This week in #bufferchat, we talked about the best practices and tips for successful email marketing with our guest, Paul Jarvis! The community discussed why a quality list of subscribers can help a business, what makes an email really engaging, how to craft an awesome subject line, and much more.

If you are interested in learning more about email marketing from Paul, check out his Chimp Essentials course! (Feel free to use the code BUFFER for a $30 discount.)

Catch our weekly Twitter chat, #bufferchat, at TWO times every Wednesday for valuable industry insights and networking with nearly 400 other smart marketers and community managers. Same topic, same place, just at different times – feel free to join in to whichever chat time works best for you!

For our community in Asia and Australia: 4 pm AEDT (Sydney time, UTC+11)

For our community in North/South America, Europe and Africa: 9 am PT / 5 pm GMT

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Q1: Why might a quality list of subscribers be helpful for your business?

From Paul:

  • Email marketing typically converts better than social. (Source)
  • Emails are 5x more likely to be clicked than Facebook posts and 6x more than tweets.
  • Strictly from an ROI standpoint, Monetate reported email’s avg conversion rate at ~3%, vs social at .7%
  • Them’s just the facts, email is really just a great + personal way to talk to your audience where they already pay attention.

From the community:

  • “Quality list of email subscribers are like loyal customers to a brand. They’re with you. You can easily build trust.” @thinkdesignvis
  • “It allows you to have your targeted content reach an audience who will be genuinely interest in what you have to offer.” @StoreCoach
  • “Social media is sexy but email is still king of ‘calls to action.’ I wouldn’t trade our house file for anything.” @cmbutler
  • “These are the people who are eager to hear from you. They are your champions and will be the most communicative.” @dev_vine
  • “Quality means high engagement levels. you should always communicate with people who are listening.” @deevapreneur

See all the great answers to question 1 here!

Q2: What are the components of a really engaging email?

From Paul:

  • 1 sent at the right time, 2 to the right people, 3 for the right reason (also known as segmentation + personalization).

From the community:

  • “Interesting, original and valuable content. High impact images, and at least one call to action.” @izzydoesizzy
  • “Indispensable always beats hacks like fancy subject lines. Every Friday, I eagerly await ‘s letter b/c I KNOW it’s ace.” @MarcEglon
  • “Email content must be about the receiving person. How can you help them?” @sgrayme
  • “What appeals to me? 1) Personalization, 2) Conciseness and 3) Usefulness. Also a clean design.” @danielleirogers
  • “A catchy subject, easy to digest email that delivers on the subject, and a CTA to get readers to take the next step.” @M2Franz

See all the great answers to question 2 here!

Q3: How do you write an awesome subject line? As a bonus, what’s the best subject line you’ve ever seen?

From Paul:

  • Be honest (it’s actually the law), be clear, give people a benefits or curiosity driven reason to click.
  • Bonus: “Free Beer!” (hits all the previous points) [He linked to this article.]

From the community:

  • “Best subject lines bring a sense of urgency or reward! My name in the subject line always works too.” @lifeofaworkgirl
  • “Be super clear + concise. Tell me exactly what to expect inside the email that’s a value to me.” @The_ChrisBryant
  • “Awesome subj. lines are solution oriented. BONUS: Best subj. line: ‘Because you don’t have all day.'” @Mediabistro
  • “I get tons of emails every day. So when I come up with a subject line, I try to think of one that even I wouldn’t ignore.” @sola_eclipses
  • “Either add the value or present a mystery to make them explore.” @varunkr842

See all the great answers to question 3 here!

Q4: What is a common mistake people make while using email for marketing?

From Paul:

  • 1 not branding everything (ex. onboarding), 2 not using their own voice, 3 making it all about them & not their audience.

From the community:

  • “Don’t cover up a mistake! sent an amazing apology email when mixing up their email lists. Really appreciated it.” @lifeofaworkgirl
  • “Approaching promotion from their own perspective without understanding audience needs.” @UXcelsior
  • “The biggest mistake in email marketing is a lack of segmentation and personalization. Make it relevant or get out my inbox.” @TheCoolestCool
  • “Not testing 🙂 Apparently the subject line “Hey” worked amazingly well for the Obama campaign. Who would have thought?” @Mike_Eck
  • “Never never never add people to your email list without getting their permission first. Don’t do it.” @martinlieberman

See all the great answers to question 4 here!

Q5: What are great ways to onboard your subscribers?

From Paul:

  • Accommodation, assimilation (no, not the borg), acceleration
  • I onboard with a fun, on-brand, and silly welcome message about tattoos.
  • Never got why ppl immediately direct folks elsewhere in an email. It’s like a twitter auto-DM saying “follow me on facebook!”

From the community:

  • “Send an intro email letting them know your schedule and what they will receive. Also, don’t forget to thank them!!” @J_Rouser
  • “That depends on WHY they’ve signed up. Make sure that first email delivers on what you promised.” @Lauchlin
  • “The best onboarding I ever received was a personal welcome with indication that they’d looked over my profile.” @incipecoop
  • “When people finish one of my free courses I give them a password to access my entire digital resource library.” @dekirooinc
  • “Acknowledge in a meaningful, personalized way. Share a story, infographic, coupon, etc. Whatever it is that you do 4 them.” @bendgibbons

See all the great answers to question 5 here!

Q6: What companies or individuals are doing email marketing really well, and why?

From Paul:

From the community:

  • @WellandGoodNYC for sure- I literally want to click on every single article in their emails each day.” @LUCYrk78
  • “I love @copyhackers‘s emails.She’s got a unique style & a tone that’s friendly and makes you convert at the same time.” @svikashk
  • “Best newsletter I’ve ever seen comes from @AppedApps. Transparent, fun, informative.” @epic_joel
  • @marieforleo really cares abt providing value to her community (it shows) @byReginaTV gives SO much it’s incredible!” @broganmicallef
  • “Seth Godin does a good job too. As does Peter Shankman. “Peter’s Occasional Non-Annoying Email Update” – so clever.” @nicoleyoley159

See all the great answers to question 6 here!

Q7: What’s your #1 most-actionable tip for email marketing?

From Paul:

  • Make everything you send relevant, personal and about your AUDIENCE (not just YOUR business/products).

From the community:

  • “Encourage response, and respond back. Deepens the relationship, turns customers into fans.” @damonclarksaid
  • “Must be visually appealing! You have 5 seconds of scroll time before your user hits delete!” @BrightHausGroup
  • “Test and learn from your #data. Don’t send content for the sake of sending or meeting a deadline.” @Anne_E_Mercer
  • “Be succinct! People have short attention spans and are always running short on time. Keep it light and engaging.” @stephawharton
  • “The goal here is to make your subscribers open your email because they want to talk to you, not just your stuff.” @ramoscheryle

See all the great answers to question 7 here!

Thank you so much to Paul for sharing his awesome insights and to everyone who participated in this awesome chat!

Catch #bufferchat each Wednesday at 9 am PST, 12 pm EST, 5 pm GMT **OR** at 4 pm AEDT (Sydney time, UTC+11). Join our new Slack community with over 1,000 members to continue these awesome conversations all week long!

Do you have any comments or answers to these questions? Leave your thoughts in the comments! We’d love to hear from you!

Image sources: UnSplash

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Written by Arielle Tannenbaum

Community Strategist at Buffer. In addition to her love of community building, Arielle also loves vegetables, cooking, practicing yoga, meditating, living mindfully, and exploring the connections between health and happiness!

  • Thanks for having me on as a guest!

    • Arielle Tannenbaum

      It was so fantastic to have you as our guest and to learn from you, Paul! 🙂 What an awesome discussion!

    • It was so fantastic to have you as our guest and to learn from you, Paul! What an awesome discussion! 🙂

  • Louis george

    I really like efforts both of you put in this story coming to our way. I Specially thanks to Paul Jarvis to bring us very important insights of email marketing. It will surely help me to gain visitors to my website in coming few months. I am looking forward to it. Thanks once again both of you.

    • This means so much to us – thanks Louis! I’m so happy to hear that this recap was helpful!