It is simple to send an email or two. A long-term email plan that develops your business, on the other hand, necessitates a deliberate approach based on email marketing best practices. The world of email marketing has principles worth studying, from the best approach to gain new members on your list to the finest ways to let readers unsubscribe.
Focusing on email marketing best practices can help you connect with your clients and develop your brand by converting subscriptions into sales.
Failure to follow these standards may result in send-outs that seem correct on desktop but incorrect on mobile, a huge but unengaged mailing list, or emails that are never opened. Focusing on email marketing best practices can help you connect with your clients and develop your brand by converting subscriptions into sales.
If you're just starting started with email marketing or have reached a snag in developing your email list, this article can help you improve your emails and establish a successful email marketing plan. We'll guide you through 20 email marketing best practices to help you improve your emails, moving beyond sending one-time emails and toward developing a long-term email marketing plan that pays benefits for your company.
20 Email Marketing Best Practices
1. Use double opt-in email sign-up
Emailing information and offers is a type of permission marketing, a concept invented by Seth Godin in his book Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers into Friends and Friends into Customers. Godin believes that allowing customers to opt into marketing and choose when, where, and how they are promoted to is the most successful (and respectful) strategy to convert observers into buyers. When a website visitor, potential client, or former consumer subscribes to your mailing list, they permit you to contact them.
As opposed to single opt-in, double opt-in email sign-up enables you to gather email addresses while adding a second confirmation step to make sure the person consents to receive emails from you. By preventing false sign-ups, this technique also ensures that you comply with GDPR and other anti-spam legislation.
Here is an example of a double opt-in email sign-up in action:
- A sign-up form is completed by a website visitor on a landing page.
- They get a confirmation email after joining your mailing list.
- They are now a subscriber who has opted in to receive emails after receiving confirmation.
A premium skincare firm called Beneath Your Mask employs double opt-in email sign-up, and once a member joins their list, they send them a welcome email.
Before adding a new subscriber to their list, Beneath Your Mask employs double opt-in email confirmation.
After receiving a confirmation of double opt-in, Beneath Your Mask sends a welcome email.
To assist organizations to maintain high-quality mailing lists, several email marketing systems, like Mailchimp, provide the ability to enable double opt-in email sign-up. Building an engaged list and maintaining a high open rate with this email marketing best practice can help you generate revenue.
2. Send a welcome email
Send a welcome email to a customer who has opted in to receive emails to build a relationship and get them ready for what's to come. Welcome emails are advantageous since they typically have an open rate of more than 86%. After a new subscriber joins your mailing list, the majority of email marketing providers allow you to send an automated welcome email. A welcome email should be timeless and pertinent to newcomers.
Here are some strategies to help your first email to a subscriber be effective:
- Introduce yourself and your business. An effective way to increase brand affinity for your business and connect emotionally with a subscriber is through a welcome email. Give a new reader some background information about you and the reasons you founded your business. Take them inside the process from conception to launch. Include unique details in your emails, such as a team photo and a handwritten signature.
- Send a curated list of your best content. If offering helpful advice and information is a component of your email marketing plan, new subscribers won't have access to the extensive archive of your earlier content. Curate a few of your most well-liked articles or newsletters for your first email to a new subscriber.
- Provide a discount or promotional offer. Frequently, businesses provide a special discount, like 10% off their first order, to entice website visitors to join their email mailing list. Use your welcome email to fulfill that promise in this situation by giving them a discount coupon and perhaps assembling a list of items they may spend on. Alternately, utilize surprise to your advantage by offering unanticipated discounts to new subscribers to your email list.
Bushbalm, a firm that creates a range of natural skincare products, offers a discount to website visitors who subscribe to its mailing list. It offers a brief special deal for new members in its welcome email.
Set an aim for your welcome email that helps your company goals rather than wasting your first opportunity to connect with a subscriber.
3. Avoid using a no-reply email address
Email marketing offers a chance to establish a strong rapport with customers since it has access to the inbox of subscribers. Your choice of an email address might affect this connection. Using a no-reply email address is not recommended for email marketing. Choose a real email address that readers may reply to instead. The two are different in the following ways:
- No-reply email address. Incoming emails cannot be received at this kind of email address. They frequently take the form [email protected]. Avoid using them for regular emails to subscribers but use them for transactional emails (such as password resets, confirmations of purchases or shipments, etc.).
- Valid email address. Incoming emails can be received at this kind of email address. They frequently have aliases attached to them, such as [email protected] or [email protected]. This is a wonderful choice for sending subscribers frequent emails.
Keep an eye on the inbox at your company, and reply promptly to any emails that arrive. Set up your inbox such that it filters out out-of-office auto-responders and automatically forwards subscriber messages to your customer support professionals as your business expands. A customized email stimulates interaction and comments from your newsletter readers, which may benefit your business and increase email delivery rates.
4. Personalize your emails
Personalize your emails to your subscribers to establish a relationship with them and provide them the maximum benefit. Addressing subscribers by name in emails using merge tags on email marketing systems that automatically add customized information to your emails is one of the simplest methods to add a personal touch. But there are many other methods to personalize your send-outs besides this one.
Choose an email marketing platform with strong automation tools so you can design emails that seem customized for every subscriber:
- Website browsing emails. If a website visitor subscribes and chooses to accept website cookies, you may send them emails based on their browsing history on your website if your email marketing platform interfaces with it. An automated email, for instance, may give them a couple of the goods they clicked on but didn't purchase in the case of an online store.
- Abandoned cart emails. Customers occasionally reach the checkout page without completing their transaction. Automated abandoned cart emails might remind them in their inbox and nudge them to make a purchase.
- Birthday offer emails. Gather birthdays from email signup forms and use them to give promo vouchers to subscribers as birthday gifts.
- Product purchase education emails. Send emails to customers once they make a certain transaction that will assist them to maximize their most recent purchase.
Sending “just in time” emails that provide subscribers with a tailored experience is made easier by personalization.
5. Write casually and conversationally
You want to present your company to customers in a polished and expert manner. In actuality, though, this might result in rigid formality that makes your communications appear impersonal and chilly. Instead, choose a conversational, informal tone for your communications.
- Avoid complex language. People frequently join email lists to receive knowledge from specialists. Expertise may be communicated, nevertheless, without resorting to needlessly convoluted language that alienates readers and makes writing difficult to grasp. Instead, use straightforward language.
- Use contractions. Using contractions like “who's” and “there's” rather than “who is” and “there is” can help writing sound more natural. We frequently use contractions when conversing, thus it's a good idea to write in a conversational tone when sending emails.
- Leave out jargon and acronyms. Insiders undoubtedly have a working knowledge of the jargon and acronyms used in your field. But not everyone who reads your emails will experience this. To avoid misunderstanding, spell out acronyms completely and use everyday language.
- Speak like a trusted adviser or friend. Take on the tone you might use to advise a buddy as you write your emails. Be straight, honest, and fun at the same time.
These minor adjustments may mean the difference between emails that are promptly archived and ones that are read all the way through by subscribers.
6. Keep emails brief
A person sends and receives 121 business emails every day on average, so any subscriber emails you send are simply one more in the never-ending digital stack. Emails that are brief and to the point have a greater chance of being read.
Sundays, a furniture company, sent out brief and to-the-point emails in preparation for their largest sale of the year on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
The optimal email copy length, according to Campaign Monitor, is between 50 and 125 words. This is only a suggestion; you should experiment with the length that works best for your company's target demographic. Avoid emails that are excessively long and cause readers to click away halfway through. Instead, get right to the point and make the information you're attempting to impart clear to the reader, whether it's a forthcoming special sale or the introduction of a new product line.
7. Make emails easy to skim
To begin with, most people do not read every word of an email. Instead, while reading online, individuals frequently use an F-shaped reading pattern that is ideal for efficiency, focusing first on the upper half of a paragraph before scrolling vertically. A reader's eyes scan for crucial elements to gain a general sense of what a newsletter send out is saying.
Structure your emails so that readers may absorb as much information as possible in as little time as possible. Here are a few pointers to help you avoid large blocks of text in favor of skimmable content:
- Keep your paragraphs short. Keep your message clear, succinct, and to the point by following the “one concept per paragraph” approach.
- Use bullet points and lists. Breaking material down into bullet points and lists (like this one) is easier to scan than words in a block of text.
- Throw in headers. To split up lengthier emails, use creative and useful headers.
- Add in graphics. Break up the text with relevant images or pictures, such as product shots, to catch the reader's attention.
- Bold important information. Put a key message in bold if your email has one, such as asking readers to complete a survey or announcing cooperation.
- Use CTA buttons. Make the action you want the reader to take evident by using a colorful CTA box and clear, stand-out CTA language.
- Leave some white space. Without breathing space between lines of text, skimming is more difficult, utilize white space wisely to keep your email flowing.
These straightforward suggestions can make your emails simpler to read and, as a result, help subscribers understand your content more quickly.
8. Perfect the subject line
Only when a subscriber reads an email does the time spent creating an interesting and educational message count. Because of this, creating a title that stands out in a reader's congested email is crucial. Avoid tricks like using ALL CAPS, using too many exclamation points, or using too many emojis, and try these suggestions instead:
- Think like a copywriter. Even if an email subject line isn't a magazine ad or billboard, consider drafting a sentence that grabs attention and creates curiosity about the email's contents.
- Keep it short. Your subject line is usually chopped off after a certain number of characters in email clients. By keeping the subject line's character count low, you can communicate more in fewer words.
- Let readers know what’s ahead. Inform subscribers of what to expect when they open your email.
- Add a sense of urgency. Inform readers directly in the subject line if you are running a special price offer or if a discount is about to expire on your website.
- Make it timely. Holidays or other impending dates on the calendar might motivate activity. If you offer accounting services, notify customers when tax day is approaching; if you sell custom decorations, inform customers when Christmas delivery must be made.
- Stay original. Overusing words like “free” might decrease deliverability and cause readers to tune off.
Consider a subject line that will encourage readers to click rather than open another email in their inbox.
9. Consider your preview text
The preview text serves as your subtitle if your subject line serves as your title. The preview text allows you a second chance to get a subscriber to open your email, even though the subject line is what they see initially. Avoid using preview text that automatically inserts your email's preheader or the first line. Customize your preview text instead, and pick a sentence that entices viewers to read the rest of what you have to say.
Consider these two lines as complementing rather than just restating the subject line in slightly different wording in the preview text. Here are a few instances from actual businesses:
- Company: Bullet Journal
- Subject line: The Last Resolution
- Preview text: Find better tools for change
- Company: Fable
- Subject line: Show us your best #FableShelfie
- Preview text: The winner gets $500 to Fable.
- Company: CB2
- Subject line: FLASH SALE: 20% OFF
- Preview text: 2 days only.
- Company: Warby Parker
- Subject line: Want a peek at our next collection?
- Preview text: Warby Parker Right this way
- Company: Allbirds
- Subject line: Endorphins Incoming …
- Preview text: Run-ready essentials to get your new year started.
Utilize the preview text to inform subscribers of what to expect in your email and persuade them to click and read it.
10. Have a compelling CTA
Call-to-actions (CTAs) are an excellent way to get people to take action in emails. Your emails should have CTA buttons to assist make it clear what the reader should do. Your CTA wording should be brief (one to five words) and to the point, and your CTA button should be prominently displayed in your email so that readers can easily see it.
Fable, a company that sells ecologically made tableware, utilized a clear CTA in a promotional email to direct subscribers to a deal on its website.
Mejuri, a popular fine jewelry company, employs a clever CTA to direct visitors to their website's gold selection.
You can find out which offers are most appealing to subscribers and which message is most successful by monitoring the click-through rates (CTR) on your CTA across emails.
11. A/B test your content
The ability to test several versions of a single email and experiment with its content through A/B testing is a useful feature offered by the majority of email marketing systems.
Here’s how A/B testing works:
- A portion of your mailing list (for example, 100 out of 1,000 subscribers) receives one version of your email (version A).
- A distinct segment of your email list (for example, 100 out of 1,000 subscribers) receives version B of your email.
- One of the two emails eventually “wins” depending on performance measures like open rate, click-through rate, or another parameter you choose inside your email marketing platform.
- The remainder of your email list (800 or 1,000 subscribers, for example) will then get the email that was chosen as the winner. Either an automatic or manual process can be used.
You may compare several components of your email campaign using A/B testing to see which is most effective. The many components you may test with an A/B test are listed below:
- CTA button
- Preview text
Even while A/B testing may be a successful method, small businesses may not have the time or resources to devote to creating several emails. Test the basic elements of your emails, such as the headlines and preview text, first. As your email marketing approach develops, think about testing additional email functions as well.
A/B testing is a great practice for email marketing since it enables you to test your hypothesis. You can experiment if you believe that a shorter email would perform better than a lengthier one. You may let your subscribers determine whether you think that posing a question in a headline would result in a greater open rate than a statement. You will come closer and closer to the winning formula that works best for your business by A/B testing various components of your emails over time.
Even so, be sure you're measuring the appropriate thing. Email testing is useful. Even if measures like open rate and click-through rate are useful to understand, it's more crucial to understand how well your emails perform against objectives like turning consumers into subscribers.
12. Use audience segmentation
When compared to other marketing channels, email marketing has some advantages, including the ability to send customized emails through audience segmentation, resulting in campaigns that are more precise and focused.
Instead of sending general emails to your entire list, you can send pertinent updates to different segments of your mailing list (for example, four segments of 250 subscribers each) by gathering crucial information about subscribers when they sign up or by creating different segments based on email or website activity (e.g., one segment of 1,000 subscribers).
There is evidence that segmented campaigns are more successful than non-demented marketing, according to small email research by Mailchimp that included 2,000 users that sent segmented emails:
- 14.31% higher opens than non-segmented campaigns
- 100.95% higher clicks than non-segmented campaigns
- 9.37% lower subscribes than non-segmented campaigns
Several possible methods for segmenting your email list are listed below:
- Based on provided demographic information like gender, age, or location. If your business sells apparel for both men and women, you may send various emails with information about your products tailored to each group.
- Based on expressed content interests. During the sign-up process, a furniture business that offers things for kitchens, living rooms, dining rooms, and bedrooms might ask a website visitor what content they are interested in.
- Based on the requested email frequency. If you produce a lot of email material, you may split your subscribers into groups like “bi-weekly,” “weekly,” or “daily” based on how frequently they want to receive your information.
- Based on website activity. You may send specific reminders and prompts based on when an email subscriber last visited your website or what they looked at while there.
- Based on purchase history. Create client segments depending on the products they've purchased to enable you to send follow-ups for feedback or material specifically geared toward the product.
- Based on email engagement. Platforms for email marketing often include data on opens and clicks from subscribers' interactions with your emails, which may be utilized to construct segments.
This procedure is easy to use and automated thanks to several email marketing tools. The finest material for segmentation, meanwhile, is dense and time- and labor-intensive to produce. You may gradually refine and target your email messages as your company expands and your email marketing strategy is expanded.
13. Make your emails accessible
Unbelievably frequently, blindness and visual abnormalities like color blindness occur. You can improve the accessibility of your emails to a wider range of readers, including those with visual impairments or those who prefer to read your information on an e-reader, with a few simple changes. While web accessibility (also known as a11y) is a large topic, the following pointers can assist you in making the emails you send accessible to as many people as you can:
- Use image alt text. Images should include meaningful alt text.
- Use meaningful anchor text. When using hyperlinks, stay away from utilizing anchor text like “click here” and instead use descriptive content.
- Make your emails keyboard-only accessible. Check to see if readers who don't have access to a mouse can navigate your email using just their keyboard.
- Use dark fonts. The simplest font colors to read are often black and dark grey.
- Use contrast. To make sure your information can be easily read in an email, try putting your color choices through an online contrast checker.
You can share information about your company with additional subscribers by adhering to these rules.
14. Optimize for mobile
The appearance of marketing emails on mobile devices is sometimes overlooked since they are frequently created and altered on desktop computers. Given that 41.6% of emails are opened on mobile devices, this shouldn't be the case. Fortunately, there is a simple solution for this: test your email before sending it and see how it displays on a mobile device.
The food startup Partake produces colorful emails that look beautiful on all platforms and are gluten-free, vegan, and allergy-friendly.
Choose email marketing systems with responsive design templates that look fantastic on desktop, mobile, and tablet computers.
15. Set a consistent cadence
Your email cadence is different from your email content. Decide on the frequency and time of your send-outs as part of your email marketing plan. There is a wealth of information on how frequently and when to send marketing emails, so it may seem like a complicated undertaking. However, it is debatable that many of these cadence-based changes in open rates and click-through rates are negligibly minor.
- Frequency. MailerLite discovered that the median open rate ranged from 37.67% for emails sent more than seven times per week to 40.33% for monthly send-outs. Emails sent more frequently than seven times per week got a click-through rate of 16.67%, while monthly emails saw a median click-through rate of 14.29%.
- Timing. According to Campaign Monitor, Saturdays had the lowest open rates at 17.3% while Fridays had the highest open rates at 18.9 percent. Saturdays had the lowest click-through rate, at 2.4%, while Fridays had the highest, at 2.7%.
In the end, several factors, including your company offering and the sector you operate in, will determine what works best with your subscribers. Timing is generally less crucial than other components of your emails you may test, according to Campaign Monitor's research, which indicated that the best open rate was just 9% better than the worst. Prioritizing consistency as an email marketing best practice will eventually be the most effective strategy to determine what results in the maximum engagement from your subscribers.
16. Use analytics to drive your email marketing strategy
Make data-driven decisions regarding your email marketing strategy using analytics. You may modify your send-outs to increase reader engagement by paying attention to the email marketing analytics across campaigns. The following metrics are important to monitor:
- Open rate. how many subscribers open your email newsletter.
- Click-through rate (CTR). the proportion of subscribers who open your email newsletter and then click on a link.
- Unsubscribes. how many subscribers open your email newsletter before choosing not to receive it.
To assess how you stack up against email marketing benchmarks and whether there is space for adjustment and development, compare the statistics from your campaigns to those benchmarks. Although it's beneficial to be aware of these figures, do not overestimate their significance. A good open rate or click-through rate, in the end, is higher than it was the day before.
17. Include share options for distribution
Create sharing options in your newsletter so that readers may forward them to their friends. In addition to encouraging subscribers to forward emails to their friends, family, and followers via the share buttons in your emails, you may encourage readers to do so as well. You may activate the following sharing options on many email marketing systems, including Mailchimp:
- Campaign URL link
- Facebook share button
- Twitter share button
- LinkedIn share button
Enabling URL and social sharing can expose your emails to a new audience, aiding in their discovery of your company and possibly encouraging them to subscribe.
18. Use lead magnets for more subscribers
Using lead magnets is a good way to get website visitors to join your email list. Providing a free resource in return for contact information is known as a lead magnet (e.g., email address, name, phone number, demographic details). An organization that sells productivity journals, for instance, may have a lead-magnet pop-up on its website that offers a PDF resource for yearly planning in return for an email address.
Encircled, a slow fashion company that specializes in eco-friendly clothing, asks website visitors to complete a survey to receive their fashion profile, which encourages them to join their mailing list.
You can test the following lead magnet types:
- Ebook, white paper, or guide
- Email course
- Quiz results
Lead magnets provide you the opportunity to serve someone from the very first email you send, in addition to expanding your list. By giving subscribers a favorable initial impression, you may instantly generate interest in your products and brand loyalty. Additionally, you can utilize the data you gather from a lead form to segment your email list and provide users with a more individualized email marketing experience.
19. Regularly clean your email list
Even while building a sizable list of email subscribers might be beneficial, in the end, subscriber count is a vanity metric—a set of numbers that looks great but has little bearing on your company's profitability.
Email marketing analytics like open rates, click-through rates, and conversions, on the other hand, is far more illuminating. For example, a list with 5,000 members and a 5% click-through rate would bring in more visitors to your website than a list with 10,000 subscribers and a 1% click-through rate. An engaged list may also increase your delivery rate by lowering spam complaints and unsubscribing.
To keep an engaged list, it is worthwhile to either try to re-engage them or remove them from your list if a sizable section of your subscriber base hasn't interacted with your material in months.
- Re-engage inactive subscribers. To find inactive subscribers, use the capabilities in your email marketing software. Create a drip email re-engagement campaign from there or send them an email asking them to indicate if they want to remain on the list.
- Remove subscribers from your list. Remove email subscribers who refuse to react to a prompt for indicated interest or who remain inactive after repeated attempts to engage them.
Additionally, a lot of email marketing systems provide volume pricing, whereby they charge you according to the number of subscribers you have. Cleaning your list frequently will assist you to save money that can be used toward other areas of your business while also keeping your list active.
20. Make it easy to unsubscribe
No matter how hard you try, not every member of your mailing list will find your emails exciting, interesting, and energizing. A portion of the people on your email list will unsubscribe, probably after you send them an email. However, as was previously said, your subscriber count is not the figure you need to focus on the most. The long-term benefit comes from disinterested or disengaged readers unsubscribing. To discourage subscribers from unsubscribing from your mailing list, avoid the following email unsubscribe strategies:
- Having no Unsubscribe button. This not only violates anti-spam regulations like GDPR, but it also offends subscribers and damages your brand.
- Hiding the unsubscribe button. Avoid using unethical marketing strategies, such as making the unsubscribe link white to make it more difficult to spot.
- Ask people to email you to unsubscribe. A one or two-click process should be sufficient to unsubscribe from an email list. Don't send subscribers an email asking them to unsubscribe from a list.
- Ask people to email you to unsubscribe. It shouldn't be necessary to complete a survey to unsubscribe from a mailing list. While it's OK to inquire as to the reason for a reader's departure, this should happen only after the subscriber has been unsubscribed.
A person who chooses to unsubscribe from an email list is essentially saying “no” to permission marketing. To comply with the law and make a good impression, you should make this procedure as simple as possible by including a prominent Unsubscribe button in the footer of each email you send.
Build an email strategy that turns subscribers into sales
It may be intimidating to follow what may seem like an infinite list of email marketing best practices. But when your email marketing plan becomes more established, many of these recommended practices will come naturally. You'll naturally choose to write your email in a skimmable format and spontaneously look to the email campaign metrics to gather information for your subsequent sends.
Utilizing these techniques can enhance the emails you send your subscribers, encouraging them to read all the way through or visit your website. Every email you send out has the potential to generate interest in your company if you approach email marketing with a purpose.
Email marketing best practices FAQ
Email marketing best practices are broad principles that companies should follow when sending emails to mailing list members. Any long-term email marketing campaign must be built on a solid foundation of email marketing best practices. By using these best practices, businesses can send better emails, create better email campaigns, and increase website traffic all while keeping their email marketing strategies in line with anti-spam regulations like GDPR.
When you follow email marketing best practices, your subscribers will receive better emails that are more likely to be delivered, opened, and read. Subscribers will develop a brand affinity for your business, confidence in your products, and interest in your services if emails are created with these principles in mind.
The use of double opt-in email sign-up, a welcome email, avoiding no-reply email addresses, personalizing emails, A/B testing your content, audience segmentation, sending out emails that are optimized for mobile email clients, and cleaning your email list are all examples of email marketing best practices.
Numerous email marketing mistakes exist, such as single opt-in email sign-up, buying third-party email lists, sending customized emails, and keeping a huge yet inactive list. By adhering to email marketing best practices, you may prevent sending out blunders that cause readers to unsubscribe from your mailing list or lose interest.
Whether your business sells productivity B2B software or beauty ecommerce, email marketing best practices are broad rules that work in a variety of sectors.