New to email marketing? Not getting the return on investment or conversion you had hoped for? Study the top 11 best practices for email marketing from Groove and increase your ROI:

  1. Test your Campaign in Several Email Clients
  2. If you're using CSS in your email's, it's going to look different depending on the email client. Microsoft Outlook may display it as intended, while Google's Gmail may screw it up...or vice versa. Send test emails to all major email clients (ex: gmail, yahoo, outlook) to see for yourself how they look before you send them to your subscriber list.

  3. Use Inline CSS
  4. This is something you should pick up on very quickly when you start doing email marketing. Many email clients, Gmail for example, will not properly read css unless its inline. It's annoying to have to apply the same styles to every paragraph, list, etc. but it will ensure your email looks the way it should. Learn more about inline css here.

  5. Tag your URL's
  6. With any email marketing campaign, you're trying to get your subscribers to click a link and visit your site. Whether you want them to see something, sign up for a free service, or sell them a product, you're encouraging them to visit your site for a reason. Track how many people clicked your links, where they went on your site, and whether they completed the assigned goal. Tagging your URL's is the easiest and most effective way to keep track of conversions from your email marketing campaigns. Use the Google URL Builder for tagging!

  7. Manage your Subscriber List
  8. Don't send out your email to every single address you have, only the more recent ones. Many email marketers recommend sending out your emails only to people who have subscribed within the past 6-8 months. I'd say 1 year is fine, but use your judgment depending on your company and your clientèle. Anything over a year is starting to push it and you're asking for many spam complaints.

    Take the time to fix typos in your email list; most email marketing platforms will do it for you, it's just an option you'll need to run. Fix common errors such as ".om" or ".vom" instead of .com.

  9. Include Text in Addition to Image
  10. If your email is simply made up of images, email clients are more likely to send it straight to the spam folder. Make sure that you include actual text in your email instead of turning it into an image.

  11. Make it Easy to Unsubscribe
  12. Make it easy for people to unsubscribe. You're not hurting yourself by making the unsubscribe button/link prominent; if people don't want to receive your emails, it's highly unlikely they were going to convert anyway. You should put a small link at the top of the email and at the bottom, both outside the main body of the email.

  13. Write a Compelling Subject Line
  14. The Subject Line of your email is one of the main factors in your Open Rate (the amount of emails that are opened divided by the number of emails sent ex: 40 opened, 100 sent = 40% Open Rate). Make it persuasive and state the benefit of the email...otherwise, why would anyone have a reason to open it? To be blunt:
    Bad subject line: 'December 2008 Newsletter'
    Good subject line: 'Buy Today and Get 15% Off + Free Shipping'

  15. Include a Text Only Version
  16. Some email clients simply won't accept images. If you're email is all or mostly images, you're out of luck. Those people will miss everything you have to say. That's why you need to include a text only version! Keep it simple: Write a paragraph or two summarizing your email and be sure to spell out the actual URL's, since text only will not show active links.

  17. Include a Link to View Email on the Web
  18. Often times, your images won't display when someone opens your email. They're typically required to click a link that says "Display Images" or something similar, before they show up. It's outside the body of your email, and if it's overlooked, people will become confused. Even if the images do display and you've taken to time to ensure your email will appear as it should...some people may still experience trouble with their email client. It's best that you host the email on your site and provide a direct link to it in the first line of your email.
    Ex: "Having trouble viewing this email? Click here to view it on the web!"

  19. Use Alt Text for All Images
  20. In addition to the standard accessibility benefits of Alt Tags, they're important because your images will often not show up right away in your email, as stated above.

  21. Know Where to Link
  22. As with any sort of online advertising/marketing, you should direct users to a specific page of your site directly related to your marketing initiative. Don't simply link to your home page, link to a page that was custom made for the email; if you don't have the resources to create a new page, link it to a deeper page with more relevant content than your home page.

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