20 min read
You’re a go-getter and a high-achiever.
You’ve built your business with gumption, allowing you to connect with an audience of people who can’t wait to hear what you have to say.
It doesn’t matter if your audience is made up of 100 people or 10,000 people.
You have a message to share with your audience, and email marketing is one of the best ways to promote it.
But it’s not enough to just send emails every so often to your audience.
You want to personally connect with your subscribers. You want to teach them on topics that matter to them. And you want to build a lasting impact with the content you create.
All of this can be accomplished when you create an email marketing strategy that works for you and your subscribers. This means testing new ideas, editing your content, and optimizing your emails over time, but the reward is higher trust and conversions.
Since you want to be intentional about the way you are building and growing your email list, it will be helpful to start from a strong foundation.
With these 25 email marketing best practices, we hope you will walk away with a better understanding of how the elements inside an email marketing strategy come together and how to implement these practices into your own strategy.
Your email list is one of your most important marketing channels because it’s a platform you own, unlike social media channels that control which audience members get to see your content and when. You have full creative freedom over how you structure your email marketing strategy, making it a great place to build your most loyal audience.
With an email list, you can directly communicate with your subscribers by sending single email broadcasts or email sequences. As your email list grows, you can continue to collect data through your email marketing metrics so you can set benchmark goals you want to reach to measure how well your emails are performing.
It may be tempting to put your email list growth on autopilot once you start to see your subscriber count increase, but you may hit a plateau of growth if you aren’t actively engaged with your email subscribers.
We recommend setting aside a time block at least once a month to assess your email marketing performance by checking your email marketing analytics and identifying which calls-to-action have been most successful. You can also determine which topics are resonating with your audience by checking your open rates, click rates, and conversion rates.
As your email list grows, your audience will likely evolve along with it. While doing initial audience research is important so you know who your ideal client or customer is, it doesn’t stop there. Instead, you’ll want to continually interact and engage with your audience so you know what they are looking to learn more about.
When someone signs up for your email list, they are trading one of their most valuable digital possessions–their email address–for the opportunity to learn from you through your emails and downloadable freebies. Since email subscribers are more valuable than social media followers, a person giving you their email address in exchange for access to your content is a big deal.
The more you get to know your subscribers, the more you’ll know how to serve them. And the better you can serve them, the more trust you will build. This trust is crucial when you start to pitch your freelance services, digital products, or physical products.
As you serve your subscribers well, you may gain detailed feedback about what they want to hear more about through surveys and personal email replies. You could also draw conclusions on what to talk more about by looking at your positive email marketing metrics. All of these actions will help you create better products and services that your email subscribers will actually want to buy.
Rather than sending your email broadcasts from a company entity, we recommend sending emails with a personal brand-style email address. If you are already a personal brand, this will be an easy step since your audience will already know your name when they sign up for your list.
However, if you are currently building a larger organization or taking steps to build your business beyond yourself, you can still build a more personal connection with your audience by sharing the name of a person behind the company.
For example, many of our company emails give the sender title of “[team member’s name here] at ConvertKit” rather than “ConvertKit” so our customers get to know the people behind our platform.
Along with sending emails from a personal name behind your business, you can also build trust by adding a friendly headshot of the person. This is meant to help your subscribers put a face to the name so they can create a personal connection with your brand.
Call it a core value, call it a catchphrase. No matter what you call it, “teach everything you know” sums up how we do business and life at ConvertKit. (We even have a sticker of this phrase!)
You become a trusted friend and advisor to hundreds, thousands, even millions of people who are asking the same questions in their own life. When someone is willing, confident, and vulnerable enough to teach, it resonates with people who are seeking answers.
-Matt Ragland, bulletjournalguy.com
When you teach everything you know, it not only builds a strong connection with your ideal audience, it also builds authority and credibility. Sharing your unique creative process and philosophy may be the perfect inspiration someone needs to unlock their next level of motivation.
As you begin to teach your audience, you can use email marketing as a way to reach more of your audience and test a variety of topics to see what resonates. The topics that are well received should become an integral part of your email marketing content strategy as you teach even more of what you know.
Before you write any email content, you should ask yourself,
What would bring the most value to my ideal customer or client?
Once you have your answer, you can start to outline your email content and pair it with other special offers, bonuses, or freebies that will give your email subscribers even more value.
One of the best ways to offer something of value to your email audience is to offer lead magnets on your blog, website, podcast, or any other content platform you run. These lead magnets will help you educate your audience about the importance of a topic within your niche and help you build trust.
One of the most common email conversion copywriting mistakes we see in email marketing is when content creators spend the majority of their email talking about the features of their offering rather than the benefits.
Benefits speak to the emotional value your customer or client will receive when working with you. It will create a stronger connection than simply listing the features of what you’re selling.
A feature of your product details what deliverables are included in the package, but a benefit will give your audience an idea of what they can do with those deliverables and why they are important to their growth.
We challenge you to review a sales page or sales-focused email you’ve written in the past and assess whether or not you talked more about the benefits of what you were offering than the features. You can make small tweaks to your messaging to ensure the benefits come first which will, in turn, help you increase your conversions.
Your goal is not necessarily to have the largest email list but to have the most engaged email list possible. If your email list boasts large numbers of subscribers but your open and click rates are dismal, it won’t turn into more conversions.
You want to attract and nurture email subscribers who are excited to hear from you and want to open, click, and interact with all of your emails. In order to keep the inactive subscribers at bay, you’ll want to keep an eye on your cold subscribers and prune your email list regularly.
There’s no denying that we love to hear someone say our name. It helps us feel seen in a world that feels noisy and crowded at times. Personalizing your emails with a custom greeting will help you create a stronger connection with your subscribers.
Since personalized emails get 29% more open rates and 41% higher click rates, it’s something we always pay attention to. There are a few ways you can do this in ConvertKit, and it only takes a few seconds. That small time investment can reap big rewards by helping you build trust.
Email subject lines can make or break your email open rates. In fact, 35% of people open emails based on the subject line alone. While you may wait to write your email subject line until the last minute, email marketing experts say it’s worth just as much of your time as crafting the email content itself.
When you write your email subject lines, you’ll want to keep its length around 50 characters or less so it is visible on desktops and mobile devices. You can add emojis if it fits your brand personality since it can increase open rates by as much as 56%. You may also want to avoid words like “final”, “sale,” and “exclusive” in your emails since they make your email feel more sales-y.
Once you have a few subject line variations, you’ll want to put them to the test to see how well they actually perform in your subscriber’s inboxes. You can do this easily when you create a single email broadcast in ConvertKit and click on the A/B button next to the email subject line field.
Then you can test two different subject line variations to see which one will win. If you guess the right one, you’ll have confirmation that you’re getting better at knowing your audience. If you hypothesized that one would win by a landslide but the opposite happened, you may want to look into why that happened as it will tell you something crucial about your audience.
While we know subject lines are incredibly important, many email marketers disregard their email’s preview text. This refers to the small blurb that shows in the email preview in your subscriber’s inbox.
Typically, the blurb is taken from the first sentence of your email. You’ll want to make it count since it’s your last chance to hook a reader and convince them to open your email if they aren’t sure just by the subject line.
When you write this blurb, it’s best to create something engaging that teases what the content will be about but doesn’t give away the whole story of the email.
On the off chance that one of your images or CTA buttons doesn’t upload or display properly, you’ll want to write alt-text that allows for a smooth user experience in your emails.
Since many email hosts will automatically block images, it’s important to have alt-text so your audience is still able to see what is meant to be shown. To prevent this from happening, you can ask your subscribers to whitelist your email address so your emails won’t be sent to the person’s junk folder and your images will have a greater chance of being seen.
You may notice that at the bottom of each promotional email, there is an unsubscribe link that allows subscribers to opt-out of your email list at any time. It is important to have it there for legal reasons.
Our email templates automatically have this unsubscribe link added to the email, but you can also add custom unsubscribe links depending on your email marketing strategy.
You can’t increase your conversions without a clear call-to-action. We recommend sticking to one central CTA for each email, but you can switch up which CTA you focus on with each email broadcast.
For example, an educational email might have the CTA of reading a blog post or doing an activity inside a downloadable workbook you’ve created. A hard-sell email, however, might have the CTA of visiting your sales page or buying your product through a direct digital checkout page.
Also, to strengthen your CTA, you’ll want to focus on including action-oriented words. If your language is too passive, you won’t inspire your audience to take action. Here are a few words you may want to use in your next CTA button.
Since up to 77% of people open emails on their small mobile device screens, having mobile-optimized emails isn’t just recommended; it’s necessary.
Even if you are writing and creating your email content from a desktop device, you’ll want to preview your email on mobile before sending it out to your email list.
Even if your subject line is great, you may not see the open rates you’re hoping for if you send your emails around midnight. If you want to create your email content well past sunset, that’s okay, but it may not be the best time to send your email.
Luckily, most email service providers will allow you to schedule your email content to be sent at a different time than when you draft the email.
The best times to send your emails may differ depending on the major time zones your audience is located in, but experts typically recommend sending emails on Tuesdays and Wednesdays around 10-11 AM for your desired time zone.
While these recommendations offer a good place to start, you may want to test different times during the day to see what’s best for your audience. You can measure this by taking a peek at your open rates and comparing them over time. One great way to do this is by playing with the cadence of when you send different emails inside an automated email sequence.
Email marketing will become so much easier once you have a content calendar to follow. Like much of your other content marketing efforts, having a regularly updated email marketing content calendar will help you plan out your future content, set KPI goals, and ensure your long-term strategy stays intact.
With your email marketing content calendar, you can set aside a dedicated block of time to jot down several email content ideas and organize them into categories in one sitting.
You can use the same process when you create content for any other marketing platform.
We mentioned this above, but asking your email subscribers to whitelist your brand within their own email host is a smart move. When a subscriber whitelists your email address, it helps your emails stay out of their spam folder and reduces the likelihood of your emails being marked as spam.
You can show them an easy tutorial of how to do this in your first email after they’ve confirmed their email address or in a custom thank you page. Keep in mind that each email host handles whitelisting a little differently, so it may be helpful to link out to the specific instructions.
As your email list grows, you’ll notice that having a master email list isn’t all that helpful when you look to launch niche products and services. When you consider that every subscriber is at a different stage of life, business, or skillset, along with having different needs, email segmentation becomes a no brainer.
Email segmentation is one of the key differences between growing an email list that converts and one that makes it hard to reach your goals. You can build a segmentation strategy by determining which factors are most important to segment by and implementing them into your current email marketing strategy. These factors could include your subscriber’s interest level in each topic, current skill level, and desired skill level.
Keeping your audience’s goals in mind will help you create tiered content that guides them smoothly through your email list content. This is a great way to build in additional personalization, which will help your subscribers feel cared for and understood.
Over 70% of consumers rely on social proof and recommendations from people they trust before they make a purchase. With this in mind, it’s no surprise that including social proof in your emails can help you increase conversions.
Social proof can look like adding a written testimonial, video testimonial, a case study, or any number of things that add credibility and authority to your brand. Social proof is one of the best ways to build trust because it gives your audience an inside look into the people you’ve already helped.
You only want subscribers on your email list who want to be on it. You also want to eliminate the amount of spam email accounts that will sign up for your email list. Both of these things can be accomplished when you use a double opt-in.
When you use a double opt-in, you’ll give subscribers the opportunity to confirm that they want to add their email address to your email list. This makes sure that your subscribers are engaged with your email list and truly want to be there.
Content upgrades are created in tandem with freely available blog, audio, or video content. Typically, content upgrades are meant to teach more in-depth about the content topic.
You can use content upgrades throughout your blog posts, place them in your YouTube video description, or link to them in your podcast show notes. You can get creative for how you would like to use content upgrades, but you can also create them quickly using repurposed content that already exists.
Why do people read your emails? It’s not because of the design but rather the value of the content inside your email. With this in mind, we recommend sending plain-text emails.
Not only do they eliminate distracting visuals but they also feel more like an email from a friend than a visual-heavy promotional email.
You can still include imagery in your ConvertKit emails when applicable. However, it’s best to keep imagery to a minimum since images reduce your load times and could mark your emails as potential spam.
By previewing your email, you’ll see what it looks like when accessed on each device and make sure it is formatted in a user-friendly way.
Also check for any spelling or grammar errors during this time. Sending an email with a typo is one of the worst feelings because you can’t take the content back. But don’t worry, we’ve all been there.
Just check your email one last time to be safe.
Your email marketing efforts won’t be as successful if you aren’t actively measuring the performance of your emails. Email marketing metrics—like open rates, conversion rates, and click rates—are there to help you understand how well your audience is engaging with your emails.
As you monitor the performance of your email campaigns, you can continue to optimize your email sequences over time and create stronger subject lines by sending single email broadcasts.
Instead of treating email marketing like a task to be quickly checked off your to-do list, start seeing it as a valuable place to invest your time and attention as you focus on increasing conversions with these long-term email marketing best practice strategies that are tested and proven to work for your brand.
With this comprehensive guide to getting started with email marketing, you can utilize these best practices in your own email marketing strategy. We recommend choosing at least THREE email marketing tips from this list to test on your own to get started.
If you want to increase your open rates, you may choose to experiment with A/B subject line testing, preview texts, and email personalization.
If you’d rather focus on building trust with your audience before a launch, you can create email content that teaches everything you know on a specific subject, includes social proof, and allows your subscribers to self-select an option that will automatically segment them in your email list.
No matter what your biggest goal is, you can find a few email marketing best practices to help you take action steps to reach it. We know you have something awesome to share with the world, and we can’t wait to see how you utilize email marketing to reach more people.
And if you want to see how ConvertKit can help you reach those big goals, click the button below to try us out for a free 14-day trial!