Did you know that approximately 80% of businesses look to email as their primary customer acquisition channel? Email marketing certainly isn’t going away, but it is becoming more challenging to compete for your recipient’s attention amongst the high-volume of messages flooding their inbox.

As such a crucial part of your strategy, your company can’t afford to fall behind the latest email marketing best practices. In this article, we share the latest email marketing best practices and ideas for how your company can incorporate them.

1. Personalization IN EMAIL is a Must

If you’re thinking that personalization has always been an email marketing best practice – it’s true. However, now more than ever marketers have the technology at their fingertips to collect valuable data that can improve personalization.

It’s not just using someone’s first name either, you have endless options when it comes to personalizing your email strategy. When it comes to personalization, indeed, you can only use the information that’s available in your contact manager.

So, how do you obtain the data you don’t already have from your contacts? First and foremost, ask the right questions. By determining the precise information you need to collect to send tailored content to your contacts, you can then easily segment them into lists.

Other options for personalization could include, utilizing customer personas, using location and time zone, behavioral triggers, and sending emails from a personal name rather than a generic company name.

2. Targeted Email Automation

Along with personalization, targeted email automation is an ideal way to create and send specific messages to contacts that will help convert them from leads to customers. In particular, you can set up lead nurturing campaigns that will provide contacts with additional content that will ideally lead them to a sale.

Rather than sending an email campaign on a specific date and time, lead nurturing campaigns offer the perfect way to follow up with contacts after they’ve taken a specific action on your website. Nurture emails also allow marketers to focus on the lead’s true pain points and slowly present your company’s solution rather than sending a bunch of emails promoting your company.

3. Mobile is Mighty

There are some compelling stats surrounding email marketing best practices and mobile. For example, 80% of mobile users delete emails if they’re not optimized for mobile and 45% of email opens are on mobile devices or tablets.

Given these numbers, marketers must ensure emails are created with a responsive design and are optimized for conversion. If you look around, you’ll see proof everywhere. Everyone is on their phone wherever they are – the grocery store, sitting in traffic, at their kid’s basketball game. So, you know they’re looking at their emails during downtime, which may mean revisiting emails they’ve already opened and reconsidering an offer they didn’t have time for earlier.

The possibilities are endless, but the fact is that without emails with a responsive design, your email marketing will likely have very little return on investment (ROI). While the first step toward improved click-through rates on mobile includes responsive design, also consider that your window to capture the recipient’s attention is very small.

Emails designed for mobile should quickly attract attention through an eye-catching subject line and include email copy that is personal yet brings the reader to the point quickly.

4. Interactive Content

The goal of most email marketing campaigns is engagement – without any interaction, you could have a 100% open rate and your email would still be considered a failure. It’s for this reason that interactive content is becoming more popular with many email strategies.

Content such as quizzes, games, or image carousels can prove successful for drawing contacts into action. While the content might directly lead to a sale, by providing contacts with content they enjoy viewing and interacting with, they’ll look forward to opening your emails rather than automatically deleting yet another marketing email

As a bonus, this type of content may also provide your company with more information about potential customers. Through a fun quiz related to your industry or business, you can gain data useful for reaching your leads where they are. For example, you may learn more about their current challenges, which can help you better understand their motivations and potential for becoming a customer.

5. Interactive vs. Text Emails; Is One Better Than the Other?

When it comes to interactive versus text emails, which will encourage the best engagement from your audience? Believe it or not, it may depend on your contacts. While many prefer text-only emails because they look more personal than HTML, others may be drawn in by a striking image. Heavily designed emails may also appear too sales-heavy and drive contacts away from your company.

At the same time, content such as image galleries, quizzes, and GIFs encourage many recipients to interact with your emails. They’re perfect for drawing attention and bringing fresh interest to your company, as you’re not trying to get the recipient to buy anything but rather just engage and enjoy.

One way to determine the type of emails your contacts engage with the most is through A/B testing. Most importantly, make sure that you set up your test for success by keeping the majority of the email elements the same except for the element you are testing. For example, if you’re testing how an email does with an image versus without one, keep the subject line, email copy, and any other elements the same – simply send one email as text only and the other with an image.

6. Quality is better than Quantity

As with many things in life, quality over quantity is a good standard to follow, and that includes email marketing. Particularly due to increased deliverability issues with many email providers, this can mean that sending too many emails to your contacts may either trigger your company’s emails as spam or could indicate to the recipient that they are being spammed.

With this mindset, you may have fewer emails going out to reach your contacts, but that simply means you must make the emails you’re sending as impactful as possible. Carefully lay out a plan each year, perhaps by quarter, to determine your company’s highest priority goals and strategize how you can use email marketing to help accomplish them.

7. Increased Focus on Privacy

At the same time that email marketers should focus on personalizing the email experience for contacts, you must also be aware of privacy. Following the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union, the United States is expected to put a similar regulation in place soon. For example, California already has a privacy act in place.

8. Chatbots are on the Rise

This email marketing best practice uses chatbots. Chatbots are another rising trend in digital marketing overall, but have you considered how they can impact your email marketing for the better? Forbes shares a few ways to utilize chatbots for your email marketing strategy.

  1. Use a Facebook chatbot to generate subscribers for your contact list.
  2. Install chatbots on your website and landing pages.
  3. Give a link to your site’s chatbot in your emails.
  4. Include a link to your website’s chatbot with customer emails.

In the case of numbers one and two, these options allow you to use chatbots to ask potential leads for their email address, where they can later hear from a real, live person. For numbers three and four, including a link to your website’s chatbot, will encourage users to take the next step to interact with your company beyond email.

As chatbots become more sophisticated, you can set them up to respond to a variety of questions from site visitors or leads. You can even utilize them almost as a screening process to save time, rather than speaking with contacts that aren’t the right fit for your business. For example, if your company works with medium-to-large size companies with substantial budgets, but someone with a start-up comes to your site, a chatbot can ask questions that will easily filter them out as a qualified lead.

9. Artificial Intelligence in email marketing best practices

Artificial Intelligence (AI) offers advantages for email marketing now more than ever. For example, did you know that AI can come up with the most effective subject line or predict how a potential lead will interact with an email?

Predictive analytics offers a way for marketers to improve future activities. After all, humans are fairly predictable. Based on certain events and past actions, predictive analytics can accurately determine when a lead is likely to take action. This puts email marketers in an ideal position. If you know precisely the time window that your potential customer is most likely to make a buying decision, you can deliver an email or series of emails that will encourage them at just the right time.

It seems like we’ve been hearing about advancements with AI for years, but it’s only going to become more prevalent as technology continues to expand and grow beyond your wildest dreams.

10. Video is Vital in email marketing

As video marketing is increasingly becoming one of the most popular forms of content almost everywhere you look, email marketing is no exception. While it’s not advised to embed a video in an email as this could potentially trigger spam filters or perhaps have other issues with functionality in the email provider, there are other ways you can use video to increase email engagement.

Rather than embed a video, consider using an appealing thumbnail image and linking to your video instead. That way, you can track clicks to the video as well as the number of views.

Depending on the video hosting website you use, you may also have different options available as far as tracking and analytics. For example, Wistia offers pretty extensive tracking capabilities. However, YouTube or Vimeo may also be good options for video hosting, depending on what you’re looking for.

11. Fleeing from Social Media and Opting for Email

Email is 40 times more effective than social channels in helping brands acquire new customers. An intriguing statistic, but what’s driving people away from social and straight to email?

Well, it’s not so much that people left email in favor of social media, but it seems many are finding social networking less valuable, while email remains a constant. Sure, there might be an overwhelming amount of emails, but the point is that people are still using it.

Many people are even leaving social media as a whole, so there might be a smaller audience to market to on some networks anyway. Recently, a study by the Pew Research Center found that 40% of Facebook users have taken a break from checking the app for several weeks at a time.

In addition, as social media marketing becomes less reliable for businesses with less visibility on organic posts and the need to use paid ads increases, companies will likely not only continue to invest in email but may also increase money and time invested into reaching contacts through their inbox.

With this knowledge, emails offer your company the best chance at reaching leads with information about your industry, valuable content, offers on your product or service, and ultimately, the ability to deliver your message directly to leads and customers.

12. Be Authentic in Your Email Marketing Practices

As you follow all of these email marketing best practices and keep up with the latest trends, make sure your email marketing strategy is authentic. After all, at the end of the day, your contacts are still people seeking a genuine human connection, which includes brands and companies.

What indicates authenticity? Stay true to your brand! While trying something new for your email marketing strategy can be helpful for conversions, make sure you’re not going too far outside of what your contacts would expect from your company. This will likely push more people away rather than improve your email ROI.

Remember that your email marketing strategy should go beyond just reaching leads but also delighting your current customers. They’re the ones that sustain your business and already love what you have to offer, so serve emails specifically for those who know and delight in your product or service the most.