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Email marketing is just one piece of your digital marketing strategy, but it’s an extremely powerful one! With the proper strategies in place, you can develop an amazing relationship with your customers and dramatically increase your lead conversion rate.
On average, every $1 spent on creating your email marketing plan generates a return of $42. Way better than a lot of other marketing techniques!
Plus, you have more control over what a subscriber sees from you than on most other platforms (looking at you, Instagram algorithm!) and it’s easier to measure campaign effectiveness.
What exactly are digital marketers doing to get these impressive results? Hint: they’re not just sending anything and everything that comes to mind.
They’re using email marketing best practices that encourage readers to open emails, read what’s inside, and take action.
Email Marketing Best Practices in 2022
Just like everything else in the digital world, email marketing trends change over time. There are new tools and strategies to learn, but also ways of updating tried and true practices with a modern approach.
In this article we’re going to cover must-know email marketing trends in 2022 and how you can use them to make your business more money.
A high ROI doesn’t happen without hardwork. Email marketers have a lot to do, starting with understanding email deliverability, or the measure of how many recipients actually lay eyes on an email.
A sign up is only half the battle.
Email deliverability is different from email delivery. You don’t just want your emails to arrive in an inbox (delivery), you want your emails to land in the recipient’s Inbox. When measuring deliverability, you’re measuring how many emails land in Inboxes, as opposed to spam or junk folders.
How are your marketing efforts contributing to your company’s growth?
Schedule a brief discovery call to receive a complementary consultation for your business.
1. Understanding Email Deliverability Factors
Every mailbox provider has an email deliverability process. If you want to improve your deliverability rate, it’s crucial to first know which factors play a role.
Here are some of the most critical factors affecting email deliverability:
- Open Rate: The percentage of subscribers who open an email out of the total number of subscribers that received it. A low open rate can mean that your subject lines need work or that your subscribers aren’t interested. Failure to open too many emails can eventually lead to being marked as spam by an email client.
- Click Rate: This is the percentage of recipients that click on a link within an email. Low click rates can indicate that your content isn’t enticing your readers to want more. Focus on improving your copy.
- Unsubscribes: The number of people who choose to unsubscribe from your email list. A few unsubscribers is common, and in truth it’s beneficial to have people who aren’t a match for your business opt out. However, an extremely high unsubscribe rate (and a low opt-in rate) is a sign that you need to rework your whole strategy.
- Bounces: If the email cannot be delivered to an email server, it’s considered a bounce. A bounce rate higher than 5% can negatively affect your email deliverability.
- Marked As Spam: Being marked as spam is a clear indication to email clients that the recipient does not want to hear from you. It works as a snowball effect, the more you’re placed in spam, the more your reputation goes down.
- Forward Rate: If your email recipients are forwarding your email, this is a really good sign that your audience is engaged and that they find your content relevant to their networks.
- Reply Rate: Another good indicator that your audience is engaged, unless the reason they’re replying is to ask to unsubscribe. Make sure you look at this to understand why you’re getting replies, if it’s growing.
User engagement largely determines what your emails do. If ignored too often, this results in a low engagement rate and consequently more of your emails will end up in a junk folder. Or the Promotions tab, which is probably just as bad!
2. Defining and Evaluating Your KPIs
Everything that affects email deliverability can be used as a key performance indicator (KPI) to determine how your customers respond to your email marketing.
If you haven’t yet, your email marketing strategy in 2022 should include a plan to measure and evaluate KPIs throughout the entirety of any email campaign. The plan should include:
- What metrics you want to gather
- When you want to gather them
- How you’ll report and compare the metrics
- Figure out the problem and determine what tactics can be used to help you improve
Know your goals and objectives for an email campaign and use those to determine which metrics to focus on. If you outline these early on in the planning process, you can structure your email content accordingly and have greater success.
Don’t forget to add time for evaluation! Comparing your results can open your eyes to what is working and what isn’t. Look at your subject lines, copy, and imagery to analyze how changes in these influence your results.
Then, continuously use this information to inform your strategy and improve how you interact with your customers. While using email marketing best practices helps you grow your business, learning what works specifically for your audience is crucial, too.
3. The Spam Filter
It’s just as important to know what not to do in email marketing as it is to learn what works. Especially when it comes to the dreaded spam folder!
Your subscribers will never see your message, meaning they won’t engage at all.
And of course, lack of engagement is a sign to service providers that your content isn’t interesting or relevant to the intended audience… and eventually they may start flagging you as spam or block you completely.
Here are some spammy behaviors you should definitely avoid to quickly optimize your emails:
- All caps– don’t yell at your customers
- Multiple exclamation points in the subject line and body of the email
- Failure to include an unsubscribe link
- Sending to multiple email addresses that don’t exist
- Links in your email that lead to sketchy or fraudulent websites
- Avoid over-promising, sensational language like “as seen on,” “meet singles,” “big bucks”
An email provider’s goal is to deliver trusted emails only, and filtering for certain spammy behaviors is their best way to get that job done. So, even if you’re legit, you can get accidentally flagged as spam by sending poorly designed emails.
You don’t want your subscribers to assume your spam either!
4. Tell Customers To Take You Out of the Promotions Tab
We can (and will) rattle off a dozen different strategies to stop your emails from ending up in the Promotions tab. In reality, there’s only one way to guarantee it.
A customer who signs up for an email newsletter isn’t going to run to their inbox and mark you as primary. They will, however, probably be on the lookout to read your welcome email when they first subscribe (especially if you have a killer lead magnet).
So even if you initially land in the Promotions tab, your welcome email could be your one shot at getting the customer to move you over. That’s why we think it’s a great idea to simply ask them to do it.
The instructions are different for the various mailbox providers (Gmail, Outlook, etc) so you may want to add brief instructions for the popular providers to help them out.
It’s good practice to tell new subscribers to check their promotions and spam folders for your welcome email
5. Tracking Data In the Era of IOS 15
With its iOS15 update, Apple rolled out several privacy updates that affect email marketing significantly. The most relevant updates are:
- Users can choose to hide their IP addresses and block third parties from tracking their behavior
- Privacy protections impede email platform’s ability to track open rates
- A “Hide My Email” feature that allows users to give fake email addresses to websites so companies can’t see their real addresses
Sure, users have to opt-in for most of these to kick in. But the update is asking users directly whether they would like to protect their mail privacy, or not. It’s safe to assume which one most users will pick.
These updates make it much harder (impossible) for email marketers to measure the effectiveness of their campaigns in the same way they always have. Starting with open rate, a key metric often considered the best way to determine an email’s success.
So what should you do about these updates? Here are some ideas:
- Stop relying on open rate data alone: Tracking open rates is popular for a reason, but it’s not the only way to measure your email effectiveness. Start relying on other key metrics such as clickthrough rates, sign-ups, unsubscribe rates, etc.
- Divide your lists: It might not be the most glamorous, but you can estimate your open rates by creating a list of non-apple mail users in your database. Approximately 30-50% of any email list uses Apple, so you can still track open rates for at least half of your subscriber database.
Apple’s update is certainly changing the game, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise if other email mailbox providers start following suit. Now is the time to learn how to adjust for the privacy changes to ensure long term email success.
Writing Copy That Works
All the killer email content in the world doesn’t really matter if readers don’t feel a reason to view it in the first place. And then everybody loses out on your greatness!
Let’s look at ways to write copy to optimize your emails and get the most out of your coveted spot in the inbox.
6. Tips For Writing Catchy Subject Lines & Preview Text
According to Statista, the number of emails sent daily is on track to reach 347.3 billion emails during 2022. Obviously you’re not competing with all of those, but it does indicate that you’re up against a lot.
Outside of just having very loyal customers (which is nice), subject lines hold the most power for standing out in the never-ending sea of emails. They can make or break your email campaign– get it read or get it ignored or deleted.
Scams and fraudulent emails account for about 2.5% of all spam emails.
So, most of the stuff in spam isn’t intentionally harmful messages. Real ads, from real companies who just want to nurture leads and make genuine sales are going to spam all the time.
Moral of the story, you need to craft a subject line that doesn’t trigger the spam filter and is difficult to ignore in order to protect your email deliverability. Preview text, the line of text following the bolded subject line, matters too. It’s especially visible on desktop.
Don’t miss out on these opportunities to entice your readers by writing lines that are confusing, vague, or so discombobulated that they look spammy.
With these general guidelines covered, let’s look at some of the best strategies for writing subject lines that convert into opens in 2022.
7. Psychological Triggers For Open Rate… And Engagement
How do you get people to react and engage?
You make them feel something!
There’s a direct correlation between emotional triggers and email open rate. Keep it going through the body of the email and you’ll have your readers on the edge of their seats, ready to take action.
Email marketers like to use the fear of missing out. Yup, “FOMO” goes beyond how you feel when your friend group hangs out without you.
For example, you can offer a limited promotion. No matter what you’re selling, language that indicates they have to act fast to get what’s inside peaks interest.
- “The Countdown Has Started”
- “One Day Left”
- “You Just Missed It”
Social proof also triggers an emotional response. Human nature makes us want in on something that appears to be helping everyone else. If you have positive testimonials, highlight them in your email campaign and drum up a little bit of jealousy.
Curiosity and anticipation drive people crazy! Try to leave your readers anxiously awaiting to find out what’s next by sharing unique facts, revealing bits and pieces of an upcoming launch or event, or asking burning questions.
Worlddata saw a higher average open rate (31% for B2B and 28% for B2C) for emails that used the “…” in 2021, proving that anticipation and suspense in email subject lines works! “Fake mistakes” work too, increasing B2B open rates by 29% and B2C open rates by 37%. Readers are curious to know what happened and don’t want to miss out.
8. Email Subject Line Power Words That Drive Action
Some phrases, like “fast cash,” won’t successfully make it through the spam-filter. On the other hand, email marketers have found success with certain power words that get readers to open up and engage.
Worlddata looked at which words increase open rates in 2021, and here are some that they found:
- Free: Increase by 34%
- Limited: 28%
- Last Chance: 26%
- 2022: 31%
- V.S. 21% (X v.s. Y)
We have to note– you shouldn’t use too many power words, either. Repeated use of these words can have the opposite effect and make your email likely to end up in spam anyways.
9. Characters Matter
Sometimes the simplest changes can make a huge difference. If we told you that a few characters could increase your open rates drastically, you’d do it right? Look at these minimal changes with a steep impact from Worlddata’s findings:.
- Using parentheses around a word or phrase in the subject line increased open rates by 27%
- Square brackets increased open rates by 18%
- Asterisks on either side of a word or phrase increased open rates by 25%
Not everything has to be complex; this is one of the easiest email marketing best practices to put into place! Give these a try and see if they help with your open rates.
10. Using Emojis in Emails
Crafting the perfect subject line is a science. Too boring and no one notices it, too flashy and you find yourself tumbling into the spam folder.
When thinking about emojis, you might assume it falls to the second option. But the addition of emojis has actually proven successful..mostly.
Return Path tested it out on holiday emails. The same subject line that saw 19% open rates for a New Year’s campaign saw 22% with the addition of an on-theme emoji (like the champagne bottle). But there was usually one outlier- in this specific case the ‘clinking glasses’ emoji- that saw a huge drop.
A new trend in subject-line emojis to try out in 2022 is the “bookend Emojis” trend. Worlddata found that doing this increased open rate by 31%!
So the general consensus is that emojis work, you just need to figure out how they work best for your audience. Test out different options and figure out what gets your subscribers to click.
11. Add Eye-Catching GIFs
GIFs get people’s attention in group messages, right?
Turns out, it works in emails too. Emails with GIFs see an increase in clickthrough rates up to 26%.
When someone opens up, you have to catch their eye fast and get your point across quickly. Animations attract attention and break down complex topics into easily-digestible and scannable content.
Keep in mind that there’s a time and place for everything, including GIFs. You want them to help your email campaign, not hurt it.
Consider these factors before you go GIF-crazy:
- Size: If not optimized, a GIF could unnecessarily slow down the loading time of your email, losing a read from an impatient subscriber. Less than 0.5MB is ideal, so optimize your GIF with a tool.
- Audience: Some audiences don’t mind a well-placed GIF or two every time they open an email, others could do with less. GIFs can be considered unprofessional, so be careful which you pick.
- Purpose: If you’re just adding GIFs because it makes your day more enjoyable, you may want to rethink. Make sure it emphasizes something of importance.
- Overdoing it: GIFs are great, but too many can be distracting and take away from the purpose of your email. You want to inspire readers to take action, not get distracted and leave without soaking in your ask/offer.
Including GIFs in your emails (tastefully), can do wonders for engagement and brand personality!
Creating Great Content In Your Email Marketing
Your readers need a reason to drag you out of Promotions, open your messages, and act on what’s inside.
So when you make a promise to get someone to sign up, deliver on it. If you say your newsletter is filled with the top tricks in your industry, your newsletter better not be a continuous flow of ads for your product.
Let’s look at some content practices that are helping email marketers skyrocket their results.
12. Adding Video To Your Email Messages
Using video in digital marketing is no longer a growing trend, it’s pretty much essential for keeping up with competitors. It takes a bit more time and energy but the investment is worth it.
Social video gets 1200% more shares than text and image content– people love it!
And when it comes to email marketing, video can lead to a 200-300% increase in click-through rate, so it’s definitely worth the effort.
Keep subscribers engaged with:
- Introduction Videos: It’s easier to show your personality through face-to-face contact, so an intro video is the next best thing.
- Explanations/Support: Satisfy visual learners with step by step videos.
- Testimonials: Consumers want to hear from the people who have benefited from a product or service. Give them quick videos of customers authentically explaining their experience.
Viewers retain way more from video than they do from text. And when you only have a few seconds to get your email recipient invested in your content, a short video can go a long way.
How are your marketing efforts contributing to your company’s growth?
Schedule a brief discovery call to receive a complementary consultation for your business.
13. Storytelling In Your Email Marketing
Stats and data only get you so far when selling your product or service to customers. Successful digital marketers know that storytelling motivates people to buy too.
55% of customers are more likely to buy from you in the future if they love your brand story.
And since email marketing has one of the best ROIs in digital, it shouldn’t be left out of the equation. Use stories to:
- Show how your brand is actually impacting lives
- Give a behind the scenes look into your business
- Help customers connect with and relate to your band
- Increase engagement– a story keeps people hooked!
How can you turn your existing email marketing ideas into ones that tell stories? Don’t just promote a product, share customer stories that show how it changes their lives. Take readers behind the scenes to show them how/why it was made.
How To Build Your Email List
14. Building Your List Organically
Are you sending emails to your audience just to say hello? No, of course not! The ultimate goal is to bring in paying customers to increase your sales. That’s why at Ellison Ellery we are all about generating high-quality leads, not just anyone.
To break it down quickly:
A high number of interested users (subscribers, followers, website visitors, etc) feels great, but if they’re not actually interested, it’s a waste of everyone’s time. You want high-quality leads who are more likely to convert into paying customers.
Energy spent on the people who don’t see your value (and never will) is a distraction from your focus.
That’s why you should always build your email list organically. If you purchase an email list, you’ll most likely receive a bundle of low-quality contacts.
In other words, they’re not ready to buy from you now—and may never be. Save your money and build your own list organically with an inbound content strategy.
15. Creating A Lead Magnet
Creating a lead magnet is an essential part of your inbound marketing strategy.
- A lead magnet with a high enough perceived value gives people a reason to hand over their email address–something they don’t want to do.
- Downloading your resource doesn’t mean they’re ready to buy, but they’re entering your funnel and becoming more familiar with your brand. Now, you can nurture them.
Direct new sign ups to a thank you page on your website. But instead of having your lead magnet downloadable right on the thank you page, consider making them go to their email to get it.
While this does add some friction to the process, it’s one way to get your welcome email opened and set yourself up for future success. You just need to weigh the pros and cons!
16. Cleaning Up Your Email List
When was the last time you checked in on your email list?
Sometimes people sign up with fake email addresses to get your ebook or use an old address they never check anymore. And sometimes, you get bots filling out your sign up!
Regardless of the reason, sending your emails to too many email addresses that aren’t looking or simply don’t exist can hurt your whole marketing campaign pretty badly. That’s why we recommend cleaning up your email list from time to time.
While a bounce or two is to be expected, you don’t want this to be a regular occurance. Sending to verified email addresses is a big part of building a good sender reputation.
Make going through your email list a consistent part of your email marketing strategy. Tools like NeverBounce make it easy, or your email marketing platform might have what you need.
Email Marketing Strategies
17. Segmenting Your List
There’s no way around it. In 2022, you have to segment your email list to reach your customers who are being over-stimulated with all sorts of content. We know, it sounds like a lot of work. But hear us out.
What’s relevant to one customer is likely not relevant to another. Things like…
- Place in the buyer’s funnel
…all matter when you’re talking to your audience. Not everyone cares about everything you have to say.
If the goal is to get your email list to interact, why would you send them content that is completely irrelevant to them? For the health of your email campaigns, stop doing this!
The more relevant your messages are to a subscriber, the more likely you are to continue landing in their inbox.
Always be thinking about your email deliverability. The more someone doesn’t read, the more likely they are to never see anything from you again.
Save yourself that trouble and focus on sending targeted and personalized emails.
18. Personalizing Your Messages
Most email service providers (ESPs) can help you make your email campaigns more personalized.
Personalized emails have an average of 6x more engagement.
There are several ways to give your emails a more personal feel for your subscribers. Here are a few email marketing personalization tactics to try 8in 2022:
- Copy: Ask users for their names during the signup process and use your ESP to auto-populate the recipient’s name in your emails.
- Images: Personalized imagery helps your reader visualize themselves working with you and you can also target their buyer characteristics if you have a well segmented email list. Tools like Hyperise help with email personalization.
- Offers: Not everyone on your email list is interested in the same things at the same time. Did they abandon cart recently? Previously make a purchase of a product you’ve now updated?
It’s tempting to make one email campaign and send it to everybody. But taking the time to personalize the buyer’s journey can pay off in the long run.
19. Sending Cold Emails
Cold emailing has gotten a bit of a bad rep. With the risk of your email being considered spam (by the email algorithm or the person receiving it), it’s no surprise that some people think it’s a bad idea.
However, cold emailing can be really effective when done right, and it’s something you should work into your lead generation strategy. Targeted B2B cold emails have an open rate of about 14%-23%, depending on your industry.
A cold email that works is highly personalized. But if you’re generating leads, it’s worth the time investment.
20. Master Email By Optimizing For Mobile
Everything, and we mean everything, has to be made with mobile devices in mind.
If your poorly formatted email is opened on mobile, it’s probably going to be deleted in under three seconds. It doesn’t matter how good the content is! Any friction in a user experience can quickly lead to everything you’re trying to avoid: unsubscribes, marked as spam, etc.
Check- and double check- that your email messages are showing up on mobile the right way. What’s in a mobile-friendly email?
- Concise text with breaks that is easily scannable
- Correctly sized images in the right place
- Click-friendly CTAs, so users can easily see and click buttons
21. Send An Introduction Email
Sending a welcome email to new subscribers is one of the best ways to engage potential customers and start nurturing them to make purchases from you time and time again. In fact, welcome emails have a 91.43% open rate and their read rates are 42% higher than other emails.
And when should you send the first email?
Open rates are so high for welcome emails because they’re expected– especially if you had a great subscriber incentive. They want access now, so they’re going to open your email an engage. Points for you!
Don’t make the mistake of ignoring this crucial opportunity to start building your reputation. Make sure your welcome email has:
- Good, recognizable branding
- Offers of interest to your customer
- CTAs to check out your other content
- Company highlights
…and anything else that encourages your subscribers to continue the conversation with you or re-visit your website.
It’s all about making a good first impression. If you promise something valuable, under-delivering could lose you their trust forever. Let the subscriber know exactly what they’ll expect from you moving forward, and stick to it.
22. Email Automations
Follow up your introduction email with a sequence that continues to nurture your subscribers and engages them with your brand.
Most ESPs have email sequence automations built right in, and you can use an email template to make the process even easier. Set this up ahead of time and your customers will be continuously taken down your buyer journey.
What emails will the prospect receive? How often? What happens when they interact with the email? While it may be tempting to lump every prospect into one funnel, marketing automation makes it simple to engage in meaningful dialogues consistently.
Marking automations can help you:
- Streamline your sales process by automating time-consuming, repetitive tasks
- Allow more time for your sales team to have more meaningful conversations
- Personalize the sales process at scale without eating up man-hours
- Set up behavioral triggers to identify hot leads and sift out cold ones
Automations are a hands-off way to continue nurturing your customers. When you do have a promotion or a new product to share, you’re like to still have their attention since you built up a relationship over several weeks.
23. What Are The Best Times To Send B2B Emails?
Experiencing really low open rates? Consider optimizing the time and day that you send out your email campaigns.
Believe it or not, this matters! With the sheer number of emails people receive each day– from companies and friends– your email can get buried fast.
A solid subject line or a loyal customer might save the day, but a good portion of emails that aren’t seen at the right time may never make it to your subscriber’s priority list.
The best way to figure this out is through trial and error. Repeatedly trying the same thing won’t get you new results.
InsideSales.com performed a study and found that having the right send time produces 21% better open rates and 64% better download rates. Those numbers are hard to ignore!
This same study found that 4-5pm is the best time for open rates and 5-6pm is the best time for download rates.
24. What’s The Best Email Marketing Services?
A successful email marketing strategy makes use of the best tools. There are a lot of them at your disposal, but what’s the best email marketing services?
It partially depends on what your goals are, so use this as a starting point. ConstantContact is considered one of the best in drag and drop email design, while MailChimp is an affordable platform that has a complete range of email marketing tools for small businesses.
At our marketing agency, two of our favorites are Active Campaign and Hubspot. The right email service can help you set up the marketing automations you need, provide you with email templates, and keep you informed of email marketing best practices.
25. Winback Campaigns
Low open rates and other engagement factors have a snowball effect– the more you have, the more you’re blocked, leading to more unopened emails.
Combat this effect by taking action before it’s too late. You should have a winback campaign plan in place to re-engage users who are starting to show decreased interest in what you’re sending.
The longer it goes on, the harder it becomes for you to win back those subscribers. Even worse, you could be hurting your email deliverability and sender reputation by continuing to send to email addresses that aren’t showing interest.
Winback emails have an average read rate of 20%, so you have a good chance of re-engaging at least a few of your unengaged subscribers.
Send a re-engagement campaign directly confirming with your least engaged followers that they want to remain on your list. Remember, it hurts to see them go, but in the long run it does you good.
When you can, remind customers why they signed up in the first place!
26. Send Subscribers To Optimized Landing Pages
A perfectly crafted email can get a reader to click, but if they get to your landing page and have a poor experience, it was really all for nothing. Take your recipients to a landing page that matches exactly what was laid out in the email.
To avoid any problems, make sure you have calls to action in your email that are clear. Where are you taking them to if they click this?
The structure of your landing page should look like a continuation of the email. Color, copy, the offer, etc should all match to make the experience flawless for the customer.
The less they have to think about the journey, the easier it will be to turn a potential customer into a paying one..
27. Customizing Your From Address: Try A Friendly From
Customizing the sender address can help you stand out in your customers’ inbox. Doing this has increased open rates for B2B by 34%, so you’re going to want to hop on the trend.
Using an employee name might seem “friendlier,” but unless the recipient knows the person that belongs to that name, it’s not guaranteed to help.
Instead, master the “friendly from” in 2022, simply by making your from address more specific and informative. Use a term that matches the subject line of the email and showcases the offer inside.
28. Include An Unsubscribe Button
Including a link that helps your email recipients unsubscribe from your company seems like the last thing you’d want to do. But like it or not, it’s the law.
Not only that, failure to include an unsubscribe button in your email is a quick way to get your email sent to spam.
29. Follow Email Marketing Laws
Email marketing is governed by a set of laws in order to protect customers. They’re subject to change, so always make sure to stay updated. Everything is outlined in the CAN-SPAM Act.
Follow these rules to keep both your email list and your ESP happy. Less time in the spam folder! 🎉
In general, you shouldn’t:
- Send mail to someone who didn’t grant you permission
- Fail to include an unsubscribe link
- Include deceptive subject lines
Most email marketing platforms check that you’re following these practices, but it’s important to be aware of them nonetheless.
Conclusion: An Email Marketing Strategy in 2022
The power of email isn’t going anywhere! But if you want to stay ahead of the crowds and ultimately bring in more sales, you need to be using the best email marketing practices. Not only will they help you stand out against your competitors (AKA the entire inbox), they’ll keep your sender reputation healthy.
You’ve got a lot of work to do! We hope this list of 29 email marketing ideas helps you get started with crafting a plan that works. If you need help creating an email marketing strategy that captures and nurtures leads into paying customers, contact our team at Ellison Ellery today!