Email is the most powerful way you can use to talk to visitors, customers and prospects. Below are 12 best practices that you can use everyday in your email marketing campaigns. Used them and you’ll experience an increased response from your subscribers and likely – increased sales!

1. Keep it Simple

Both web pages and emails can contain a lot of text and graphics, and this can make it harder to get your subscribers to click on a link to see your special offers. Research shows that the majority of Internet users respond better to a plain, bold, blue text link as opposed to a banner or button. So, if you’re going to include links in your emails, make sure they are bold, blue and underlined. This means that more subscribers will click through.

2. Personalize

The power of personalization can and should be used as much as possible in email campaigns. In-fact, by simply starting your email with “Hi [subscriber name]”, you can greatly increase your click-thru rates. Its power comes from your subscribers feeling they have a relationship with you.

3. Avoid Spam Filters

The majority of Internet service providers (ISPs) use rigorous spam filters to trap unsolicited email before it lands into their customers’ inboxes. Spam filters generally “rank” each email by a number of different criteria, and, if that email rates above a certain level (such as 10 spam points), then it is flagged as spam and blocked. To ensure your emails don’t get blocked, avoid words such as ‘Free’, ‘Save’, ‘Discount’, etc in both the subject line and the content of your email.

4. Mail out on Tuesday or Wednesday

Studies conducted by online research analysts have shown that the best days to perform a mailing to your list are Tuesday and Wednesday, as this is when people are more receptive to communication and thus more likely to read your content and click on links.

5. Confirm Signups

Don’t get accused of spamming. Always use a double opt-in confirmation process. Double opt-in means that after your visitor enters their email address to subscribe to your list, you should then send them a “confirmation” email. This email should contain a special link back to your email-marketing program, which will then verify that this visitor did indeed sign up to your mailing list.

6. Repeat Email Communication

An auto responder is an email that is scheduled to be sent at a certain time interval after someone subscribes to your mailing list. Auto responders are a great way to automatically follow up with your subscribers or provide them with more information on your products/services.

For example, if you provide a free newsletter, you could setup 2 auto responders for new subscribers: the first is sent 1 hour after they subscribe. It contains a thank you message and a link to get 10% off your product. The second is sent 24 hours later, telling them about your upcoming events. Auto responders help subscribers build trust in both your company and your brand.

7. Make it Consistent

If you’re running a newsletter or frequent email publication, make sure you keep the look and feel consistent from issue to issue. By keeping the look and feel consistent, you help to maintain and strengthen your brand and your image to your subscribers, which again will make it easier to close sales when you need to.

8. Use a quick-to-read Subject Line

When your email arrives in your subscriber’s inbox, you generally have about half a second to catch their attention with the subject line of your email. After this, they will either delete your email or ignore it. In your subject line, try and specify a benefit that the subscriber can expect by reading your email.

9. Hook Them In

Free is overused nowadays, especially on the Internet. However, if you’re looking to grow your subscriber list, then create or source a product of value to your visitors (such as a coupon) and offer it to them for free when they signup for your newsletter. To make sure they don’t simply type any email address into your subscription form, setup an auto responder to send them the free bonus 1 hour after they subscribe to your newsletter.

10. Have Interesting Content at the Top

Popular email clients such as MS Outlook will show a preview of an email when it’s selected from the inbox. Always have interesting content at the very top of the email, as this is the part that will show in the preview window of the subscribers email program. If it’s interesting enough, then the subscriber will open your email and continue on reading.

11. Make it on Time, Every Time

When sending a regular email to your subscribers, always make sure that it’s sent on the same day, at the same time. Your subscribers will come to expect your email to arrive in their inbox at the same time every week, meaning that they want to read your content and are generally more receptive to any special offers or promotions you may include.

12. Perfom a Link-click Test

When creating marketing emails, try using different text for both content and links. Also try re-positioning images such as logos and buttons. After sending about 3 different emails, compare the click-thru stats and see which one worked best. For your next marketing email, you will be sending the optimal mix of content and images that will generate the most click-thrus, and ultimately the most sales.