We've read the misleading predictions: email marketing is "old school", "outdated", and even "dead". However, email still reigns as king of the marketing kingdom.
According to Litmus' 2020 State of Email Report, 94% of respondents say email is in their top 3 most effective marketing channels and 74% of marketing execs feel email marketing is vital to the success of their company. If that's not compelling enough, Litmus also reports email marketing drives significant ROI: $42 for every $1 spent.
Through powerful personalization, advanced automation, turbocharged targeting, and innovative interactivity, email techniques are more evolved and profitable than ever. But, it's critical you get the email basics right to grab customers' attention in their crowded inbox. By optimizing your email, you make sure every component is supporting your value proposition and converting customers.
Below, we've highlighted some of the tried and true email best practices to ensure your capturing attention in the inbox and converting customers. Get the open, get the click, and feel confident every time you hit send.
Email Best Practices: Get the Open
Recognizable Sender - Email From Name
The "from" name should be recognizable, trustworthy, and establish relevance. Recipients look at the "from" name to determine if they know the sender or have signed up to receive their emails. This important visual indicator is one step in determining if they'll open your email.
"From" names can be personalized to provide greater context and entice opens. For example, we might send an email from "email@example.com" to share educational content or "firstname.lastname@example.org" to promote a company event. Our sales reps, on the other hand, would personalize the email farther to include their names.
The domain @whereoware.com is an important part of this recognition. Additionally, make sure your sending domain is verified with DKIM, SPR, and DMARC to protect and maintain email deliverability.
Clear and Compelling Subject Line
The subject line is your opening to capture readers' interest. It should be short (less than 70 characters), unique, and contain the value proposition. If your subject line exceeds 70 characters, check where the message cuts off across devices to ensure important information is not overlooked.
Putting the value proposition in the beginning of the subject line is called "front-loading", and ensures your key point is not missed. Avoid tactics that may come off as Spammy, like excessive uppercase letters or punctuation, or a misleading subject line that doesn't match the topic of your email.
A/B testing a subject line ensures the most effective word choice. A/B testing your subject line works by sending the same email with two different subject lines to a small percentage of your database. You choose which factor will determine the winner, like highest open rate. Then, the winning email with the most effective subject line is sent to the rest of the database. Many marketing automation tools, like Acoustic or HubSpot, make A/B testing simple.
The snippet text, or preheader, is the first 100 characters or so of visible text in the email. The preheader allows the reader to see what the email is about within the inbox, directly following the subject line.
The preheader text should support and reinforce your subject line and include a call-to-action. We recommend you personalize this copy and relocate the "view in browser" link to not interfere with your preheader.
Email Best Practices: Get the Click
Email Copy and Layout
Your email should include a clear and compelling headline, followed by a logical thought sequence. Email copy should reinforce your value proposition and entice customers to act.
In your email body, we recommend a streamlined layout and high-quality imagery. Take advantage of whitespace and padding to make your messages stand out.
Keep it simple and concise, and make it easy to scan by using bullets instead of large paragraphs of copy. Use two fonts or fewer, and make sure you set a default font for email clients that don't render web fonts. If your message is text-heavy, move extraneous copy to a landing page and link to it from the email.
Your email's top navigation should be minimal, include your company's logo, and buttons should be 44x44 pixels, at a minimum, so it is clickable with your finger on mobile devices.
People tend to read in an "F" shape, scanning horizontally across the section of the email, and then down the left side marginally less for every line thereafter. You can also organize your email in an "S" shape to avoid monotony and draw the reader down your email.
Use alt text on all images, so your message will appear in the email despite the images being disabled. Incorporate live text to bypass image blocking and deliver a better experience on mobile.
Your copy must always include a call-to-action (CTA) that directs customers to their next step.
The CTA is the core of your email's pitch. It tells the reader what to do next and creates a sense of urgency.
You should use one clear call to action button. If you have multiple buttons directing the reader to different places, it adds unnecessary complexity to the reader's experience, and may discourage clicking any button at all.
When possible, the CTA should be above the fold, so it is impossible to miss.
Optimizing your email design for mobile is critical to cater to your growing mobile audience.
Your email copy should incorporate live text and be easy to read from both mobile and desktop devices. Make sure your call-to-action is clickable from mobile.
An optimized email is responsive, meaning the layout shifts to give mobile recipients the best reading experience. If you don't have the resources to build a responsive email, using a single column layout will improve readability on tiny screens.
Email Optimization Improves Engagement
Email optimization is a simple process that can improve results.
The copy should be engaging and on-topic, and the value proposition is key. The "from" name, subject line, and snippet text all build a foundation of trustworthiness, intrigue, and relevance.
The body of the email guides the reader through the email with visual cues, minimizes clutter, is easy to read, and makes sure your design elements are mobile-friendly.