Five ways to become a better email marketer.

Email marketing is not a new tactic, but it is one that’s still a mystery to many. Stricter laws and improved technologies have changed the email-marketing game in the past few years. Here are a few tips to get you up to speed and help with your next campaign.

1. Follow the rules for lists.

If you’re using email marketing tools like MailChimp, Constant Contact, or Emma, you need to be sure your email list was legally obtained. This means following the rules of the CAN-SPAM Act and making sure you have permission to contact every person on your list. Purchased lists are not allowed. People on your email list need to have opted in or, even better, double opted in. MailChimp recommends the latter method, where a user opts in through a signup form on your website, and then you email them asking for confirmation of the first opt-in. Using an improperly collected list can result in high unsubscribe rates, abuse complaints, and bounce rates, all of which can get you blocked from using MailChimp and other email tools like it.

2. Have a creative subject line that’s also clear.

A lot rides on a subject line, so make it unique. Use action-oriented verbs and try to create a sense of urgency. People also love lists, so try including a number, like “five ways to become a better email marketer.” (See what I did there?) Some email tools allow you to include emojis in the subject line, which is cool (😎). You can back up a subject line with some good preheader text, which shows next to the subject line in someone’s inbox. HubSpot has a lot of other great tips for writing the perfect subject line, and MailChimp will let you A/B test subject lines on your campaigns so you can see what works for your audience.

3. Keep it short and sweet.

What is the perfect length for an email newsletter? That depends on your audience and subject matter, but given that our attention spans are rapidly shrinking, it’s better to err on the side of brevity. You can include teasers that link to longer articles on your website, giving people the option to read more only if they want to. As always, quality is more important than quantity, so if your email needs to be longer (or shorter), feel free to do so if that’s what your audience wants. If you’re not sure, you can A/B test content too. Whatever the length of your email, be sure it has a responsive design because, according to Litmus, more than 47% of email opens occur on a mobile device.

4. Optimize the send time.

Calculating the best time to send an email has many factors, including your industry, audience, and email content. MailChimp has a Send Time Optimization (STO) system, which uses accumulated data from billions of emails to track trends. It found that weekdays were far more popular than weekends for opening emails, except for industries like retail and hobbies, which had higher open rates on Saturdays and Sundays. The optimal time of day was found to be 10:30am, but the trend was minor. Almost all times of day had equal open rates, except for between 2am and 4am. Factors like the location, age, and occupations of your audience will affect the open rate. A/B testing and using the MailChimp STO system are the best ways to measure your campaigns and optimize them for the best send time.

5. Track everything.

Maybe this should have been tip number one, because it certainly is one of – if not the – most important. Email marketing is one of the most measurable marketing media you can use for your business. You can track open rates, click-through rates, bounces, unsubscribes, social shares, and more. Measuring these results will tell you if your emails are effective and it will prove your ROI. Most email tools have built-in reporting, and some can be integrated with Google Analytics so you can track website visitors and conversions that came from your email campaigns.

Following these five tips can help improve your email marketing efforts and hopefully save you from sending unwanted emails to prospects and clients (eek!). For more tips and resources, check out the MailChimp knowledge base or HubSpot for everything inbound.