Email remains a powerful way to communicate with customers and prospects, as 58% of adults check their email first thing in the morning, and 91% of people check their email every day on their smartphones.
However, there are guidelines to follow and practices to avoid in order to create a compelling email newsletter that resonates with your audience and keeps them engaged.
While this is not an exhaustive list, these tips will help you set up your eNewsletter campaigns for success. Here are 13 dos and don’ts for your email newsletters.
DO: Send targeted emails
Segmenting your contact list allows you to target specific groups of subscribers with your emails. For example, you can segment your clients by industry and send content that is relevant to that specific audience. Narrowing your focus in these ways will make your campaigns more relevant to your recipients, and therefore, more successful. A study by MailChimp showed that segmented campaigns received 14.31% more opens and 100.95% more clicks than non-segmented campaigns.
DON’T: Continue to email unengaged users
It’s important to perform regular maintenance on your email contact lists. The top reason people unsubscribe from email lists is because they receive too many emails in general. Regularly look for any email addresses with hard bounces or recurring soft bounces and remove them from your lists, as continuing to email them can hurt your sender reputation and email deliverability. When it comes to email contact lists, think quality over quantity.
DO: Use personalization
At this point, it’s a given to personalize the To: field and body copy greeting in an email campaign to show the recipient’s first name. Emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened, and personalized messages improve click-through rates by 14%. Consider other ways to personalize emails, such as incorporating their industry or company name into the preview text or body copy. You can also take note of contacts’ location to determine the best time to send them emails by time zone.
DON’T: Use vague subject lines or preview text
A Litmus study found that 24% of respondents look at the preview text first when deciding whether to open an email, 34% look at the subject line and 42% look at the sender name. In addition to personalization, make sure these fields are descriptive and straightforward. Craft the subject and preview text to be benefit-oriented and to-the-point, as your audience receives many emails every day and will be scanning their inbox to decide what to open. Use A/B testing with different variations of text to determine what is most effective for your subscribers.
DO: Design your email so it’s easy to read
No matter how brilliantly-written your copy is, your emails will get deleted if the format isn’t easy to read. To keep the email simple and scannable, break up any large blocks of text into smaller paragraphs or bullet points. Clearly communicate what you’re offering and its value. While you should brand your email newsletters and include images, make sure to keep the layout simple and easy-to-follow.
DO: Have clear calls-to-action
As is best practice for any web page, it should be clear what you want your recipients to do when they open your email. Whether that’s to download your whitepaper, read your latest blog, or visit a case study on your website, create a call-to-action button that links to where you want them to go. The button should be distinctive and have straightforward, descriptive text that clearly communicates the offer.
DO: Use alt text and hyperlinks on images
Alt text is the text that appears when an image doesn’t load. It’s best practice to add alt text to any image you upload to a website for SEO reasons, but it’s important for emails, too. Not all email providers load images properly or automatically, so alt text can help get your message across when your images are missing or improve email accessibility. You should also hyperlink the images in your newsletter because this gives users multiple options to click through to your desired action.
DO: Encourage sharing your content
To increase clicks, you can also add social sharing buttons to your newsletter. As opposed to social follow buttons, these give recipients the option to share your email and offer with others. Many email marketing platforms already have social sharing buttons built-in for you to use.
DO: Make legally compliant
There are two specific laws you need to be aware of when it comes to email marketing: CAN-SPAM and GDPR. The CAN-SPAM Act requires you to use a legitimate “from” email address, to have your address in the footer, and to give users the option to opt out of receiving future emails from you. GDPR is a similar privacy law that was passed in Europe in 2018 to protect user data. Under GDPR a user must manually confirm their consent to receive emails from you, and you need to provide a clear option to unsubscribe from one or all of your types of emails. Practically, this may involve setting up a double opt-in system and a subscription management center, where contacts can customize the content they receive from you. Many marketing automation or email marketing platforms have this feature built in.
DON’T: Forget about accessibility
It’s estimated that 1.3 billion people live with some form of vision impairment, and 36 million people are blind. To make emails more accessible for these people, as well as those who may have physical or cognitive disabilities, it’s important to pay attention to the layout and formatting of your email newsletter. Using headers and maintaining a logical reading order will help users follow the informational hierarchy of the email, and using descriptive link text, rather than simple phrases like “click here,” helps users know what they’re clicking on and why. Alt tags and color contrast are important to the design, too. In addition to meeting ADA compliance and improving accessibility, these items will make your newsletters clearer and more effective for everyone.
DO: Optimize for mobile
In June of 2018, 46% of all email opens were mobile, so the need to optimize your email newsletters for mobile is a given. There are several things to keep in mind. Make sure your email design is responsive, and keep your email width to 600px, as that size will appear correctly in all inboxes. Your call-to-action buttons should be big enough to be easy to click on a mobile device, and the body should be uncluttered with short and engaging text. Mobile design is another area where it would be beneficial to use A/B testing to determine what is most effective.
DON’T: Send without testing first
An email campaign doesn’t always appear in our inbox like we expected it would, and all email clients are slightly different, too. It’s important to test any email newsletter before sending to your contacts to check for errors, formatting issues or broken links. Many platforms have a test email option, or you can send the campaign to coworkers as a test.
DON’T: Ignore the results of your campaign
Almost every email marketing tool includes statistics on any email you send. These include the open rate, click-through rate, bounce rate, etc. Be sure to analyze these stats after every campaign to see how your emails are performing, and make changes based on your observations. A/B testing is an important part of email marketing. It’s a good way to determine the most effective subject lines, CTA buttons, or personalization tokens, to name a few.
Continuous improvement leads to success
Email newsletter campaigns can be a great way to communicate with customers and to move your prospects down the sales funnel. By following these dos and don’ts, you’ll begin to set up your emails for success and see better results from your campaigns.