Email Marketing Do’s and Don’ts

Amanda Dodge


December 26, 2017 (Updated: January 23, 2024)

Dos and Donts

Email communication continues to be one of the most popular marketing methods for many companies and industries. Many people check their email at least once daily, while others check it every hour or more. Email marketing is an effective way to reach large audiences and share multiple targeted messages through your content.

While email marketing is effective, the process is not always easy. Content managers who practice poor email etiquette could see their messages deleted and left unread. Even if people open an email, they may not do more with it to engage with the content. Delve into the following six key email marketing do’s and dont’s to get the most out of your email marketing.

Do: Choose Quality Over Quantity

Image via Flickr by MadFishDigital

Some people eagerly buy email lists or push their customers to sign up for their emails so they can boast impressive subscription numbers. While a large subscriber list is a great goal to target, that list is essentially useless if your audience never opens, clicks, or buys.

In the email marketing world, less is more. Regularly purge your email list of people who never open your emails and consider scaling back the emails you send to people who rarely click through to your content. Why would you want to message people who aren’t interested in what you have to say anyway? Your total subscriber list will decrease, but your other metrics should increase.

Good news does exist for marketers who are nervous about hitting the delete button: You can set up a re-engagement campaign a few months after you remove these subscribers. As long as they don’t actively unsubscribe from your messages, you can email them again to test their engagement levels and bring them back after a short break.

Don’t: Send the Same Emails to Every Subscriber on Your List

Along with curating an endless email list, some amateur marketers send only one message to their customers. If you have ever bought a pair of shoes and then received an email encouraging you to buy the same pair again, then you can understand this frustration.

Even free email formats offer marketers the ability to segment audiences, so you don’t have an excuse for sending mass emails instead of creating content based on customer needs and intents. For example, a realtor may have three target audiences:

  • Potential future buyers or sellers
  • Homeowners who are currently trying to sell their homes
  • Homeowners who recently bought a home and are happy where they are

If a realtor sends the same message to all three audiences, then at least two are likely to tune out the emails. A message encouraging people to sell wouldn’t apply to the audience that is already selling and recent homebuyers. Instead, creating content to help each audience will result in more opens and better responses to the overall messages.

Do: Test Different Email Formats and Lengths

Along with sending different email messages to your target audiences, consider trying different email formats to see what audiences respond to. Some companies send emails in the same format every week, which can grow stale and bore readers. Instead, consider sending shorter emails, emails with graphics, long-form emails, and simple teasers to see what your audiences like. You may discover an exciting new format that appeals to your audience.

Don’t: Blast Your Email List at the Same Time

Email scheduling means you can set up different email times regardless of whether you’re in the office. If you have customers across the country, make sure your email blast is staggered based on their time zones. You may think 10 a.m. is the best time to send an email, but if you’re in New York, your customers may want to receive emails at 7 a.m.

This advice may not apply directly if you operate a small local business, but it can highlight the importance of careful timing. You may want to test sending at different times to see how customers respond or use your analytics to determine the highest opening times for your email messages. You don’t want your carefully crafted message to get lost in a crowd of emails during a busy part of the day.

Do: A/B Testing for Subject Lines

Subject lines are short and seemingly easy to write, but they can make or break your email success. If your subject line isn’t interesting and informative, then your audience isn’t going to read the body of the email or click to follow links to your website.

Subject line best practices vary by industry and business, but many people follow the rule that your subject line should only be two to three words long or limited to 35 characters. Longer subject lines can get cut off, and your audiences may miss your messages if you add too much content.

Consider testing various subject line styles and options for your email campaigns. Test questions or leading words to get readers to click or add exclamation points and emojis if they’re on par with your brand. Then use audience data and open rates to see how your readers respond.

Don’t: Use Javascript, Flash, or Video in Your Email Body

Complex code, moving graphics, and video may seem like an engaging way to catch your audience’s attention and stand out, but the chances of everything you want loading correctly and quickly are slim. Your audience members check their messages through a variety of email providers on myriad devices. Instead of seeing a cute graphic, they may see only a gray box.

Try to keep your email content as simple and clean as possible. If you have an amazing video that you want to share, take a screenshot and link to the actual video on your website. Your click-through rate will be higher and your readers will appreciate not having a massive, bulky email in their inboxes.

A successful email marketing campaign relies on content managers to make decisions based on what their audiences want and how they behave. Instead of expecting your customers to conform to your format, you should change to match their formats. By following the above marketing recommendations for your digital content, you can give audiences the best experiences possible to engage with your content.

Author Image - Amanda Dodge
Amanda Dodge

CopyPress writer

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