Since the beginning of time, people worldwide have spoken of the doom to soon befall email marketing. “People don’t read emails anymore!” they would cry out. And, after all their cries, we have finally realized just how correct those doomsday trumpeters have been all along.
Seems that people are still reading emails, and email marketing continues to be one of the most effective marketing strategies companies can use. But, this doesn’t mean you can just slap some words together and start raking in the cold hard cash. You have to do email marketing very well, and our goal is to find ways to improve from the year before.
Today, we present 10 email marketing resolutions to help us reach your goals and grow your business. Feel free to use them as your own email marketing resolutions.
Content is King
Quite simply, the number one resolution for every email marketing campaign manager should be to get better results. And getting better results begins with creating stellar content. This means better subject lines, subheaders, headlines, and body copy. It also means picking great images and optimizing the email for the user.
Basically, there is a lot that goes into making great content. And, in today’s world, where people are getting over 100 emails a day, you better believe that your content NEEDS to be great to stand out from it all. So, how do we improve every one of those areas?
Let’s take a look at them, piece-by-piece.
Subject Lines and Subheaders
Writing great subject lines and subheaders for email is crucial for improving open rates. But, what makes for a great subject line or subheader is something hotly debated within the email marketing world. Some say shorter is better. Some say to use emojis. Others say that it’s all about urgency and mentioning solutions or benefits.
The truth is, it depends.
Writing the best subject lines and preview copy depends on what your email is about, the goal of the email campaign, your audience, and your audience’s expectations. It’s not the most fun answer in the world, and maybe it’s not very helpful in some ways. Sorry about that.
One of the best ways to determine if your content is strong or weak is through testing. You can try different pieces of copy for different audiences or audience segments. You can test humor versus to-the-point copy. You can test emojis versus no emojis. Every email you send, at least when you’re focusing on improving your strategy, should include some form of subject line testing.
It’s really one of the easiest tests you can do. It was good copywriting if they opened it more than they normally would. If not, you should try something else. Test enough times, and you’ll soon have evidence that informs you of the best strategy moving forward.
Headlines and Body Copy
Headlines and body copy are similar to subject lines and subheaders. The main difference is that this part of the email is inside–which means they’ve already opened it. You’ve hooked them, and now you need to deliver.
This is the time to make your offer, share your information, and find a way to make the person on the other end click something. Whether it’s a sale, a link to your landing page, or to follow you on social media, every email you send should have some sort of action for the recipient to take.
We’ll get more into call-to-actions later.
Images and User-Friendly Optimization
Did you know that nearly 1 in 5 email campaigns are not optimized for mobile devices? How is this possible today? Of course, this number has improved over the last several years as decision-makers are finally getting on board with the fact that people love to check their emails while on the toilet… we mean on their phones. But, 20% is still very high, and if you aren’t optimizing for mobile, it’s time to get with the program.
Choosing the right images means more than something that looks nice. You need to pick images that are the correct size for mobile and be mindful of how some mobile providers automatically allow images while others block them.
Making emails more user-friendly is also essential. Single column scrolling is the preferred way people read on their phones. So, when designing your email, always build vertically, not horizontally. Besides the meat of the email, most mobile devices will also cut off subject lines and subheaders more than desktop.
This was a lot of information to throw into our first resolution–but, as they say, “Content is King.”
Resolution #1, we will be honest about how effective our content is, and we will run tests to update and improve it with each email we send.
Also, we will re-read 16 powerful email marketing trends that will transform your business.
Follow the Rules
This year saw a significant shift in the rules of email marketing. Also, some different laws and regulations exist within the US and the UK. Understanding what you’re allowed to do and not allowed to do is vital to successful email marketing.
But, one thing that stands true, no matter where you are attempting to send your emails, is that you MUST get permission. This is usually done when someone signs up for an email, but it can also happen after a purchase is made or when something is offered as a free download from your site.
Transparency and honesty really are the best policies when it comes to email marketing. Besides, does it really do you any good to send an email to someone who doesn’t want your emails anyway? No. So, follow the rules and stay updated as new ones are made.
Resolution #2, we resolve to stay up-to-date on the rules and regulations around email marketing.
Practice Good (List) Hygiene
Practicing good hygiene is an excellent resolution for anyone, especially as we spend more time at home in our sweatpants. But, this resolution is about practicing good email list hygiene.
Email list hygiene is:
* when you clean out inactive (or cold) email subscribers from your email marketing campaigns and
* keep your remaining list happy with good email sending habits.
No one likes to lose email list subscribers. It hurts, and we get that. But, what hurts more is watching your open and click-thru rates plummet over time. Suppose you’re following email resolution #1 and testing different pieces of content or creative. In that case, it’s not going to do you much good if half your list is unhealthy.
So, suck it up and remove those who don’t care about your emails anymore. Of course, you can try a re-engagement campaign first, but after that, it’s time to clean house.
Keeping your audience warm means sending emails at a cadence that doesn’t under-or overwhelm them. Sometimes companies begin an email list, and they don’t really have a plan for what they’ll do with it, so it sits for weeks, months, or years until they finally think, “we should use this!”
(Maybe they even found our site and realized how great email marketing can be.)
Unfortunately, when a list just sits unused for an extended time, attempts at email marketing are going to fail. You’ve got a cold list that has come to expect little to absolutely nothing from you. You should likely just start a new list or launch a really great re-engagement campaign.
Just like brushing your teeth or burning those clothes you left in the gym bag for a week, a good email list requires good hygienic practices.
Resolution #3, we will set a day each quarter to update and clean our email lists.
Don’t Buy Lists
We say it all the time. Hopefully, you’re listening. But, if not, DON’T BUY EMAIL LISTS!
Ask yourself, are you happy when you get an unsolicited email from someone?
We hope your answer was no.
Resolution #4, we will do our part to stop the madness of buying email lists. Our first action, sharing this gif: Stop It!
Provide a Compelling CTA
One of the mistakes made in email marketing is providing an unclear call-to-action (or no CTA at all) for the email recipient. Imagine creating a tremendously optimized email that offers compelling content and includes a beautifully selected image. Then, you send it out and get nothing for it because the user was unaware of what action you wanted them to take.
It’s money down the drain, and it’s a terrible mistake.
Yet, we see it happen all the time.
The flip side of the same coin is providing far too many CTAs. Commonly, when this happens, it’s because someone got the bright idea that “if we give them a bunch of things to click, they’re more likely to click one of them!” Yet, when emails have three, four, five CTAs, people are more likely to click nothing.
It’s called analysis (or decision) paralysis.
It’s essentially the same thing that happens when you stand in front of a shelf full of a thousand different jellies and jams trying to decide which one you want for your toast tomorrow. Then, analysis paralysis kicks in, and you end up deciding you’ll just have cereal instead.
Like choosing content above, CTAs need to be mindful. And, also like content, they can be tested to find the right way to use them.
You can test the actual words of the CTA, its size, whether to make it into a “button,” its color, and where you place it in the email. After a few tests with your audience, you’ll likely discover the best way to get the most action from your email marketing.
Resolution #5, we will test our CTAs and develop a strong strategy for using them.
Stop Getting Emails Sent to the Junk Folder
No one likes to get rejected. And, no business wants to think that its emails are never even making it the intended recipient. Yet, as we discussed in one of our previous blogs, one in five emails never reach the inbox. And that’s a shame.
If you’re noticing this keeps happening to your emails, there are a few things you should figure out.
Is your From domain authenticated with SPF/DKIM?
ISPs authenticating email senders is nothing new, and these days they are stronger than ever. Use our Validation method to determine if this is a problem with your emails.
Others can smell your bad hygiene, and they judge you for it
ISPs want you to be successful. But, if they notice that your emails are not meeting the bare minimums of open, bounce, complaint, and unsubscribe rates, they will punish you. This is just another great reason to follow resolution #3 and clean that list out as soon as possible.
Loading up your emails with many images and expecting them to do well is not a good look. Maintain an image-to-text ratio of at least 60% text and 40% images.
Whitelist good, blacklist bad
Every once in a while, you’ll get an email from someone encouraging you to “whitelist” their email. For Gmail users, this means dragging an email from the spam folder to the inbox, then clicking “yes” when a message pops up asking you if you’d like to do this automatically in the future. This is training your email provider to trust that email sender. It not only helps you with that person’s inbox, but it actually helps your Sender reputation as well.
We mentioned it above, but it’s worth mentioning again, keep your email marketing program in compliance with the rules and regulations. We’ll even provide you some links to learn about the many different forms of compliance to follow:
- Canada’s Anti-Spam Law (Bill C-28)
- CAN SPAM
- EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
- Cakemail’s Anti-Spam Policy.
Double-check your email copy and test regularly
Resolution #6, we will go through each of these and check them off one by one to ensure that our emails aren’t junk.
We know we just preached to you about staying current with your lists and sending out emails regularly. Still, we want to mention here that you should never send an email, just to send an email. Imagine the last email you got that offered little to no value in it.
How did you feel about it?
Did you say to yourself, “I can’t wait for the next one!” or “How do I unsubscribe from this list?”
Email marketing needs to be purposeful, or you risk losing your audience.
Fortunately, providing value can be done in many ways. You could provide value by telling stories in the form of anecdotes or successes your customers have had while using your products and services. And it can be an informative email that simply helps the reader understand a concept or product better.
Regardless of the value you choose to bring, make sure that every email, every time, provides the reader with an excellent reason to continue opening your emails.
Resolution #7, we resolve to only send emails that add value to the members of our list.
Think holistically with your email marketing
Email marketing is a great and powerful tool. One that can really help a business grow. But, it’s not the end-all, be-all of marketing. Just like you wouldn’t stop everything you do to just focus on posting on Instagram, you shouldn’t just focus on emails. Email marketing works best in a holistic, well-thought-out plan and strategy.
Social media, email, your website, out-of-home, event, word-of-mouth–these and others are all forms of marketing available for companies to use. Creating content for and utilizing these different channels takes time, proper budgeting, and thoughtfulness. Holistic marketing means using these different channels synergistically with each other.
You can do all the things listed as the best practices for email marketing and still fail at email marketing because it’s not aligned with your company’s goals or it’s not in line with your overall marketing strategy.
Fortunately, there are a lot of resources out there that can help and teams you can hire to get you the results with email marketing that you deserve.
Resolution #8, we resolve to look at our email marketing practices as part of our company’s more extensive marketing ecosystem.
Learn from the previous year (or two)
The previous two years shook the world. And with that shaking came some significant changes. Not just for marketers and businesses but for many people’s daily habits. People spend more time in front of screens consume more content, and spend more money online. While the fallout of this new world has yet to be seen, these altered habits are essential for businesses and marketers to understand.
For marketers, knowing where people spend their time and money is vital to sending relevant messaging. This means you must learn from the important data you collect from year-to-year and use it to enhance your marketing efforts. We don’t know when another shift will happen, but we will be ready for it if we prepare ourselves now.
Resolution #9, we resolve to update our strategies and email marketing plans based on data.
Don’t give in to frustrations
Developing successful email marketing habits and strategies doesn’t just happen overnight. And at times, you’ll feel like they aren’t helping your business. We get it, and we’re here for you. But don’t give up. Following the resolutions above and understanding the importance of email marketing should help.
In 2019, active email accounts surpassed 5.6 billion. Which is more than the 4.48 billion social media users in the world. In fact, four out of five marketers now say they’d rather give up social media than email marketing.
Why? Because in many cases Email marketing wins over social media.
Like any successful marketing, email marketing simply takes patience, time, and practice. And testing… let’s not forget about testing.
Resolution #10, we resolve to not give up on learning about email marketing and improving our skills.
Bonus, A look ahead
No one knows what the future will bring. But, there are some things coming up in email marketing that we think you’ll be excited to learn about.
Just like a lot of industries, marketers can look forward to artificial intelligence (AI) becoming more and more prevalent in the work they do. For email marketers, this means more tools to help:
- Clean up lists
- Perform predictive analysis
- Curate our subject lines
- Optimize survey results
- Create and send personalized emails to everyone on our lists
- Help us arrange and develop better email campaigns
There’s no doubt that email marketing has become more complex, but being aware of these new tools could provide a competitive edge over your competitors.
Segmentation has been very beneficial for all marketers. But, soon we will get more into the world of micro-segmentation. Instead of segmenting people on your list by just a few factors, you’ll be able to segment them across multiple ones and make sure that the message you send to that particular person is the exact message they need to hear at that time.
Agile email marketing
If you’ve done any work in project management or developing, you’ve heard of being Agile. Agile allows for quicker testing and at-the-moment pivoting based on learnings and data. For email marketers, this could open an entirely new way to flex their muscles and improve KPIs.
The rise of animations
The rise of video across social media has proven that we live in a world that loves moving pictures. For too long, email marketers have been stuck in static-ville and we’re finally getting our come-up. Animated images inside emails will help marketers capture attention better and faster and open up an entirely new way of sharing our products and services with our customers.
When people receive an email they have two options: click an embedded link or don’t click the embedded link. Someday, emails might be openable in a world where they don’t just click your email, but they are able to slide it, throw it, or play with it. Maybe they can stick it in their pocket and go on a journey across a virtual reality world with it.
We’re not quite there yet, but we are to a point where emails are becoming more interactive in what you’re able to click. Animations, carousels, rollovers, videos, live polls, games, gifs… there are many new things that are coming or have already come to email marketing to make your emails more interesting to the person on the other side.
Bonus resolution, we resolve to get excited about the future of email marketing and trying out new features as they come along.
Until that amazing ROI plummets, email marketing will remain a viable source for connecting businesses to their customers. While understanding trends and strategies is important, most important is ensuring that email marketing remains an effective tool for you. Cakemail makes email marketing easier and more effective for businesses of all sizes by delivering essential emails on time, every time.
If you’re curious about what email marketing can do for you, reach out to us. We’ve got plans and pricing for every budget. You can even begin with a free trial to see if our email programs and services are right for you.