12 Effective Email Marketing Strategies that Work in 2017

With over 144 billion emails sent each and every day, email marketing remains one of the elite channels for business communication since 2000. So how Email Marketing does is different than other online marketing channels?

To be sure, finding the key to a stand-out message is critical to your bottom line—whether that bottom line is cold, hard cash or community engagement or anything in between. What follows are eight inbox-tested emails marketing strategies that successful senders have used to get their emails clicked.

Let’s Take a Look At 12 Effective Email Marketing Strategies that still Work in 2017.

1. Pre-Targeting

This involves warming up your list before you send a major campaign (that’s focused on conversions). Here’s how it works:

    1. Figure out which subscribers you want to target. This may involve segmenting your list by whatever criteria you decide, so you can easily export these subscriber’s email address to a spreadsheet or text file.
    2. Import these emails into an ad platform that allows re-targeting, such as Twitter, Facebook, or Google AdWords.
    3. Create ads that raise brand awareness, and maybe even give your followers a small taste of what your major campaign is focusing on.
    4. Give the ads some time to get exposure (maybe a week or two weeks)
    5. Send your major email campaign

2. Personalize your email without using the recipient’s name

Do not use “Dear [INSERT NAME HERE]”.

The practice of personalized email greetings is not nearly as effective as it may seem. In fact, research by Temple’s Fox School of Business suggests that this particular kind of personalization could be harmful.

Given the high level of cyber security concerns about phishing, identity theft, and credit card fraud, many consumers would be wary of emails, particularly those with personal greetings.

A significant element of email marketing is relationship. Does a recipient trust you? Does a recipient even know who you are? When an email jumps the gun by forcing familiarity too soon, the personalization comes across as skeevy. Intimacy is earned in real life, and it would appear to be the same way with email.

3. The long and short of subject lines

When it comes to deciding how to craft that perfect subject line, there appears to be really only one area to avoid: the subject line of 60 to 70 characters. Marketers refer to this as the “dead zone” of subject length. According to research by Adestra, which tracked over 900 million emails for its report, there is no increase in either open rate or clickthroughs at this 60-to-70 character length of subject line.

Conversely, subject lines 70 characters and up tested to be most beneficial to engage readers in clicking through to the content, and subject lines 49 characters and below tested well with open rate.

3. Evening to midnight is the prime time to send your email

While many a quality email may be built during business hours, the ones with the best open rates aren’t being sent from 9 to 5. The top email strategy is to send at night.

In their quarterly email report for 2012’s fourth quarter, Experian Marketing Services found that the time of day that received the best open rate was 8:00 p.m. to midnight. This block not only performed better for open rate (a respectable 22 percent) but also for clickthrough and sales.

Optimal mailing time often depends upon your customers’ behaviors, inbox crowding, and the deployment times of other marketers.

Inbox crowding and the deployment times of other marketers go hand-in-hand; if your email goes out when few others do, it stands a greater chance of getting noticed (so quick, start sending between evening and midnight before everyone else catches on).

Optimal mailing for your customers’ needs will be up to you. Test, test, and test some more to find out how your customer ticks and when he/she opens email.

4. Give away your best content

Consumers love a free lunch—or a free template. In a study on their email list of 6,300 subscribers, Bluewire Media tested various types of content to see what led to the highest rates for opens and clicks. The winner was templates and tools, just the kind of freebies that email readers want.

5. Avoiding the Promotions tab in Gmail

Apparently Gmail’s introduction of “tabs” (Primary, Social, and Promotions) has reduced open rates by up to 30%. So what can you do to avoid your email ending up in the Promotions tab?

5. Optimize for Mobile

Mobile opens accounts for 66% percent of all email opens According to the latest US Consumer Device Preference Report from MovableInk, mobile email opens surged to an all-time high in Q4. The report says that 66 percent of all email in the US is now opened/read on smartphones or tablets and 34 percent is viewed on a desktop.

Design responsively to ensure that your email looks great no matter where it’s read. Here are some quick mobile design tips:

  • Convert your email to a one column template for an easy mobile fix.
  • Bump up the font size for improved readability on smart phones.
  • Follow the iOS guideline of buttons at least 44 pixels wide by 44 pixels tall.
  • Make the call-to-action obvious and easy to tap. Above the fold is preferable.
  • Consider ergonomics. Many users tap and scroll with their thumb, so keep important tappable elements in the middle of the screen.

There’s a bunch of tools out there for testing how your emails will appear on smaller screens. Here’s some of my favorites:

The mobile breakdown is as follows: 49.5 percent of email opens were on a smartphone, 16.8 on a tablet. Of the 66 percent of mobile opens, 58 percent happened on an Apple device; 7 percent were on Android devices.

6. Harness the Welcome email

Make sure in your welcome email you tell your subscribers how to drag-and-drop your email from the Promotions tab into the Primary tab.

As a bonus, ask them to add your From email address to their contacts list, so your messages are guaranteed to never end up in Spam.

7. Un-personalization

Apparently the over-personalization of emails lately has caused some of us to be turned off by seeing our name in the Subject line. I guess us marketers have just over-used it to death.

Try experimenting with casual subjects and opening lines (which become the preview text), so not to turn people away immediately, and hopefully you’ll see a bump in open rates.

8. Email still reigns over Social Media

Social media may be the young whippersnapper nipping at email’s heels, but the content king of the inbox still holds sway in social influence, according to a study by SocialTwist. Over an 18-month period, SocialTwist monitored 119 referral campaigns from leading brands and companies. The results showed a significant advantage to email’s ability to convert new customers compared to Facebook and Twitter.

Email ruled supreme, by almost double. Of the 300,000 referrals who became new customers, 50.8 percent were reached by email, compared to 26.8 percent for Twitter and 22 percent for Facebook.

9. Try not to sell directly by the email

This one seems pretty negative impact, but by not selling anything in your email, by just providing VALUE and GREAT CONTENT, you build a positive relationship with your customers, which can help with a future email campaign that DOES include a CTA.

Try including a little teaser at the end of the email, to get them thinking subconsciously about what’s to come.

10. Send email on the weekends

While not as overwhelming a winner as the evening to midnight time of day, Saturday and Sunday did outperform their weekday counterparts in Experian’s study of day-of-week performance.

Again, the volume of email sent on the weekends is low, just like the volume for evening emails, which could help those messages stand out more. The margins for clickthrough, open, and sales rates were not substantial, but in email marketing, every little bit counts.

11. Off-peak sending

Rather than sending at peak times (in the morning during week days), like EVERYBODY else, why not experiment with sending at off-peak times? Maybe your subscribers get overwhelmed by too many emails at one time, so they’re more likely to archive/delete/spam them. But if it’s a Sunday and they’re sitting around watching football, maybe you’ll get more of their attention? It’s worth a try!

12. Re-engage an inactive group of subscribers

Research has found that the average inactivity for a list is 63 percent, meaning that once someone joins they are less likely to ever follow-up with your follow-up emails. Email marketing firm Listrak goes so far as to identify the first 90 days as the window for turning a sign-up into a sale.

What’s to become of that inactive 63 percent? Re-engagement campaigns are an excellent place to start. Recently, a re-engagement campaign from Digg wound up in my inbox. The subject was catchy (“This Is Not An Email From 2006”), and the content helpfully explained what the email was all about.

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