| Apr 24, 2023 | | 17 min read

10 Email marketing best practices to implement in 2023


Some say that social media is taking over the marketing game, but that’s not totally true. In reality, click-through rates for email can be as much as 100 times of those found with social media (Mailmunch). Surprised? You shouldn’t be. People are generally more open to receiving promotional content from a brand they have already subscribed to, rather than seeing a ton of advertisements on their social feed that they have little to no interest in. Understanding email marketing best practices can help you get the most out of the still-powerful email channel.

​​Tired of getting ghosted by prospects? Download these sales email templates, and start sending emails that get replies.

Email marketing is popular for a reason, especially when the whole goal of marketing is to create a bigger impact, with the least amount of marketing dollars spent. Email marketing has an ROI of 3600%, approximately $36 return for every $1 spent (Hubspot). It’s also a great way to acquire new customers for your agency or sell more to your existing customers.

Including the best email marketing tools and services in your portfolio has become an absolute necessity for digital agencies that want to bring value to their clients and drive ROI. By getting familiar with our best practice checklist, you can create successful email campaigns every time.

Email marketing best practices: What are they and why do they work?

Email marketing best practices are the most effective and efficient techniques, methods, or processes in the area of email marketing. These have been identified, tested, and refined over time, making them broadly applicable to all kinds of email marketing campaigns, regardless of your client’s niche or audience. They serve as a benchmark for achieving optimal results and maximizing ROI through the tried-and-true method of email marketing.

The practices we’ll go over in this article aim to maximize deliverability, engagement, and conversions while ensuring compliance with relevant regulations and maintaining a positive brand reputation. They include:

  1. Using email lists: We’ll cover tips on how to build an email list, how to maintain it, and how to use segmentation techniques to get even more conversions and revenue out of your lists.
  2. Maximizing the potential of subject lines: Tips for discovering the subject lines that will produce the highest conversion rates for each audience.
  3. Mastering the correct lingo: How to use language that feels authentic and natural, encouraging the audience to stick around and read the email rather than sending it straight to the trash bin.
  4. Being mindful of length: Email marketing best practices for hitting the sweet spot in terms of your email length, ensuring that you get your message across without boring the reader.
  5. Acing the call-to-action (CTA): How to craft the perfect CTA that moves the reader along their customer journey, encouraging them to take the next action that will get them to the ultimate goal of making a purchase.
  6. Using images effectively: How to use images strategically in a way that supports your client’s business goals.
  7. Personalizing emails: How to tap into the power of personalization to create email marketing campaigns that feel like one-to-one conversations for your audience by using the best email marketing tools.
  8. Emailing with the correct frequency: Tips for planning the pacing of your email marketing campaigns to find the perfect balance that keeps the brand top-of-mind without inundating the audience’s inbox.
  9. Avoiding sending spammy emails: How to meet the requirements of spam mail regulations and respect the audience by avoiding techniques and styles that can come off as low-quality.
  10. Tracking performance: How to understand email analytics, which performance analytics to pay attention to, and how to use that information to craft better, more effective email campaigns by continuously improving.

So, why do these email marketing best practices work, and why should you bother reading the rest of this in-depth email checklist before you send that email? Because email is often one of the central components of your clients’ marketing campaigns, and leveraging this affordable, effective channel correctly is one of the best ways to support their business goals. Some of the perks of consistently using email marketing best practices include:

  • Strengthening brand reputation: Building a positive brand reputation requires the maintenance of a consistent, positive and professional image during all customer touchpoints, including emails.
  • Improving deliverability and engagement: Failing to keep some of these best practices in mind can ensure your email campaigns go to the junk folder instead of the recipients inbox, dampening open rates, click-through rates, and campaign success.
  • Enhancing the customer experience: Through email marketing best practices like segmentaiton and personalization, businesses can delight their audiences and deliver an experience that encourages more brand loyalty.
  • Ensuring compliance: Being mindful of regulations can keep your clients out of hot water with authorities and software user guidelines.
  • Finding synergies with outer digital marketing solutions: Impleneting this email marketing checklist will ensure that email campaigns work in synergy with other, complementary solutions your agency might offer, like PPC advertising and social media management.

Familiarity with this email marketing checklist can help you avoid common mistakes and create better results for your agency or your clients.

Where to find the best email marketing tools to support your efforts

The best email marketing tools are those that you—or your clients—can easily use. It doesn’t matter how technically feature-rich a tool is if it’s confusing, buggy, or doesn’t work well with other SaaS solutions in the mix.

Features to look for when choosing the best email marketing tools for the job include:

  • Customer segmentation
  • Solid analytics reporting
  • Built-in customizable templates
  • A/B testing capability
  • Straightforward integrations with other marketing software
  • Built-in personalization features

Opting for a trusted, reputable software solution like Constant Contact, available through the Vendasta marketplace, will give you access to all of these essential features while ensuring easy integrations with different email providers, social media channels, ecommerce platforms, and other software that your clients are likely using. A great tool coupled with using an email checklist template based on the best practices outlined here will ensure high-performing email campaigns, every time.

#1 Email lists

Existing Customers

The first step of your email checklist is to start by building your list from information stored about your existing customers. These are the people that have already shown high interest in your products/services and are already familiar with your company. Your existing customers are going to trust you the most and be more open to promotional email content and new products.

Customer Acquisition

Creating lists from existing customers is the easy part, the next task is customer acquisition. This means building a new list of clients that you want to reach out to. To do this you need to:

  1. Provide value
  2. Have an easy sign-up/subscribe process
  3. Have an appealing call-to-action

Providing value can mean offering a sign-up discount, free content guides, free shipping, and many more incentives. Your sign-up opportunity may simply be a spot on your website, where prospects can type in their email, that says “Join our email list so you don’t miss any updates!”— and that will encourage them to sign-up.

List segmentation

So far we’ve focused on how you can implement list-building strategies to get more signups over time. However, no matter how lengthy your email list is, you’ll get far more value out of it if you understand how to properly segment it.

Email list segmentation refers to the process of dividing an email subscriber list into smaller, more targeted groups based on specific criteria. This allows businesses to send personalized, relevant content to different segments of their audience, maximizing engagement and conversions.

To segment a large email list into appropriate sub-lists, consider these criteria:

  • Demographic information: Age, gender, location, education level, and income are some common demographic factors that can be used to segment email lists.
  • Behavioral data: Purchase history, website browsing behavior, and email engagement are valuable insights that businesses can use to create more targetted email marketing content.
  • Customer lifecycle stage: Segmenting subscribers based on where they are in the customer journey (for example, new subscribers, active customers, or lapsed customers) can help businesses tailor their communication strategies.
  • Preferences and interests: Collecting information on subscribers' preferences and interests can help businesses create content that is more likely to resonate with their audience. This is often done through surveys or quizzes.

The best email marketing tools make it easy to create custom segments with a few clicks, so you can test different groupings to see what delivers the best results.

#2  Subject lines

Subject lines are the window to your content. It’s about balance, you want to create a curiosity gap, while at the same time avoiding being clickbaity. Keep in mind that lots of people can detect click-bait subject lines that are way too good to be true—and your open rate will suffer.

You never want to mislead your readers, but you also don’t want to give away all the value of your content in the subject line. Include enough information to strike interest, and once they click on, they’ll get the answer to the question.

Keep an eye on your open rates and click-through rates— these are your proof of performance for your subject lines.

If you don’t know much about creating great subject lines, we’d recommend doing A/B testing.

A/B testing allows you to send two variations of the same campaign, by changing one aspect of one of your emails. For example, you could test two different subject lines. Making this a part of your regular email checklist this allows you to send version A to one sample group, and version B to another sample group, and track which email performs best. A/B testing can help you to determine what aspect of your campaign is causing low open rates or low click-through rates.

If you still can’t come up with a great subject line, take a look at subject lines used in the past with high open rates—that’s sure to give you some guidance in writing your own.

#3 Before you send that email check: Lingo & language

Your clients are smart, and their email spam filters are even smarter. Both can detect when an email is trying to sell them something, and the best way to avoid this is by changing your language. You want to be crafting emails ensuring that you are providing genuine value to your potential clients.

Consider using more casual language that the majority of your audience will understand, and excluding bigger terms and complicated jargon that not everyone can easily grasp. You’ll want your email to be easy to understand and grab the attention of the prospect—that won’t happen if they do not understand what you’re telling them.

Note: There are some words that are unavoidable depending on the products you’re offering, but try your best to stray away from sounding too sales-y.

#4 Email marketing checklist: Mind the length

Remember that most people don’t like reading emails and that keeping emails short and concise will be wise in getting your point across. Your audience doesn’t want to be reading long emails when they could be working on growing their business.

You know the saying “less is more”? Well, it applies to email marketing best practices. It’s wise to keep your emails under 200 words—usually, around 50-125 is best, or somewhere around 20 lines of text.

Email marketing checklist tip: Keep in mind that a large portion of your audience are using their smartphones to open and answer your emails. Even though your emails may look short on your desktop, they can appear very lengthy if someone is opening it on their mobile device. Consider this when deciding on your perfect email length for your specific audience!

#5 Your call to action

Your call to action can be a number of things from simple subscribe opportunities to a value-added approach.

This is where the Snapshot Report comes in handy. We recommend sending a free Snapshot Report of your prospect's online business, demonstrating the value that you can provide for them. Analyze your audience and choose your call to action based on what your audience sees as valuable.

Consider other options like a free sign-up link, product upgrades, new products, new deals, or free content guides.

TIP: Ensure you’re making it easy for them to convert. A big part of this is making your emails mobile-friendly, as there are many clients opening your emails on their phones.

#6 Checklist for emails: Images

Images follow the same rules as text— don’t have too many. Including images is a good way to break up big chunks of text.

Studies show that three days after seeing a piece of content, a person will remember 65% of the visual content, but only 10% of the text. Images help to express what you’re trying to say in words, and create a visual in the minds of your audience. As a guideline for your email checklist, try using a 60/40 text-to-image ratio.

#7 Personalization

Where old-fashioned promotional ads don’t always catch the attention of your audience, personalization will. Knowing that 75% of consumers are more likely to buy from a company that recognizes them by name, recommends options based on past purchases, or knows their purchase history, is a huge indicator that you should be sending personalized emails.

This can be as simple as putting your prospect’s name in the subject line:

“Hey _____, We have your social media report for you.”

Personalization will make your clients feel like you care, and you can demonstrate this by recommending new products to them based on the products/services they already sell, or recommending content to them based on their interests. With the best email marketing tools, you can easily turn on personalization features to auto-populate fields with recipient data. The best part? By using automated email flows, you only have to do the work for each segment once.

#8 Frequency & quantity

If you’re sending 80,000 emails at once, you’re doing something wrong.

Studies show that 57% of people say getting too many emails from a sender will cause them to mark the content as spam. It’s best to send emails in smaller waves.

It’s the same idea with frequency, you don’t want to be flooding your client's inbox with too many emails over a short period of time, or it may cause them to unsubscribe. Ensure you are only sending them emails that relate to them or will be of interest to them (whether that is promotional emails, content guides, new products, etc.), and that should help you determine which frequency is best.

As a guideline, if you are sending product adoption or product upsell campaigns, you can be sending around three emails per week, but if you are sending customer acquisition campaigns, try and stick to only one email per week.

Some emails are also particularly time-sensitive. For example, review requests should usually be sent shortly after purchase when customers will be most motivated to leave a review.

#9 Before you send that email: Avoid being spammy

If you’re having trouble with your emails always being marked as spam, it could be any number of things. However, spam usually falls into one of two areas: either the email domains are recognizing you as spam, or, your audience is sending your emails to their spam folder.

There are a few guidelines regarding the content of your email that will reduce your chances of being marked as spam. Add these to your checklist for emails to make sure they pass the anti-spam test.

Subject line wording

When your audience reads your subject line, they create a picture of what the content of the email will entail. Where the issue arises is when your content doesn’t match what the audience believed it would. Your audience will see that as a deceptive subject line, and likely mark you as spam, or even unsubscribe if they are really annoyed.

Too much colored text

Avoid using too much colored text as it’s a signal to spam filters of potential spam. Part of your email checklist before you send that email should always include a scan of the text to make sure it looks readable and professional.

Over-use of caps lock

Caps lock is in the same category as colored text, it’s often used to make content stand out and grab the attention of the audience, hopefully persuading them to open it. If you have quality valuable content, you won’t need to use caps lock to grab their attention.

Exclamation points

Avoid too many exclamation points, especially in subject lines. These are similar to using caps lock—you’re trying too hard to grab attention. Craft a creative and eye-catching subject line, and you won’t have to make up for it with extras.

You’re using attachments

Using attachments in your emails makes spam filters believe that you are spamming your audience. Instead, try using links as a great alternative!

Low open rates

Receiving email domains can identify when people are not opening your emails. If you have low open rates, then you have the potential to be spamming people. An averagely successful email campaign will sit around a 15-25% open rate (try to aim for around 18% to be successful). Constantly monitor your open rates, and if they are fairly low, alter your content.

Too promotional

Being too promotional will get you flagged for spam fairly quickly. Don’t email people telling them your products are 90% off right now because, first of all, they probably aren’t, and second, you’ll get flagged as spam very quickly. These are regular, everyday people you are emailing, so try being more casual and conversational, as if you’re speaking to them in person.

Don’t be alarmed, we’re about to get technical

There is more to spam than colored text and caps lock. Your email address needs to be supported by the domain through SPF records and DKIM records.

What is that, you ask?

SPF Records

A Sender Policy Framework (SPF) is an email authentication standard developed by AOL that compares the email sender’s actual IP address to a list of IP addresses authorized to send mail from that domain. The IP list is published in the domain’s DNS record.

The receiving domain looks at your SPF records and checks if you have permission to send emails from your domain, and if you do not, this can cause issues in email delivery, mark it as spam, or flag it. You can tackle this issue by clicking the link to set up your SPF record with SendGrid!

DKIM Records

A Domain Keys Identified Mail (DKIM) record will help you protect your domain from spamming and phishing. DKIM will validate a domain name associated with a message, proving your authentication.

DKIM records and SPF records work together to allow your domain to send emails problem-free. Having them both, rather than just one of them, will increase your delivery rates and lower your chances of being flagged as spam.

Click here to create your DKIM record!

#10 Track your performance

Accountability is key. Analyzing your data will help in determining the success of your campaigns. Your open rate will help to analyze your subject line effectiveness, and your click-to-open rate will determine the effectiveness of your content.

Open-rate→ Percentage of people who opened the email out of the total number of recipients.

Click-to-open rate→ Percentage of people who clicked on a link in the email out of the recipients who opened the email.

Keep an eye on specific accounts that are currently on the campaign. Track statistics for each individual email, including the number delivered, sent, and on deck (the number of prospects to receive that email next).

The click-through rate isn’t the best indicator of your campaign performance. By using the click-to-open rate, you are seeing out of all the people who opened your email, who wanted to click through and read more. The reason the click-through rate isn’t as effective, is that it calculates a click percentage based on all of the people you sent the email to, not just the ones who opened it. This means that people who never even opened your email or saw it in their inbox, would be included in that metric.

If you are measuring who clicked through, you’re going to want to only look at who actually opened it, as that is a more accurate metric to analyze the content of your email.

Put our email checklist into action

Whether you are a new agency or you simply need an email refresher, this checklist of email marketing best practices is a great guide to a successful email campaign. Using this checklist will save you from wasting your time crafting mediocre emails when you could be focused on the growth of your business!

About the Author

Maddi is a former Content Marketing Intern at Vendasta. She spends her days learning the in's and out's of blog writing and and drinking copious amounts of coffee. When she's not blogging you'll find her bullet journaling or planning the details of her next travel destination.

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