10 golden rules of email marketing

Here’s 10 golden rules of email marketing that will help you succeed and set standards in the marketing department for handling parts of the email marketing process.
In the past months I’ve been researching how companies in certain industries ‘do’ email marketing. The do is between quotes, as some of them hardly do email marketing. This is sad to see, as it can be a beautiful and powerful marketing channel with even the least of efforts. Let alone if they really put in the right time, budget and people with a passion for email marketing: they would be so much more succesful with it.
So when you are starting out and finding your way in email marketing, don’t be discouraged by all the pitfalls, all the options, all the things that can go wrong. Even if you’ve been in email marketing for a while, these rules can ‘wake you up’ to check whether everything goes according to plan.
Take the 10 golden rules of email marketing explained below and apply them: you’ll be doing better than many companies worldwide.

10 golden rules of email marketing

Rule no. 1: Don’t spam.

It sounds so simple but yet seems so hard: don’t spam. This first of the 10 golden rules of email marketing might just be the most important. Get opt-in from people before you send them any form of commercial email communications. No buts. It will make your life so much better, your company’s reputation will benefit and you will be best friends with your ESP. Best of all, the people who receive email communications from you will be -expecting- it, as they signed up for it. A great way to start a relationship, by setting expectations.
Rule no. 2: Send a welcome email.
Talk about starting relationships, you must send a welcome email. Without it, someone who signed up for your email communications will expect at least some effort from your part. A welcome email telling who you are, what your company does and what they can expect is in order. Also, a welcome email can ask for further information from someone who signed up, like preferences and personal data. This will help you with email marketing personalization and lifecycle campaigns.
Rule no. 3: Have a ‘let’s introduce ourselves’ email series campaign. 
But just one welcome email won’t cut it. That would be like short and single date without any follows to get to know one another. Hardly building a relationship, right? Have an email series campaign revolving about the who’s, what’s where’s and how’s of your company, and most importantly: the why. Why you exist as a company, why you do what you do and ultimately why someone should select your company to do business with.
This should be a two-way thing, by the way: gradualy ask the subscriber more and more about their person: not just their personal data, but also their daily challenges, their communications preferences and such.
Rule no. 4: Good design makes things pretty, but should not be the primary focus of email marketing
Instead, the primary focus of email marketing should be your goals.  Do you want to inform, convert, sell, attract? Put the goals in an email marketing plan and devise a strategy from that. In the end, this well help in bringing your message across to your audience. What is it what you want them to do after receiving your emails? What’s in it for them? When should it happen? Action-oriented emails are the best emails, like mini-tasks in your inbox. Be sure to never lose the primary focus of your email marketing.
Rule no. 5: Good email design = great looking email campaigns
Good design should not be underestimated though. Interaction with email is quite a bit different from browsers, not in the least because there are many more email clients in use these days than browsers. Design helps in making your email campaigns look attractive, make them easy to navigate and interact with and more. It also helps to bring across your brand’s style: whether it’s very minimalistic or really outspoken.
Need inspiration? Check out the campaigns involved in the email marketing design week, and other email marketing design articles here.
Rule no. 6. Responsive. Learn it, do it, love it.
It’s not an option, it’s a necessity. With over 50% of emails opened on mobile devices since late 2014, mobile email is to be taken seriously. Responsive email design combines things like media queries with fluid design. This way, your email campaigns will work well across the board. Be it desktop computers, laptops, tablets or smartphones: your campaigns deliver the goods on any screen and with any pointing device, finger or mouse.
Rule no. 7: send out a survey, periodically
If you don’t know what people actually think of email campaigns, then it’s time to remove that blind spot. Send out a survey to your subscribers and do it periodically. It’s an effective and easy way to get a hold of what subscribers really want from your email marketing campaigns. More or fewer promotions? More or less content per email? More videos? More downloads? Tips, inspiration, offers? You hold the keys to the answers. A typical survey should be sent out about every 2 to 3 months: maybe a bit more often if you send out your email campaigns a bit more frequently.
Rule no. 8: Honor the unsubscribe and process bounces, always
As with a correct opt-in process, a correct unsubscribe process is paramount to your company’s email marketing success. Don’t make people login if it is not absolutely necessary. Don’t make unsubscribing a hassle, and don’t make it take over a week to process an unsubscribe (see also rule number 10). See also this article about unsubscribe hassle.
The same goes for bounces. Bounces can feel like a big nagging thing, but they can turn into an opportunity too. Seek out the person behind the address and what happened to their email address. Maybe they switched employers, or ISPs. FInd out, and resubscribe them to stay in touch. Bounces are often a preventable loss of those hard-earned subscribers. Win them back!
Rule no. 9: Ask why people unsubscribe, periodically
If you have no idea why people unsubscribe from your emails, then it’s time to fix that blind spot too. On the unsubscribe page, expand the unsubscribe form into a mini-survey. Put in 4 or 5 questions like ‘I don’t work here anymore’, ‘Content is not relevant’, ‘Too frequent’ and such. This helps in pinpointing what might be wrong with your email marketing program and fix it in time to prevent more unsubscribes. Guessing is a waste of time: assumptions are fatal, especially when it comes to unsubscribes.
Rule no. 10: integrate with other platforms
The last of the 10 golden rules of email marketing, but maybe one of the most important. Think of CRM, Analytics, AdWords, lead management and other systems and platforms you might be using that should work with your email marketing platform. Even if you are a client of the best ESP in the world, their platform will cost you a lot of time when it comes to data management if you do it all manually. And manually means a bigger chance of mistakes, lost sales or customer support opportunities and a lot more.
It may seem like a daunting task at first, but in the end it will be very worthwhile to see all data managed automatically without human interference. Be sure to read this email marketing insight on advanced email marketing too.

10 golden rules of email marketing that will help you succeed

There you go, the 10 golden rules of email marketing. These are the ones I came up with: of course, they are interchangeable for any rules you might (have) come up with. Be sure to apply them troughout your email marketing program. In the end, everyone wins: you, your company, your boss, and ultimately the most important people: the ones receiving your email marketing messages! You’ll already be ahead of quite a few other companies, and maybe companies that are your competitors. Extra win for you!
Good luck and if you have any additions, let me know in the comments.

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