On Email Marketing Best Practices (a.k.a why they’re wrong)

I was recently asked about whether or not I could follow email marketing best practices for a new client.

I paused.

My first thought, “Wait… whaaaaaaaat?”

That’s such a vague term for any industry or field. Best practices are one of those buzz words that people throw around to see if you know what you’re talking about AND/OR to ask what the hell they should be doing.

And I think that last part is at the root of it.

When we’re trying to figure out a new field that we don’t have a lot of experience with, what’s the first thing you google? I know back in the day, I googled “email marketing best practices” when I was trying to figure out what I was doing.

I followed them as best as I could at my first job doing email.

But guess what I found out at my next job as an email marketer? To throw most of what I had learned out of the window.

It was an unconventional company doing marketing their way. There were some hard lessons learned but also some really incredible insight as well.

The most powerful lesson: best practices are what’s best for you, your business, and your audience.

I know that’s not a hard and fast answer, but it is very freeing. It gives you permission to find what works best for you.

I get a lot of questions from people about what they consider to be best practices: open rates, how many sends, etc.

Here’s the top 2:

1 | What’s a good open rate, clickthrough rate, conversion rate?

Answer: It depends. There are industry benchmarks to help you see how far behind or ahead you are of your competitors.

The truth is your open rate can vary widely. It depends on how you are segmenting your audience, how you collected your email addresses and who you decide should and should not stay on your email list.

Seriously. It varies so widely it’s hard to find a good benchmark.

My advice: find an average of your sends over the past 3 months. That’s your benchmark. See how you can move the needle from there.

2 | How many emails should I send per week/month?

Answer: It depends. Who is your audience? How many emails can you reasonable put together that are of quality and relatively error free?

Some brands’ audiences have a higher tolerance for more emails. Some do not.

You have to ask yourself – when do you get the hint that your subscribers are sick of hearing from you and how much is an unsubscribe worth to you?

Every email you send is an opportunity for someone to unsubscribe. Sending an email a day means you’re losing people from your list every day.

On the flip side, that is potential revenue.

What is each subscriber worth to you?

Ultimately, best practices are what are best for your business, your goals and your resources.

Finding out that perfect balance is the hard part.

That’s where testing really helps (more on that in an upcoming post).

If you’re in that boat, trying to figure out this whole email thing, I’m here to tell you that you’ve got this.

It’s all a learning process. Keep searching out information, ask for help and take some risks. You might stumble on something unexpected and delightful.

Not sure where to begin? Try here.

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