Email marketing is hands down my favorite way to connect with prospects and clients. Why? Because even when you’re sending an email to your entire audience, it still has the potential to feel like a one-to-one conversation with a friend.
And when you grow your email list intentionally with relationship building and connection in mind, email marketing is also a powerful sales tool to close deals, sell course launches, excite and engage with new leads, and so much more.
So here are 25 top tips for maintaining and growing your email list to produce the best results for your business.
Set up your email program with the right processes and practices in place to grow your email list.
A double opt-in is when a new subscriber signs up for your email list and then confirms that sign up again from a separate email or landing page. Some people mistakenly believe this can decrease your signup rate, but in reality a double opt-in helps reduce spam, increase the delivery rate of your emails, and comply with email laws like CAN-SPAM.
When you’re communicating with your subscribers by email, make sure that communication is two-way. Ditch the no-reply and use a personalized from address so that subscribers recognize your name right from their inbox. This not only increases the likelihood that they’ll open your email, it also builds trust and rapport with your readers.
Have a process and dedicated team who responds to emails AND tracks responses. Your readers will feel extra connected to your brand when they receive a hand-written response. Plus, tracking responses gives you another data point to assess the quality and strategy behind your email program.
The often overlooked preview text or pre-header text is a snippet of copy that appears in your email inbox next to the subject line. It’s another opportunity to pique the curiosity of your readers and encourage them to open your emails. Best of all, most email platforms allow you to control what appears, giving you the golden opportunity to treat this as a second or complimentary subject line.
Hubspot reported in 2020 that just under half of all emails were opened on mobile, and it’s safe to assume this number will continue to increase each year. Preview every single email on different devices and browsers before you hit send to make sure it’s legible and easy on the eyes.
The last thing anyone wants is to feel tricked or hoodwinked into reading your emails. Make it easy for people to opt out of your list. Make it just as easy to opt out of a new promotion sequence. Your subscribers will thank you. And fortunately, if you add a double opt-in, you’ll likely see far fewer unsubscribes (and higher deliverability rates to boot).
It’s easy to overthink your email design, especially with the popularity of templates and other customization options in most email service providers. Here’s how to manage your email design for best results.
When in doubt…keep it simple! The reality is that too many images or other visual media distracts from your message, and too much overall ‘noise’ in your emails make them harder to read. Use images that directly support your message, and zero in on the visuals that best support the goal of your emails. Use one template and keep it clear and consistent.
Not every subscriber can visually see your images. Similarly, not every email will load images. Make it easy for everyone on your list to access and read your content by adding an alt text description of your images.
You’ve got your email design and setup best practices, but what actually goes into your emails? What you say and how you say it matters. Read on for email copywriting tips to help your readers stay engaged week after week.
In media res is a literary device used by fiction writers. In essence, it means to drop your reader right in the middle of the action, rather than waste precious words on the introduction. For emails, this means jumping right into the ‘meat’ of your message.
Cut out all the introductions and other small talk at the top of your email and just lead with the point. It makes your emails more compelling and means less work for your readers to discover and digest your message.
There’s no better way to create connection in your emails than to increase relatability. Even if you’re sending emails as part of a bigger brand, remember to have a point of view. Tell stories about the team, write from the POV of the CEO, or showcase customer stories in your emails. Help your readers get inside your head and form new connections with your brand.
Unless it’s a core part of your brand voice, skip the formality and write like you would a friend. Why? Because your email inbox is packed full of “Dear Sir or Madam” inquiries…they’re boring. And unless you know for sure that your audience expects and values a more formal tone (for example, you’re an accounting firm writing to CFOs), the better bet is to connect 1:1 with each and every subscriber on your list by making them feel like they’re reading a handwritten letter from a friend.
Each email you send needs to have a goal…just one goal. Avoid convoluted and meandering messages by asking yourself what you want your reader to do once they’ve read your email. That will help keep you on track and avoid messy messages that confuse or overwhelm your audience. That doesn’t mean there’s one right length or CTA (calls to action) for your emails. You may find that some emails are as much as 300 words (or more); others may be far shorter. Prioritize clarity first, and worry less about length.
There are many types of CTAs that can be effective in email marketing, and many of them don’t require a hard sell or a transaction. Think about the micro-yeses that build brand loyalty and engagement, and that help your reader get from “maybe” to “yes, sold”. These can be things like:
As with any other form of content marketing, your emails can’t be an endless stream of hard sales. Mix it up and provide value to your subscribers. Justify your continued presence in their inbox with tutorials, tips, best practices in your field, stories and anecdotes, and incentives. Unless you’re specifically launching a new product or offer, limit selling in your regular emails to roughly once every 5 emails.
A lead magnet is a free offer, typically a downloadable worksheet or gated video content. It’s a terrific way to provide value to your list and encourage new subscribers. Get creative and offer multiple lead magnets to see which types of content your audience most prefers:
Once subscribers click through to an offer or call to action, make sure the messaging there matches and resonates with the messaging in your email. This reassures readers that they’re in the right place and helps reinforce your offer.
A well managed email marketing plan means sometimes you need to look at the big picture strategy behind your emails.
There are many theories about the best or right subject line length, from really short to really long. The truth is there are a lot of factors that go into your subject line and open rates, so your best bet is to experiment with what works best for your business and keep these best practices in mind:
A drip campaign or email sequence is a preset series of emails that help validate your subscriber at every stage of the sales funnel. By regularly ‘dripping’ out these emails, you can warm up new leads and stay top of mind. I typically follow Copyhacker’s rule of thumb to space drip campaigns at the same pace of the Fibonacci sequence: 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55. Or, 2 emails on day 1, one email on day 2, one email on day 3, one on day 5….and so on.
Some sequences to consider:
Make sure you understand the journey every subscriber will take once they sign up. Maybe they’ll start with a drip welcome sequence, then get a weekly newsletter. Perhaps they will get pulled from that newsletter periodically to receive a series of sales emails.
These can be intricate and map out every action taken by a subscriber (like the example below), or they can more generally track your sequences and tags. Or both!
You’ll likely have a mix of people on your email list–from different audiences to people at all stages of the customer journey. To reach them all effectively and customize the experience, try segmenting your list by the main types of groups or experience levels you’re serving. Once you know where they’re at, you can more effectively send targeted emails that will feel more custom and personalized.
As with subject lines, there are a lot of opinions around send times and cadence. So when should you send out emails?
Use these best practices:
Above all, do what works best for your audience, not what works for others.
It’s tempting to hold on to every single subscriber and use your total list number as an indicator of overall email marketing health. The problem, though, is that this is mostly a vanity metric—if your existing subscribers aren’t engaged, they won’t open or read your emails. This can reduce deliverability to your overall list and increase the likelihood of your emails ending up in spam folders. Do yourself a favor and regularly unsubscribe people who aren’t engaging with your emails. Offer them a chance to re-subscribe, and don’t look back!
One of the best ways to keep your finger on the pulse of your email engagement is to ask your readers for feedback regularly. A short poll, a survey, a review, or even ending with “Reply back and let me know what you’d like to hear from us” are all great ways to engage your list and ensure you’re sending them the best and most high-quality content you can.
It’s very easy to get lost in the weeks of your weekly email sends, but it’s so important to track your progress and make adjustments as needed to capture more engagement through email. Check industry benchmarks against your own performance over time, and parse out newsletters from launch sequences from welcome emails so you’re truly comparing ‘like’ efforts. Finally, create goals for your emails, on a per email, monthly, and quarterly basis to stay on track with your efforts.
Finally, your footer is valuable real estate. Take full advantage of it with links that matter the most for your business, like your social accounts, the latest promotion you’re running, a popular blog post, or a lead magnet you know will resonate.
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