Got an email list? Want more opens, clicks and sales from each email you send?
Use these 57 email marketing tips to start sending better emails today.
How to build a relationship with your readers using email
1) Make a good first impression. When a new subscriber signs up to your list, what happens next is the first impression they get of your email campaign. Here’s how to start it off on the right foot…
Exceed their expectations by re-directing them to a memorable thank you page, give them an un-advertised lead magnet bonus chapter and craft an amazing welcome email (see tip 3). According to Ciceron, 88% of companies fail to make a good impression within 21 days of their email marketing. Forbes gives you 4 more ideas on how to nail your first impression here.
2) Craft an amazing welcome email. Your welcome email will have the highest open rate of any email that you send. So use it to welcome your new subscribers to your tribe, exceed their expectations in at least one way and give them an easy way to leave. Check out these great welcome email examples for inspiration.
3) Tell them what’s coming up. If you’re going to send them 2-3 messages a week about poodles, say it your first email. (And if you’re going to sell something, it’s best to mention that upfront.) Aweber gets into details about setting expectations in this article.
Tell your subscribers what to expect in your welcome email.
4) Make it easy to opt out – It should be painless to opt out. Why? First, it keeps people from flagging you as spam. Second, you actually want some people to opt-out. Because the people who stay on your list but never interact with your emails, give you”list bloat” — which makes it hard to gather accurate data about your subscribers who still care.
Here’s how Pat Flynn asks his readers to opt-out after each email:
If for any reason you do not want to receive any more valuable tips, resources and insider information about blogging, product creation and online marketing, you can unsubscribe by clicking the link at the end of this email. No hard feelings!
Why do I even bother asking people to unsubscribe?
By putting it out there, I’m not hiding anything. It’s a reminder of the transparency and authenticity of the brand that I hope people stay subscribed for.
If people read that passage and they feel like unsubscribing, I hope they do. I only want people on my list who really want the content I have to share.
5) Be like your readers – In Robert Cialdini’s must-read book Influence, he explains that, “We like people who are similar to us… Those who wish to be liked can accomplish that by appearing similar.”
So let your readers relate to you by talking about how you used to struggle with the same problems they face. Empathize with them, and then ask how you can help. According Forbes, being authentic can make your marketing more profitable.
6) Tell stories – Stories grab attention fast and add depth to your emails. In QuickSprout’s guide to telling your brand’s story:
- Human-to-human connections are the heart of marketing. Brand storytelling is a technique that can reinforce these bonds.
- Storytelling concepts are vague, abstract, and tough to plan. Rely on card sorting exercises, message architecture maps, and brand styleguides to articulate your strategy and scale it across teams.
7) Show you’re an expert. When you’ve achieved expert status, people trust you more. (And trust is key to building relationships.) But instead of just saying your an expert, give away value and teach your readers something to gain “expert status.” It’s surprisingly simple to become an expert.
8) Personally answer your reader’s questions. This takes some time, but it’s the fastest way to turn a new subscriber into a raving fan. (Plus it’s a great way to get content ideas from your readers.) All you have to do is ask them to tell you what they’re struggling with… and then help them. And don’t be afraid to give them too much info. Derek Halpern says, “The right way to sell is to give away the house… and sell the backyard.”
9) Blow them away – Send them a video when they join your list or personally write them a thank you email. Seriously, no one does this… so your readers will remember you.
10) Personalize your messages. Use personality tags like name when you send. Just make sure you’re not addressing them by their first and last name like, “Dear Sam Smith.” (It should just be, “Dear Sam.”) You can clean up your name tags in your email service provider easily. But don’t personalize too much or you’ll sound spammy. Here’s 7 examples of personalization done right.
11) Use surveys to send better emails – Survey your readers to segment them and give them content they need. Not sure what to ask? Create a survey using google docs, take a screen shot of your questions and embed that image into your email. Just make sure to link to your actual survey so you can collect answers. Use these 3 questions as a framework to find the most important questions your readers want answered:
Fill out this form and I’ll personally reply back with answer to your question/s.
Here’s how to create an email survey using google docs:
11) Write to one reader. Use this trick to instantly make your emails more personal:
- Look up one of your subscribers on LinkedIn or Facebook
- See their interests and look at their picture.
- Then when you’re writing your next email, pretend you’re talking to that one person.Even though you’re focusing on one reader, it will help you connect with your entire list better.
12) Honor the golden rule. Send emails that you would want to receive. Every email should entertain, educate or both. (Even your sales emails.) Don’t forget it and your list will love getting your emails.
12) Give give give, ask. The best way to get your readers excited about future emails, is to pack serious value in the first emails you send. Load the first 4-5 emails with your best content. This builds up the “reciprocity factor” and they’ll be more likely to give back when you ask them for something later in your campaign. This is the topic of Gary V’s latest book, “Jab jab jab right hook.” But here’s a short summary of the book.
13) Send emails with your name. What’s an easier email sender to connect with? Info@mybiz.com or John@mybiz.com? Don’t hide behind your email. People like hearing from other people not brands. (Unless you’re Apple or Starbucks.) So don’t hide behind your brand and sign emails with your name.
14) Earn their trust. How? Earning trust with email is similar to earning trust face-to-face. According to copyblogger:
There are three key elements to developing trust with your online audience:
Build authority by creating and sharing useful content
Then develop relationships with your audience by showing you genuinely care
And finally, underscore your credibility with a professional website
15) Don’t blend in with their inbox. Add your personality, humor and stories to your messages so your emails stand out in a crowded inbox. Help them remember you and like you. Nevblog.com‘s emails do this well.
How to get your emails opened
16) Tell them what’s coming up next. Use the P.S. to get your readers excited about your next email. Or even better, create a teaser campaign that will get them excited. If people know specifically how you’ll make them happier, more informed, better at business, etc… they’ll be counting down the days to read your next message.
17) Don’t end up in the “Promotions” tab. Gmail has 500 million users. So there’s a good chance many of your subscribers use google’s popular email service. And if you want to stay out of gmail’s promotions tab, follow these 7 tips from copyblogger.
18) Use power words in your emails and subject lines. According to legendary copywriter John Carlton, a power word is any word that carries its own emotional wallop. (Use them to write better emails.) “Murder”, “cripple”, blinding, “dragged kicking and screaming”… you can FEEL those words when you read them, right? Take a look at his complete power word list to write better email.
19) Use an odd number in your subject line. According the guardian, headlines or subject lines with odd numbers get a 20% higher open rate than ones with even numbers. Here’s 7 tips to write better subject lines with numbers. This subject line trick works, just don’t over do it or your readers will get tired of it.
20) Help your readers avoid relevant common mistakes. Try writing some “mistake-avoiding” emails with these subject line formulas from copyblogger:
- Do You Make These Mistakes in English?
- Do You Make These Ajax Coding Mistakes?
- Do You Make These Mistakes With Your Blog?
21) Don’t be cute. Cute or clever subject lines don’t get opened. Simple, specific subject lines beat clever alternatives every time. Use your subject lines to simply describe the subject of your email because the best subject lines, “tell what’s inside, and the worst subject lines sell what’s inside.”
22) A/B test subject lines. You don’t really know what subject will get you the most opens until you test.
For example: Which subject line do you think got the most opens?
A) Using Game Theory As A Content Marketing Tactic
B) How Pixar’s Creative Process Can Help Your Content Marketing
(The answer… Subject line A got 11.3% more opens than version B.)
Want more details on A/B testing your campaign? Here’s KissMetric’s guide to A/B testing email campaigns.
23) Get inspired by the world’s best emails. Who’s the thought leader in your industry? Opt-in to their list and see how they write subject lines and organize email campaigns. Try QuickSprout to get some ideas that will help you get your emails opened.
24) Send relevant content. This is huge. If you give your readers the content they need, they will open your emails. So survey your readers to find out what content they want and give it to them. In my experience, giving your readers what they want will increase your open rates faster than anything else.
25) Segment your list to send better emails. After you survey your subscriber, use groups and segments to send specific messages to each subscriber. Segmenting your list will help you send emails that are more relevant, and therefore more likely to get opened.
26) Avoid using your recipient’s name in the subject line. This study by Mailchimp shows that using a name in the subject line drops your open rates. But like all marketing case studies out there, run a simple A/B test to see how your list responds to personalized subject lines like, “Jack, get free shipping today only” vs. “Get free shipping today only.”
27) Keep subject lines short Your iPhone (and most other mobile devices) shows only 80 characters of a subject line. So get the point quickly when writing your subject line. Some say your subject line should be a maximum of 50 characters. But as a rule of thumb, shorter subject lines get opened more than long ones.
28) Add preview texts. What’s a “preview text?” It’s the text that shows up next to the subject line in your email account. And a strong preview text can increases your open rate. To change your preview text, simply change the first line of text in your email.
Hubspot says, your preview text should be something that follows up to your subject line. Maybe it answers your subject line’s question, or just follows along with the same theme. For example, check out this awesome preview from BuzzFeed’s email:
29) Avoid “Bait and switch” subject lines. Don’t trick your readers into opening your emails. Sure, making a false claim in your subject line or using “re:” (as if you’re replying to a personal message) might get more opens once, but these false promises and tricks will instantly destroy trust (and open rates) with your audience.
30) Don’t forget about scarcity: If your email is time sensitive, put that sense of urgency into your subject line. This sense of urgency will get more readers to open your email and take action. Here’s 3 subject lines from campaignmonitor.com that use scarcity well:
- Only 2 days left to get 50% off shoes
- Hurry! Only 3 consultation spots left.
- Get free shipping if you order within the next hour
31) Put your biggest benefit in your subject line: Ads have been putting their biggest benefit inside their headlines for centuries. Do the same with your subject line to get higher open rates.
Notice how this ad puts the car’s biggest benefit in the headline?
32) Time your emails better: When’s the best time to send an email to get the most open rates? This depends on your list and industry. But ConstantContact has a great article that breaks down send days, times and open rates by industry. Start there but make sure to test other send times to see what your list responds best to.
33) Ask a question in your subject line: Mailchimp found that, “subject lines framed as questions often perform better than similar subject lines that were phrased as statements.” Try A/B testing a subject line with a question and see what happens to your open rates.
A/B testing example: “Get 50% off all beach towels this week” vs. “Want 50% off all beach towels this week?”
34) Send local: If you’re sending an email to a specific neighborhood, city or state, mention it in your subject line. Why? Location-specific offers or news get higher open rates.
35) NEVER USE ALL CAPS. It looks spammy and no one likes that. In fact, Brain Harris at videofruit.com says he gets higher open rates when he sends subject lines with all lowercase letters. This could be because it looks more casual, kind of like an email you’d send to a close friend or co-worker… so it’s more likely to get opened.
How to write engaging emails
36) Give your readers what they want: The fastest way to write better emails is to find out what your readers want emails about. Do they want how-to emails? Promotions? Tricks and tips? Survey your readers, find out what emails they want and write content they need. Even with poor writing you’ll still engage your audience.
37) Ask questions in your email. You want your emails to feel like it’s a personal conversation between you and your reader. One way to connect with your audience is to ask questions in your email. Got it? Good.
38) Use the AIDA formula. Next time you’re sending an email that has a call-to-action, use the AIDA formula. It will give you a proven method of engaging your reader and getting them to take action. Use this to get your readers to fill out a survey, follow you on social media or click over to your sales page.
39) Try new greetings. Instead of a cold and boring “Hello”, start your email with something different. Try warm wishes, Howdy, or Greetings from sunny San Diego or just their name. Mixing up your greetings makes you sound less robotic and more personal.
40) Add a time stamp on your letters. Use a time stamp to tell your readers where you’re writing from and when to make your emails more personal. John Carlton does this to all of blog posts for a reason.
41) Add your personality. Are there any words or expressions that only you can get away with? Being a San Diegan, I can mix in the occasional “dude” in my emails. I’m not that saying that is going to win me any email awards, but it shows I’m a real person with a personality, man.
42) Stop boring your readers to death. You won’t connect with your readers if they get too bored to read your emails. Here’s the top 3 tips from Copyblogger to spice up your emails:
- Tell stories in your emails to get your point across
- Keep your words, sentences and paragraphs short
- Stick to one topic in each email
43) Do a “CRABS Check” before you hit send. Dave Chaffey, author of Total Email Marketing, gives us a helpful acronym, “CRABS” to make sure your email copy will engage your readers.
Chunking – Chunking means that paragraphs must be shorter than in paper copy. One or two short sentences max. This helps scannability.
Relevance – With limited space, we have no room for fillers. Stick with what matters – the details of the offer and how to receive it.
Accuracy – Don’t get carried away with your copy; don’t set expectations so high that you over promise and can’t deliver something you offer.
Brevity – Brevity goes with chunking and scannability. Write your copy, reduce the word count and then reduce it again. Give yourself targets and beat them without sacrificing good English and understanding.
Scannability – This is reading without reading every word, just picking up the sense of each paragraph from the keywords. The eye will pick out words at the start of paragraphs and those emphasized in bold.
How to sell in your emails
44) Build trust before you sell. Inc.com reminds us that, “Customers don’t buy from people they don’t trust.” So before you can ask for the sale, make sure you’ve earned their trust first. Use an autoresponder to send 4-8 emails with helpful content and some personal stories that your readers can relate to.
45) Help your readers get what they want. Even the best copywriters and email marketers can’t force someone to buy something. You can only help them connect what they desire to your offer. So to sell with emails, paint them a picture of what their life will be like after buying.
46) Give a deadline – In Robert Caldini’s book Influence, he explains that, “People are highly motivated by the thought that they might lose out on something.” So if your promotion expires or your registration closes, mention that exact time and date in your emails to get more sales.
47) Have a crystal-clear call to action. Crazyegg.com gives us three fail-proof rules for writing a strong call to action:
A no-obligation statement that removes or reduces risk. In many cases, they’re asking for a free trial rather than a purchase. In other words, try us, you’ll like us. This gives people the confidence to buy.
All of them contain some version of “Mail your acceptance card.” This is simple usability. You have to tell people what to do next. Today it would read, “Click the button below.”
Encouragement to respond right away. That’s standard direct response. Don’t give people an option to wait and think about it.
48) Ask for the sale across several emails Ian Brodies’ book Email Persuasion, he explains why it’s so important to ask for the sale in several emails instead of one.
First, every subscriber will be ready to buy at different times. So asking for the sale in multiple emails helps perfect your timing.
Second, if you use more than one email to sell, you don’t have to write a 4 page heavy-hitting sales email. You can spread out your sales points across several short and easy-to-read emails.
50) Give them what they want. If you’ve used a survey (found in tip #11) you’ll be able to “read your customer’s mind” and give them exactly what they want. Use the data from your surveys to give your readers an offer they can’t refuse.
51) Money back guarantee. Simply adding a money back guarantee to your offer can bring in more sales. Neil Patel at QuickSprout.com was able to increase sales by 21% after adding a money back guarantee.
52) Repeat your call to action 2-3 times. This gives your readers more chances to click through and will get you more clicks per email.
53) Don’t forget the P.S. “The P.S. is one of the most important part of any sales letter, and it’s often read first beofre the body copy. Always use the P.S. to restate your offer here.” – Drew Eric Whiteman.
54) Add white space around your links. campaignmonitor.com shows us how, “Adding ample whitespace around your CTA buttons encourages click-throughs by separating them visually from other elements in your email and helping focus the reader’s attention on them at the right time.”
55) Make sure your links look clickable. If you’re using a button for your call to action, make sure it looks clickable. If you’re using a plain text email (which is sometimes the best option) your links should be underlined and colored “link-blue“.
56) Sell “above the fold”. Amy Porterfield does a great job of placing her call to action within the first 3 sentences of her emails:
57) Follow up with reminder emails. Use reminder emails to let your list know that your offer is expiring soon or even to drive home the benefits of taking action. Your readers are busy people and may need an extra reminder or two to help them purchase or sign up.
First, leave a comment below and tell me which was your favorite email marketing tip.
Then, go use these tips to improve you email campaign.