Watch this before you send your first email campaign

8 min read
Quentin Aisbett

The thought of launching your first email campaign might seem scary, but it’s a great way to get to know your customers at little to no cost.

Compared to Facebook and Twitter, email marketing is 40 times more effective at customer acquisition.

This won’t come as any surprise to those who specialise in email campaigns. But for small business owners just getting started, it’s a welcome insight.

To achieve those lofty results, you’ll need to follow a few best practices. We’ll review the best ones below and give you plenty of tips and advice on how to get started.

1. Getting people to sign up

First and foremost, we need to talk about permission. The Spam Act states that you must have “express” or “inferred” permission to send anyone a marketing email. Do not go rogue on this.

This means buying lists of email addresses is a no-no.

Clipboard with empty contact list sitting next to a pen

There are plenty of ways to get people to agree to receive emails from you. You can review the examples below to get some ideas:

Have forms embedded on your website

You can include them in the bottom of every page or at the end of your blog posts.

Display pop-ups with a subscribe form

These could be triggered when users scroll halfway down the page or are about to leave the website.

Leverage your social profiles

Ask your social followers to subscribe.

Add a subscribe link to your email signature

Color and fabric samples

This can be especially helpful if your contacts forward or share your emails with others.

It’s important that your sign up invitation includes an enticement — otherwise it will fall on deaf ears. “Be the first to know about our sales” or “Receive 3 free fabric swatches when you sign up” are a couple of examples of incentives.

Related: How to build your first email list the right way

2. Creating your email campaign

Before you send out your first email campaign, it’s important to figure out the “why.” Ask and answer these questions:

  • Why would someone want to receive an email from you?
  • Are you giving them exclusive offers?
  • Do you want to share news related to your products or services?
  • Are you simply sharing the articles you publish on your blog?
  • When did you last make contact? Have you got your communication frequency right (no one likes spam)

Once you decide what you’ll be sending, you’ll want to make sure your emails look great and are effective. Here are some best practices to consider when planning your first email campaign:

Make sure it can be opened on a smartphone

Many of your emails will be opened on a mobile device, so make sure it’s a great experience for viewers.

Be visual

This is especially important for mobile users. Readers don't want to read huge slabs of text, so make sure to use photos and graphics to keep them interested.

Have a clear call-to-action (CTA)

What do you want the subscriber to do — request a quote, buy a product? Make sure this is clear to them. Make sure that your CTA is clear and compelling.

Additionally, you’ll want to make sure to provide an easy unsubscribe link. This is important because it, too, is a requirement of the Spam Act.

Editor’s note: An unsubscribe or opt-out link is automatically included in every email created with GoDaddy’s Digital Marketing Suite. You can also manage your email campaigns, social posts and business reviews all from one dashboard.

3. Measure the results and improve the next email

Most email marketing tools will provide you with the numbers you need to refine your email campaigns for better and better results.

Let’s start with how you can measure your email campaign and what to look for.

Desktop computer with analytics on the screen

Open rate

This is the percentage of people who received your email and opened it. If your open rate is around the 20% mark, there’s no need to be disappointed. This is an average open rate and is a great start, considering the average organic (unpaid) reach for a Facebook post is only 5.2%.

How to improve: Experiment with different Subject lines. Find the best times to deliver your email campaigns based on opens.

Click rate

This is another percentage, but one that measures the number of people who not only opened it but clicked a link within your email. It’s an indication of how engaging your email campaign really is.

How to improve: Make sure the call-to-action isn’t buried at the bottom of the email.

Unsubscribe rate

This is the number you want to keep as low as possible. If it begins to rise, then you’re failing to deliver on the promise you made when you convinced people to subscribe. You don’t want to see the unsubscribe rate climb to 5%.

How to improve: Try improving the quality you’re delivering within your email campaigns. Offer money-saving coupons and useful tips on choosing or using products like yours. Provide something of value.

Related: Use storytelling to get them to click

A/B testing

This allows you to test two alternative email campaigns on a small percentage of your contact list. You can then direct the most successful version to the remainder of your list. A/B testing allows you to either test your Subject line or the content in your email to help improve your open rate or click rates respectively.

How to improve: Let’s say you want to test your Subject lines. You may choose to send Subject line #A to 25% of your list and subject line #B to 25% of your list. After a period of time, you can send the email with the winning Subject line — the one that gets more opens — to the remaining 50% of the list.

List segmentation

Depending on the nature of your business, you will likely have subscribers with varying degrees of interest in your emails. Instead of sending the same email to all of your list, you can divide up your list in order to send only the content that specific subscribers are interested in.

List segmentation makes your email campaigns more valuable to subscribers and improves your performance.

How to improve: Imagine you’re a fashion retailer and you have a male and female range of clothing. You may choose to segment your lists by gender, so that the men receive the specials on men’s clothing and the women receive offers on women’s clothing. This is a very basic example of list segmentation, but more advanced opportunities can be triggered based on what content your subscribers click on.

5. Keeping a tidy subscriber list

People sign up to receive emails because at that moment they believe you will provide them with something valuable.

However, things may change. They may move or their interests may have change. So instead of continuing to send emails, perform a list clean every six months.

Start with the people who haven’t opened your emails. If certain contacts on your list haven’t opened any emails for a few months, try sending them a re-engagement email. This will help you see if they want to remain on your list.

If they choose not to renew their subscription, then you may save money on your email plan by cleaning up your list. This will also give you better insight into your email campaign performance.

Also, identify those who are opening your emails but haven’t clicked for a while. They’re not as engaged as you’d like. Separate them into a separate list and consider sending them less frequent emails. Send them only your most valuable emails.

This way, you have an opportunity to change their minds before they unsubscribe or just stop opening emails altogether.

Email is still one of the best performing marketing channels

People have predicted the end of email for years.

Yet, one of the first things many of us do when we wake is check our emails.

Spending the time to learn how to launch an email campaign can help your business in various aspects. If you can strike a value that is great enough to make your audience happy and hand over their emails, then you have a terrific opportunity to:

  • Generate leads
  • Maintain communication
  • Continue building a connection with your business

But use this opportunity wisely. Don’t consider your subscriber list as something you own. Instead, think of it as something you’re renting. If you fail to deliver on the promise you made to subscribers in the first place, they will unsubscribe or (even worse) just ignore your emails.

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