Long live email.

Email marketing is still one the most effective marketing channels for B2B. If you don’t make these common mistakes. Photo credit: William Iven. Unsplash.com

Despite our overflowing inboxes, email is still one of the best ways to reach your customer, especially if you avoid these common mistakes.

1. Not using a responsive template.
Percentages vary based on industry, but you can bet a large portion of your audience will be opening their email on a mobile device. I sent a lot of emails when working at a SaaS startup, and I found that our email campaign’s open rate on mobile devices ranged from 30% to 75%, with higher mobile open rates occurring on weekends and evenings. Many of the popular email marketing platforms (like Mailchimp and Constant Contact) have pre-built responsive templates that you can easily customize.

2. Thinking you don’t need A/B testing.
You do. Trust me. According to a report by the Radicati Group, users sent and received more than 200 emails a day in 2015. With so many emails coming in and out of your inbox, subject lines, sender names and what body text displays will be crucial to getting your customers to open your emails. For some basic advice on how to get started with A/B testing, check out this post from Constant Contact’s Help Center.

3. Always sending your emails on the same time and day.
Mailchimp rolled out a “Send Time Optimization” feature in 2014, based on the data it collected through its Email Genome Project, and describes what it found regarding the best days/times to send email in this blog post. Don’t have time to read it? Well, the summary is that depending on your industry, the email’s subject matter and your audience, different days and send times will affect your open and click-through rates. The general rule is that sending midmorning during the work week is best. But you should understand who your audience is and then A/B test to determine the best day and time for you to send your email marketing campaigns.

Pro Tip: Just because Tuesday at 9am worked last year, doesn’t mean it’s best this year. Marketing is nothing without measurement.

4. Not personalizing your emails.
It goes without saying that an email tailored to your customer will get more response than one that resembles a form letter. Including a person’s name in the greeting or subject line will increase open rates, but personalization goes well beyond a name:

  • Marketing automation and some email marketing platforms will let you create “trigger” emails based on behavior. Do you know the day your user signed up for your product, the last day he or she were on your website, the day he or she signed up for you newsletter? Creating a email based on one of these triggers is a good way to drive engagement.
  • Location and time. Segmenting your list by location, can help you personalize your email send times. (See item 3!)
  • Personalize you! A/B test whether sending your emails from a real live person or the company name works best. Case in point, when I working for a media company that produced conferences for software developers, we discovered that emails from a woman had a higher open rate than emails from a man. (Some stereotypes are true.)

5. Sending your emails without an edit pass.
OK. We’ve all been there. You’re under the gun, and have to get the email scheduled and sent to coincide with a launch, early bird deadline, press release, event … But don’t cut corners by not carefully editing your emails. Even better, send test emails to trusted colleagues for review and give them a deadline for responding.

What common goofs should they look for? While misspelled words and incorrect grammar and punctuation drive my inner English teacher crazy, the real crime of an un-edited email is incorrect or missing links. My advice is to check those first.

6. Thinking you don’t need good design.
Even if you don’t have a designer on staff, you can still create beautiful, responsive, HTML emails. Many of the popular email marketing platforms have easy-to-customize pre-built templates. Just make sure that you test your edited templates in multiple browsers and devices to ensure the template’s look-and-feel are consistent.

While “good design” changes over time, there a few commonsense tips:

  • Less is more. The focus of your email should be its content and the action you want your user to take. Overly-stylized elements like ornate fonts, shadows, art elements can be distracting. (Here’s a blog post on Flat Design you may find helpful.)
  • Color is great. As long as the text is readable. Also, make sure the colors you select are web-safe.
  • Not all colors look great together. And, well, maybe you don’t need the whole box of crayons. Tips here.

​I’ve hit the high points here, at least based on my experience working for SaaS startups. What email marketing best practices do you live by? Did I miss some essentials? I’d love to hear what works for you in your industry.

Originally published at tamicarter.weebly.com.

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