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7 habits of highly effective email marketers

Like beginning a new exercise routine or getting your Netflix binge-watching under control, maintaining a solid email strategy means developing a few healthy habits. And while those habits don’t necessarily revolve around squat thrusts or banning yourself from "House of Cards," they are absolutely critical to ensuring you don’t...

A. Fall into a performance plateau, or worse,
B. Fail to perform entirely.

So here are 7 habits of successful email marketers that keep their campaigns fresh, healthy, and thriving. Give ‘em a shot, stick with it, and watch the results roll in.

HABIT #1: They automate (when possible).

At first, email automation may seem too good to be true. Experts claim it saves you time and effort, helps foster long-term engagement from your subscribers, AND boosts your open and click rates. You’d have to see it to believe it, right?

Well, the numbers don’t lie: Automated email messages average 70.5% higher open rates and 152% higher click rates than non-automated sends (Epsilon). And if you think about it, what are the attributes of a successful email? It’s timely, relevant, and personal. By firing based on actions your subscribers take, automated emails check all three boxes – and you never even have to hit send.

So to maintain your status as a highly effective email marketer, be sure you automate everything you can: a welcome series, thank you emails, birthday messages, nurturing series, etc. Your subscribers will love it, and you’ll reap the rewards that come with a super smart (and efficient) email strategy.

HABIT #2: They personalize (always).

Email isn’t a flyer pasted to a telephone poll, or an infomercial you immediately want to mute, or a cold-call at 2 a.m. It’s a personal, permission-based channel, and as such, you should treat it with the respect it deserves.

Respect your subscribers and their inboxes by sending relevant, personalized, ultra-targeted emails. How, you ask? Start by segmenting your list by things like demographics or customer behavior, and take advantage of powerful tools like dynamic content. The point is to always be sure your emails are speaking to each subscriber's needs and interests.

HABIT #3: They test.

The secret to email success isn’t luck – it’s testing. By simply testing different elements of your campaigns, you can learn something about your audience and optimize your strategy every time you send. A few things to start with:

Your subject lines. Split testing your subject lines is easy, and it’s a surefire way to get the highest open rates possible.
Your send times. One of the best ways to figure out the best time to reach your audience is to test different options – Tuesday afternoon might be ideal for a B2B brand, for instance, while Sunday night might perform better for a retailer.
Your CTA buttons. Test your color, copy, placement, or all of the above! Optimizing your CTA will help boost your click rates in no time.
Your content. You never know what your audience will find most valuable until you experiment with different types of content, from video to blog posts.

HABIT #4: They monitor their results.

The most effective email marketers don’t just consistently test different elements of their email – they also consistently monitor their results. Your subscribers are real people whose needs and interests change all the time, so there’s a good chance that the type of messages they like and respond to will also change.

That’s why it’s vital that you regularly review your email results and adjust accordingly, because something that’s working today might not be so successful tomorrow. And be sure to keep an eye on not only your open and click rates, but also things like opens by device, opens by client, and the types of content your subscribers are engaging with the most.

HABIT #5: They make the most of their (limited) copy.

Subject lines and preheader text get a lot of attention since they’re what initally inspire opens, but don’t overlook the copy within the body of the email itself.

To make the most of your email copy, remember that people don’t want to see a lot of it. It’s heartbreaking for us writers, but it makes sense. Subscribers are quickly checking email while waiting in line or in between meetings – they don’t have time to sift through paragraph after paragraph. So, get to the point, keep it relevant, and pack it full of value.

But if there’s a lot of info that you simply have to include, it’s a good idea to break things up; people respond better to numbered lists and bullet points because they’re much easier to scan. If all else fails, just be sure to place each topic under headlines in clearly divided sections so your readers can quickly identify and hone in on what interests them most.

HABIT #6: They keep email design best practices in mind.

Once a subscriber opens your email, they’ll often decide whether to delete it or keep scrolling based on the look and feel of each send. When done right, visual design not only draws in your audience, it inspires action. Some tips to remember:

Lay it all out. Formatting and organization are key to creating reader-friendly emails, especially when more than half of your readers are now opening on a mobile device. Clearly defined sections and big, bold CTA sections increase ease of navigation.
Tell your story with images. The human brain is conditioned to process images 60,000 times faster than words. So it’s no surprise that 65% of recipients prefer emails that contain mostly images over copy.
Play with color. 85% of people say color is the main reason they buy a product. Every color invites a different reaction from the reader, so use color psychology to your advantage. For example, red inspires urgency, while blue promotes trust and security.

HABIT #7: They aren’t afraid to try new things.

In a recent article for Marketing Land, columnist Chad White listed some of the most common fears holding email marketers back from their full potential. The #1 perpetrator? The fear of making mistakes.

According to White, many email marketers avoid trying anything new because the more you experiment, the more you risk making a very public mistake. So they stay away from innovation in hopes of self-preservation. On the flip side, however, brands that fail to experiment may find themselves left in the dust of their braver, bolder competitors.

Take a risk with different types of media like animated GIFs or video, a bold subject line, or an out-of-the-box design. The potential rewards far outweigh the risk of one email being poorly received. Your subscriber will simply delete it and move on, and you can recover in your next send. But you’ll never reach those next-level results if you don’t ever try something new.