12 Email Marketing Basics Everyone Should Follow

Seth Carr

There’s a huge difference between email and email marketing. The first method involves sending a single blanket message to a list of people who are supposedly interested in what you have to say. The second method of email marketing involves strategy. If you’ve read this far, keep going to confirm that your emarketing efforts are on point.

1. Employ Brand Consistency in Your Designs

Having great email designs goes beyond having a pretty template. Strive for brand consistency by using colors, fonts and layouts that complement each other. For example, keeping your organization’s logo in the same place throughout different templates helps your subscribers to quickly identify who is sending the email. Creating similar layout patterns in your designs helps give your readers a sense of where they can find certain types of information. If you’re currently sending emails without any branding guidelines, there’s no time like the present to put your heads together with coworkers to develop some.

2. Gather Subscriber Data with Web Forms

This requires more effort than simply obtaining member names and addresses. Ask your subscribers for their preferred reading device – is it mobile or desktop? What frequency of mailings do they want – daily, weekly or monthly? If you don’t currently gather this data, determine what information is missing and then ask your subscribers for it. And if you already ask for this type of data, keep in mind that people’s email preferences change over time, so you’ll want to periodically ask subscribers to validate their previous choices.

3. Keep Your Emails Short

Many times, the goal of your emails will be to have your members take some type of action. The key here is to strive for brevity. Ideally, you want to tease subscribers by offering a summary of the topic in your email and then linking to a “read more” webpage that contains the full story or a registration form. One Informz client, Visit Loudoun, employed this strategy and their click rates skyrocketed. Read their success story here.

4. Don’t Use Fancy Links

While you can certainly use any color for your linked text and even elect to not use an underline in your links, these methods make it less obvious to your readers that those links are clickable. Unless you have proof that your members demand that all links are magenta with no underline, go traditional with links that are underlined and use blue text.

5. Link to Everything and Attach Nothing

Attachments in emails can be viewed as suspicious and cause them to be flagged as SPAM by different ISPs. Skip using attachments altogether. Always use links to allow readers to download a file or fill out a form. This will likely increase your click rates, too. Benchmark data has shown that the more links an email contains — even if all to the same destination — the higher the click rates tend to be.

6. Make it Easy to Unsubscribe

Let’s be honest. Not everyone wants to receive your emails – sorry. With that said, you can still make it easy for them to remove themselves from your lists by placing an unsubscribe link in the header and/or footer area of your emails. This will help prevent SPAM complaints and domain blocks. Plus, including an unsubscribe link in every email is a CAN-SPAM law requirement.

7. Ask Subscribers to Add Your Email to Their Address Book

Even if you have a loyal readership, your subscribers could be missing important messages if they land in a junk folder instead of the inbox. To nip this issue in the bud, ask readers to add your email to their address book. This will mark future messages from that email address as being safe.

8. Keep Subject Lines as Short as Possible

As people increasingly rely on their mobile phones to read emails (more people are choosing mobile over desktop), consider how to best craft your subject lines. When emailing mobile readers, subject lines should not exceed 30 characters. In fact, emails with subject lines consisting of less than 10 characters have the highest open rates.

9. Use Preheaders

A preheader is the text you can include at the top of your mailing which readers can see in the preview pane of their email client. Use your preheader to complement, not duplicate, your subject line. Take advantage of this space to build upon your subject line and from address to encourage opens.

10. Mind Your Text to Image Ratio

Adding images to your emails is great, but they shouldn’t take up more real estate than the content. Leverage photos and artwork as a way to complement your content. When creating your emails, the best practice is to maintain a 70/30 ratio between content and images.

11. Analyze Your Efforts

If you’re only sending emails and not analyzing metrics, how do you know your efforts are truly effective? Comb through your reports to see your open and click rates. Also keep a close eye on any unsubscribes, SPAM complaints or domain blocks and address them as needed to protect your sending reputation. This type of monitoring should be a regular part of your email marketing process. By keeping on top of your analytics, you can make adjustments in your email sending frequency, design and content to continuously improve your efforts.

12. Put Everything Together to Achieve Relevancy

To be the best email marketer you can be, combine all of these tactics to achieve relevancy. You can do this by identifying the overlapping area between the types of stories your subscribers want to read about and what you choose to publish. This helps to segment your mailing lists and customize the content you offer to send your subscribers the information they find most useful. That’s what email marketing is all about.

For more information on basic email marketing stategies this, take a look at our Email 101 webinar.

Back to Basics, Part I: Email 101 from Informz on Vimeo.

What other email marketing basics do you incorporate into your routine?

About the Author
Seth Carr

As an eMarketing Advisor at Informz, Seth arms his clients with a variety of email marketing best practices that help them deliver timely, engaging content to their subscribers. Outside of work, he likes to write creatively and yell at the television during football season.