Sometimes agents get so caught up with sharing the latest promotions, they forget the essentials of communicating via email.
Good email etiquette is essential to any marketing message. If you misspell a critical word, forget a component or send an email that’s not accessible on a smartphone, your open rates and click-throughs won’t live up to your expectations.
Before you send your next email to clients and prospects, confirm that you’ve followed the following 11 email marketing best practices to make sure your email hits its mark.
1) Proofread, proofread, proofread. These days, it’s rare to read an email more than once before sending. Microsoft Word, iOS Pages and even Gmail have spelling and grammar checkers to help you avoid mistakes, but you can’t always rely on technology. To use an English professor’s example, “two bee or not too bee” contains only two correctly spelled words from Shakespeare’s famed quotation.
Avoid distracting from your message—or even potentially damaging your business’s reputation—by proofing every email at least twice.
2) Identify yourself carefully. If your recipients don’t recognize who sent an email, they won’t open or read your message.
Since readers often ignore generic senders such as “firstname.lastname@example.org” or “Newsletter,” populate your sender name and email address with terms that clearly communicate who you are. Ideally, the sender is someone the reader is already familiar with, such as their sales account manager, the agency owner or something like “(Your Agency Name) Client Support.”
3) Use backup values for dynamic content. Always include a default value if you incorporate personalized text into your emails. Otherwise, when you send an email containing each recipient’s first name and you leave the first name field blank, they’ll receive an email that begins, “Dear…” Default values allow you to ensure this field at least populates with something like “Loyal Customer” rather than nothing at all.
4) Click your links. Some automated marketing solutions automatically check for broken links, but many don’t. Broken links create a poor user experience when your recipients can’t access your content. In many cases, they won’t try again in a future email. Make sure you take the time to check every link.
5) Use mobile-ready templates. At least 55% of emails are read on mobile devices. Send a test email and preview your message on a smartphone or tablet to make sure it is readable and displays as intended on a mobile device. If you have an email marketing or marketing automation solution in place, you may be able to preview your email in different screen sizes right within your browser.
6) Include a text version with your HTML email. Some email clients don’t support HTML emails—and some people choose not to receive them—so including a text version makes it more likely every recipient can read your marketing message. Including a text version also decreases your spam score.
7) Write a spam-free subject line. Your subject line is the first part of your email your recipient will see, so make sure it both communicates the purpose of the email and grabs their attention. Sending emails with subject lines that are irrelevant, misleading or littered with typos will harm your reputation and decrease your email open rate. Avoid key spam trigger words or phrases such as “free” or “earn money.”
8) Short = sweet. Your email is one of dozens—maybe even hundreds!—of emails that land in your recipient’s inbox today. Keep it as short as you can without losing the core message.
While you hope your recipient will read every word of your email, many readers will only skim the message. To make your content more “skimmable,” break it into sections. Make it a goal that the reader can determine the general purpose of your message and the action you’d like them to take after a 10-second scan through your email.
9) Create results with clarity. What do you want your recipient to do after reading your email? Request a quote? Download a piece of content from your site? Instruct your reader to do just that with a straightforward call to action. Avoid numerous links and options within the email to avoid distracting the reader from your primary offer.
10) Remain consistent in tone, voice and imagery. To make sure your reader can associate the message with your agency immediately, always include your full agency name and logo in the header of your emails. The tone of the content should match the tone of your website and social channels. Think about it this way: An email from a pet sitter should be fun and playful, but imagine getting an email from a funeral home with the same tone.
Whether conversational or more conservative, make sure you’re consistent across communication channels, use plain language rather than industry jargon and keep pushy sales lingo to a minimum.
11) Avoid problematic phrases. In addition to words like “discount,” “act quickly” and even “spam,” large numbers, dollar signs or excessive exclamation points can diminish your message’s credibility. Remove them, or risk your email ending up in the spam folder.
To boost the legitimacy of your emails, make sure you’re providing content that’s relevant for your audience, writing subject lines that match the content of your emails, and using professional language and punctuation. Whether your agency has a designated marketing team or you’re writing all your emails solo, this checklist can help you avoid many of the mistakes that lead to poor email performance.
Nate Kristy is vice president of marketing at Automational.