Seems like more and more, we’re being hired to execute email marketing campaigns for the companies with which we work. And really, that’s to no surprise.

Besides being extremely cost efficient, especially when compared to their print counterparts, and quite effective (we see open rates often in the 40% range – top that direct mail!), they’re a breeze to build, simple to edit and can be measured to extents that would make Claude C. Hopkins’ head explode.

Let’s take a look at a few best practices so that you can build and launch a successful email marketing initiative.

1. Pick a good email marketing platform

At Gorilla, we currently use Campaign Monitor for our marketing newsletter and all of our clients’ newsletters. It’s very easy to use, customizable, provides terrific analytics and is really cheap to send (5 bucks per campaign, one cent per recipient). The backend dashboard is as intuitive as it gets, and there are lots of tools that can be used for the more savvy user (A/B testing, etc.).

There are lots of great options for email marketing software. The key is to simply find one with which you’re comfortable. We’re really comfortable with Campaign Monitor – it’s hard not to be.

2. People are visual

Stop and think about what messages/emails get your attention, and more importantly, your precious time. Chances are, they’re going to be visually strong and copy short. Make sure you consider how you can deliver your message visually when writing your next campaign. And remember – the visual and the text don’t have to tell the exact same story – but instead, work as complements. Like beer and brats.

3. Know your audience; master your message

Marketing 101, right? Correct. But it seems like the majority of email marketers don’t get this. Chances are, any company that has access to your inbox has a product that at some point you were really interested in. But now, their messages get deleted before they even have a chance to tell their story. Part of that could be due to a dull product. But more than likely that’s due to not knowing one’s audience, and not knowing the message to tell that audience.

Stop and think about your subscribers: are they the right subscribers in the first place? Are you giving them a message they’ll want to read? Some of the newsletters I receive might only have one story that interests me. But that’s one more than most of the newsletters that hit my inbox.

4. Don’t personalize

Seems like weird advice, right? Well, normally it is. But in the case of an e-newsletter that is accompanied by a custom template, don’t feel like just because your software allows you to insert your recipients name (Dear Fred) that you have to. In fact, I’d probably advise against it. It feels cheap, less premium and definitely canned.

Your eblast is simply a piece of communication from your brand – embrace it. Don’t feel that you have to try to make it look personalized; if that was the case, you’d probably just send it from your regular email anyway.

5. Write a killer subject line

It needs to interesting enough to get someone to give you 10 seconds plus of their already overbooked day. And it needs to have a compelling call-t0-action that drives one to click through.

6. Short and sweet

When it comes to an ebast, the one thing you have to remember is less is often more. Spare the 9 paragraph story, and instead, post it on your site. Then simply give your campaign list a taste of the story, giving them the ability to click through if they want more.

7. Figure out what’s working and adjust accordingly

As we mentioned, software like Campaign Monitor will let you measure your campaign’s splash. You’ll quickly notice which stories were the most popular, and which stories would’ve best been left on the editing room floor. Regardless, it’s your job to take this data and form it into a more successful campaign the next time around.

Thanks for reading. We’ll see you in the inboxes!