Email marketing is a powerful engine that drives visibility and cultivates prospects consistently over time, but it doesn’t run on autopilot. Effective email campaigns require regular maintenance and adjustment to perform at top efficiency and impact. Our team regularly discusses strategies to help clients maximize their email marketing efforts, and these are some tried-and-true tips to give your email marketing engine an overhaul and ensure it drives smoothly.

  1. Look under the hood.

To get a clear sense of how your email marketing program is or isn’t working for your organization, assess the following:

  • Frequency:How many emails are you sending out on a weekly and monthly basis? Are the numbers consistent week to week and month to month, or are they lopsided?
  • Impact:Are your emails being opened and read by your target audiences? Review your open-rate data against the size of your overall distribution list to get a feel for how your emails typically perform and if certain subjects or types of distributions seem to be read by the most people. That can be an indicator of where to focus going forward.
  1. Clean up your lists.

Just like the engine of a car, dirt and grime, in the form of incorrect or outdated email addresses or inaccurately segmented distribution lists, can “gum up the works” and significantly affect your email marketing program’s performance.

It’s critical to regularly sweep your email lists to focus on and remove consistent bounce-backs, those who have unsubscribed from your emails in the past and any addresses that you suspect to be spam. When deciding whether an address is spam, look for hallmark signs, such as typos in address names, outdated nomenclature that could suggest a recycled former email address and chronically unengaged subscribers who regularly don’t open emails from you for a set period of time (e.g., six or 12 months).

It’s usually a good idea, when possible, to separate your lists by audience or segment for more accurate message targeting. Remember, not all messages you distribute will be appropriate or of interest to every contact — particularly if your organization serves a variety of industries. Continually blasting contacts with information they don’t value can backfire on your visibility and engagement goals.

  1. Ensure your email is authenticated.

Not only does an email authentication approach help prevent fraud and increase deliverability metrics; it helps ensure a smooth distribution process each time. Each time an email is sent, the servers on the recipients’ ends seek to verify that the email is legitimate, using your domain information and IP address as well as a combination of content and reputational factors. This is an essential step in ensuring the email you send actually makes it to your desired recipient’s inbox.

Authenticating your email proactively using standards, such as DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) and Sender Policy Framework (SPF) records automatically and removes the barriers to the verification process to increase the overall deliverability of your emails each time, which ensures your messages reach more of your target audiences.

  1. Use data more intelligently. 

Filtering your data, such as CRM lists and audience groups you frequently distribute emails to as part of your email marketing program, is an important step to assess and use your data to your best advantage.

Putting a tool in place to help with this, such as an API or confirmed opt-in and validation technology, can be a way to streamline this process as it can be quite a time investment, but it’ll save you significant headaches and costly inefficiencies in the long run.

  1. Implement a regular maintenance schedule and process.

As I mentioned in the beginning, email marketing programs can be made easier by advance scheduling, but an effective strategy is far from a “set it and forget it” approach. Establishing a consistent and clear set of metrics is a great way to gauge success, effectiveness and impact, while also bringing any issues or inefficiencies to the surface.

It’s a good idea to regularly track KPIs including:

  • Inbox placement rate:The percentage of emails you send that actually reach recipients’ inboxes.
  • Bounce rates:Higher numbers indicate it’s time to clean up your database.
  • Open and click rates:Compare topics, distribution times of day or days of the week, and other related aspects of your email marketing program against each other to determine what is working best and what kind of content your audiences most want to see.

Follow these steps to prime your email marketing engine for growth in 2021 and beyond.