33 Stellar Email Marketing Best Practices for 2023 and Beyond
As a B2C marketer, you know the importance of your emails standing out from the crowd. There are 3.9 billion daily email users, and this is expected to climb to 4.3 billion by 2023.
One survey showed that email generates USD 38 for every USD 1 spent. This is an ROI of a staggering 3,800 percent.
You definitely need to take advantage of this to make leads and conversions zoom. Start by following these 33 email marketing best practices to give your email campaign a boost.
To make it effective and actionable, we’ve come up with an ACAFA model for this marketing channel: Audience, Content, Action, Frequency, and Analysis.
1. Personalize – No one likes to be thought of as a faceless customer. When you use names in an email greeting, you’re addressing the individual personally. You can use more than just names, too: automation lets you know of user behavior, birthdays, and even the weather at his or her location. For example, Netflix is among those targeting individual consumers with its database of user preferences.
2. Update – Many marketers like to send emails to as many people as possible. But there are times that this tactic brings down the open rate. It makes sense to regularly update your mailing list, and weed out those who haven’t engaged with your marketing efforts. This will give you a more realistic open rate, and a potent and effective list.
3. Identify – Here’s a reminder of the old 80/20 rule: 20 percent of your customers generate 80 percent of your revenue. When you accurately identify these people and segment your emails accordingly, you can get better engagement. As another old saying goes: different strokes for different folks.
4. Reward – If you run an e-commerce business, for example, and decide to have a sale, why not let your most loyal customers know about it in advance? There are many such gestures, such as reward points, that make customers feel appreciated. This creates not only loyalty but also word-of-mouth publicity. Take a look at how Domino’s rewards loyal customers below.
5. Allow – While many may have signed up for your email messages, there also could be those who just don’t open your emails. Allow them to unsubscribe by including a message in the email footer, or by a simple one-click button. This shows respect for the consumer’s needs, as well as responsiveness.
6. Welcome – When someone first signs up to receive email messages, it’s a great gesture to send a welcome email to thank them. This is also a chance to remind them of what you can do for them, as well as the sort of emails that they can expect. If you have other email services, the welcome mail can request them to sign up for these, too. Here’s an example of a welcome email that tells consumers what to expect, and also offers a discount.
7. Declutter – You should keep your email design simple yet attractive. Too many emails make the mistake of being cluttered, making them difficult to go through. Basically, use only two or three typefaces and a controlled color palette. Use exclamation marks with restraint and try to create a professional and businesslike impression.
(Caption: A simple yet effective email layout)
8. Above the fold – It’s common behavior for a consumer to open your email and then delete it before reaching the end. That’s why it’s effective to have an email design where your main message and call to action are above the fold, not tucked away at the bottom.
9. Optimize – In 2019, 60% of email opens were from mobile devices, and the figure has only increased since then. You should have already optimized your website for mobile devices, and it’s equally important to do the same with your email format. The width, pixels, and scroll-ability should make it easy for the mobile user, for the best results. Contrasting colors, large fonts, and good use of white space are other elements to think of, as used in this mobile email format by Tentree.
10. Skim-ready – In today’s online era, people are more rushed for time than ever, which is why your email should be easy to skim. That means no long sentences and paragraphs, and enough space for the eye to rest. Bullet points, headlines, and lists ensure that the main aspects of the email are easily digested.
11. Validate – While most emails make claims about products and services, consumers are more likely to believe them if they are validated by what others say. Using quotes and testimonials is a great way of doing this. You can include quotes from press articles, satisfied consumers, and business associates for maximum impact.
12. Be consistent – Every brand has a look and feel, reflected in its advertising and other communication. Your emails should be a part of this. The tone of voice, colors, and images should match the other touchpoints your consumer interacts with. The easiest way is to use email newsletter templates that allow for many uses, but with the same style. This creates an individual and distinctive nature to all the communication.
As brand consultant Paul Airy says, “Brand consistency leads to brand recognition, and brand recognition leads to brand trust.” For example, note in the examples below how the logo, look, and fonts are used in a way that creates uniqueness and character.
13. Social media – We don’t need to tell you how potent social media is nowadays. In 2020, over 3.6 billion people were using social media worldwide, projected to increase to almost 4.41 billion in 2025. Chances are, you already have an active presence on such sites. Use your emails to link to your posts, and vice versa. This is an effective way of reinforcing breaking news and other information that will interest your consumer.
14. Use stories – Storytelling is the most effective way of getting your point across. You can use its principles to create powerful emails that will not be missed. For instance, use an individual to narrate the main points, share experiences, include real examples, and keep the tone conversational.
15. Tone of voice – Not every business email in the consumer’s inbox has to sound the same. We’ve already mentioned some principles of storytelling that will help you to stand out from the clutter. Other devices you could consider are humor and suspense. A unique tone of voice certainly helps. Depending on your business, you can even consider appropriate emoticons.
16. Dress it up – The text is clearly important, but emails that grab attention contain much more. Think of the right images that match your proposition. There could even be short videos embedded. In addition, gifs are a contemporary way to drive home your point. Finally, charts and tables will get your message across efficiently and memorably.
(Caption: Embedding a video in your email is a great way to get noticed)
17. Leverage success – To make your consumer more inclined to act on your email, you should mention previous success stories. If you’re a fintech business, for example, you can include statistics of the number of people who have signed up and the ways in which they’ve benefitted. Show how existing consumers have used your technology to boost their savings to get more people to come on board.
18. Footers and sign-offs – Every square inch of your email should be put to work. That includes the very end. In the sign-off, you can repeat key points with a reminder of potential benefits. In the footer, you can include information such as other contact details, the procedure to unsubscribe, and other email programs. At other times, adding a handwriting font to a sign-off can create a welcome personal touch.
19. Allow replies – Very often, business emails do not include the provision to reply. This creates strictly one-way communication. Ideally, you should be in a position to strike up a conversation with every consumer who wishes to respond. If you allow replies and set up a system to respond to them, you increase loyalty as well as conversion rates.
20. Preview – Given that the average email open rate across industries is estimated to be only 22%, it’s essential that you get everything just right. Before sending one out, send yourself a test email as a preview. Are the text and the images displaying properly? Does it sound and look compelling enough?
21. Incentivize – You should definitely use incentives to increase open rates. Whether you’re in retail or banking, there are little gifts, free e-books, or price-offs that can be appropriate. Make sure you highlight the incentive – it could be in the subject line and again in the body of the mail.
22. Include subscriptions – If a consumer is receiving your email, it’s clearly because they’ve already subscribed. But don’t underestimate the power of sharing content. Your email could be forwarded to others, and for those people, you should include a ‘subscribe’ link. It seems like a small step, but it could get great results.
23. Powerful subject lines – Good email subject lines are a powerful way to improve your email’s open rate. It should strike a balance between being too long and too short. It should create a sense of expectation and even suspense. Finally, it should hint at what’s in the body of the mail. For example, online optician Warby Parker leveraged the fear of missing out when they said: “Uh-oh, your prescription is expiring”. Guess used the same tactic with: “Tonight only: A denim lover’s dream”. And Pizza Hut addressed a pain point with: “Feed your guests without breaking the bank.”
24. CTA – The point of sending out an email is that you want your consumers to do something. Avail of an offer, sign up, make a purchase, or anything else. Such a call to action should be well designed, prominently placed, and repeated in your email. Make sure the call to action spells out what it is you want the consumer to do.
(Caption: A strong, visually effective CTA)
25. Calibrate – Often, your email will have links that lead to your landing page. In such cases, you should ensure that the page reflects the content of the email. The consumer who clicks on the link should be seamlessly led to the information you want to provide. Here’s how to increase the consumer’s time and engagement once they’re on your site.
|With these and more tactics, your email open rate should soar. Here’s how EarlySalary, a FinTech startup, improved email deliverability, and email engagement — with improvement in inbox placement and a significant reduction in drop-offs.|
26. Right number – You need to find the right balance between being intrusive and being forgotten. Perfect timing will depend on the nature of your business, but many marketers feel that two to five times a month is the right number. The emails themselves should look like new pieces of information, not recycling old news. You can also show respect for your customer’s preferences by asking them the nature of emails they’re interested in, when they’d like to receive them, and what other information they’d like. This is what travel site lastminute.com did, for example.
27. Seasonality – You already know that consumers spend more on holidays and festivals. These are times when you can increase your frequency, to capitalize on the heightened interest. Ideally, you should let consumers know what to expect so that they can adjust their expectations accordingly and eagerly await your festive offers. Speaking of which, here are the 7 successful holiday marketing campaigns to learn from.
28. Drip campaigns – Simply put, a drip-email campaign is a series of scheduled emails. For instance, one email can go out as soon as someone signs up, another can go out 3 days later, and yet another is sent on the weekend. The emails can also be sent depending on consumer actions: signing up for your service or making a purchase, for example. Planning such campaigns in advance is essential.
29. Use deadlines – To get consumers to act on your emails, use carefully chosen deadlines to make them feel that they’ll be missing out if they don’t act. These should be highlighted in the subject line itself. It could be related to the time period of a specific offer, it could be a special deal for the first 100 people or even a reminder that stocks are running out.
Analysis and Follow-up
30. A/B testing – One of the advantages of digital marketing is the ability to test in real-time. Here’s a broad overview of why A/B testing can be a marketer’s best friend. When it comes to email, you can use different subject lines and calls to action to see which ones work better. Once you establish guidelines based on the winning email, you can make this a standard for all future email marketing.
31. Goal-setting – Before you even start sending out emails, it’s important to ask yourself why you’re doing so. Is it more conversions? More revenue? More awareness? Once you’re clear on the objectives, testing the success of a campaign can be more focused, and you’ll be clear of the next steps to take.
32. Gmail tabs – Gmail is one of the most popular email clients. One of the features they’ve introduced is a tab for promotional emails. Typically, emails that end up here are viewed differently by consumers, and they may delete them without opening them. There are ways to get around this, including limiting the number of images, having fewer links, and, of course, advising the consumer to mark your email address as important.
33. Automation – Many of these tips may sound as though they will take up a lot of your time. With automated email, it doesn’t have to. You’ll be able to pick email templates and send crafted messages with the right frequency to strengthen customer retention and loyalty. Automation enables emails to become focused, with personalization and scalability. In fact, it’s vital for marketers to refresh what they know, and approach marketing in a new way while taking advantage of automation. Here’s an up-to-date guide.
When done right, email marketing can consistently outperform all other communication channels. Follow the above steps, keep checking with us for more expert advice, and you too could convert prospects into consumers that will remain loyal for life.
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