Marketers loves to throw around the phrase “best practices” as if it really means anything. Best practice dictates that we target our email audiences. According to best practice, our image to text ratio should be 60/40. What we’re really saying is, we’ve made tons of mistakes, some progress, and then more mistakes again. Our best practices are what we implemented during the progression stage.

A Google search of “email marketing best practices” will bring back hundreds of infographics, blog posts, videos, and articles. Good luck filtering through it all. Oh, even better news – half of these tips from the pros will contradict the other half.

In the spirit of the holiday season, a time of unrelenting giving, here are five real email best practices from Salesfusion’s, becoming Sugar Market’s, marketing automation onboarding specialists. These guys work day in and day out training new customers, helping them adapt to marketing automation, then turning them into Marketing Heroes.

  1. When to send an email: Have you been looking for the answer to this all your life? Tuesdays and Thursdays, between 10-11am.
    • However, don’t obsess about what time you deploy an email campaign. It’s more important to think about your audience and when they’re reading emails.
    • If you market to educators, they’re likely checking email before 8am and after 3pm. If you’re marketing to CEOs, they’re up at 5am reading email or catching up on the weekends.
  2. How to design a subject line: Subject lines should be teasers or a vague topic introduction.
    • Your email recipients receive dozens (hundreds) of emails on a daily basis. They want to know what they’re opening and what information they’re going to receive when they open the email.
  3. What to do with stale leads: Deactivate a lead after a certain period of time without engagement. Hold on to them until they say “enough is enough” and unsubscribe.
    • It’s up to your company to create a stale lead timeline. Design a plan of attack that will try to reestablish engagement before giving stale leads a time out period.
    • Deactivation ensures that your database stays clean – it’s much easier to halt engagement on a case by case basis than a massive system-wide clean up project.
  4. How to engage with social media: The use of social media is a fantastic way to diversify marketing efforts and expand the interactions, however there is a relatively common trend to over saturate people with social media.
    • While social media can supplement your marketing material and information in a beneficial and effective manner, you shouldn’t rely on it as your only mode of lead generation.
    • Just as you wouldn’t email someone everyday with the same information, posting and tweeting similar or duplicate information on a regular basis will quickly over-saturate your contacts, especially if you are interacting with them through email campaigns well.
  5. How to test: Don’t get too absorbed with testing. The best practice is to test, test, test. Yes, you should test but don’t get obsessed with it.
    • If your HTML is 5 px too wide in Outlook no one is going to notice but you. So, you might as well spend that time brainstorming ideas for your next campaign.