A playbook for creating an exceptional email strategy that gets results

Even before AOL, email has been a mainstay of modern life. Let’s talk about why it should be the mainstay of your sales and marketing strategy.

It’s simple: Email has the highest ROI of ANY digital marketing channelwith a average ROI of 122%!

Let’s face it…you’re busy.

Juggling everything that goes into building a sustainable business can feel overwhelming. And doing big things with a small team is tough. You need to reach the right audience and grow sales but expensive and overly-complex digital marketing plans can feel daunting.

Often, the simplest solution is the best one. When it comes to marketing, that’s true of our old friend email.

So, let’s get started! Here are the 8 Rules for email excellence:

1. Use content you’d want to read and don’t get spammy

This seems like a no brainer…until you consider your overflowing spam folder and how many times you’ve said TL; DR (too long;didn’t read) to a long-winded newsletter.

You want new leads and new sales. But you need people to stay subscribed and forward your emails to their valuable network of colleagues and friends.

That’s why your content must be killer. Don’t know where to start?

Here are three ideas courtesy of all-star digital marketer Neil Patel:

  • Case studies – Talk about how you helped other clients. Tell their story, show data, and include testimonials. Case studies build trust because they’re proof you got measurable results for other customers.
  • Q&As – Teaching something valuable and offering expert insight or interviews is a great gift to give your subscribers. Doing so in an informal and easily digestible format like Q&As is even better.
  • Analysis or Tips – How did that deal come together? What’s on the economic horizon? What apps help you find better productivity and work-life balance? People love insider tips and real stories. Give em good ones and your list will grow.

Just don’t overdo it! According to Hubspot, 78% of consumers have unsubscribed from a list because a brand was sending too many emails. For marketing, no more than two emails per month is a good rule of thumb.

2. People want to help you grow: Don’t be afraid to ask!

Ask people to hit “fwd” and urge website visitors to subscribe.

Part of your email strategy must include ways to keep your list growing—without purchasing lists of new subscribers, which you should never do.

Everyone’s email list shrinks or ‘degrades’ by about 22.5% every year on average.

Use an “Email to a Friend” button or link in your emails. This lets your subscribers introduce to you to their trusted friends, colleagues, and networks. Doing this one thing can expand your subscriber list exponentially.

At the bottom of your emails, include a “Subscribe” call-to-action as a simple text-based link so that the people who receive forwarded emails can easily opt-in.

And don’t forget to get help from your website!

Assume that everyone you hand a business card to or speak to at an event is going to visit your website. Don’t squander that free traffic. Make it easy for website users to subscribe to your email list—and give them a good reason!

Add an email subscribe box prominently on your website with a call-to-action such as: “Get free tips and expert insights to give your business an edge.”

When asking people to subscribe, don’t forget to remind them they can unsubscribe at any time. And when they sign up, consider sending them a simple thank you. Or better yet, use that thank-you to offer a discount code (if you sell something) or a reward for referring business.

4. Think Mobile-First!

Email campaigns that aren’t mobile mobile-friendly aren’t worth sending.

Have you checked to see what your email blast looks like on mobile? If not, cut your expectations in half. According to HubSpot, Emails that display incorrectly on mobile may be deleted within three seconds. That’s because 80% of email users are expected to access their email via a mobile device by the end of 2018. And virtually every report on email open rates concludes that mobile is responsible for at least 50% of all opens.

5. Make it Easy to Make Contact

Add a link in everyone’s signature line.

Hyperlinked email signatures are one of the easiest ways to grow your list. One click can lead people to a landing page where they can sign up for your mailing list and/or see a featured offer. Plus, if you’re already in an email conversation with them, so subscribing is a natural next step.

6. Automate! Automate! Automate!

Utilize a variety of free tools to save time and optimize results.

According to MailChimp (our email platform), automation helps you stay connected with your audience (and find more people just like them), so you can eliminate repetitive tasks and focus on other parts of your business. In other words, automation helps you send emails at optimal times and track a range of metrics that help improve performance.

Automation can also do things like:

  • Send a welcome email when people join your list
  • Follow up after a purchase
  • Send a happy birthday email
  • Notify a customer that their order has shipped or that an action was completed

And be sure to keep things on a first name basis. Emails that included the first name of the recipient in their subject line see higher click-through rates than emails that don’t, according to HubSpot. Most email programs make this super simple.

7. Segment and Personalize

Send tailored content based on customer needs then reap the rewards.

Segmentation is a cornerstone of marketing and brand positioning. Any business plan that can’t identify its target customers isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.

Recipients are 75% more likely to click on emails from segmented campaigns than non-segmented campaigns, according to MailChimp.

Target people based on behavior, preferences, and previous sales—and use this intel to do things like welcome new subscribers, reach out to people who abandon their online shopping carts or forms, and win back lapsed customers—automatically.

Use data to create personalized emails that match customer needs to your specific products or services. Or send case studies featuring similar clients.

Join the 83% of companies that use basic segmentation for their emails, according to Econsultancy.

8. Promote an online contest

Who doesn’t want to be a winner?

Use your website or social media accounts to host a free giveaway in exchange for contact information. Encourage entrants to click through to sign up using their email address. If you sell something online or have a new customer form on your website, offer a referral code that gives users a discount and enters them for a chance to win cool prizes.