16 Email Marketing Best Practices | Email Growth Hacking Tactics

Sean Lund-Brown

You know what they say — the money is in the list. We're not talking about a grocery list (although that list can certainly cost you money). No, we mean your email marketing list. The idea behind the statement is that with no email list, you have no revenue flowing in.

Now, it may seem like an extreme conclusion to reach, but there's some truth to it. How do you know who your loyal customers are? How do you know your target audience is staying up-to-date on the latest with your company?

An email marketing list reflects the number of people interested in your business, and these are the leads that will be most likely to convert. As such, you will want to employ the most up-to-date email marketing best practices for your business.

Your email marketing list

Maybe you've started building your email marketing list but feel stymied, like the growth isn't happening fast enough. Perhaps you're reading this and realizing that you don't have a list at all. It's okay. Though you will have to do the heavy lifting to attract clients to sign up, the world is your email marketing oyster once you get going.

However, you must understand that email marketing is constantly evolving at a fundamental level, no matter where your list is. New trends are emerging all the time. As an online marketer, staying informed of these trends is to your benefit.

Email growth hacking is one of these trends. It requires thinking outside the box and being creative. It's also about applying new ideas or concepts for faster profits. Email marketers must remain fluid as they search for innovative solutions to keep up with the latest hacks. As a result, your list ultimately leads to greater conversions and more revenue!

16 email marketing best practices that produce new sales

To help you keep up with the bigwigs, here are 16 email marketing best practices and email growth hacking tactics to help you produce new sales. Adopt any or all of them into your email marketing regime and assess how well they work for you.

Use the ones that bring in more sales and discard those that don't produce well enough for you, while keeping an open mind to alternative approaches. Imagine the possibilities while brainstorming to custom-fit them to your needs.

1. Use HTML inside emails

You can now use HTML to create forms inside your emails. Creating these graphics and adding accompanying images can exponentially increase the subscriber engagement quotient. Your audience doesn't have to navigate away from the email either, saving them an extra step and, therefore, time. (Not all email clients can use this feature, so check with your service provider.)

Making the content of your email visually appealing and interactive is much more exciting than content solely made up of plain text and a blue hyperlink. Over time, subscribers will expect more graphically appealing content in marketing emails.

2. Add graphics and visuals

Source: LOCALiQ

Buttons aren't just for landing pages and websites anymore. You can now place them in the body of your marketing emails — and don't just put in one! Add a lot of them. Adding graphically enticing buttons creates visually entertaining and enticing emails. They also focus your subscriber on your call to action (CTA), leading to higher sales conversions.

Your button should have your call-to-action text on it. Compose this copy in such a way that it completes the sentence: "I want to ______." Such as "I want to learn," "I want to know," "I want to get."

The days of opening up an email from a list you are on and finding paragraph after paragraph of densely packed text are over. People either don't have time to read emails written that way, or they just don't want to do it anymore. By including more visuals into your marketing emails, the subscriber can immediately get the email’s subject with one glance, even when there is less text!

Graphic design tips for your CTA buttons

● Your button should have a 3-D effect (like a shadow line on a rectangular button).

● The color of the button's text should contrast its background color, so it is easy to read.

● When the cursor hovers over the button, it should change color so the subscriber can see a button with an active link attached to it.

● Keep sufficient white space around the button so the eye goes right to it.

● Insert an arrow graphic pointing to the button with instructional copy.

3. FOMO

Source: Mage Plaza

FOMO stands for "fear of missing out." Online marketers have long employed this tactic on their sales pages by using copywriting techniques that tap into the reader's emotions. Examples of FOMO tactics include countdown clocks where you see the seconds and minutes ticking away and limited-time offers. FOMO tactics trigger anxiety or even fear in the subscriber of being left out and not getting the deal in time.

You can use these FOMO tactics in your email content. Simply insert an image of what the subscriber can expect after purchasing from your offer, along with a still graphic of a ticking clock accompanied by a call-to-action button. When combined, these visuals increase the possibility that the subscriber will click through to your offer and make a purchase.

FOMO is all about purposefully using psychology to nudge your subscriber to take the action you want them to take. The advertising industry has been using this tactic since its inception. The most skilled copywriters make thousands of dollars from writing just one sales page that converts well! So, it makes sense that email marketers would profit by spending a bit of time studying copywriting and putting it to the test in their marketing emails.

4. Subject lines 101

Source: Content Marketing Institute

Email subject lines are your hook! People who write either fiction or non-fiction books understand that the opening lines on the first page of their book are crucial to catching the reader's attention and triggering them to keep reading. This holds true for the subject line of every marketing email you send out.

Your subject line can make or break whether your subscriber clicks through and reads your email content — especially your marketing offer and call to action. In addition, you must emphasize creating your preheader. A preheader is the text that follows right after your subject line. Many marketers aren't even aware of preheaders — don't be one of them.

Preheaders are also critical

The email recipient can read the preheader without actually opening the email. As such, it would be best to use the preheader option as a secondary "hook" to trigger the reader to open your email. For example, it can be a summary of the email body, or it can act as a subtitle to your subject line. It might also be a call to action.

Think of preheaders as the equivalent of the meta description when searching for something on an internet browser. When you type in a keyword, the browser searches and then presents you with a list of websites or pages containing that keyword. Following the page's title will be a meta description that gives a more complete description of what’s on that web page, enticing users to click through and check it out.

Writing enticing hooks and preheaders is a learned skill. Study the subject lines of emails sent to you and check to see if the email marketing letters you receive have preheaders. Don't ignore writing preheaders for your marketing emails! Over time, your hooks and preheaders will improve, and you'll be rewarded with higher click-through rates.

5. Don't always send your own content

Creating high-value content for marketing emails takes time and effort, so you may run out of steam at times. For example, say you have to get your next email out tomorrow. You've been busy, and writing your email copy has slid to the bottom of your to-do list.

Instead of throwing something together fast just to meet your regular email blast schedule, try taking an excerpt of excellent content from another source and using it in your email. (Make sure to include the author's name and contact info.)

Using this email growth hack conveys that your subscribers are your priority. It shows that you aren't relating to them as human ATMs. By doing this, you are building rapport with your subscribers, as well as with other websites and content writers. Doing so may also bring you a marketing partnership deal down the line — a win-win situation for everyone!

Things to remember when sharing others’ content

Why is this a good idea? After all, aren't you giving others access to your subscribers? Yes, you are, but more importantly, it communicates to your subscribers that you care enough about them to deliver new, valuable content to them.

When employing this tactic, make sure to include a graphic of your own signature. Put some thought into composing it and place it at the bottom of your email (and all your marketing emails).

If you like, include your photo (with a link to your website), which will help in future relationship building. Include as much or as little information as you wish, but DO create that signature!

6. Email marketing to go

Source: Campaign Monitor

Smartphones, netbooks, and tablets have revolutionized our lives, which means your email marketing must adjust accordingly. Your subscribers can now be anywhere and still access your emails. That's why you must optimize your emails for all mobile and digital devices. Currently, this is one of the most important email marketing best practices growth hacks around.

Tips when optimizing for digital devices

First and foremost, design the layout of your email content for mobile devices. If your content layout works on mobile devices, it will be fine on computer screens.Here are some other tips for :

● Don't insert high pixel images that take too long to download on devices.

● Write sentences in a short, concise style.

● Content must be easy to read on these devices, not too big or small.

Practice writing emails this way, and then preview them on your own mobile devices. If you don't have a range of these devices, send these practice emails to friends and family who do and ask them to give you feedback on their viewing and reading experiences.

7. Encourage existing subscribers to share your emails

This is a simple and easy email growth hack. It doesn't cost you much except composing a few extra words to add to your email, whereby you respectfully ask subscribers to forward your email to friends or family members who might be interested in joining your list. Include a link that takes people to your opt-in page.

Additionally, you might consider asking your subscribers to post your opt-in page link to their social media pages. Don't be afraid to ask, but certainly don't ask on an ongoing basis. Ask for their support and endorsement about once every four emails.

If you don't ask, you will never know what kind of response you might get. Current customers can drive new customers. Let word-of-mouth marketing take place over your email marketing tactics.

8. No autoresponder, no list

Email marketing is all about the list, so you have to automate. That means shopping for an autoresponder that will meet your needs, especially when handling graphics, images, and HTML in the body of your emails. In automation, using machine learning strategies is also important. If you have visual data, for example, you can use an image annotation tool to simplify that data so that your AI model can easily learn it and automate different tasks for you.

You simply cannot build and sustain an email list if you don't have an autoresponder. Autoresponders allow people to sign up to your list (known as opting-in) and send out your mailings to your subscribers. There are many autoresponder services to choose from, but not all autoresponders are the same.

Single opt-in vs. double opt-in email lists

Source: Sleeknote

Look for a service that has a double opt-in feature. While you can do a single opt-in, double opt-in means that when a person signs up to your email list, they are instantly sent an email, via your autoresponder, with a confirmation link in it.

Their name and email address are officially added to your list only when they click on the confirmation link. This approach protects you from abuse complaints down the line should a subscriber forget they subscribed and are now accusing you of spamming them. In addition, a double opt-in assures you that the email address is valid and monitored by the person signing up to your list.

9. Cut out the dead wood

Regularly cleaning or scrubbing your email list is a vital email best practice. You do this by looking at your statistics inside your autoresponder account. Taking this step can pay off in several ways:

Save money by removing uninterested subscribers

Look at your subscriber engagement and delete those who have not opened your emails over a span of time, such as a year or 18 months. If a subscriber is not interested, there is no reason to keep them on your email list. Besides, many ESPs (email service providers) charge you based on how many emails you send. If you have disinterested subscribers, they are costing you money.

Protect your reputation from spam complaints

Performing regular email list housekeeping also reduces your spam complaints. Having a percentage of your emails marked as spam by disinterested subscribers isn’t good for your reputation. This makes a good case for placing an "Unsubscribe" link at the top or bottom of each email. You may not like losing subscribers in this way, but it will save your account from possibly being flagged by your ESP in the long run.

Keep your email list organized

Finally, search for duplicate email addresses or typos in the email and clean those up. Delete emails that look spammy, meaning they are email addresses set up expressly by subscribers having zero interest in reading your emails.

In addition, consider the segmentation or categorization of your email list. Doing so enables you to target your various lists with content pertaining directly to those subscribers. You could look at it as niching down your email list. Some email list categories include:

● Gender

● Location

● Customer type

● Demographics

Scan your list and start breaking that list into various groups — this should produce growth in revenues.

10. Use your social media accounts

Source: Vero

If you've built up followings on various social media accounts, use them to increase your email subscribers. You can entice your followers to opt-in by offering them a freebie or a discount that only email subscribers can access.

To do this, leave links to your opt-in page on your social media accounts. For example, consider sharing some of your email content on Twitter or Facebook to let potential email subscribers see what they are missing. Leave a link on your Instagram that leads to an opt-in form.

In addition, did you know you can collect email addresses via Twitter? All you do is create a lead generation card for collecting email addresses. You can read how to do it here.

Your email list can also help grow your social media presence

You can also reverse this process; if you have a large email following, use it to build up your social media following. In your emails, simply leave links to your social media accounts that your subscribers can click through to, or include social media buttons.

By ending your emails with a request for following or liking your social pages, you might get more engagement. You can even make it easier for your readers to follow you on social media by adding share buttons in the body of your emails.

11. Enticing lead magnets

Source: Automizy

First of all, what is a lead magnet? A lead magnet is something that you give away for free as an incentive to get people to subscribe to your email list. Lead magnets help override a person's hesitation when deciding whether to subscribe to your newsletter.

Because people are either overloaded by information or just plain jaded when it comes to free giveaways, you must make your lead magnet enticing. It should relate to what your website or blog is about: the niche you are targeting. For instance, if you are branding yourself as a computer tech expert, you wouldn't offer a lead magnet on gardening or Forex trading.

A lead magnet is anything that you can deliver immediately after the person has subscribed because people like instant gratification. For example, lead magnets can be a:

● Report

● Infographic

● Chapter from an ebook

● Calendar

● Audio file

● Video

Once you set up your lead magnet in your opt-in form, keep an eye on your responses. If you aren't getting many subscribers, change your lead magnet. Keep testing until you isolate one that really resonates with people and excites them enough to subscribe. Once your lead magnet is in place, start driving traffic to your website or landing page.

12. Never underestimate the power of storytelling

Use storytelling as content for your marketing emails. We, as humans, naturally relate to stories and are drawn to them. Here's how to write a story for your email content:

1. Decide what product or service you will be promoting in your email.

2. Build a story around that offer. Maybe you've had a real-life experience related to the product, or a friend has shared a story related to it. You can change real people into fictional characters by exaggerating various characteristics or changing their real-life gender in the story.

3. Write out the events of the story in the order they happened. Use emotion to relate to the reader or make your main character sympathetic in some way.

Subscribers like reading stories. Once they begin — if you've done a good job writing — they won't stop reading until the end. Don't neglect quality. There are many services, including Essay Writer, that will help you achieve the best result. That's where you want to place your call to action link or button.

13. Compile an email pre-send checklist

You want your emails to reach your subscribers! Make sure they do by creating a checklist you follow every time you send them out. Here are some other suggestions:

● Choose a custom "from" name. Have you ever received an email and seen that the sender's name is reply@gmail.com? When it comes to email best practices, this is unacceptable. Pick a name that builds trust. Use your first name If you have an employee handling your email marketing, you could also use that person's first name. The goal is to always come across as approachable!

● Format the size of your email. Make the width between 500 to 650 pixels.

● Make sure your subject line and preheader hook the reader.

● Make the content of your email personable and informative, and decide whether you want to include a CTA.

● Always include an unsubscribe link and make it readable. TIP: Some email marketers put their unsubscribe link in the fine print, gray it out to make it difficult to spot, or make the font size tiny. Do not do this.

● Include a physical business address.

● Always express appreciation towards your subscribers. Say thank you!

● Send yourself a preview email first to check out how the email looks. Make sure any links work and send the subscriber to the correct page.

● Use an email render to check how your email will look on various devices.

14. Tracking and measuring

To get a sense of how effective your emails are, track what percentage is being opened. What is your click-through rate? Click-throughs are the number of people who've clicked on a link in your email. You also want to check your click-to-open rate, revealing how many people opened your email and found the content valuable.

To find out your click-through rate (CTR), take the number of people who clicked on at least one link in the email by the number of emails delivered from a particular mailing. Then, multiply that number by 100. To find your click-to-open rate (CTOR), take the number of unique clicks divided by unique opens and multiply by 100. See how yours measure up:

● Your average email open rate should fall between 12 to 25%.

● Your average click-through rate should fall between 2 to 5%.

● Your average click-to-open rate should fall between 10 to 22%.

You can find the numbers for making your calculations inside your autoresponder's statistics for each mailing. Remember, these are important benchmarks to watch because they help you assess your effectiveness as an email marketer.

15. Humor, anyone?

Source: Sleeknote

Email marketing need not be serious all the time. If you have a humorous anecdote or story that you think will work for content, use it! Your subscribers will appreciate the entertainment value. If you consider yourself funny or friends have repeatedly told you that you are, use it in your marketing.

However, always be appropriate and gear it towards your subscriber audience. Doing so will go a long way in making you relatable. The goal is to have your subscribers itching to open future emails and see what you have to share next. Humor may also encourage your subscribers to forward your marketing email to a friend or family member, essentially using two marketing strategies in one.

16. Know when to send

When it comes to marketing emails, timing is just as important as the content itself. You want to receive the most clicks or read-throughs as possible.

Days

There is research and analysis on email marketing being carried out all the time. Currently, the middle days of the week — Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday — have been revealed to be the best days to send out an email marketing blast to your subscribers.

Tuesday is the best day because the open rates are at their highest compared to emails sent out on Saturday or Sunday.

Time of day

Data reveals that having emails arrive in your subscriber's email box between 9 and 11 am is the best practice. If you don't wish to bombard your subscribers in the morning, you can also shoot for early afternoon, around 1 to 2 pm. In general, do not send emails early in the morning or late at night. Respect that your customers may focus their early mornings and evenings on their friends and family.

Additional notes on email growth hacking tactics

There are so many factors that contribute to email marketing best practices and email growth hacking. The most important thing to understand is that they are constantly evolving, and autoresponder programs continue to grow more sophisticated with time, allowing for newer, fresher forms of valuable content.

The most important thing is to build and optimize your email lists continually. Just as in brick and mortar businesses, you will naturally lose subscribers. When you do have someone unsubscribe, don't take it personally or get upset about it. Simply keep your focus on bringing in new subscribers.

Brainstorm constantly to develop inventive ways to get more subscribers and keep abreast of emerging email marketing trends. Join Facebook groups or forums where other email marketers discuss what’s working for them. You can even subscribe to newsletters that focus on these trends.

Let Smith.ai handle the leads from your new email marketing campaign

Once you start capturing more leads with your new email marketing plan, you’ll need to take action to turn them into paying customers. Let Smith.ai assist you.

Smith.ai is all about responsiveness in business because it gets you more clients. As your subscribers click through to your landing pages, our virtual receptionists can be there to provide:

24/7 phone answering and website chat

Screening and intake

Appointment booking

Free spam blocking

Facebook message answering and SMS text messaging

We’ll take these tasks off your plate so you can focus on providing quality products and launching new email campaigns. We also provide call summaries and chat transcripts for additional insight into subscriber interaction, as well as other services.

We offer a few different pricing options for you to choose from, so let us help you find the right plan. Our team at Smith.ai offers a 14-day money-back guarantee if our services don’t meet your needs. If you’re ready to learn more, you can book a free, 30-minute sales consultation. You can also contact us via email at hello@smith.ai or chat with us live, 24/7, right here on the

Sean Lund-Brown

Sean Lund-Brown is a current Marketing Assistant for Smith.ai. A graduate from Metropolitan State University of Denver, Sean graduated with a BA in Music and an individualized degree in Teaching Vocal Pedagogy.

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