7 Common-Sense Email Marketing Tips

Email marketing is a powerful and affordable way for small businesses to expand their customer base and build customer loyalty.

But because it’s not always clear to small business owners which tactics work and which don’t, they don’t put emails to use as they should.

When they do, they often send out the spammy sales emails that we’re all used to getting.

People do what they know.

When trying to learn, you may have come across several email marketing “hacks” that promise all kinds of wild success.

However, if you’re not careful, those hacks can leave you with less success and a shorter email list.

Today, instead of hacking your email marketing, I’m going to share some common-sense ideas you can apply towards your email marketing.

Great Email Marketing Has An Incredible ROI

Before you get into email marketing, like most people, you want to know if it’s worth it.

Rest assured, it’s a fantastic place to spend your marketing budget.

Done correctly, email marketing gets a huge ROI.

In 2017, you could expect a $40 return on every $1 spent.

In 2018, that went up to $43 for every $1.

You can expect email to continue growing for the foreseeable future.

The experts do, estimating 4.2 billion people will be using email by 2020.

And most of them check their email every day.

If you can master this marketing medium, you’ll reach people in their inbox more than anywhere else on the web.

But you’ve got to get great at it.

With 281 billion emails sent every day, you’ve got a lot of competition.

You’ve also got a lot of data coming from those emails that tells you what works and what doesn’t.

From that information, I’ve put together some things you should be doing with your emails that are truly common-sense.

Start An Email Marketing Campaign You’d Want To Receive

The first step to a common-sense email marketing campaign is that you self-filter everything.

As you create emails, think about whether you’d open and read them.

Would their appearance in your inbox irritate you?

Are they covering information you care about?

If you aren’t impressed with your own emails, your audience won’t be either.

Think about that as you walk through these steps with every email you write.

Get Your Subject Line To The Point

I already mentioned that over 281 billion emails get sent daily.

That’s a veritable sea of competition that you need your email to be seen in.

If you want that to happen, you need a subject line that stands out.

There are tons of “hacks” that talk about using numbers, emojis, hashtags, and pop-culture references.

And, while these might work to get attention, you can’t fail to do the most basic thing.

Write a subject line that tells them exactly what your email is about.

See what I mean by “common-sense”?

Write a subject line that doesn't piss your audience off. Click To Tweet

However, many email articles out there tell you to be ambiguous.

But in a world where people are inundated by endless garbage email, ambiguity doesn’t do them any favors.

They’ll trash it if they can’t tell why it’s important.

Obviously, that’s counterproductive for you.

The best thing you can do with your subject line is to outline the immediate benefit of opening the email.

That means you need something beneficial in it, of course.

But by allowing them to decide how valuable your email is before they open it, you improve your odds of getting through to them.

Their ability to instantly see value with a glance at the subject line lets you cut through the other garbage in their inbox.

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Take Advantage Of The Preheader Text

The preheader text is the part of your email that shows up in the preview.

Not sure what I’m talking about?

Open your email client and check out what’s written next to the subject line.

Usually, the preview text comes from the first line of your email copy.

However, in some cases, there’s a pre-header in the email.

That’s normally the spot where it says “Having Trouble Reading This Email? – Open In Web Browser.”

If you’re wasting your preheader with something like that, you need to change it.

Most email clients allow a preview of 35-140 characters.

That preview helps to show your audience exactly what’s in your email.

A great preview text can improve your open rate. Click To Tweet

Just like the subject line, that’s going to remove ambiguity and help them decide if your email is worth reading.

In most cases, if you don’t have the “view online” text, you’re already crafting your opening sentence carefully.

Things should work fine for you.

However, if your email offers that link to see it in-browser, try to move it to another area further down the email.

Use that pre-header text to entice your readers to open your email.

Share some indicator of the value it contains.

Bonus points if you can include the next common-sense tip in your preview text.

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Personalize Your Email With “Smart” Content

Everyone is familiar with “smart” content, though they may not realize it.

Smart content is email content that is personalized based on the data you have about your email recipient.

It’s a method of automating personalization across an email campaign.

For example, when Spotify sends personalized emails out, they don’t individually write an email for every user.

That would be insanity.

Instead, they use placeholder code that’s automatically filled by data from their user database.

The same idea gets sent to every Spotify user that’s been personalized based on their listening habits.

If you’re using a great CRM and a killer email provider, you should be able to do the same.

Personalized emails build a connection with your audience. Click To Tweet

As you collect tagged data about your audience, you can use that data to personalize the emails you send to them.

Every little touch, from their first name to their favorite sports team, can help build a better relationship with them.

Plus, those touches are going to improve your odds of retaining them as a lead and a client.

Create email campaigns that focus on your audience’s individual interests, then populate the emails with the personalized content.

Not only will your audience be more apt to read the emails, but they’ll also be more likely to act on them, too.

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Tailor Your Message To Different Market Segments

You can find individual tastes and interests for every person on your list.

It’s likely that no two will have the exact same combination of reasons for joining your list and consuming your content.

However, there’s a strong chance that groups of them will have a few of the same ones.

In marketing, we call those “segments”.

These groups of leads who all share common reasons for taking note of your company are all likely candidates for the same messages.

Which is why you need to segment your list.

By segmenting your email list, you can deliver the right message to the right group of people at the right time.

It makes sure you’re only sending emails to the people interested in that message.

In turn, your open rates and engagement go up.

You also build rapport with your list.

Send the right messages to the right people. Click To Tweet

By keeping irrelevant content out of your subscribers’ inboxes, you keep them interested.

For example, if you’re a cake shop, you probably don’t want to send your wedding cake special to people on your list who are already married.

My guess is they won’t have a use for the special.

That’s going to irritate them and increase the likelihood of them unsubscribing.

But by building a segment of engaged couples who are planning for a wedding, that wedding cake special will have much more success.

There’s a bonus to segmenting your list, too.

You can use those segments to target your other marketing as well.

They’re especially helpful for retargeting campaigns.

Just make sure you’re doing an excellent job gathering the information you need to build your segments.

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Make Your Email Mobile Friendly

I can’t believe anyone is discussing the merit of mobile optimization anymore.

However, I still get a ton of emails that look like garbage on my phone.

That seems silly to me.

Most people check their email on their phone first.

In fact, that’s the number one reason that most people use their phone.

Even more than they use Facebook.

And that information comes from Facebook.

They’re not going to tell you that someone is using another service more than theirs unless it was true.

But with that many people – about 78% of users – primarily using their phone for email, it would be stupid not to make sure they could read your emails.

Wouldn’t it?

Why do we still have to tell people to make their marketing mobile friendly? Click To Tweet

You need to remember some important rules for mobile emails.

Keep the text easy to read.

Use small file sizes for your images.

Make sure your layout is responsive.

These should be common sense ideas.

But there is another you might not have considered.

Use a two-step unsubscribe process.

On mobile devices, people with fat thumbs like me have a tendency to accidentally hit links and buttons they didn’t intend to.

If I accidentally hit your unsubscribe button and had no way to cancel the decision, you would lose me as a lead.

By adding a confirmation step to your unsubscribe process, you give people like me a shot to stay on your list.

That added step can reduce your unsubscribe rate by up to 19%.

Imagine holding on to 20% more leads because you eliminated accidents.

Crazy, right?

The next tip is another great way to reduce your unsubscribe rate.

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Make Sure Your Emails Are Being Sent By Someone

Have you ever gotten an email from a “do-not-reply” email address?

There’s nothing less-personal than an automated message that came from an obviously automated source.

The whole point of email personalization is to let your audience know that you’re paying attention.

To ruin that with a generic email address is stupid.

Send every email from someone in your company.

Most email service providers allow you to send from any email address at your domain.

You can choose to send it from real team members the way I do for our emails and our client’s emails.

Or, if you need to use an email address that won’t send replies to an unwitting teammate, make one up.

Using a generic email address lets your audience know that you couldn’t give to shits about them.

It also triggers spam filters, which doesn’t help your campaign.

Most importantly, though, it lets the “please reply” world know that you’re stuck in the “do-not-reply” past.

Do-not-reply email addresses suck. Click To Tweet

Seriously, it’s time to get modern about your email marketing.

A reply from a subscriber means they’ve taken interest in what you send.

They’re really paying attention.

It’s a big indicator that you’re creating emails that matter.

Or, in the worst-case scenario, it will let you know that your unsubscribe process isn’t working.

Either way, it’s feedback you want and need.

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Use Calls-To-Action In Every Email

Why are you sending emails?

There’s a purpose to each one.

Sometimes the purpose is to update your audience on important changes in policies both at your physical location and on your website.

But most of the time it’s because you want them to take action.

The goal of email marketing is to guide your leads to a sale.

If you’re writing great email copy, you’re probably doing a fantastic job of moving your leads the right direction.

However, if you don’t have a clear call-to-action, preferably via a link, your audience won’t know what to do when they’re ready to buy.

Yes, your audience is probably intelligent enough, as most people are, to know that they can go to your site or pick up the phone and make the purchase.

Tell your audience what you want them to do. Nothing wrong with that. Click To Tweet

However, if the process takes too many steps, they may opt to wait until later.

Then the feeling will disappear, and they’ll forget they were going to do it.

At that point, you’ve unnecessarily lost a sale.

You can fix that via a call-to-action.

Add a link, button, or linked image that takes your email subscriber directly to the action you want them to perform.

Try to use smart forms at that destination to fill in as much of the information you’ll need as possible.

The simpler, smoother, and faster you make the process, the more likely they are to follow through.

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Small Business Email Marketing Really Is Common-Sense

As you can tell from what I just shared, common-sense wasn’t an overstatement.

Great email marketing is all about sending a crystal-clear message to your audience.

When done correctly, you’ll not only see a fantastic open rate, but your other metrics will take-off too.

Ultimately, that’s going to lead to more sales, bigger revenue, and a ton more growth for your small business.

That’s really what makes email marketing worth it.

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About the author:

Michael McNew
Web developer, marketing innovator, technology enthusiast, and founder of Visceral Concepts, Michael McNew has developed a passion for delivering value to small business, turning his creativity towards image and reputation building for small business owners.