Sending an email may not sound like rocket science, but depending on what you’re sending and why, it can sometimes require some data nerdery.

Wing SungJust ask Wing Sung, New Relic’s senior email marketing operations specialist. As a marketing automation guru with years of marketing operations and demand generation experience, Wing knows all about the ins and outs of email marketing, especially when it’s done using the popular marketing automation platform Marketo. From email execution and deliverability reporting to nurturing campaigns and A/B testing, Wing handles most of the external communications going out to our customers, and together with the rest of the Marketing Operations team, she’s one of our key resources for marketing technology guidance.

We recently sat down with Wing to chat about modern marketing best practices and what it takes to run a successful email marketing operation. Here’s what we learned.

5 email marketing tips for the modern marketer

  1. Set communication limits. At New Relic, we’ve established a rule to send no more than two emails a day (or five emails in one week) to a single contact in our system. Of course, this can be easier said than done when different people from different teams are sending out emails to different subsets of people. Marketo makes it easy to prevent over-communication by allowing you to set a communication limit on your outbound emails—so take advantage of it!
  2. Master the art of the subject line. As a general rule, “your subject line should be no more than 12 words long,” says Wing. “When people open emails on a smaller mobile device, they likely won’t read past the first five or six words, so keep it short and keep it relevant.” Before sending anything out, Wing uses Litmus to see how an email will render in different email clients to make sure nothing funky is going on.

email on iphone

  1. Avoid sounding spammy. By now, a lot of us know what this sounds like. The caps lock-heavy sentences. Words like “guaranteed” and “free.” Says Wing, “I get so many emails from companies advertising a FREE ebook or FREE webinar, and it’s really kind of meaningless when you think about it—how often do you end up paying for a webinar? They’re all free.” If you want to avoid the spam folder, don’t sound like an infomercial.
  2. Be mindful of your audience. This tip not only ties back to the importance of the subject line, but also has to do with more logistical aspects of email marketing, like the timing of when you send it out to people. For example, when sending emails to an international audience, you should be aware of different time zones and make sure they receive it when they’re likely online, not at 4 a.m., advises Wing. She uses Marketo’s segmentation feature to define our audience by geographic location and send emails at the optimal time.
email marketing pie chart

This chart is populated with sample data. It is not representative of actual numbers.

  1. Embrace A/B testing. The best way to get better at anything? Keep experimenting and see what works and what doesn’t. For example, a recent test Wing conducted was to find out whether or not sending a follow-up reminder email after the initial webinar invite increased registration. The result? Yes, it does. Sending a follow-up email increased registration by more than 1.5x. “We’ll also A/B test call-to-action buttons and subject lines to see which copy generates better results,” says Wing. “There should always be room for more A/B testing when it comes to email marketing.”
webinar registrations pie chart

This chart is populated with sample data. It is not representative of actual numbers.

Looking for more marketing automation tips? Wing recommends following Marketo master Josh Hill, principal consultant at Marketing Rockstar Guides. For tips on how to use Marketo with New Relic Insights, read this blog post to learn how you can build real-time dashboards and analytics that show exactly how your marketing programs are doing.


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Asami Novak is director of content strategy and development at New Relic. Prior to joining the New Relic team, she wrote marketing and ad copy for a variety of B2B and B2C companies. Her editorial writing has appeared in WIRED and Dwell, among other publications. View posts by .

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