Ash Salleh

Ash Salleh is the Director of SEO at Campaign Monitor, where he works closely with content, copy, and analytics teams to improve site-wide optimization. Prior to his time at Campaign Monitor, he also provided SEO and digital marketing expertise at Zappos and Axiata Digital.

A Guide to Email Marketing Best Practices

Table of Contents

Email is one of the most profitable digital marketing channels available to brands today. However, that doesn’t mean you can just go into email marketing without a plan and expect to see success.

If you want to fully leverage the power of emails, here are seven steps you need to take.

Choose the best email marketing service for your brand

The first step in maximizing the effectivity of your email marketing is choosing the right email marketing service. You can pick from tons of email service providers (ESPs) available today that cater to brands of various sizes, budgets, and marketing needs.

Whichever one you choose, your ESP needs to have a wide range of email templates that are not only easy to use, but are also mobile-responsive and highly customizable.

Other important features you need to look for in an ESP include:

  • Email analytics – so that you can measure your email performance.
  • Automation – so that you can simplify certain email workflows.
  • Software integrations – to easily import customer data that you can use for various purposes like segmentation and personalization.

Use the double opt-in method.

Database decay is one of a marketer’s worst enemies. While it is an unavoidable aspect of marketing, it can be managed as long as you build a healthy database right from the start.

In order to achieve a healthy database, always use the double opt-in (or confirmed opt-in) method when you add people to your email list.

When you use the double opt-in method, you email your new subscribers and ask them to confirm their subscription by clicking a link within the email. This means that only subscribers with authentic, working email addresses are added to your list and people with invalid or erroneous emails are prevented from invading your list.

Segment your subscribers.

Once you have an ample number of subscribers, you can start segmenting them according to data you already have. As previously stated, it’s much easier to segment your list if you can import customer data from software integrations in your ESP, such as CRMs and payment processors.

Depending on the data available to you, you can create various subscriber segments based on:

  • Age (or age range)
  • Date of birth
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Past engagement
  • Transaction history
  • Interests
  • Content consumed (newsletters, product updates, etc.)

Segmenting your list enables you to send relevant emails to your subscribers. This keeps them engaged and interested in your brand, which helps in significantly reducing your unsubscribe rates.

Personalize your emails.

According to a 2018 report by Econsultancy, only 7% of brands make personalization their first marketing priority.

If you’re not one of those brands, it’s time to change that for 2019. Personalize your emails. Even something as simple as including your subscriber’s first name in your subject line can do wonders. Other parts of your email you can personalize include:

  • “From” name and email address. Always use the name and email address of a real person within your organization. Avoid using email addresses like Anti-spam laws are much stricter now, and using these kinds of email addresses will only lead to spam complaints.
  • Main message. Greet your subscribers by their first name in the body of your email (ex: “Hello there, Joe!”)
  • Content. Don’t send the same exact product offer to your entire list. Instead, use dynamic content that changes based on the segment you are sending it to. For example, the content for an offer can change depending on whether you are sending it to a male or female subscriber.  

When done right, email personalization can increase your transaction rates by up to six times and your open rates by 26%

Automate your campaigns.

Take advantage of your ESP’s automation capabilities. Automate various campaigns so that you don’t have to spend a significant amount of time each day sending email after email to each one of your subscribers.

Emails you should automate include:

  • Welcome emails. Automatically send new subscribers a personalized welcome message that comes with an exclusive offer (ex: a hefty discount).
  • Birthday emails. Greet subscribers on their birthday and include a personalized offer based on their engagement or past purchases to improve your conversion rates.
  • Reminders. Send automated emails to customers who have not yet engaged with a previous offer you sent. Remind them that they can still redeem the offer, whether it’s for free shipping or a huge discount.


Do A/B testing.

More than half of all marketers say they never A/B test their emails. Don’t make that same mistake. A/B testing is necessary if you want to send emails that convert.

Make it a point to do A/B testing on these elements of your email.

  • Subject line. There are a variety of tests you can do just with your subject lines. You can test the length (long vs. short), the content (generic vs. specific), and even the inclusion or exclusion of one or two power words.
  • “From” name. Test various names to see which one your subscribers respond to more (Jon from [Your Brand] vs. The Team At [Your Brand])
  • Call to action (CTA). Test buttons using various fonts, colors, and copy.

Track the effectiveness of your emails.

If you followed the first step, then your ESP should have an analytics dashboard. Make use of it and monitor your email performance. Take a look at metrics such as:

  • Open rate. A basic yet vital metric, your open rate is a helpful indicator of how interested your subscribers are in your emails.
  • Click-through rate (CTR). Tracking this metric helps you determine your subscribers’ level of engagement with your messages.
  • Conversion rate. This metric is a measure of how effective a specific promotion or offer is.
  • Spam rate. This is how many subscribers marked your email as spam after receiving it.
  • Share rate. This is the percentage of subscribers who shared your email via the social sharing buttons you included in the mail.

Wrap up

Already planning your next campaign? Then make sure you follow all the steps detailed in this guide. By doing so, you’ll enhance not just that campaign, but your entire email marketing strategy moving forward.