10 Tips of the Trade on How You Can Make Email Marketing Work Harder

Not all email marketing campaigns are the same under the skin. Shawn Naggiar, chief revenue of Act-On Software, makers of a cloud-based marketing-automation platform, has seen them all firsthand and knows what works and what doesn't. Here are 10 tips of the email marketing trade that he says will help businesses make their email marketing work smarter and harder.

It's all about deliverability, verifiability and bounce reduction

Permission-based lists and clean data have the best chance of getting a response.  Make sure your email solution has high deliverability rates and can track message activity (deliveries, bounces, clicks), or you're just wasting marketing dollars.

Aim before you send

Email marketing starts with targeted, clean and compliant lists. Build your email lists based on specific attributes and behaviors of your target audience to best capture attention and encourage response.

Create a marketing ecosystem that walks, talks and works together

Your email campaigns, website, social media channels, and sales team need to all have the same key messages and value propositions. Give your prospects an easy way to respond to your offer, wherever and however they find it.

Give your lists a fighting chance

Build trust with prospects by providing them with opt-in opportunities, delivery preferences and privacy settings. Follow up with valuable content with relevant subject lines and messages. Avoid spam-trigger words: 'Free', 'Discount' or 'Click.' Test before launching.

Don¹t ignore opportunities to improve conversions

When analyzing the success of an email, determine what recipients clicked on versus what was ignored. Note where the majority of prospects navigated away from your content and adjust future email campaigns based on these results.

Email haiku—you've got three seconds to make an impression

Can you answer these three questions: 'What am I asking them to do?', 'Why should they care, or do it?' and 'Am I making it easy for them to act?' Have just one objective in an email, and make your call to action clear and easy to respond to.

Be human

Write your email as if you are speaking to an audience of one. Ask the recipient's opinion and present future content that establishes a conversation. And whenever possible, have the email come from a real person, such as the CEO, CP of Sales, CMO or other appropriate contact.

Avoid the dreaded Big X—how to beat the preview pane

Don't make prospects click "download image" to understand what you're offering. Focus attention on the message and call to action. Downsize your banner and make it clickable. Shorten horizontal graphics, move up a promotional message, or add header box to increase response rates.

If you aren't tracking behaviors and metrics you're missing the boat

Demographics, psychographics, online and offline interactions, transactions and responses deepen customer profiles. These should be used to drive personalized, relevant and timely communications, as well as sales engagement.

Drive conversions through social media

Take conversations outside the inbox and integrate socially by creating a site with social-media-sharing capabilities. When a prospect shares your content, track how it spreads to gain knowledge for future campaigns. Social sharing is the new viral marketing.