Email marketing campaign best practices

Email marketing campaign best practices often are learned on the fly by email marketers as they work in high pressure environments where performance of email has a material impact on the company bottom line.

In my time as an email marketer within companies such as Growth University, Sandboxx, Red Tricycle, Upside Travel and as an email performance optimization expert on projects for large B2C and B2B clients (that I can’t name as they don’t love the public knowing they outsource some of their email work…) I’ve sent well over 100 million emails to lists as large as 1.5 million members.

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I regularly see open rates of 40%+ and CTRs of 10%+. Need proof? Here’s a screenshot of a recent non-personalized drip campaign I ran.

This is the 1st through 5th out of 17 emails in a sequence. The overall open rates were around 50% and CTRs around 10%. And this formed the basis of growth for my startup in the early days since it converted so well.

The main key metrics most email marketers think about include:

  • Email open rate
  • Click through rate
  • Click to Open rate

In order to get a good click to open rate you first need to have a great email open rate, then you need to have links relevant for the user to click.

But clicks in my opinion are a vanity metric if you’re not tracking something downstream (like revenue or purchase) or ensuring that whatever gets clicked on provides more email than the user is getting in the email itself.

If you’re not adding more email post-click, then I’d urge you to just write a longer form email and say what you need to say in the email itself.

With that being said, I’ve seen a few things that work almost universally.

My top 3 ways to increase email campaign performance are:

Tip 1: Keep subject lines SHORT

Studies show 28-39 characters is best for subject lines, though much of my testing shows 10-20 characters is even better. You’ll want to test what works best for you and your audience. Ideally you’ll also use personalization in the subject, and/or use a cliffhanger…

Here’s an example that uses a very short subject line plus a cliffhanger approach.

Tip 2: Give away just enough value to engage the user, but leave the long form content to a post-click page or video

As I mentioned above, clicks can be a vanity metric. But for emails where you really do have a lot of post-click value to provide, then it’s your job to tease it out for your reader. Here’s an example email from a very (very) long email drip sequence that I use. This email gets incredible open rates and click through rates. Here is an actual screenshot of my metrics on this one:

And here is the email itself – notice that I link to lessons here – there is a ton of value post-click and I simply tease it out.

Tip 3: If you can personalize your email that’s best, but if you can’t, conversational tone likely will work best.

In an ideal scenario you can both find your tone AND personalize bits of the email that relate directly to the reader. But that may take you some time to figure out, so when you’re just getting rolling you need to find the balance between offering whatever personalization you have with a more generic but engaging, conversational, value add format. You can’t expect an impersonal and bland email to perform. So look at ways to spice up your email on every send.

Speak to your reader as if you were having a conversation with them over the phone or face to face. You aren’t a robot and neither are they. Engage, add value, and constantly look to improve!

Hope you found this useful.

Interested in some personalized ideas for your next email campaign? Check out Sendscore by Growth University.

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