Last updated on June 19th, 2019

When rococo was considered to be minimal, compared to the aesthetic of the average website, and the only influencer around was your best friend, email marketing was already a thing. It was just called “Hey, let’s send some people a few emails.” Email marketing is not rocket science: what most of us need are some email marketing tips to be successful.

Since email marketing is one of the oldest branches of digital marketing, and ever-popular, many myths have built around it. Today, we bust many of those myths and examine the best email digital marketing practices for 2019.

Tip#1: Email marketing is not dying

We can’t possibly start writing about email marketing tips if we first don’t clarify this: Email marketing is not dying.

Chatbots are a big opportunity indeed, but that doesn’t mean that email isn’t a viable channel anymore.

75 trillion emails sent last year say otherwise. That’s 205,5 billion emails per day.

The latest Radicati Group Email Statistics Report shows that last year, planet earth sent 281 billion emails per day.

Statista predicts that they daily sent and received emails will increase by 52 billion by 2022. And so, more than 333 billion emails will come and go daily.

Source: Statista

Tip#2: Desk job workers are not your only email marketing audience

Contrary to what you may have in mind, using a search engine for information or engaging with various social media is not the most popular activity for US adult internet users. Sending or reading an email is.

Source: Statista

 

Also, according to ExactTarget, 93% of US online consumers are subscribed to a brand, but not as many are Facebook fans, or Twitter and Instagram followers of a brand. Almost everyone hears from a brand through their email inboxes but far less have social media accounts to Like or Follow a brand or a business.

In the latest consumer digital usage and behavior study by Adestra, different age groups answered this question: If you could select a communication preference from a business, which one would you choose?

Email, everyone shouted.

Source: Adestra

Clearly enough, the majority of consumers, regardless of age, want to hear from you through their inbox over any other channel – digital or not.

As a side note that comes from the same study, when consumers register to use an app, more than 83% of them sign up with their email than their social media account.

Tip#3: Spam words are not the devil

It’s not a myth that email clients protect their users with spam filters. Email spam words exist, and so do spam filters. This kind of filters will make your message bounce, and you don’t want that.

Email spam trigger words include words and symbols like ‘Cash’, ‘100%’, ‘$$$’, ‘Free’, ‘Success’, ‘Viagra’, ‘Valium’, ‘Vicodin’, ‘Xanax’, ‘Rolex’, ‘Million’, ‘Life’, ‘No fees’ and ‘ Never’. So does this mean that you should never use these words? Well, if you are actually selling Xanax online… tough luck. But for the most part, you are going to be OK if you stay away from:

  • Caps
  • Exclamation points
  • Unreliable email service providers
  • Attaching files
  • Long emails

Keep in mind that it’s not the use of spam words that matters the most. Context is what matters. Finding better alternatives to spam trigger words is always a good idea, but if you can’t, don’t sweat it. Spam filters become more sophisticated with time, and they analyze the context in which you use these keywords.

In general, try to add value for your subscribers rather than selling to them in front of their face.

Instead of “Buy our tickets to Thailand RIGHT NAW!1”, you can go with  “Most popular destinations for 2019”, where you will include Thailand and the option to buy some tickets to there.

The more value you add, the higher the chance that you’ll land in the inbox, rather than the spam folder.

As a matter of fact, I ran some experiments myself with Growthrocks‘ newsletter.
And so, here are the subject lines of 6 newsletters Roxie has sent- 3 of these titles are legit, and 3 of them aren’t.

Subject line: Facebook is for old people
Total bounces: 37 (23 soft + 14 hard)

Subject line: How to create images fast – for $0
Total bounces: 42 (30 soft + 12 hard)

Subject line: Free Buyer Persona Template!
Total bounces: 45 (42 soft + 3 hard)

Subject line: it’s hot in here and so is this week’s article
Total bounces: 59 (40 soft + 19 hard)

Subject line: tables have turned
Total bounces: 75 (58 soft + 17 hard)

Subject line: Marketers steal from Engineers?!
Total bounces: 113 (106 soft + 7 hard)

What do we learn from this? We see that there is no direct correlation between spam triggers and bounces. Subject lines 2, 3, and 6 contain spam words and symbols, whereas lines 1, 4, and 5 don’t.

Truth is I pushed my luck with the double exclamation mark in the last email, which resulted to significantly more bounds. Was the double exclamation mark needed there? No, not all. The meaning wouldn’t have changed in the slightest, so the emphasis with ‘?!’ could have easily stayed away from the subject line. I’ve learned my lesson since and I’ve never used double exclamation marks again.

In the case of ‘$0’ and ‘Free,’ I couldn’t have done otherwise, except for changing the whole title of course. Context justifies the use of ‘$0’ because the purpose of the article was about image creation for free. The real value of the blog post was that you could find and create images for free.

There is no single best practice for email marketing subject lines.

You should test your email lists yourself and find out what works and what doesn’t. Same goes for all email marketing tips.

Tip#4: A short headline is not the best headline

We should start with what we know is not working.
We know that your subject line shouldn’t be over 50 characters, as most email clients display 50 characters tops.

These are the most popular email clients and the max character length for each one:

MailChimp did a study and concluded that ‘subject line length means nothing.’

They used the info they had from 12 billion sent emails from that year and showed that as the subject line gets longer… nothing happens:

Still, this is not the case for every email list out there.

In the list of their sender X, short subject lines had higher open rates. In the case of sender Y, it was the longer titles that were more welcomed by the mail recipients. Meanwhile, there was a sender Z with no correlation between the subject line length and the open rate. MailChimp states that most email lists fall into this category.

Through A/B testing and a little time, you should know if your mail lists belong in any of the two extremes. Maybe the majority of your recipients is white-collar workers who usually read your emails from their PCs and Macs. Perhaps most of them belong in Generation Z, so chances are they read your emails from their mobile screens. You are the only one who can find out and maybe you should.

Tip#5: Tuesdays 1 pm or Thursdays 3 pm are not the best time to send an email

If you google ‘What’s the best time and date to send email’, you are going to get different answers. A different answer for every link that is. And there is an explanation for that: 85% of people open their emails two days after they receive it, according to Optinmonster. This factor alone makes you question if there is indeed such a thing as “best time.”

There is no universal best time to send an email. Ideal sending times vary by industry, day of the week, and your specific list.

To find out what’s the best time to send an email for your list is to create an A/B test campaign. This way, you will test delivery date and time and compare click rates and click through rates on your reports page.

You can also let your email marketing service decide what’s the best date and time. Here at GrowthRocks, we use MailChimp for now, and since we are paid users, we can enable a feature called Send Time Optimization.

Send Time Optimization looks at your specific list and determines the best sending time for the subscribers you’re sending to, and distributes it at the optimal time. Send time recommendations are weighted toward subscribers with higher engagement so that times aren’t determined by subscribers who aren’t likely to engage with your email marketing. This optimization also combines statistics from different senders, so if one of your subscribers is also a subscriber in another MailChimp list, their statistics are combined.

Tip#6: You are sending too many emails

This last one is one of my favorite email marketing tips.

Omnisend did a research last year, which focused on the email campaigns of small and medium-sized businesses. The research revealed how often its clients send emails:

Side-Note: As a rule of thumb, that the bigger the company, the more emails it sends.

Continuing with the same research, this is is how often the audience opens the emails:

Looking at this chart, we see that open & click-through rates are reverse to the number of emails businesses sent. So we can all agree that you shouldn’t send a lot of emails and we can happily move on to the next subject.

Not so fast.

Remember, it’s all about your KPI. If you are an eCommerce store and you want to make sales, then your KPI is Acquisition. Your ultimate goal is to get the most possible orders, not to have the highest CTR & CTOR.

Take a look at the next slide.

What this practically means is that businesses got five orders for each new mail campaign until the 19th. By sending more promotional emails, you create opportunities to sell more. While the mail frequency increases, CTR & CTOR go down, but orders go up!

At first glance, this may seem like a paradox, but there is a rational explanation for that.

This explanation comes from the end of the 19th century, from a bright mind you may have heard of: Vilfredo Pareto. In his first paper, Pareto published his 80/20 rule, the Pareto principle. The Pareto principle states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. Later on, this principle entered the business world and became an axiom in business management, suggesting that “80% of sales come from 20% of clients”.

Now that you know about the Pareto principle, how can you make the most out of it?
Segmentation.

By segmenting your audience in your email marketing platform, you can send the right amount of emails to the right people. You should consider creating two different groups: one with your 20% of customers that buy more often from you and one with the rest 80% customers.

Be very giving to your first group and more conservative with your email frequency to the second.

Segmentation, of course, can go beyond the quantity which we are examining now. Quality-wise, you can have as many groups as you want and create tailor-made campaigns for your customers. However, it’s highly advised that you start with one segment and build from there.

Conclusion

Email marketing gets a bad reputation as one of the more spammy marketing channels. However, email remains one of the most effective channels businesses, and marketers have for initiating a conversation and reaching out to their audience and customers.

Email marketing is an efficient way to convert your subscribers into customers and fans, especially when you start experimenting with the email marketing tips you just read.

To sum up our email marketing tips:

  • Email marketing is not dying. Don’t underestimate its power.
  • Email marketing is for every age and profession
  • Regarding subject lines, context is more important than words
  • Subject lines don’t have to be long or short
  • There is no single best date or time to send an email
  • Segment your audience and send more emails to the most engaged part