The 10 Commandments of Awesome Email Marketing

Email is a cornerstone of modern marketing, especially for B2B organizations.  Email plays a pivotal – and largely irreplaceable – role in capturing, educating, and engaging leads.  It’s the preferred communication channel for a majority of consumers, as well as senders.

Though the channel is preferred, individual email messages aren’t guaranteed success.  There’s a thin line between reputable, effective email and bothersome spam.  It’s the difference between building a business relationship and tearing one apart.

To ensure you always fall on the good and respectable side of email marketing, here are our 10 commandments of awesome email marketing:

1.  Thou Shalt Send Relevant Emails.

The first question on the mind of most email recipients is, “Why am I getting this message?”  If this answer is absent or otherwise insufficient, it’s often enough of a reason to prevent a recipient from digging deeper into the email.  Email lists should be segmented by both demographics and behavior to ensure all sends are relevant.

2.  Thou Shalt Send Valuable Emails.

Once establishing relevance, the most common follow-up question is, “What’s in it for me?”  You’re asking the recipient to stop what they’re doing and take an action.  In order for this to happen, they need a compelling reason to do so.  If you don’t have such a reason, then you should rethink sending the email.

3.  Thou Shalt Differentiate Thy Offer.

Even offers that are relevant and valuable can be generic and uninteresting.  You know your white paper is a well-deigned, informative, content marketing masterpiece, but to the recipient it’s just another piece of content.  It’s up to you to highlight the things that make your offer stand out.

4.  Thou Shalt Limit Thyself to One Call-to-Action per Email.

Emails should be short, focused communications.  Additional call-to-actions add length and create confusion, which reduces the likelihood of conversion.  Emails dedicated to a single CTA are simply more effective, user-friendly, and measurable.

5.  Thou Shalt Not Use Generic, Promotional (Spam) Terms.

Nothing says, “This is a generic communication,” like a greeting that says, “Dear Friend” or “Dear Customer”.  In the copy, this is often made worse by typical spam phrases like, “Risk Free”, “Limited Time”, and “Order Now”.  Along the same lines, companies do themselves no favors by using the uninformative, catchall call-to-action, “Click Here”.  Such word choices should be avoided wherever possible.

6.  Thou Shalt Consider the Tempo of Email Sends.

Conventional wisdom dictates that you shouldn’t fill a contact’s inbox with frequent emails.  Generally, this is true; however, things like daily blog emails can be acceptable if requested.  To improve retention, closely connected emails may also need to be sent at shorter intervals.  Overall, tempo is just another factor to be adjusted based on your audience and objectives.

7.  Thou Shalt Have a Follow-Up Plan.

There should be no dead ends after an email send/campaign.  You should have a plan for those that do complete the desired action and those that don’t.  Reminders or “Sorry we missed you” emails can be a great way to follow-up and drive further conversion.  Even if the plan is simply to add them to a list for future reengagement, the important thing is not to let valuable contacts evaporate into the ether.

8.  Thou Shalt Test Thy Emails Across Browsers/Clients.

There is nothing worse than taking the time to craft a great email only to have it render incorrectly for your recipients.  Compatibility issues can make the email anywhere form incontinent to unusable.   These issues can be checked for and largely mitigated through the use of third-party testing programs, like Litmus and Email on Acid.  Though, because none of these programs are 100% reliable, it’s best to cover your bases by including web-based and plan text versions of your email.

9.  Thou Shalt Optimize.

 Metrics are at the heart of a successful email marketing effort.  Each send provides insight into what’s working and what’s not.  By comparing different areas of an email to the related metrics, you can uncover problem areas of an email.  There areas can then be refined through A/B testing.  Most companies already use A/B testing for their subject lines, but there’s no reason it should stop there.  Send times, send tempo, “From” lines, visuals, copy, and call-to-actions are all perfectly suitable areas for A/B testing.

10.  Thou Shalt Consider Mobile Experience.

As the famous statistic states, a majority (53%, according to Litmus) emails are now opened on mobile devices.  Considering mobile openers are now the majority, a stunning number of emails offer a subpar mobile experience.  Responsive design is a good start toward mobile friendly emails, though additional design considerations are also needed.  Factors like button size and placement are relatively minor to desktop users, but are essential to accurate clicking for mobile users.

There you have it.  Ten tenants for email marketers to ensure they stay on the favorable side of email communications.  Go forth and and spread the word!




Let us know what you think:

  • Do you agree with each of our 10 commandments?
  • Would you add anything to the list?
  • Which commandment(s) are the most crucial?



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