Although advertising your business or company is the primary consideration when creating email marketing deployments, you must also take into account the needs and preferences of your subscribers.  Before sending out any deployment, it is necessary to ask yourself “Is this email compelling enough to entice my subscribers into choosing my product or service for their next selection?” To best answer this question, it is imperative to have an understanding of best practices for effective email marketing.

The most important aspect of any marketing email is the content— what you put into it. Ensure that your content is relevant to your target audience, and your email recipients will continue to read your communications, instead of opting out.  Another key to maintaining the quality of content is consistency; familiarity to recipients will improve your email read rates. Therefore, your emails should all appear to be from the same sender, whether that is an individual person or the company name. To further increase familiarity, make sure that the email address used for your deployments matches the domain of your website. 

There are several other measures you can take to boost the open rates and read rates for your deployments. The most basic of these is to personalize your emails. Take advantage of merge fields, which are sets of codes that pull information from a recipient’s system record. Inserting various fields within the body of an email for names, greetings, and titles helps to create more personalized content; subscribers are more likely to respond to it positively. You can also directly ask your recipients to add your email address to their address books. Simply add a brief sentence at the top or bottom of your email mentioning the email address that you would like them to add. Another method for ensuring the highest read rates is to produce identical HTML and plain text versions of your email content. About 5% of your target audience will be unable to view your HTML email, and the plain text one serves as useful back-up for those recipients.

Additionally, there are some other technical content guidelines that should be followed in order to avoid being blocked by spam filters. The ideal length of subject lines is 20 to 50 characters, since lines that are either too long or too short can be filtered out of an inbox. Never use all caps or multiple punctuation marks in a subject line, because this generally results in your email being marked as spam. The legislation governing spam filters is the Can-Spam Act of 2003, and while the CLS Suite provides email marketing tools that comply with the law, email content is generated by the end user— you. Thus, it is your responsibility to be sure that you lawfully complying, so that your domain is not blacklisted. Numerous terms and phrases, including “free,” “earn money,” and “satisfaction guaranteed,” are used by spam filters to identify potential junk mail. Legitimate marketing emails do not use these phrases.

With the proper content of a deployment set up, the next matter to address is to whom the email should be sent. Always practice permission-based marketing, which means sending marketing emails only to recipients who have requested to receive emails from you. Sending emails to people who have not subscribed to your marketing campaign could result in your emails being marked as spam, which harms the domain reputation of the company. The company could then become blacklisted or filtered by multiple services.

Ideally, you should be deploying emails to the subscribers in your marketing lists, but there are several ways to build these up further in volume. The data you already maintain in your database is the best starting point for developing a solid foundation. Having this data imported correctly is crucial in eliminating duplicate records and data.

Subscription opportunities can then be utilized to increase your database beyond this starting point. Networking, trade shows, seminars, point-of-sale forms, events, customer and prospect calls, and one-to-one email messages from your personal email are excellent methods to gain subscribers in an appropriate fashion.  Publications and documents such as surveys, shipping forms, confirmation and transaction emails, receipts and invoices, press releases, and trade show lead forms are more alternate and viable ways to add subscribers. You might already be using these methods within your company to attract an opt-in audience.

Do not forget to include suppression lists when necessary. Similar to how you can add marketing lists as recipients for an email deployment, you can add suppression lists of subscribers to prevent them from receiving the email. These lists are useful when content in your deployment is relevant to only certain groups of your subscribers. Data segmentation can help you to identify these groups, whether they are based on region, industry type, or any other distinction.

After determining the recipients of your deployments, the last thing to take into consideration is when and how often to send your email marketing. Consistency should actively be practiced in regards to email frequency and times, in order to increase deliverability and open rates.

Depending on the type of your campaign, certain times for sending out deployments may be better suited than others. If you are marketing business to business, the best time to send out email is Tuesday through Thursday, at the start of the day or just after lunch. If you are marketing business to consumer, the best sending time is Tuesday to Thursday after 5 PM. Friday evening into Sunday afternoon is another acceptable period as well. Remember that subscribers can occupy different time zones; if applicable, segment your marketing lists accordingly before creating and sending your deployments.

The general recommendation for marketing frequency is bi-weekly or once a month. The goal is to communicate enough so that your name and business becomes familiar, yet not so much that the recipients will unsubscribe out of annoyance. Include content that is valuable to the reader, and keep in mind that it is better to deploy high quality email marketing less often than it is to send low quality email marketing more often. Whatever timeframe you choose for your deployments, make sure that the volume of your emails remains constant.

Starting up your email marketing campaign is only half of the job; to boost its effectiveness takes more than a mere review of deployment content. Using all of the tips outlined above, you will be able to increase the deliverability, open rates, and read rates of your emails. When implemented appropriately, consistent deployments of engaging and compelling content can become your most important tool in reaching out to a wide audience of subscribers.