Email marketing is a lot of trial and error… I think we’ve all made some pretty big mistakes, learned a lot over time (the hard way), and are better marketers for it now.
If you could go back in time and pass some lessons on to yourself when you were a newb, what would you tell yourself about email marketing? What are your most important "lessons learned?”
Always double-check that you are using the appropriate personalization tags for the platform you are sending on (it is very, very easy to type a tag out of habit, without thinking about it. It will look “right” to you because you are familiar with it… but it will look very, very wrong to your subscribers!).
Use other people’s data as a guide, but run your own tests before treating anything as fact. There are a lot of case studies out there, but there are are also a lot of unique niches, with unique audiences, with unique habits. Rock solid data in one niche might barely apply to another. (For example, see all the conflicting data on the best days of the week to send)
Keep your emails as short and focused as possible… Long emails full of links and different topics are usually a waste of everyone’s time. I can think of some exceptions, but more often than not, shorter is better.
Provide value 75% of the time (so your contacts are learning), ask questions 15% of the time (so you are learning), and sell something valuable 10% of the time.
Don’t fear unsubscribes, encourage them. I’m not saying you should try to get people to unsubscribe by annoying them, but you should make it very easy for someone who is annoyed to get off your list. You don’t want them around. I used to feel bad when I saw unsubscribes, now I see my list as healthier each time an uninterested person removes themselves. If you encourage unsubscribing, as long as you are consistent, you can assume that everyone on your list wants what you are sending.
What are your “lessons learned” on email marketing?