I began working at SendGrid back in July of 2011. One of the things I love about working in the email space is that email continues to evolve and there continue to be new innovations and better ways to use email to connect with your subscribers. I thought it would be interesting to go back and review my advice on email best practices to find out if it too has evolved or if many of the underlying fundamentals are holding true.
Through the years I have posted many blog posts on best practices, new trends, predictions, and how to optimize your email programs. As I reviewed the blog posts and my recommendations for improving email programs, the quote “the more things change, the more they stay the same” came to mind.
Interestingly enough, at the heart of my recommendations is a mantra that I have been sharing for all of my years at SendGrid, and that is to find the right person, send them the right message, at the right time, with the right frequency.
The fundamental advice still holds true to, you should always:
- Manage your email reputation
- Build your list the right way
- Segment your subscribers
- Send email that your subscribers want to receive
The techniques on how to do each of those things have advanced over the years which allows email marketers to be more successful than ever.
Let’s take a specific best practices checklist from 2013 and review how each of these tips has evolved and how you can use email to drive greater ROI as we head into 2018.
1. Then: Customize the “from” line
Avoid using “no reply” in your from line. Instead, personalize it in a way that makes it easy for your customer to identify you as a sender.
Now: Go one step further and take advantage of your pre-header text
This is often overlooked by marketers and is the text that defaults to “Email not displaying correctly, view in browser.” Use this valuable real estate—that is even more important now that many subscribers are viewing your email on a mobile device—to communicate the primary message of your email.
2. Then: Write clear subject lines
Make the purpose and content of your email obvious. If you are sending a promotional email or special offer, state the offer clearly such as “30% off today only.” If your transactional email provides shipping information, ensure your subject contains words like “Your Order Has Shipped.”
Now: Keeping your subject line clear and concise is more important than ever
Our Big Data Team has done some analysis that shows words like “today” or “now” don’t see as strong of engagement as words like “tomorrow” or “soon.” Creating a sense of urgency is important, but you should test using a softer tone.
3. Then: Always make a personal connection by including a salutation in every email you send
Personalization is especially important in transactional email because it affirms your relationship with your subscriber and makes your customer more comfortable with the transaction details.
Now: Personalization continues to be important, yet using a first name isn’t enough
In fact, just using a first name doesn’t indicate that you have a relationship with your subscriber—use more information that you have about your subscribers to demonstrate that you have crafted the message to them specifically.
4. Then: Disclose your location
Include your company name and a postal address in every email you send.
Now: Set your footer so your location is automatically in every email
Including your location and company information was once a manual process. Now you should include this in the preset footer in your messages, which will allow you to set it and forget it as you set up new email campaigns.
5. Then: Say “thank you”
Sometimes the key to increasing sales is not asking for one. Be sure to show your appreciation by offering email exclusives or providing helpful information in your marketing emails. In transactional emails, always thank your customer for their order no matter how big or small the purchase.
Now: Segment your VIP users to make “thank you’s” even more customizable
Minding your manners continues to be critical. Now, you can segment your most engaged and loyal customers and treat them in a special way by offering them discounts and offers that are only for the VIPs on your list.
While many of the email fundamentals from years ago hold true, today you can better attract subscribers, build your lists the right way, segment your lists, and send to your subscribers based on your data. You can also better analyze your results to determine what is working and what is not in order to make improvements.
Testing has remained important but now you can test your content, sending time, and frequency in incredible ways. As we look to 2018, email managers now have a wealth of data to send the absolute best email. That is a trend that I’m excited to see get more sophisticated in the years to come!
For even more current up to date best practice tips, check out SendGrid’s 2018 A-Z of Email Marketing Guide.