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Email Marketing Best Practices That Drive Engagement and Results

Email Marketing Best Practices That Drive Engagement and Results

Salesforce email marketers share tips for creating emails that get opened and read, mistakes to avoid, how to personalise emails, and more.

Brands today can connect with customers using a wide array of digital channels. Still, good old email remains one of the most popular and effective.

Email offers solid return on investment and can be an important touchpoint along the customer journey. It also enables businesses to deliver hyper-personalised customer experiences at scale. 

Effective email marketing requires a good balance of experience, critical thinking skills, and specialist knowledge of marketing and email techniques. It also requires a lot of hard work, as Salesforce’s Edna Tan and Chris Munro can both attest. 

Edna is Senior Analyst, Field Marketing Operations, while Chris is Marketing Automation & Data Senior Analyst. Together, they’re responsible for planning, building, analysing, and continually optimising email campaigns and journeys for Salesforce in the Asia-Pacific region. 

In this interview, Edna and Chris shared their top tips for creating successful email marketing campaigns, as well as pitfalls to avoid. Read on to learn how you can make your emails stand out in your subscribers’ inboxes:

What do you think makes a successful email marketing campaign?

Edna: I believe there are four key elements to ensuring every campaign is effective and delivers an authentic experience. The first is relevancy and empathy. Consider what’s happening in the world, empathise with what customers are experiencing, and adopt an appropriate tone. The second element is segmentation. Understand the audience and segment your lists to send more relevant content. These targeted campaigns will lead to greater customer engagement and inspire recipients to take action. The third element is personalisation. True personalisation goes further than segmentation. It involves using your data to create compelling and personalised email experiences.

The final element relates to execution. Don’t skip the review process. The content and design of every email needs the review and approval of key stakeholders. 

Chris: Edna has touched on our core philosophy: for us to be successful, we need to send people the right information, at the right time. We also need to align with what’s happening at the moment. Otherwise, they’ll disregard our email or it won’t have the desired effect.

What other tips do you have for creating emails that people want to receive in their inbox?

Chris: If you are establishing a new email brand, take time to understand the landscape around you. Find out what other businesses or industries are doing. Identify the metrics to track and understand the benchmarks for performance. 

Once you have the lay of the land, turn inwards. Determine what information your customers want from you and start sending out emails. Never stop making changes and trying to improve. As long as you pay attention to what your customers tell you with their clicks, you’ll be in a good position to communicate with them in the way that they want. That’s the end goal.

That’s the best possible thing you could hope for as an email marketer: subscribers who are ready and waiting for your email. ”

Chris Munro
Marketing Automation Data Senior Analyst

What sets brands apart when it comes to email? What do you see in the market that inspires you?

Chris: I would say incredibly strong branding that follows through to every part of the business. So, when an email lands in your inbox, it has the same look and feel as the brand’s store or website. One of the reasons I find this so effective is because it immediately tells me who the brand is and I can just get straight into the content. 

Edna: For me, it’s about personalisation. I do a lot of online shopping and there are a couple of brands that proactively email me recommended items based on what I’ve browsed or bought in the past. I now look forward to these emails—especially around events like Black Friday.

Chris: That’s the best possible thing you could hope for as an email marketer: subscribers who are ready and waiting for your email. I don’t think a lot of businesses necessarily achieve that, but it would definitely be the pinnacle of success.

When it comes to delivering successful campaigns, how does Marketing Cloud support you? What are your favourite features?

Edna: I spend most of my time in Email Studio, which allows me to quickly build emails with a responsive design that’s optimised for any device. It also enables a lot of automation that makes our workflow really efficient. 

Chris: My favourite function is AMPScript. This is a scripting language that supports the creation of more personalised emails.  Early on in my marketing career, I found AMPscript made it easy to add that extra bit of personalisation that shows people we know who they are. Seven years later, it allows me to continually elevate emails and make them as engaging as possible for each person.

What are some common misconceptions about email marketing or traps that marketers should avoid?

Edna: I feel there are a lot of studies on the best way to optimise email campaigns. However, not all approaches will work for every organisation. The best thing you can do as an email marketer is take in the learnings and then use A/B testing to see what strategies work best for your audience.

Chris: There’s a misconception with email that more is better, which can mean longer emails, greater frequency, or sometimes both. However, these things can actually be detrimental. So again, it goes back to knowing your audience and testing to see what works best for them. Look at how many times people engage with your message and notice when that engagement starts to drop off.

What are your best practices for measuring engagement?

Chris: Salesforce, along with a lot of other businesses, are now measuring the click-to-open-rate (CTOR) of our emails. This tells us how many of those who opened an email actually took the next step in the journey. It is a good indication of how successful the content of your email is for conversion and I’d suggest it’s an important metric to adopt.

We also look at metrics deeper into the customer journey to ensure that our emails are effective in driving the targeted behaviour. For example, we look at how many people download an asset after visiting a landing page and look at how many leads the campaign generates overall. 

Recent changes to email privacy protections will impact metrics and temporarily make measurement harder.  However, I think the changes will lead marketers to reevaluate what success looks like and rely more on measures like customer engagement scores.

Know your audience and that means using your data to personalise their experience.”

Edna Tan
Field Marketing Operations Senior Analyst

Any final words of advice for those looking to refresh their email marketing strategy?

Chris: It is easy to get excited about building email journeys. However, these projects can often become overwhelming to the point that organisations get stuck and can’t move forward. My advice is to go ahead and plan out big journeys, but then break them up into bite-sized pieces that are more achievable to implement. For example, start with a welcome email. Then, add to the journey as you go, rather than trying to build ten emails at once. 

Edna: Know your audience and that means using your data to personalise their experience. Also, continually test your messages to ensure they remain relevant.

Find out how you can put these best practices into action. Read our guide on how to find the right email marketing tools to reach your customers here.

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