Focusing on email marketing best practices is the quickest way to see an instant increase in your email marketing effectiveness.
Having helped dozens of businesses improve their email marketing, this is the biggest area that I've seen holding businesses back from getting a huge ROI.
If you think that your email marketing could be getting better results then you need to read this blog post.
By following the email marketing best practices I am about to show you, you will increase your email delivery rates.
With higher delivery rates, you will see a much greater ROI on your email marketing.
Then let's begin.
Don't buy lists
This is one of the quickest ways to rapidly decrease your email marketing delivery rates.
Many people see this as a quick fix to build a list fast. However, it is also a very dangerous game.
This is especially true with the recent GDPR that has come into place across Europe. Not only are you negatively impacting your delivery rates, you might even be breaking the law.
The reason why buying lists is likely to negatively impact your delivery rates is because these people do not know you. They are likely not aware of your business. They might not even want your services.
These three factors mean that people are less likely to interact with you emails. This will automatically negatively impact your delivery rates.
Some people will even mark you as spam. This has a greater impact on your domain reputation and delivery rates.
There is also the possibility that you purchase email address that are no longer active.
This has the potential to make a lot of your emails bounce. I will cover bounces a bit later in the blog post.
Within these inactive email addresses, you might also find that some of them have been recycled into spam traps.
These are email addresses that are used by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and blacklists to find spammers and block their emails.
If you find yourself sending to one these, your bounce rate could increase or you will end up on a blacklist.
Blacklists are used to identify and block sites that distribute harmful content.
If you find yourself on one of these, it is very difficult to get off, and has a dramatic impact on your email deliverability.
The moral of this story is to only operate a 100% opt in list policy.
It might take you a bit longer to build a list but that list will be more engaged and your emails will have a greater ROI for your business.
Use email automation
Using automation is not just an email marketing best practice that will help you save time and sell more. It also has an interesting effect on your email delivery rates.
Think about most email lists that you have signed up to in the past. Usually, you receive a welcome email, either confirming you are a real person or generally welcoming you to the list.
74% of new subscribers actually expect this email. That means most people are looking for this email and will open it and engage with it.
Welcome emails actually get one of the highest open rates out of any email. This study from Epsilon puts this at 69% higher than other emails.
So why is this important?
As soon as someone opens and engages with your email, their email client will take note of this. That means future emails from you will be seen as trustworthy by recipients email clients, and will result in higher delivery rates.
By using some basic email automation to instantly engage new subscribers, you will see a much higher delivery rate for future emails.
Help them unsubscribe
This might sound counterintuitive as we are aiming to make a bigger impact with our emails. Helping people unsubscribe is surely not going to help this?
Actually, it has the opposite effect...
When you think about email marketing, it is important to think of it as a long term marketing channel.
By this I mean you are building an asset for your business. The bigger and more engaged your list, the greater value this asset has.
People who unsubscribe from your list no longer want to receive your emails.
That's OK, it happens. Not everyone is going to be a highly engaged subscriber.
However, if you don't make it easy for them to unsubscribe, what are they more likely to do?
Mark your email as junk or spam.
If too many people do this, you will see your delivery rates drop.
Most email marketing platforms will automatically add an unsubscribe link at the bottom of your emails. If yours doesn't, be sure to add one yourself for every marketing email you send.
It is also required by GDPR to include a method to unsubscribe in every marketing email. So, this email marketing best practice is really a no brainer.
Find the best sending times
I have seen this email marketing best practice take open rates from around 15% to over 30%.
If you think about it, it makes complete sense.
If you are sending your emails in the middle of the night to your subscribers then they are likely not going to open them.
You email then gets pushed down their inboxes and ignored.
However, if you send it at a time that you know they are active, then they are more likely to engage with it straight away.
The more people that engage with your emails, the better this will look to the ISPs.
You can easily test this in most of the big email marketing platforms.
All you have to do is choose split test or AB test when going to send the email. Then split test a few different send times and see which one wins.
This is one of the easiest split tests you will do and it will be easy to tell what time works best. Make sure you test different days of the week as well.
Once you have run a few tests, you will see a pattern in email engagement.
Start sending your regular emails at those times to help your delivery rates remain high.
Segment your email list
By now, you are likely seeing a pattern emerging. High email engagement helps increase your email delivery rates.
This is because of something I mentioned earlier. ISPs monitor email sending and to ensure best practices are followed.
They want to make sure that people are not receiving potentially harmful content, or content that they did not request or do not want to receive.
This email marketing best practice will help you solve the last part of that statement. It will help you provide content that people really want to receive and keep your engagement rates high.
Segmentation is the process of grouping your email list into similar groups based on behaviour and interests.
You can segment your list by:
Generally, the more you can segment, the more targeted you can be with your emails.
If your emails are more targeted, the information contained within will be more relevant to the recipient.
An example of this is of someone who just purchased a dog lead from an online store.
That store now knows that this person likely has a dog. So, they may send an email promoting dog collars.
This simple segmentation has the potential to greatly increase email engagement rates.
I encourage you to segment your list wherever possible.
Keep your email size small
This is another area that I see a lot of business fall short on. And something that can be fixed so easily.
Emails with a large file size can impact your email deliverability. There are two reasons for this.
The first one is that certain ISPs sometimes see large emails as a red flag and will put them into the junk folder.
The second reason and perhaps most important is that it creates a poor user experience. If you are using very large images for instance, this will take longer to load for your email recipients.
This will create a poor experience for the recipient and they will be more likely to delete it instantly or mark it as junk.
There is no exact size to stick to although this article from Litmus does a good job of providing guidelines.
In my experience, the smaller the better. Here are some tips to keep your email file size small:
Use JPEG over PNG image file types as these are smaller
Reduce the size of your image to approx. 1.5x the width of how you want it to display
Avoid using images with text in as this increases the file size unnecessarily
Use as few images as possible to avoid adding excess file weight
Keep your list clean
This is one of those email marketing best practices that very few do. The ones who do follow it see much better delivery rates.
The reason why people don't do this is because it means removing people from your list when they haven't explicitly asked to be removed.
I know, why would you do such a thing?
Because, you guessed it, you will increase your engagement rate across your list as a whole.
There are two main ways you should keep your list clean.
The first is to remove any email addresses from your list that get bounce backs.
Bounces are when an email cannot be delivered due to the recipients inbox being full or the email address not existing anymore.
The former is often referred to as a soft bounce and most email marketing platforms will try to deliver emails three times to soft bounces. If it doesn't deliver they will automatically remove this contact from your list.
If the email address does not exist anymore, this is often referred to as a hard bounce. Most email marketing platforms will automatically remove this contact from your list instantly.
It is worth double checking how your email marketing platform deals with bounces. If they don't remove them automatically, you should put a system in place to do this yourself.
The reason is that the more bounces you have, the more this looks like you are sending emails to an old list. This is spammy behaviour in the eyes of ISPs and can cause a large drop in your delivery rates.
The second way to clean your list is to remove people who haven't opened your emails in the past three to six months.
It is likely that your emails are going through to their junk folders anyway. At the very least, they are no longer interested in your email content.
Either way, you should remove these people from your list as it will instantly increase your email list's engagement rate.
Before you just remove someone from your list, you can always send them an email trying to reengage them.
This can be done by offering them a discount (if you are in eCommerce) or by using wording like "we miss you".
Often, this can get people to reengage with your emails. Everyone who doesn't reengage can then be removed.
Remember, the higher the engagement, the higher the delivery rates.
Do you follow email marketing best practices?
To see the best results from your email marketing, you really need to be following all of these best practices.
If you do, ISPs will see you as an email marketing superstar and deliver more of your emails to recipients inboxes.
Here is a quick recap of the email marketing best practices:
Only create an opt in list and don't buy lists
Use email automation to welcome news subscribers and get them engaging with your emails straight away
Always provide a way for people to unsubscribe from your emails
Test sending times to find when people are most likely to engage with your emails
Segment your list to send more relevant emails
Keep you email file size as small as possible
Remove bounces and contacts who have disengaged from your emails
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Have a great day!