Email is still one of the most highly used marketing channels. But what’s the future of email marketing? What are the current best practices marketers should take into consideration?
We believe there are still a lot of questions around email marketing that we need to address. So we collected the top 9 questions we get at HubSpot from our readers, prospects, and customers and answered them in one short blog post.
- 1 1. Don’t you think social media will take over email marketing?
- 2 2. Any tips for email subject lines and placement of calls-to-action?
- 3 3. What email software do you prefer to use?
- 4 4. How can you do email marketing without it seeming like spam to your contacts?
- 5 5. People are wary of overloaded email inboxes. How do you stand out and get people to read yours?
- 6 6. What about open rates?
- 7 7. Between HTML and Text email, which one should be sent more often?
- 8 8. Does message length make a difference?
- 9 9. What are some best practices to ensure deliverability?
The future of email marketing has been heatedly debated recently. Is email marketing dead? Should we do less of it because of the incredible potential of social media? In some cases, the answer to that question might be yes, on others, the answer is strict no.
So you could argue both ways, for the demise of email or for its rebirth as the most powerful marketing channel. The answer would depend on your personal approach and the preferences of your target audience.
2. Any tips for email subject lines and placement of calls-to-action?
To ensure deliverability of your emails, make sure your subject lines don’t include spam-triggering words. As mentioned in a previous post, some Email Service Providers (ESPs) help you identify these phrases with features such as Content Detective, SpamAssassin, and ContentChecker.
Try to keep your email subject lines consistent with your branding, yet out of the box and compelling.
To ensure you are making the most of your calls to action in an email, you will have to test different placements. What’s a better spot to place a CTA —the middle of your message or its end?
Also, consider experimenting with different forms of calls to action. For instance, is a hyperlinked text going to perform better than text in a colored box that looks like a button?
3. What email software do you prefer to use?
The list of ESPs one can choose from these days is long. Some of the most popular ones are ExactTarget, MailChimp and HubSpot’s email marketing tool, which is part of our integrated inbound marketing software. Making the decision about which provider to go with would depend on your specific business situation—how complex of a system you need, your price limits, what CRM you use, etc.
Related: Top 11 Email Marketing Softwares
4. How can you do email marketing without it seeming like spam to your contacts?
Ultimately, email marketing remains a channel for communicating a message. The message carries real value. That is why, if you want your subscribers to anticipate your email, send them meaningful offers.
Instead of pushing your product, special promos and discounts all the time, provide them with some valuable piece of content, such as a monthly industry report, a compilation of case studies, an opportunity to win in sweepstakes. Think about nurturing your list, not necessarily asking them to purchase.
5. People are wary of overloaded email inboxes. How do you stand out and get people to read yours?
One way to stand out in people’s inboxes is to take full advantage of brand recognition. Try adding your company’s name in the subject line. Create emails introducing a series of offers people will be expecting.
For example, at HubSpot, we produce webinars on a regular basis, so our subject lines often start with the phrase [New Webinar]. That way, people who have enjoyed a previous webinar of ours are more likely to express interest in attending an upcoming one.
6. What about open rates?
Compared to click-through rates, open rates are not a very reliable metric. Changes in technology prevent us from evaluating accurate open rate data.
The fundamental reason for email open rate metrics are unreliable is that the metric relies on a tiny image in the email being downloaded by the person reading the email. When this image is downloaded from the web into the person’s email reader, the software counts that email as being read. This is the only way that anyone has been able to figure out how to track if someone opens an email, and all email marketing systems use this method.
7. Between HTML and Text email, which one should be sent more often?
In order to answer this question, you will have to do A/B split testing. Companies see success with both versions. While GroupOn is a heavy user of HTML, Google seems to stick to simpler text-based emails. The messages of both are widely read.
Your task as a marketer is to recognize what resonates with your audience. If you are seeking to build more mobile-friendly emails, consider cleaner, text-based emails with fewer images.
8. Does message length make a difference?
It is generally accepted that shorter is better (no one has time to read a long email). Also, for mobile email consumption, shorter copy with a call to action at the top performs better.
You can include more links only if you have a longer message. So try to strike a happy balance between what gives your subscribers enough context about the offer and what they will realistically read.
9. What are some best practices to ensure deliverability?
Suppress against hard bounces, increase engagement levels, use a preference center and track your complaint feedback loop.
Related: 7 Steps to Email Deliverability
Did you have any more email marketing questions that we can address? Leave a comment below and we’ll try to get back to you.
Maggie Georgieva is a Senior Product Manager at HubSpot, focused on making revolutionary marketing segmentation, automation, and forms.