An engaged email list is one of the most prized possessions of modern marketing and email continues to deliver the highest ROI for marketers (according to Campaign Monitor). The landscape though, is crowded, as the average person receives over 120 emails per day. So how do you stand out and catch attention on what you have to say—and to sell? We’re just as curious as you, so we went on a mission and read the top 100 email marketing blogs of all time to round up the most important principles for your email marketing.
Let’s dive in!
Lesson 1: Every Email is a Chance to Build Trust
There isn’t a single email that’s NOT an opportunity to build on “that feeling people have” when they receive your content. From an automated welcome series, to ‘thanks for purchasing,’ to ‘your shipment is coming,’ to ‘this is our mission’—every email is a chance for your brand to work on one very important customer must: Do they trust what you have to say?
Your customer is deciding how they feel about you at every turn. So treating every email as an opportunity for you to build that trust, rather than to simply “get the email out” will give you a greater chance to captivate the attention of your customer.
Let your data help you build trust with your audience.
If you see open and click rates are down, it does mean that group of people aren’t interested. Let me say it again for you, in case that didn’t hit hard enough. When open rates and click rates are down, it means you need to change something up. The belief that if we just keep sending, they’ll eventually buy isn’t a strategy, it’s a wish.
For now, just remember that every email is a conversation with a real person. Just this knowledge alone can transform how you approach your email marketing and get you focused on creative ways to build customer trust & loyalty.
Lesson 2: Your Customer’s Inbox is a Privilege, Not a Right
Marketers often fall into a trap where the content they send is self-serving and doesn’t deliver a whole lot of value to their subscribers. Building trust to cement your place in that person’s inbox (and life) can take hundreds of emails (and can also be undone in just one). No awkward breakup conversation is even required: a simple ‘unsubscribe’ will do it (or worse, you get marked as spam or junk and your emails start to be automatically filtered this way!).
And while that knowledge shouldn’t create so much anxiety and dread that you stop being yourself, it should serve as a reminder to treat your email list with humanity, to feel privileged to be allowed to communicate your message, and inspire you to send emails contributing towards building that trust, not eroding it.
It’s a delicate balance, but people will appreciate the high-quality content you’re delivering to their inbox. Not every email has to be about sales. –it can be fun, non-salesy–just helpful content that is relative to the customer, and you’ll be rewarded with steady inbox placement without the need to panic whenever a mailbox provider updates their filtering methodology!
Lesson 3: Stop Sending Emails Until Your Intention Is Clear
Don’t send a single email until you set your goals and intentions. Before you get to the sexy design and sending phase, ask yourself:
“What is the intention of this campaign and why are we sending it?”
We’ve listed some powerhouse questions rooted in strategy below. Sending great emails is not a guessing game—it’s methodical and it’s a tactical element that must be feeding into a wider mission. So before you create your next email, figure out what your ultimate goal is.
To make this actionable for you, below are 15 intentions to consider before putting together your next email campaign. Pick one, start fleshing out the details, and watch how your message becomes drastically more clear, precise, and, intentional.
When sending your next campaign, you may want to:
- Educate your community
- Make people feel welcome and seen
- Position yourself as an influencer
- Create a movement
- Build Loyalty
- Inspire behavior change
- Tell a story
- Provide expert information
- Make a big announcement
- Reengage your “sleepy” subscribers
- Build more trust and credibility
- Offer exclusive content to email subscribers only
- Promote just 1 service or tool you have for sale
- Encourage a transaction to be made
- Make a sales follow-up
Becoming crystal clear on your goals and intentions means you can put your customers’ needs first, and create useful and relevant content. You now have 15 kickoff intentions for an email campaign that you could get started on today. We’d love to see what you create. Add us to your email list email [at] knowledge.house. This email is dedicated to our readers so we can see what you’ve created, and so we can highlight on our Instagram stories.
Lesson 4: Testing Ain’t Sexy, But It Works, So Do It
One of the most exciting and useful aspects of email marketing is the ability to test and glean insights from data. Good, educated guesses are fun, but at the end of the day, it’s like trying to find the light switch in a dark room—you’ll be fumbling around with your emails, hoping to luck out and find the thing that works!
There are SO many things you can test depending on your offering, your goals, and your avatar. And while it might feel like all this pre-stuff is slowing you down, testing is one of your biggest allies.
And speaking of goals, once you know why you’re sending the email (see step #3 above), then you can ask: “How will we measure success?” Click rate? Open rate? How well you communicate your brand? Redemption rate? Sales?
Once that’s nailed, things you can test include:
- Subject lines
- Lead in text
- Layout and images
- Day and time sent
- Landing pages
- Target audiences
- From name
- Mobile layout and images
- Different list segmentation.
Expert tip: A true A/B test only tests 1 of the above variables at a time. For example, if you want to test how to get better open rates you would begin with A/B testing your subject lines. You would choose 2 completely different ideas. The farther apart they are, the better. This allows you to see that your audience is more inclined to be spoken to in a particular way. After you test this idea once, test it again 2-3 more times over a span of weeks to determine if the data is consistent. From there, you’ll walk away with solid answers to execute across all future campaigns.
For example, one of our clients learned that they get a higher click-through rate whenever they spoke in a more authoritative voice, rather than passive. So if they wrote an article on health & wellness, the winner of the 2 subject lines, was one that showed them as the expert with the answers. Here’s an example:
Passive Email Subject Line:
Need a need morning routine?
Authoritative Email Subject Line:
This Morning Routine Will Make You Productive All Day Long
For some customers, being less bold works, and for others, it doesn’t. Both are great headlines, and to the right group of people, they’ll each work. So get to testing!
Lesson 5: Know Who You’re Talking To
Really get to know your customers. You’re not emailing a monolithic group of people, but a carefully segmented group with a singular set of qualities and quirks. And the only way to know exactly what those qualities and quirks are is to get crystal clear on who you are talking to (or who you want to be talking to).
Ask yourself questions like:
- What is that person’s name?
- How old are they?
- How young are they?
- What sex are they?
- Where do they live?
- Are they in the city?
- What particular place do they live in?
- What type of apartment or house do they live in?
- What do they do to contribute to the world?
- What is their job?
- How often do they go to work?
- Is it full-time?
- Is it part-time?
- How much do they earn from it?
- How rewarding is it?
- What’s good about it?
- What’s not?
- What are this person’s big fears?
- Biggest challenges?
- Pet peeves?
- What are their delights?
- What information do they need?
- How do they want to be spoken to?
Getting clear on this really quickly will bring your email marketing to life with personality and flavor (not to mention relevance!), save you time, and become your avatar “bible” that you can quickly refer back to before you create anything.
Play the Long Game, Not the Short One
There are plenty of lessons from reading over 100 email marketing blogs but we think the most important of all is this:
Relationships don’t hatch with depth overnight, they take time. Trust doesn’t form from one amazing communication, it’s the tone you set over an extended period.
So, it makes sense that great email marketing is not a sprint—it’s not sending one epic email that’s all fireworks and no substance that matters. It’s the consistency and care behind EVERY email you send that speaks volumes about you, and that really makes the difference in being able to achieve results for you and your customers in the long run.
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