Whether you are completely new to email marketing or have been a marketing guru since laptops weighed as much as an average toddler, it never hurts to take time for a little refresher course!

Get ready to learn how to easily set up a successful email marketing strategy with SharpSpring in the following simple steps.

1. Set up email authentication. Authenticating your mail helps receiving servers confirm that you are who you say you are and that your email is unlikely to be problematic (phishing, spoofing). Setting up DKIM is a quick and easy step on the path to the inbox.

2. Utilize previous platform data. If you’ve sent email through other platforms, be sure to export all previous hard bounces, unsubscribes, and spam complaints from that system! You can then import those lists into SharpSpring as Unsubscribed to ensure your team will not accidentally send to problematic addresses or unsubscribed contacts.

Did you know? Many countries have anti-spam laws that require honoring an unsubscribe – it is your responsibility to take action to prevent continued email sends to unsubscribed contacts. Also, be sure to grab open and click history for your contacts! You’ll see why when we get to step #7.

3. Use email collection methods that WORK. Using purchased, rented, harvested, or appended email addresses in your emailing lists is no longer a successful strategy in the current email environment. Not only can these practices be extremely expensive with poor ROI, they are also known for hurting your sending reputation and causing messages to be delivered directly to the spam folder.

Growing your email list organically using direct opt-in is a surefire way to connect with leads who are most likely to engage with your email. Additional ideas to explore include setting up SharpSpring Forms and utilizing Perfect Audience.

4. Segment your lists. Segmentation prevents you from sending non-relevant emails that don’t speak to each recipient’s specific wants and needs. Recipients are more likely to engage with email they feel connected with rather than bothered or overwhelmed by.

5. Optimize your email marketing content. Avoid common spam words, a variety of fonts and colors, and image heavy emails.

Protip: Dynamic Content is a great way to personalize your emails to appeal to and connect with all types of leads in your emailing lists.

6. List maintenance. If it’s been a while since you’ve sent email to your contacts, consider using a list verification service. SharpSpring senders have reported great results with tools like Kickbox.io and Briteverify, but we encourage you to take the time to research and select a service that best fits your needs. In general, you’ll want a service that can help identify invalid addresses, role addresses, malformed domains, and disposable domains so you can unsubscribe those from your mailing lists.

7. Walk before you run. A key piece of advice we give new SharpSpring senders is to warm up their email sending. Your email has never been sent with SharpSpring’s sending infrastructure and IPs. Increasing your volume over time (‘warming up’) is the best way to let mailbox providers know that the email you’re sending is safe and wanted.

If you immediately jump into sending at full tilt you run the risk of mailbox providers yelling “stranger danger!” and rejecting delivery of your email or filtering it to the spam folder. A soft (re)introduction of your email on SharpSpring is sure to get you off to a great start. We recommend starting with your most engaged recipients (recent opens and clicks) and expanding out from there.

8. Monitor your results. Monitoring the results of your email marketing campaigns is extremely important. Depending on the results you’ll know if you need to make any modifications. A good example of something that might warrant an adjustment would be if you’re seeing an elevated hard bounce rate on your initial email send. In that case, you might want to try running your remaining lists through email verification to filter out any now defunct addresses as well as double check you unsubscribed all previous hard bounces.

Unsure what to keep an eye out for? Learn more about email statistics.

One helpful item to note: It is not unusual to see slightly lower open rates when switching sending platforms while you (re)establish your sending reputation with mailbox providers. This is only temporary! As long as you continue to follow best practices your open rates will jump up as soon as your reputation is (re)established on your new sending infrastructure.

9. Sunsetting. Implementing a sunsetting policy in your email marketing strategy helps you maintain a positive sender reputation. SharpSpring offers a built in sunset policy called Engagement-based Suppressions that helps senders keep open rates high. Senders are encouraged to implement additional processes and automations to personalize their sunsetting process to fit their business needs.

You may want to set up a reengagement drip campaign to try to win back less than engaged leads and even send out a final ‘last chance’ email before unsubscribing the contact. They can always resubscribe but preventing further email sends to someone who has not engaged with several emails can boost your ability to get email into the inbox of people who truly want to engage with your email.

Time to Hit Send!

Once you’ve established your regular sending volume and cadence, continuing to get your email marketing messages to the intended inboxes will be pretty easy if you follow this fundamental rule:

Only send email to recent and directly opted in contacts with content relevant to what they signed up for and at a frequency they are expecting.

Most importantly, please know that you’re not on your own! If you hit any snags along the way as you get started using SharpSpring email marketing, or if you ever have any questions, be sure to use the support portal so a SharpSpring specialist can help. You can always reach us at 1-888-428-9605 or online.

Jessica Kaplan