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8 Email Marketing Best Practices to Improve Your Results

Discover the benefits of email marketing and learn best practices to maximize your results in this comprehensive guide.

By Jeremy Chatelaine ・9 min read
Best Practices

Email marketing is one of the most effective ways to connect with new sales leads and engage with your existing clients.

In this guide, I’ll show you some of the main benefits of email marketing and dive into some critical best practices to follow if you want to maximize your results.

Let’s dive straight in.

Why Use Email Marketing?

1. Connect with Cold Prospects

Your ideal customers check their inboxes throughout the day. If you reach out with a personalized and relevant email, they’ll see it.

Email is one of the only outreach channels that gives you direct access to a prospect that you’ve specifically chosen to contact. Compared to running expensive paid ads where you can’t guarantee that your prospects will see your message, it’s an excellent channel to allocate your B2B sales resources.

Most decision-makers will be happy to reply if the service, product, or partnership you’re pitching is relevant and solves a problem for them.

2. Engage and Nurture Your Existing Clients

Your existing clients want to hear from you.

Whether it’s a newsletter sharing your latest content, like an article or webinar with tactics to help your clients grow their business, or an update about a new feature/service add-on you’ve launched, email is the best way to stay in touch.

Over time, they’ll expect to see your emails in their inbox and will be ready to open them when they arrive to see what you have to say. It’s an excellent way to build brand loyalty and show your customers that you’re there to help them succeed. 

3. Automate Communication Without Losing Personalization

Email as a sales and marketing channel works well because you can personalize every message you send, even at scale.

Even when you reach out to cold prospects, you can research them beforehand to include personalization in your email template.

If you’re emailing your existing customers, you’ll already have their details so you can use those to send unique and personalized emails to them.

Email marketing tools like ShortStack or cold email software like QuickMail make it easy to add personalization, even if you’re reaching out to 100+ recipients in your list at once.

Next, let’s look at the email marketing best practices you can implement today to start improving your campaign results.

8 Email Marketing Best Practices to Win More Business

1. Build Your Email Lists – Don’t Buy Them

The number one way to improve your email results – whether it’s in a cold email campaign or a nurturing campaign to your existing clients and leads – is to build your own email lists and segment them accordingly.

For example, if you sell software to marketing agencies in Los Angeles, ensure that the people you’re targeting with your cold outreach are founders or owners of agencies with offices in that location.

Rather than buying a list, you could:

  • Use B2B databases like ZoomInfo to filter prospects by their company size, revenue, job title, and more
  • Use Sales Navigator to identify decision-makers on LinkedIn and export their verified emails addresses
  • Attend local networking events and build a list of potential prospects

The benefit of using a manual prospecting process rather than buying your email list is that you have complete control over who you reach out to. This gives you the best chance of getting the best results from every campaign you send.

2. Get Permission to Email Recipients

Getting permission to reach out to your email list is a best practice from both a legal and a results perspective. 

For example, the GDPR requires that your prospects have “legitimate interest” in your product/service before you reach out to cold prospects.

If you’re running email marketing campaigns, using a double opt-in is popular because your lists will only include people who have specifically confirmed that they want to hear from you. 

This is going to mean more people open, click, and reply to your emails.

3. Ensure You Have Email Deliverability Best Practices in Place

Your email marketing efforts will only get results if your emails land in your recipients’ inboxes.

To ensure this happens, there are a few steps you can take:

  1. Set up your SPF, DKIM, and DMARC records: These records tell email service providers (ESPs) that you’re a real, legitimate sender. It’s slightly technical, but all ESPs have instructions on how to set these up. Here are Google’s and Outlook’s instructions on getting started.
  2. Warm up your inbox: If you start sending a large number of outreach or marketing emails out of the blue, ESPs will treat you with suspicion. To avoid this, use an email warm-up tool like QuickMail’s free Auto Warmer to generate engagement on your account and show ESPs that you’re a trustworthy sender. I’d recommend running your email warm-up software for around two weeks before sending any sales or marketing outreach.
  3. Email people who will reply: If you send emails to people who open, click, and reply to your emails, ESPs will see that you’re sending valuable emails. This is why building a high-quality email list, segmenting it, and using personalization are so important.

Following these email deliverability best practices will give you the best shot at getting results.

4. Use Email Sequence Software

If you want results from email marketing, you need to use email sequence software.

Email software will help you:

  • Write multi-step campaigns with automatic follow-up emails
  • Add unique personalization based on data you have collected for a recipient
  • Automatically schedule follow-up emails
  • Track your email campaign metrics

For example, let’s say you’re running a lead generation quiz targeted at one segment of your audience. Everyone who joins the quiz can be automatically added to a campaign, and that campaign can be unique to the audience who engaged with the quiz and is running on autopilot in the background.

The campaign can have as many steps as you need to make sure your message is delivered.

Setting up a multi-step email campaign in QuickMail

This means you can run highly targeted campaigns without needing to segment your lists manually or spend time updating campaigns.

5. Use Personalization in Every Template

Personalization is critical to email marketing and outreach success.

It shows your recipients that you care about their attention and creates a unique, personal buyer experience – which is why 80% of people say they’re more likely to buy from brands that personalize their email communications.

There are several parts of an email you can personalize, depending on the context of your email.

Personalization in cold emails:

  • Your recipient’s first name
  • A custom opening line with an icebreaker to show you’ve researched your prospect
  • A customized value proposition that matches their interests

Personalization in email marketing:

  • Your recipient’s name
  • Products or services that your prospect has bought in the past
  • Their interests or intent, based on the lead gen form they filled out

There’s no shortage of options for personalization, so make sure you use them.

6. Send Follow-Ups if You Need a Reply

55% of replies to email campaigns come from a follow-up email in the sequence.

It’s a powerful method to boost your email marketing results.

Nearly all good email marketing or sales automation platforms will include follow-ups, so you can easily use this in your campaigns.

 In ShortStack, you can add follow-ups to your email sequences.

It allows everyone who joins your contest, or who completes a lead gen form, to get future communications from you and they won’t miss an email that’s relevant to their interests.

7. Consider A/B Tests to Find High-Performing Content

A/B tests let you test hypotheses against each other.  

You can run experiments like:

  • Finding the value proposition your subscribers care about most
  • Optimizing your call-to-actions or buttons to get the most clicks
  • Testing subject lines to see what generates the highest open rate

Over time, you’ll discover what your prospects care about most and can push that angle to help you improve email engagement and generate more leads.

When you’re running A/B tests, you always need to start with a hypothesis and reason for running the experiment. You should also run the experiment long enough to generate statistically significant data. Once you have data you can trust, you can start updating the rest of your campaigns based on your new learnings.

8. Track Your Results to Optimize Your Email Campaigns

Measuring your email marketing results lets you see what works, and what doesn’t.

Some of the most critical email marketing metrics to track include:

  • Open rate: Your open rate is an indication of how well-qualified your audience is for your list. If you see high open rates on a cold email campaign, it shows that your prospect list is well targeted and your subject line incites curiosity. If your existing email subscribers trust you and like your content, they’ll be happy to open your emails whenever they see your name in their inbox.
  • Click-through rate (CTR): This shows you how many people click links in your emails. For most cold email campaigns, you won’t need to include a link. In your email marketing campaigns for nurturing inbound leads, you’ll include links to content relevant to their stage in the buying journey, so there will be links included. Tracking clicks to these shows how engaging your content is to your audience.  
  • Reply rate: In any cold email campaign you send, your focus should be on getting a reply. High-performing campaigns can see 10-20% reply rates.
  • Positive reply rate: To get a more accurate picture of your cold email marketing success, look for your positive reply rate rather than your overall reply rate. For example, if you have a 20% overall reply rate but only a 5% positive reply rate, you know there are improvements to be made. But, if you’re seeing a 15% positive reply rate, you can be confident that your campaigns are performing well. 

Tracking your email marketing metrics in QuickMail

Knowing your email marketing metrics means you can make decisions in the future based on real data, rather than relying on assumptions.

Wrapping Up

Email can deliver incredible results for both your sales and marketing teams.

From improving your deliverability to adding personalization, to following up to boost reply rate, these email marketing best practices will help you improve your results and grow your business.

Even if you just implement one of these best practices, you’ll quickly see the benefits in your email marketing campaigns.

About the author

By Jeremy Chatelaine ・9 min read
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Jeremy is the founder of QuickMail.io, a SaaS company that enables personal one-to-one conversations at scale through automation – for outbound outreach, inbound leads, trial/onboarding, customer communication, and more. Before founding QuickMail, he worked for more than 15 years as a developer in the video game industry and in finance.

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