Email marketing may seem old-fashioned with the advent of social media, but it can still be a successful way of generating new business. If you are a B2B business, emails can be a great way to reach your target market.
However, companies need to tread carefully. The GDPR legislation of 2018 means that organisations must have permission to contact people by email. Within the data that you hold on customers and prospects, they must have given their consent to be contacted by you. Failure to comply with data protection legislation not only makes you appear a spammer but also can result in hefty fines.
So how do you go about conducting an email campaign without falling foul of the legislation or coming across as spamming? Here we look at the best practices.
Email marketing best practices
Don’t buy lists
The fact that you have to get people’s consent to contact them means that you should never buy a list of contact details. These lists are generally obtained without consent, or the individuals certainly haven’t consented to be contacted by you. You also want recipients to open your emails, and if they are coming from an unrecognised source they are unlikely to do so.
Send the emails from an actual person
Recipients should have the ability to reply to your emails, either to get further information, or to opt out. For this reason avoid using a ‘no reply’ in your sender’s email address as in noreply@yourcompanyname. This prevents the recipient from contacting you. Instead, make the emails personal by including the sender’s name. The recipient is much more likely to open and read an email that comes from a person rather than an anonymous source.
Clean your mailing list regularly
Whilst it may be tempting to just email as many of your contacts as possible, this may affect the success of your campaign. You want your emails to be opened and read. If you have contacts who, although they may not have opted out, are not opening and engaging with your emails, it’s time to take them off the list.
The success of your campaign will be measured by the number of recipients who open and respond to your emails so contacting those who are clearly not interested will skew your results. It may also irritate the recipient, you don’t want your emails to end up in the junk folder, this indicates to the email service provider that you are a spammer.
Include a clear call-to-action
You need to include in the email what you want the recipient to do. If you want them to click on a link that takes them to a landing page on your website, make sure this is clear and that the landing page gives them all the information they need.
Create compelling content
You want recipients to open and engage with your email so make sure you give them a reason to. Include the main subject of the email ‘above the fold’ – ie. so that people see it immediately without having to scroll down to find out what the email is about. Keep your subject simple and to the point, use short sentences and bullet points.
Avoid spammy-looking practices like using all capital letters or exclamation marks in the subject line. Stick to one or two fonts to prevent it from looking messy.
Make sure images are optimised and the email is responsive. 55% of emails are opened on mobile. So your email should be optimised for mobile as well as all other devices.
Include an email signature
Including a signature of an individual in your email will not only help to personalise your email but also help with the branding of your email. The recipient needs to know how to contact you.
Personalise the greeting
Avoid having ‘Dear Customer’ as the opening line to your email even if that is easier. Personalise your email by addressing the recipient by their first name. The more personal you can make your email, the more likely it is to be read and the less likely it is to end up in the spam folder.
Make the template fit
Ensure your email is no wider than 650 pixels as this will require people to scroll horizontally which is a pain. Make sure your email template fits into a standard format and displays correctly on all devices. This will help your conversion rate.
Include your logo in your email content
Your logo will help with brand recall and aid conversion. A 2020 study by Red Sift and Entrust found that including a logo positively impacted email engagement as well as brand recall. Brand recall rose by 18% after a 5-second exposure to a logo in the email. Purchases also went up by 34% from emails where logos were included.
Test your emails
Send your email to a couple of colleagues or friends. Check they can quickly tell what the subject of the email is and what the call-to-action is. Also, make sure it displays correctly.
Ways in which to prevent your emails from ending up in the spam folder
- Ask your contacts to add your email address to their contacts or safe sender list, this will mean your emails always end up in their inbox, not the junk folder.
- Make sure you have permission to send emails to contacts. Use an auto-responder when someone opts in to receiving contact from you so that they are aware that they have done so.
- Use a reputable email service provider for your campaign. All the top providers take measures to prevent spam so your emails are more likely to get through if associated with one of them.
- Make sure your grammar and spelling are correct. Emails that contain a lot of errors are more likely to be flagged up as spam.
- Avoid spammy subject lines – don’t use all capital letters or exclamation marks or focus on money, these can all flag you up as spam.
- Remove inactive email addresses from your list. ESPs will be more likely to judge your emails as spam if they are going to a lot of inactive addresses.
- Use a spam-checking tool like Emailable – this will give you an indication of whether your email will be perceived as spam.
- Email customers regularly – if you are in regular contact, they are more likely to open your emails. An email coming out of the blue is more likely to be sent to junk.
- Make it easy to unsubscribe. This will keep your list clean.
- Have a clear sender address – a random group of letters or numbers is more likely to send your email to junk, make sure the email is from a person.
The future of email marketing
The key to successful email marketing campaigns in the future is personalisation. People tend to view promotional emails as the same as spam, so emails should aim to inform and educate recipients rather than give a hard sell. A one-size-fits-all approach may not work as well as people become savvier about promotional emails. Instead, you should segment your audience and aim to tailor content to each segment in a personalised way.
Modular Exhibition stands contractor Quadrant2Design does exactly this. Marketing Director Ross Pike said ‘We separate out our database into whether they are customers, looking to buy, interested or not really aware. Then we target each group with an email tailored to the stage of the marketing funnel that they are in. We find it works better than sending a bland email to all at once.’
Email marketing offers a great way to get your message in front of the customers and prospects you want to target, especially if you are a b2b company. But you must have permission to contact the recipients of your email, or you risk being labeled a spammer. Once an ESP suspects you of spammy tactics, your emails will be filtered out so it is important to follow these guidelines.