Emails have time and time again proven themselves to be the top way to communicate with both existing and potential customers. In a marketer’s quest to gather more attention, gain more engagement, and generate more clicks, it's inevitable that questions would come up. This list is a comprehensive look at common email marketing questions, designed to provide value whether you’re a seasoned vet or a complete beginner.
It's 2021. Is email marketing still relevant?
The short answer is yes, and the long answer is still yes. Email marketing is one of the most effective ways to reach a customer directly. You don’t have to play the waiting game of social media, where you sit back and hope that the customer comes to you. Email marketing allows you to go directly to the source and initiate a call to action. It’s the number two reason behind customer-growth acquisition, second only to organic search. It’s permission-based, customizable, measurable, and has the most significant reach - so yes, it’s still effective.
1. Social media vs. email marketing: which is more effective?
Social media has grown at an exponential rate over the last ten years. Many companies have a social media presence and consider it to be an important channel for their business. However, email marketing is still the preferred method for promotions and has a much higher conversion rate than social media - think something like 6.05% to 1.9%. According to McKinsey, email marketing is 40 times more effective than social media outreach. Email also has a more extensive user base when segmented across age groups.
2. Should I buy an email database to start with email marketing?
It might be tempting to buy an email database when starting with email marketing. However, you need to resist this temptation - not only do you lose credibility in the eyes of your customers, but you’re also probably not even getting quality emails. The people on these lists also don’t know who you are and don’t have any connection to your company or production. You might also even be violating rules of consent under GDPR. Even though this might seem like an easy way to gain connections, it’s a big no.
3. What’s the best way to grow my email lists?
Email list building is an essential task for any marketing team since email marketing has a potential ROI of 4200%. It's important to cultivate a list that will engage and take action with your messaging, building your brand. One of the best ways to grow your email list is by making it easy to sign up. This might look like just a simple form on your homepage which asks for name and email. Another way to grow your list is to offer valuable content that they’ll engage with. Content-gating is when you require someone to enter an email to access content such as an article or PDF. If someone completes the process, they’ve just shown that your content is valuable to them and that they will be willing to receive more content from you.
4. Do I need to send newsletters?
Not necessarily - again, this is something that will depend on your target audience and how they respond to your content. Some audiences love newsletters, while others want to be contacted only on a ‘need-to-know’ basis, such as events or upcoming promotions. If you’re interested in sending a newsletter, experiment with what timing and formatting work best for your audience.
5. How often should I send emails?
As often as you can without annoying your customers. For some companies, this might look like once a week; for others, they can send daily emails while maintaining high engagement levels. This is going to take some trial and error - start slow, and work your way up to more frequent emails, and see how your customers respond.
6. What is the best time of day to send emails?
This will also differ depending on your business and customer base. Generally speaking, the best time of day to send emails is weekday mornings, between 10 am - 12 noon. If you do want to send an email on the weekend, try sending it on Sunday night so that your audience sees it first thing Monday morning. However, this is something you want to experiment with to see what resonates with your audience.
7. How long should my emails be?
Your emails need to hit a sweet spot of being long enough to convey your message and short enough that people don’t lose interest - or think that you’re not putting effort into it. The sweet spot would be between 50-125 words, based on a study by Boomerang. Most people will only spend around 20 seconds reading an email, so make sure the most critical information and the call to action are located at the top, where they’ll be the first thing seen.
8. What should my ‘From’ line say?
Your ‘From’ line needs to be familiar to your audience since they’re much less likely to open an email from someone they don’t know. An unfamiliar ‘From’ line is also an easy way to get marked as spam or unsubscribed. A best practice here is to have the email come from your company name or an individual associated with the company.
9. Should I segment my email lists?
Segmenting your email lists will help them reach the right audiences, offer the right promotions, and get better open and click rates. Segmented and targeted emails can increase revenue by 58%, and 74% of marketers say personalized emails trigger more customer engagement. Instead of sending out a batch of emails and hoping that people open them, segmenting your email lists helps drive increased engagement and deliver better quality emails.
10. What is email deliverability? How can I ensure that my emails are delivered?
Email deliverability is the process that determines if your email will hit someone's inbox, or be sent straight to spam, never to be seen again. It relies on several things, including reputation, infrastructure, content, and authentication. This email deliverability guide provides a definitive look at deliverability, spam, and how to ensure that your email reaches your subscribers’ inboxes.
11. What does the CAN-SPAM Act say?
- The CAN-SPAM (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing) law requires all commercial emails to have the following:
- A physical address listed
- A straightforward way to unsubscribe from emails and have that request honored within ten days
- From, To, and Reply-To which explains clearly who you are
- For every email that does not include this, you risk a fine from the FTC of up to $16,000. You can read more about the act here.
12. How should I format my emails - HTML or plain-text?
Both HTML and plain text emails have their benefits - it just depends on what you want to do. HTML emails have everything that plain text emails don’t: colors, styles, images, and multimedia. However, some email clients do not handle HTML well, resulting in an inconsistent delivery of the code and some items not being displayed. Plain text emails will look the same across all email clients but will lack a visual appeal. HTML has better tracking and analytic capabilities, while plain text emails are more accessible. It depends on how you want to format your emails: if you need graphics and multimedia to convey your message, go with HTML. If your emails are text-heavy, then you can move forward with plain text. I would recommend using Nifty for formatting because their document solution makes it easy to lay out for both text heavy and multimedia focused emails.
13. What's the main rule to remember when writing an email?
Rule number one of writing email copy is to write with a purpose in mind. Are you trying to get your subscribers to buy something, or are you sharing information with the intent to add value? Different goals require a different approach. If you’re writing sales copy, you need to elaborate on your product’s benefits and follow up with a CTA. If you’re writing value-focused content, such as a newsletter or update, consider offering solutions to whatever problems they may be facing, or share the latest news from that industry to keep them up-to-date.
Remember, you’re writing for a specific audience, so you want to maintain an idea of exclusivity to make them feel like they have been chosen to receive this email. Stay away from cliches - they’re salesy and will likely have the opposite effect of what you’re trying to achieve. Additionally, write in the second person (you) when writing email copy. It builds a bond with your reader when they feel like you’re talking directly to them.
14. What are some best practices for writing better email subject lines?
Subject lines are the first thing that incentivizes someone to open your email, so it's critical to get it right. One tip to improve your subject lines is to personalize them with the recipient’s name - this can increase open rates by up to 50%. Another tip would be to make it short and catchy. If you can create a snappy subject line that uses strong language and psychological triggers, you can spark someone's curiosity or FOMO - making them much more likely to see what's inside.
15. How can I improve my Call-to-Action (CTA)?
Your Call-to-Action is at the center of your email - it’s essentially the entire reason why you’re sending it! It’s critical to make your CTA as useful as possible to drive clicks and engagement. The three keys of any CTA are copy, placement, and design. Some tips to improve your CTA include: putting it at the top of your email, where it will get the most attention; using assertive/active words to inspire people to take action; and using color to make the CTA button stand out. Start by thinking, “What do I want the reader to do?” and design your CTA from there.
16. How to measure the effectiveness of my email campaigns? Which metrics should be measured?
There are so many metrics available to help you measure campaign effectiveness, and it can be challenging to choose the right one. It’s essential to measure this because it gives you more insight into what’s working from a marketing standpoint, as well as giving you more data around your customers to influence future campaigns. Generally speaking, you’ll want to look at these main data points:
Open Rate: This is the number of people who opened your email, which tells you how strong your subject lines are. As we mentioned before, subject lines are the main incentive to open an email, so this is valuable data.
Click-through Rate: Opening an email is not enough - you want subscribers to take action on the links to visit your website or a landing page, with the end goal being a conversion to a customer. Click-through rates vary across industries, but you’re looking for somewhere between 2-5%.
Unsubscribe Rate: The rate at which people unsubscribe from your emails. We want this to be as low as possible since a high unsubscribe rate indicates that you’re not sharing content that resonates with your targeted audience.
17. How to increase my click-through rate?
To increase your click-through rate, your content needs to be closely aligned to your subscribers’ needs. If your emails are informative, relevant, and persuasive, subscribers will be more likely to click on your links and CTAs. When writing emails, personalize content and use professional writers familiar with your industry to write compelling copy that draws people in.
18. How can I increase my email response rate?
Email response rates are the number of responses you get after sending out an email. Most marketers target a response rate of 10% for each email campaign. If you’re looking to increase your email response rate, focus on send times: avoid weekends, Mondays, and evenings. Include a clear value proposition for your subscribers: if they’re able to see the value in your email, they’re more likely to respond. Tagging your email marketing efforts with offline SMS messaging is yet another way to increase your response rate since SMSs have a much higher open rate.
19. What elements should I be A/B testing in my emails and why?
A/B testing is a way of working out which of two campaign options is the most effective in encouraging opens or clicks. A/B testing can be done on any email element, including subject lines, audiences, CTAs, templates, and copy. When A/B testing, it's crucial to have a clear hypothesis and only test one thing at a time. If you start changing multiple elements, it will be hard to attribute the effects to just one item.
Armed with the answers to the questions that are on the top of mind for email marketers, you are now all set to redouble your email marketing efforts with the kind of clarity that brings fantastic results. Happy email marketing to you!