What really are the best practices for email?
A year ago I wrote a post about best practices and how most of my best practices were different from what other people recommend. I don’t talk about rules for frequency or subject line length. I don’t focus on best practices for bounce processing or content length.
My best practice recommendations are really about process.
- Send only opt-in mail.
- Send mail correctly.
- Identify yourself in email.
- Honor unsubscribe requests.
The rest is all about the relationship between senders and their recipients.
But what does that mean?
It means that every sender should know who their audience is. Send mail that audience wants. If they want mail daily? Send daily. If they want mail weekly, send weekly. You’re the expert on who your audience is. Without knowing more about that audience no one should be giving you advice on anything like content or cadence or call to action or subject line length or whatever. Those are really specific to each program.
That sounds complicated.
Well, it’s not intro level deliverability that’s for sure.
Really knowing your audience isn’t something every company can, or even should, do. For many companies email is a part of their business, but isn’t really what they do. Email is a tool, and as long as that tool is working and deliverability is good there doesn’t need to be a commitment to really figuring out how to use it. Other companies, though, are built around email. Email is vital to their sales process or their customer communication process. In these cases, it is a good idea to commit the resources to improving delivery and email processes to get the best results.
Does it work?
It does! Look at what Louis C.K. did with his marketing. He broke all the rules, but made his audience happy. He knows his audience and he knows his brand and he carries that into his email campaigns. Other folks who “broke the rules” include Groupon and other daily deal sites. They broke the “rule” of no daily email except those users want the daily emails. Do daily emails work for everyone? Nope. But they work for some.
Lately I’ve been working with clients who start out with good deliverability, but are looking for some assistance with tweaking their strategy. It’s a challenge to think about what tweaks we can do to make a good program better. I’ve also been talking with other experts in the field and realizing that there is a place for advanced deliverability recommendations. What works in one vertical may not work in another. In some cases, other restrictions (privacy laws in some jurisdictions) may make common best practices not work or a worst practice.
How are you going to help?
We’ve always had a lot of plans for sharing more information. The blog is a big part of that, but we’re looking at other channels and things. I think some good things are going to come out of this and am excited to share them with you over the coming year.