Editor's Note: This is the second in a two-part series.
Email marketing has advanced significantly over the past decade, with the potential to be one of the strongest performers of all weapons in your marketing arsenal due to its unique ability for highly personalized content and comprehensive tracking delivered straight to the consumers' inbox. Unfortunately, it's also, perhaps, one of the most poorly executed of the marketing channels.
If you're going to devote your time and resources to email marketing, be sure that investment pays off by leveraging these top 10 email marketing best practices.
No. 10 -- The secret to building trust and establishing subject-matter expertise with readers is to ensure your email content offers value to the reader even if they don't opt to purchase from you immediately.
No. 9 -- Utilize a professional email delivery service to ensure you're compliant with the CAN-SPAM Act, by offering a simple opt-out feature that doesn't require your readers to confront your company in requesting an "unsubscribe." Plus, these services offer tools to ensure your emails are professional and easy to digest, improving readership.
No. 8 -- Make it your objective to simply pique a reader's interest and drive them to your site for additional material. While word count preferences differ by business category, the rule of thumb is to target 250 to 650 words. Some prospects require more content to remain interested than others. Make that determination through testing. Create two versions of several email campaigns -- each with different word counts. Split your list in half and send each group a variation.
No. 7 -- Review your open and click-through data each month, and modify the focus of your content as a result.
No. 6 -- Optimize your campaign to be viewed correctly on a tablet or mobile phone, as more than half of your readers will be using these smaller devices when viewing your campaign.
No. 5 -- Limit the number of "calls to action" to two or three. The more options you provide, the more likely the reader will procrastinate taking any action due to the time commitment in deciding.
No. 4 -- Only add recipients to your email database who have demonstrated an interest in your content and brand.
No. 3 -- Test short, conversational (non-promotional) subject lines against one another, and keep in mind that an iPhone will truncate your subject line at just 32 characters.
No. 2 -- Customize content based on your readers' interests (e.g., based on their purchase history or the email content in which they've shown interest in the past).
No. 1 -- Be conservative with your email distribution frequency. For most businesses, quarterly is too infrequent and weekly is too frequent. If unsure, test.
With proper execution, email marketing can be the most cost-efficient, productive marketing channel at your disposal.