We wanted to know what advice the world’s best email marketers have to offer.
So we asked.
First, we emailed a bunch of smart people in the marketing world. We were thrilled to hear back from so many of them. And we were even more thrilled at the excellent advice they had to offer.
Next, we posed the question to the Growth Hackers community: In two sentences or less, what’s your single best email marketing tip, trick, hack or piece of advice?
More than 45 people weighed in and we learned a lot about email marketing. We want to share what learned with our readers, so we compiled the best of it here. Hope you learn something new!
Kevan Lee, Buffer
Delight your subscribers with individualized emails.
We’re experimenting with delight campaigns: Acknowledging our awesome subscribers for being their unique selves. In our case, we’ve emailed our MVPs (those who open and engage with our email most often) to see if we could send them some Buffer goodies – stickers, thank you notes, etc. Delight campaigns could also take the form of birthday greetings or, my personal favorite, anniversary wishes on the date someone first subscribed.
Nir Eyal, Author of Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products
My single best email marketing tip is to write something interesting! All the marketing tricks and hacks are just lipstick on a pig if the content stinks.
Joe Pulizzi, Content Marketing Institute
We use a popover called Pippity, which integrates with our WordPress site. Pippity delivers about 60% of our daily email subscribers. You can set it to only occur once, or to not reoccur for 30, 60 or 90+ days. It has changed our business because email subscribers are so important.
Erica McGillivray, Moz
Write several subject lines. I always write at least three different options. Sometimes, I crowdsource more from my team. You want to make sure your subject line is short with so many people reading email on phones, and you want to make sure it has a clear call-to-action that draws attention. After all, you have to get an open before you’re going to get a click.
Lincoln Murphy, Sixteen Ventures
Send email on a more aggressive cadence than you’re initially comfortable with (you can always throttle-back if necessary) and have a very specific call to action in every email … including specifically asking for the sale if that’s the ask. That plus AIDA and you’re golden.
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Neil Patel, KISSmetrics and Crazy Egg
If you want to increase the percentage of your emails that hit the inbox, ask people to reply to your email. Once they reply, you can give them something for free like an ebook.
When they reply, the chances their email client will automatically add your email to their address book increases. The more people who have you in their address book, the better your deliverability will be.
Brandon Pindulic, ProofHQ
Design your emails as if your readers will only scan it. Don’t make it too formal and wordy, and aim for one CTA.
Belle Beth Cooper, Exist
Always include a link to your product’s homepage. Always. Every email we send about Exist, whether it’s to existing users or people who signed up for our mailing list months ago, includes a link to remind them what Exist is. And that link gets clicks every time.
As someone who signs up for lots of new products, I’m constantly getting emails about products that I don’t remember, with no explanation of what they do. It’s so simple to link your product’s name to your homepage in each email. Don’t expect people to remember what you do – it’s your job to remind them, every time.
Tommy Walker, ConversionXL
Follow the clicks.
If the goal is for someone to open, click and buy, then you have to find the friction points in between those actions.
For example, if people open, but don’t click, your offer might be irrelevant. Behavior like this over too long a period and they’ll either stop opening or worse, flag you as spam.
But, if people open and click, but don’t buy, there’s something else to learn there. Maybe your prices are too high, your site is too confusing, your shipping isn’t clear … clearly there’s interest, or they wouldn’t have clicked.
Or maybe you’re a publisher and don’t sell stuff quite the same way. So maybe they opened, clicked the article, but didn’t leave a comment … why? Is it because they didn’t find you interesting? Were you not writing in a way that sparked a conversation? Maybe you didn’t leave room for them to speak.
This is important to know, because well written blog comments can act as unsolicited feedback and provide insights into your core subscribers’ problems.
By following the clicks and using that quantitative data, you can find segments of your email subscribers to dig in and get that qualitative data that will help you refine your approach to be just right.
Danny Schreiber, Zapier
Just like you, your users are signing up for products and services that in months, weeks and even days from now they’ll entirely forget. If you’re marketing a new product or service to an email list, it’s helpful to include a line of copy at the top of email to reminds the recipient of your app’s utility.
We learned this tip at Zapier from early adopter Ramit Sethi, author of the New York Times bestseller “I Will Teach You To Be Rich”, who shot us a note that bluntly told us as much. “I have no idea what Zapier does. I don’t know when I signed up for it,” he wrote. “When you’re sending out an email, please refresh everyone as to what you actually do.”
Though we’ve been around for three years now, we still use this tactic when emailing inactive users. While the contents our email might not grab their attention, hopefully a reminder of our tool’s utility does, just like it did when they initially signed up for our email list.
Noah Kagan, SumoMe
My single best email tactic in 2014 has been creating Summer of Marketing. It’s a 12-week marketing course that netted us 9,000+ new email subscribers. Here’s how we did it:
- Take your existing content and package it into a weekly drip series. I’d recommend four weeks … 12 is a lot!
- Way too many people have crappy free ebooks. Differentiate. Even consider making free software as lead generation tool (Look how Grader.com does it.)
- Make sure you notify people to promote your stuff ahead of time. I coordinate a tweet blast from a list of influencers at the launch of every product.
- List out at least two places you want to get press ahead of time. For Summer of Marketing, I wanted Product Hunt and Growth Hackers (we we got both!).
- Incentivize your new subscribers to promote the course. I encouraged them to tweet to get friends to join. The Samuel L. Jackson hack works too.
- Limit the window for accepting new signups.
- Have a wait list up once it closes for other people to join. We netted 2,000+ more people who will start the course soon.
Joel Klettke, Business Casual Copywriting
The obsession with subject lines is valid, but I’m even more obsessed with the postscript: The ol’ “PS”.
As readers, we’ve developed a heuristic (mental shortcut, almost like a reflex) that marketers can exploit: We can’t resist reading the PS of a letter, because our experience has shown us that it’s where something important or personal is waiting for us.
I fill the PS with the most crucial information I absolutely need readers to see. Maybe that’s a special offer, a surprise benefit, a statement of scarcity (“Remember – offer ends Sunday!”) or even a personal invitation to reply.
If nothing else, I use it to hammer home my key benefit – but every single marketing email should end with a PS, because it’s an irresistible attention magnet.
Diana Smith, Segment.io
Write email subject lines completely in lower case letters if you want it to seem like a real person actually sent the email. I came from the world of PR, where we lived and died by proper punctuation, so this pains me. But numbers don’t lie – we’ve seen open rates for customer surveys north of 65 percent with this tactic.
Jerod Morris, Copyblogger
My single biggest piece of advice when it comes to email is two-fold: build your email list with intention from the start and treat it like the business asset that it is. If you give people exceptionally useful content that compels them to opt in, and then you keep on providing value in what you send via email, your email list will turn into the unfair business advantage that allows you to build your business successfully over the long haul.
Email marketing is powerful because somewhere along the way you’ve earned the opportunity to talk directly to someone who may eventually become a customer, or retain the attention of someone who already is. If you want to keep these people on your list, the most important thing you can do is listen. Listen to every single piece of content you send and then provide your audience with exactly what they need.
As you’re building your email marketing list, rather than focusing on how many people you’ve added to your list, make sure you’re listening to the data from each send. Set up simple experiments that will help you learn more about what your readers want and turn them into life-long, loyal advocates of your brand.
As a bonus, here is a 16th tip from our CEO and true email expert Chris Hexton.
Chris Hexton, Vero
Think bigger than promotional email.
There are so many ways to reach your users, customers and leads via email – receipts, shipping confirmations, alerts, retargeting emails and so many more. Transactional and behavioral emails have built-in context, which is why their open rates are so much higher than promotional messages.
Your email marketing plan should be comprehensive. Don’t waste a single email!
What’s your single best email marketing tip, trick, hack or piece of advice? Let us know in the comments.