With so many new ways to reach customers, is email even relevant?
The answer is yes.
Email marketing might be one of the oldest forms of digital marketing, but it is still a powerful tool in a marketer’s toolbox. Despite strategies like social media, SEO, and PPC, it remains one of the top platforms for online marketing.
For one, email marketers can control who sees their marketing messages and when. They’’re not at the mercy of search engines and social media algorithms to put relevant content in front of prospective customers.
Secondly, the email marketing stats are impressive – 3800% ROI, 40% conversion rate compared to social media, and 72% of customers prefer email for business communication. The list goes on.
If your email campaigns aren’t delivering on your business goals, you’ve come to the right place. Here are eight email marketing best practices to boost your email marketing strategy and help you get the most out of future campaigns.
Further Reading: The Top 41 Compelling Email Marketing Statistics for 2024
1. Build a quality email list
The first of our email marketing tips is building a quality email list. Having a million subscribers is a vanity metric if most subscribers don’t engage with your content. As with many things, quality, not quantity, is the name of the game. That means you have to target high-quality leads if you want to make money with your email list.
Growing a high-quality list of subscribers is challenging, and it can be tempting to buy email addresses. Resist. Contacting people who haven’t opted in to receiving your emails violates the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and other anti-spam regulations. You risk getting fined and landing on your email service provider’s blocklist.
Once you have your email list, you have to make sure you update it regularly. That means regularly cleaning it to ensure the contacts are high-quality.
You can use an email finder to first verify addresses on your list. Then remove contacts that haven’t engaged over a certain period. For example, if users haven’t opened your weekly newsletter in two months, it’s safe to say they’re not interested in hearing from you. Alternatively, you could move them to a monthly or quarterly delivery option. If engagement levels remain inactive, remove them from your contact list.
While some people take time to hit the unsubscribe button, most (including contacts from purchased lists) simply ignore them. Or worse, mark them as spam. The problem with unresponsive contacts is they distort your email marketing campaign metrics, devaluing insights and leading to incorrect decisions.
Further Reading: 7 Best Ways to Build an Email List (From Scratch)
2. Personalize email campaigns
Personalizing emails is more than adding a name to the subject line or email greeting. It’s a first step, but you can do more to make your customers feel valued. Customers don’t want to receive emails about products they don’t use, even if their name is on the email. Therefore, relevance is a defining feature of personalization.
Air New Zealand sent this promotional email to customers browsing island destinations.
You can tailor your marketing to match your client’s needs using data collected from customers’ interactions with your website, social media pages, or customer service portals. To ensure they only receive relevant content, segment your email list.
Successful companies adopt email list segmentation as part of their email marketing best practices. It organizes customers into groups based on specific criteria, so you’re not sending everyone the same email blasts. These categories include geographic location, position in the sales funnel, customer interests, behavior, and so on. For example, active customers shouldn’t receive re-engagement emails.
Personalization delivers higher email engagement rates, conversions, and retention, generating 40% more revenue. Most email marketing tools allow you to automate personalization with drip campaigns. That way, you engage the right customer with the right message.
3. Craft compelling subject lines
While every component of an email is essential, you should pay special attention to your subject lines. 69% of email recipients make conclusions about whether or not an email is spam as soon as they see the subject line. That means your subject lines spell the difference between whether or not your email is opened. Therefore, you need to create compelling subject lines.
There are several ways to do this.
- Use incentives. Giving subscribers something is a great way to get them to open your emails. It doesn’t have to be offers or discounts. It can be industry insights.
- Speak to their pain points. Customers worried about employee productivity are more likely to open an email with that in the subject than a generic ‘Monthly Newsletter’ subject line.
- Use emojis. Brands that use emojis in the subject lines have higher open rates than text-only. With emojis, you can create eye-catching email subject lines and optimize space on mobile devices.
Keep your email subject lines short – 30 to 50 characters. The space is limited, and lengthy subject lines drop off, diminishing their effectiveness. Instead, use preview text to expound on subject lines.
The example above highlights the email subject lines in bold and the preview text in grey. Preview texts are a great way to hook customers with additional information. You can create a sense of urgency and showcase brand personality.
Further Reading: 12 Best Practices to Create Excellent Email Marketing Subject Lines
4. Design mobile-responsive emails
We all know that more than 50% of internet traffic comes from mobile devices. That includes checking email. So, if mobile-responsive emails are not part of your eCommerce or SaaS content production, you’re losing more than half your target audience.
Responsive emails are optimized for any device, adapting to multiple screen sizes and layouts. They display information correctly whether viewed on a desktop, tablet, or smartphone—no wonky formats, low-quality images, or turning the mobile device sideways to view content.
Here’s an example of a marketing email viewed on a desktop.
Here’s the same email message as viewed on a smartphone.
The layout differs, but the images, copy, and calls to action (CTA) are the same, giving users a seamless customer experience.
The simplest way to create a responsive email is with a responsive email design template. Follow these other tips, too:
- Use a single-column layout
- Choose readable fonts (at least 22 points for headlines and 14 points for the body)
- Optimize images for mobile (an image of 72 dots per inch is recommended)
- Use big call-to-action buttons (the minimum recommended size is 44 px x 44 px)
Mobile optimization doesn’t end with your emails. The landing pages your CTAs direct customers to should also be mobile-friendly.
Further Reading: Email Marketing Design: 13 Best Practices to Follow
5. Focus on quality content
Where the subject line convinces people to open your emails, the email body is what gets them to engage by clicking the CTA button.
For quality email marketing content, keep the body relevant and concise. For example, don’t include information about an upcoming event in an industry insights email. Create a separate email communication for the event. That way, readers aren’t confused about which action you want them to take (read the blog or register for the event).
People don’t have time to read lengthy messages. Instead, write enticing copy that convinces them to click the CTA button.
This entire email consists of three sentences designed to create a sense of urgency. It adds bold, eye-catching visuals to grab readers’ attention and demonstrate what they’re missing out on if they don’t act.
Adding dynamic content like video is another way to improve email quality. It strengthens email content and increases customer engagement rates by up to 300%. Rather than sending emails with texts and images, use video to say everything you want.
You can also embed polls and surveys in email communications to boost feedback completion rates without requiring customers to leave their inboxes.
Further Reading: How to Create the Perfect Content for Your Email Marketing
6. Test and analyze email campaigns
The perfect email marketing campaign today may not work tomorrow: market trends and customer behavior change. The best you can do is develop a strategy based on email marketing best practices and analyze the results. For that, you need to define what constitutes a successful campaign.
Key performance indicators every marketer should implement are:
- Open rates – how many people open your emails
- Click-through rates – how many people click your email CTA
- Unsubscribe rates – how many opt out of your subscriber list
- ROI – how much the campaign makes compared to how much you spent
The list goes on.
These email marketing metrics provide insight into which part of your campaign is letting you down. For instance, if your open rates are high but click-through rates are low, your subject lines are effective, but the email content or CTA buttons aren’t.
Fortunately, you don’t have to wait until the end of the campaign to gain valuable insight into your campaign’s performance. A/B testing allows you to pinpoint which elements of your live campaign drive conversion rates. It works by delivering two versions of the same email to different segments of your customers to see which performs best.
For example, you could split-test your subject lines (one with emojis, one without) or CTA location (above or below the digital fold). Test each element this way. You’ll know which content resonates with your audience, where to place your CTA button, and the best time to send emails.
Check out this example:
The emails are similar except for the image in the second version.
Your emails aren’t the only thing you should test. Your landing pages could be letting your campaign down. For instance, slow loading times can affect conversion rates. If your page takes too long to load, people simply exit. Fast web hosts usually keep page loading times below four seconds, minimizing bounce rates.
Further Reading: 12 Inspiring Email Marketing Campaign Examples to Spark New Ideas
7. Comply with email marketing regulations
Earlier, we mentioned the GDPR in relation to buying email lists. The GDPR is an EU data protection and privacy legislation that outlines how companies can collect and process personally identifiable information, i.e., names, username, email addresses, locations, etc.
The email marketing law doesn’t just affect European companies. It applies to every organization that attracts European web customers.
Under the law, companies must notify customers when they collect data, and customers must explicitly consent to said data collection. So, you can see how purchasing email lists can land you in trouble. These email contacts didn’t consent to share their information with you.
There are several ways to ensure your email marketing campaigns are GDPR-compliant.
- Use reliable email providers
- Ask for consent in your lead capture forms
- Include a note about the what data you collect, why, and how you use it
- Use double opt-in, where customers verify their email address to confirm consent
- Allow subscribers to opt out easily
Following these steps not only ensures you’re compliant. They will strengthen your relationship with your loyal customers, building trust.
Further Reading: Email Marketing Laws: What Marketers Need to Know
8. Stay updated with email marketing trends
Email marketing isn’t static. To stand the test of time, it has to adapt to changes in customer behavior, market practices, and legal requirements. Keeping up with trends is challenging.
In 2024, there’s a focus on privacy and user-generated content. Some email marketers also use artificial intelligence to help them write their emails. Then there’s the emphasis on interactive content like animated buttons and CTAs. But there could be a reversal of these trends with time.
So, how can you stay updated with emerging trends? Look at any of the following sources:
- Industry guides – Check out marketing blogs, newsletters, and podcasts
- Industry conferences – seminars and workshops also allow you to network with professionals and gain insight from industry leaders.
- Social media – platforms like LinkedIn or Slack communities connect you with global peers and industry influencers.
- Google Alerts – set an alert for specific marketing topics and receive notifications every time Google finds a news item related to the keyword.
Knowledge is power. Whether or not to jump onto a specific marketing bandwagon is up to you. However, be aware of what’s happening in the digital marketing landscape.
Further Reading: The Definitive Guide to Email Marketing
Final thoughts on email marketing best practices
Email marketing is the old kid in the digital marketing block. That is why it is one of the most trusted and reliable marketing channels. It’s easy to think there’s nothing more to learn about email marketing, but you couldn’t be more wrong. Markets change. People change.
Whether you’re nurturing prospects, converting leads, or rewarding loyal customers, we shared eight email marketing best practices to maximize your email marketing efforts. While each tip contributes to effective email campaigns, we’d like to highlight a few.
You need a list of engaged email subscribers. Focus on quality, not quantity. Lists with unresponsive users skew campaign metrics, leading to inaccurate insights. Personalization is trending these days, so we can’t stress enough the importance of building authentic customer relationships. Go beyond the customer’s name, but respect their data privacy.
If you follow these email marketing best practices, you’ll deliver effective, high-quality future campaigns.
Michal Leszczyński is immersed in developing, implementing, and coordinating all manner of content marketing projects as the Head of Content & Partnerships at GetResponse. He has 10-plus years of expertise in online marketing with a Master of Science Degree in Strategic Marketing and Consulting from the University of Birmingham (UK). Michal is the author of more than 100 articles, ebooks, and courses for both GetResponse and renowned websites like Crazy Egg and Social Media Today.
Hero photo by Solen Feyissa on Unsplash
Email Marketing Best Practices FAQs
Remember these 5 T’s of email marketing:
1. Timing – this is crucial because you want to send your messages at a time when your subscribers are most likely to be checking their inboxes.
2. Targeting – this means tailoring your messages to specific segments of your audience.
3. Tracking – this allows you to measure the success of your campaigns and make adjustments as needed.
4. Testing – it is key to finding out what works best for your audience.
5. Tools – can help you automate your campaigns and streamline your workflow.
An effective email marketing strategy is one that can help you build long-lasting relationships with your target audience by consistently delivering personalized and value-packed content straight to their inbox. This means understanding your audience’s needs, preferences, and behaviors and using this insight to craft messages that resonate with them. It also means segmenting your mailing list to ensure that your messages are reaching the right individuals at the right time.
One best practice for email marketing is to personalize your emails as much as possible. That means addressing your recipient by name and targeting your messaging based on their interests or behavior. This not only builds a connection with your audience, but it can also lead to higher open and click-through rates. Another best practice is to make your emails visually appealing with eye-catching designs and clean formatting. This keeps your reader engaged and makes your content easier to scan.
There are seven core strategies for email marketing: personalization, segmentation, automation, mobile optimization, A/B testing, engagement tracking, and email design. By utilizing these tactics, businesses can increase their chances of generating leads and driving conversions. Personalizing emails with the recipient’s name, using segmentation to target specific demographics, automating the sending process, optimizing for mobile devices, testing different versions of email content, tracking engagement rates, and designing visually appealing emails are all essential components of a successful email marketing campaign.
The most important thing in email marketing is undoubtedly delivering relevant and personalized content to the recipient. This means segmenting your audience, analyzing their behavior and interests, and tailoring your messaging accordingly. By speaking directly to the needs of your audience, you establish trust and credibility, increasing the chance of click-throughs, conversions, and ultimately, customer loyalty.