Your Guide to Email Content Best Practices

an illustration symbolically representing a guide to email content best practicesThese days ‘email content’ can be an overlooked topic when it comes to email marketing.

That makes sense as it is a lot more fun to talk about cutting edge technology, features and techniques.  However, this is often at your detriment as your content is the one pillar that makes everything else better (or worse).

So with that in mind, let us take the time to look at some best practices when it comes to working on your email content.

Choose the right partner

Since we’re on the subject of “best practices” in email marketing, this is an often overlooked factor. The platform that you choose to do your email marketing with can make or break your success. And when I say this, I’m not talking about features and technical considerations.

I am talking about the fact that marketing is not easy if you go at it alone. You need someone who is going to be there by your side, and wants to see you succeed. Whilst we do work hard to provide all the shiny features you may want and need, there is another secret to Emercury’s success and why there are so many people moving to Emercury.

In fact, veteran marketers (and agencies) with big lists are moving to Emercury on a regular basis, and what I am about to reveal is of the main reasons. I’m talking about the fact that at Emercury we see everyone using the platform as a “business partner” of sorts.

And whilst these educational articles can be very helpful in guiding you toward success, there is only so much we can do through an article. When you join Emercury it is like having someone on your side. To learn more about how Emercury can help you succeed, consider booking a free demo while I still have time for those.

Implement a Marketing Calendar

Do you want to know the best way to produce really bad content? Produce it “whenever you feel like it”, and make sure to have no scheduling or planning around content production.

calendar with pins on it, representing a marketing content calendarNow, whilst the term “marketing calendar” is often used to describe the act of scheduling when content goes out, I prefer to use it as a way to plan the production of content. This is because the scheduling itself is the easy part. That’s fun, and we generally don’t need much help around that.

A big issue with email marketers is where they have a sporadic production pattern that results in many issues. For example, they might have a campaign for a big product launch or another time-sensitive occasion, and end up producing content at the last moment.

Alternatively, or even more commonly, they might have no plan around “consistency” so they might produce a ton of content when they feel excited about email marketing. Then, they send all that content all at once, followed by a period of sending no emails, typically because they got busy with other parts of business or marketing.

The pattern I described just now is almost a sure-fire way to annoy your subscribers, customers and the inbox providers. Being sporadic with your content guarantees unsubscribes and lower deliverability.

So what is the solution

You need to plan around consistency and understanding that your motivation and ability to produce content can vary. This means two major things: stockpiling content, and producing content well in advance.

In terms of making things a bit more specific, you need to come up with a number that you can stick to consistently. Let’s say that you have periods where you can easily come up with a dozen emails in a month, followed by 2 months of producing no content. That means 12 emails over 3 months, which comes to about 4 emails a month on average.

This simply means that if you produce more than 4, you can stockpile this for later, so that you can meet your “four a month” quota in a slower month. But also make sure to account for special occasions such as holiday emails, product launches and other special events.

Personalize, the easy way

Let me make a weird-sounding statement here. In email marketing, “content” isn’t always what you write or produce, but what the subscriber receives. If that sounds weird, please remember that in modern email marketing we utilize personalization strategies.

This means that ideally no two people should receive the same content, on the same day. And while personalization can get all kinds of complicated and advanced, the good news is that you can keep it simple. 

In fact, I recommend that most marketers start out with the simplest content personalization methods first. And only after you have most of the foundations covered, should you look to make things more complicated, if you insist.

Now, when it comes to starting out the simple way, the good news is that even the oldest email personalization feature still produces a ton of benefits. I’m talking about the mighty old “merge tag”. If you’re not familiar with this, just think of all the emails where it says “Hi, {your name}” and it uses your actual first name.

This is achieved with a merge tag, where the content writer simply places such a tag wherever the content needs to be dynamically substituted with some information personal to yourself.

The secret is starting today

If you’re not using merge tags in a large portion of your emails, you need to make this a priority starting today. There is really no reason not to use merge tags, as you will see an instant and massive boost in every metric relevant to email marketing, including opens and clicks. And that boost in turn improves everything else that follows such as conversions, sales and better deliverability.

When I say that there is no excuse to put-off using merge tags, it is because with a platform like Emercury using these is quite straightforward. In fact, it might be the most fun and easy thing that you will ever implement in your email marketing.

But wait, it gets even better. Did you know that our engineers came up with something that takes merge tags to the next level? Imagine something which is as easy and simple to utilize as merge-tags, yet brings personalization powers previously only available with complicated and advanced personalization techniques.

Introducing Smart Personalization – all the ease of use that comes with merge tags, combined with all the advanced personalization power you could want. To learn more, please check out the announcement post here.

Identify “reasons” to send an email

Do you want to know the number one way to make sure that a piece of content does not feel like generic bulk email? It is to make sure that there is a clear and specific reason “why” the subscriber received it. And while special reasons make for the best content, any reason is better than none. The reason just needs to be communicated to the reader, and make sense from their perspective.

So in that sense, “I must send my subscribers an email each week” is not a reason that you can use to frame your content with. The reason has to be user-centric or benefit the subscriber in some way.

Now, that isn’t to say it has to change their life in a drastic way, but there needs to be a “frame” that you put around this email. More special reasons can include “a special launch discount”, “birthday message”, or “helping them make the most out of a purchase they just made”.

However, it doesn’t stop there, as most of your emails won’t be based on one special reason, but will instead be part of a larger sequence, whether this is automated email or a series of broadcasts. That is to say, there doesn’t need to be a different reason for each email in the series, if the overall series has a reason behind it. However, we’ll discuss some of these examples in the next points.

Build out a welcome sequence

This one relates to the previous point perfectly, because welcoming a person to your list, brand and your list always makes sense. This is a reason that makes perfect sense whatever your industry, and however your lead signed up for your list.

Obviously, you might create different welcoming sequences based on how the person signed up, or what the signup incentive was. However, the one thing you have to consider is that every email marketer needs to implement a welcome sequence, from day one.

This isn’t one of those things that you can implement in your email marketing after you become more advanced. And in fact, if you don’t have this implemented from day one, this is a big mistake. This is for several reasons, including a reduced deliverability and much lower conversion rates. If it can be measured, you can be sure it will show a low metric if you lack a welcoming sequence.

So if you’re starting to work on your email content, this is a perfect place to start. If you need more help in coming up with these welcoming emails, be sure to check out our guides. We have a Guide to Creating a Welcome Email Series, as well as a list on Best Practices for Welcome Emails.

Implement an educational sequence

If we’re talking priorities, after you’re done with the welcome emails, this is the very next type of content to focus on. I say this for two reasons. 

First of all, educating your subscribers is always a reason “why” that makes sense. And second of all, this is the most universal way to deliver value to subscribers and boost engagement.

Whilst you can, and you should develop your other types of content as your email marketing evolves, starting with educational content is an easy way to get going.

Now, educational content itself can be about anything really. The main criteria is that it needs to be something that the reader finds valuable. In most cases, a subscriber came to your list because they have a problem to solve. The educational content that you choose will either revolve around that or related topics.

To make this more specific, I think we should look at some examples. If you run a SaaS that offers a freemium, you can have sequences that educate the user on how to take full advantage of your software.

If (to take another example) subscribers sign up to your list in exchange for a lead magnet that solves a certain pain point, you can continue educating them on solving that issue, slowly leading them toward your products as services. 

But here’s an additional trick: you’re not limited to just the original topic that they signed up for. You can generally utilize a persona to understand what related interests and challenges they have, and send valuable educational content around that. And if you get good at gathering data over time, you can really personalize this toward whatever interests they have demonstrated.

Don’t forget the thank you emails

And I’m not talking about just the obvious thank you emails that go with a purchase of a product. That one should go without saying. The trick is that thank you emails work well whatever the reason is, and it doesn’t have to be thanking them for a purchase.

You can find additional reasons to send thank you emails to customers, and even utilize that as an excuse to include a “thank you coupon” or discount in the email. In fact, some marketers have made fortunes by running “thank you campaigns”.

So in essence, you want to sit down and identify reasons and occasions that can warrant sending a thank you email. And then utilize this to offer them a gift. It doesn’t have to be a coupon, and it can be a whitepaper or other sort of valuable free resource.

Utilize consistent templates

When you think about content, you really want to think beyond the “textual” part of the content. It also includes the images and the presentational layer, or the “template”.

Now, if you’re using Emercury, you are in luck, as our email editor is tightly integrated with the templates system, so it is rather easy to make sure you’re utilizing a consistent branding and template with your emails.

You can either go ahead and choose one of the pre-made templates, order some professional templates from our design team, or even create one by yourself. This is especially easy with our new email template editor. The main point is to focus on keeping up a consistent template, ideally one for each type of content.

Do not hesitate to ask for guidance

There is absolutely no need to go at this alone. If email marketing and all that it entails can seem overwhelming at times, this is normal when you don’t have someone on your side.

Feel free to book a one-on-one demo with me while I still have time for those. I would love to talk to you personally, so we can see how email marketing (and Emercury) can work for you and your business.

Alternatively, or in addition to that, go ahead and grab yourself a “forever free” account while we still have those. It is probably the most generous free plan out there, so it might be pulled at any time. However, if you register one, while you still can, you get to keep it, for life. Check if we’re still offering this at the forever free signup page.


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