Email marketing has been in use for decades at this point, making it one of the oldest digital marketing channels. Because of its status as the elder statesman of online marketing, some have recently declared email marketing dead.

In reality, that dramatic claim has no evidence to back it up. In fact, there’s plenty of evidence to the contrary. Considering there are 5.6 billion active email accounts in the world, and that 99% of email users report they check their inbox at least once a day, you have access to an incredibly broad, captive audience in your reach.

Of course, the medium has changed and evolved over the years, and approaches that worked in the early days will get you ignored or dumped in the spam folder now. Let me walk you through some modern email marketing best practices.

Allow Readers to Opt-In

Have you ever received an email from a strange company and wondered how on earth you ended up on their mailing list? Emailing consumers who haven’t asked to join your list is a move that erodes trust right away. They may feel you are crossing boundaries and imposing on their inbox, and that does not make for a great first impression!

That’s why it’s important that you keep your list only to those people who have asked to subscribe. While this may mean that your list is slower to grow, it guarantees you a higher-quality list full of contacts who actually want to read your content.

Maintain a Clean List

Speaking of your list, one of the most critical steps in creating and maintaining a mailing list is ensuring that it’s full of legitimate emails and engaged subscribers. Your first step toward a cleaner list is simple: Every six months, go through your list and remove email addresses with a hard bounce (these are generally accounts that have been deactivated or addresses that are misspelled).

Also, take a look at those subscribers with low engagement. Are there some folks on your list who always delete your mailings without reading them?

If this is the case, reach out to them and ask them if they’d like to stay subscribed. If they say yes, great! But if they say no, that’s okay, too. Again, even though this shrinks your list, it’s not all bad.

Internet service providers (ISPs) use open and clickthrough rates on emails as a way to decide what’s spam and what’s not. If you have a high-quality list with lots of engaged readers, you’re ensuring that your emails end up in inboxes and not junk folders.

Segment Your List

Not all consumers are alike. Yes, anyone on your mailing list has at least one thing in common: an interest in your company. But most companies have several buyer personas. These personas basically represent the different groups of consumers who do business with you.

Let’s say you own a sporting goods stores. You might have four different personas:

  • Parents Buying Sports Gear for Their Children
  • Hiking & Camping Enthusiasts
  • Adults Who Play Sports in Recreational Leagues
  • Elite Runners and Cyclists

The elite runners won’t be interested in hiking shoes, just like the hikers don’t have a need for children’s baseball gloves. That’s where list segmentation comes in.

By breaking your audience down by demographics, attributes, and previous interactions with your brand, you can send everyone emails that are relevant only to their needs.

Personalization Is a Necessity

Segmentation already offers a certain degree of personalization. You’re targeting each subset of your population with the content that speaks to their interests.

However, today’s email marketing tools allow you to take things a step further. You can automatically generate salutations that include the reader’s first name. Consumers are far more likely to open an email that’s addressed to them, rather than one with a generic, “Hey there.”

In fact, surveys indicate that consumers are 26% more likely to open an email if it has their name in the subject line. Modern marketing tools make this kind of personalization incredibly easy to achieve, and it has a huge effect on customer responsiveness.

Test Your Messaging

Even when you have a pretty solid understanding of who your customers are and what they want, you’re never going to know exactly what messaging will resonate best. That’s why A/B testing is a great idea.

Divide a segment of your list in half and send them emails that are similar, but different. The two emails should have the same ultimate conversion goal, but some of the content should vary. Perhaps it’s the way you word the call to action, or the headline you use in the email.

Once you’ve sent these alternate versions of the same email, you can track response rates on each. If there’s one that performs noticeably better than the other, then repurpose that messaging and approach for future campaigns.

Always Measure Results

Even if you’re not A/B testing a particular campaign, you still want to track KPIs to understand how it’s performing. Measuring results allows you to understand what’s working and what’s not. From there, you can lean into the messaging that’s resonating with your audience and ditch anything that’s not.

Stay in Touch

One of the most important things in an email marketing strategy is maintaining consistency. Your subscribers likely won’t read every email from you, but if you continue to appear in their inbox on a regular basis, you stay top of mind and get at least some of your content noticed by your recipients. A consistent presence is key to building brand recognition and assuring that your name is top-of-mind when your subscribers want to purchase a good or service you provide.

Is email marketing still an effective strategy in 2020? We say yes. It gives you one-on-one access to your customers in a way that no other existing channel can match ““ if you know how to get their attention. There’s no need to go it alone though. Take a look at what we can do for you. Then, give us a call so we can get started!

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