional resources to boost your email marketing:
- Email Marketing Framework for Nurturing Your House List
- Email Marketing 101: Metrics vs. Data
- Keeping Email Marketing Campaigns Effective