Email Marketing FAQs

Updated March 30, 2020

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

At its most basic, email marketing is any email marketing outreach you/your business do to drive engagement, consideration and click throughs. Any promotional email, special offer or drive-to-purchase you email to your list is considered email marketing. 

Should I buy a list just to kick off my email marketing?

In a word, NO. Don’t buy lists. Even if the names were obtained properly—i.e. people opted in to join that list—they didn’t ask to hear from you. Think about it—do you want your inbox overloaded with offers and messagings from brands you don’t know, don’t like or, simply, don’t care about? Probably not, and neither do the people on those lists. 

Beyond that, though, if too many people report your messaging as SPAM, you could get in big trouble. CAN-SPAM laws are serious business and it’s important not to violate them.

How do I grow my email marketing list organically, then?

Since we aren’t buying lists the goal, then, is to drive people to opt-in—in other words, to choose to receive newsletters, offers and other information from your business. To get attention and, ultimately, drive sign ups, consider creating a special offer for new sign-ups—for example, 20% off of your first purchase post-sign up, or a special gift-with-purchase once a consumer opts in. Other businesses choose to put high value content behind a sign up wall—for example, you can download a white paper, coupon or popular video after you opt in to receive email communications. 

Will email marketing work for my company? Done right, it absolutely should. More than nine in 10

U.S. adults use email daily, giving businesses access to virtually any consumer in the marketplace. What’s more, it’s easy to target audiences by location, demographics, purchase history and other key specifications, ensuring there’s little waste and a higher ROI potential with every “send.” 

That said, it’s important to test messaging and creative content with every campaign. Because email is instant and reporting is readily available, it’s easy to take key learnings from a single campaign and use them to improve your next outreach. The more you do that, the better your campaigns will be—and the greater ROI you’ll deliver.

What do open rates and click through rates mean?

An open rate reflects the percentage of consumers who open your email. For example, if you send an email to 5,000 people and 150 open it, your open rate would be:

150 opens / 5,000 people = 0.03 → 3%

Most businesses will remove bouncebacks from this equation. So, for example, if 125 of the 5,000 emails are undeliverable: 

150 opens / 4,875 people (successful “sends”) = 3.08%

Click-through rate (CTR), then, refers to the percentage of people who click through on an email. In other words, they OPEN it and, most likely, saw something that sparked their interest which inspired them to take that next step: clicking to visit your site, view an offer or, somehow, learn more about your messaging. ¨C12C¨C13CLike open rate, CTR is expressed as a percentage:¨C14C¨C15CCLICKS / Delivered # = CTR¨C16C¨C17CIf, for example, 100 people click through on 4,875 emails delivered, your CTR would be: ¨C18C¨C19C100 / 4,875 = 2.05%

What are the “rules” of email marketing?

While there aren’t “rules” there are, again, LAWS. CAN-SPAM laws, for example, mandate that businesses and individuals include an unsubscribe link and physical mailing address on every email. Beyond that, if a consumer opts out, the business/individual must honor the request. CAN-SPAM laws also prohibit purchasing email lists, in most cases. 

How often should I email my subscribers? Daily? Weekly? More? Less?

Every business and brand is different, so there’s no hard-and-fast rule here. Typically, we recommend basing email frequency on how long a person has been on your list. For the first 30 days post-sign up, email daily, if possible. After than, aim for three times per week for the first three months, then weekly after that. 

Once a lead goes a bit more “cold”—i.e. hasn’t engaged in six months or more—consider dropping frequency to weekly or monthly.

When should I send emails? Is there a good day of the week/time of day?

Over time, you’ll be able to track open rates and CTRs to determine the best days and times to send your emails. As a good jumping off point, though, many experts recommend weekends and early mornings—people naturally pick up their phones as soon as they wake up, so it’s easy to catch their attention then. 

Can Cobblestone help clean up my email list?

Absolutely! Our first step will be cleaning up your email list and ensuring you’re abiding by all CAN-SPAM laws in terms of opt-ins and list procurement. If needed, we can also “re”-opt-in your list to ensure everything is on the up-and-up. 

What is a spam filter? How does it work? 

While you’ve likely browsed your spam folder and noticed tons of questionable content, it’s not just the overtly “adult” or “spammy” emails that wind up here. Spam filters look for signs of spam, such as exclamation and/or question marks in a subject line, ALL CAPS subject lines, subject lines that begin with dollar signs or contain the word “free,” and other triggers. Some triggers are, hands down, a bit odd—“As Seen,” for example, or Oprah references can raise a red flag. But, that said, it usually takes multiple violations in a single message to land in a spam folder, so you probably don’t need to worry about this right out of the gate. 

How do I make my email look good everywhere?

Today, people access their email from everywhere—desktops, laptops, tablets, mobile devices, TVs…the list goes on and on and on. So the big question: how do you ensure your messaging looks great no matter how a consumer accesses it? First, work with a designer and/or developer who can build out emails and email templates that are more responsive. Second, test each campaign to ensure it looks good on all platforms—your designer/developer can assist, as can many of the standard design tools out there.

How do I prevent people from unsubscribing from my emails?

Again, per CAN-SPAM laws if someone asks to unsubscribe you MUST remove them from your list. Never try to work around this—your email outreach could be shut down as a result. 

That said, no one wants people to opt-out of their email messaging. To avoid a mass exodus, be sure you’re properly signing people up and, from there, properly engaging them. For example, if you engage someone with a special offer on designer handbags, don’t blast them with messaging about upcoming pet adoptions or youth sporting events—it’s, likely, irrelevant and will drive them off your list ASAP. 

Beyond that, be sure you’re testing and optimizing your email content and creative with each campaign. If your list doesn’t respond to a particular offer or outreach, don’t simply rinse-and-repeat next week. Every email should be targeted, engaging and high-value—give people a reason to open your messages and they’ll likely stick around.