16 Best Practices for Email Marketing



April 14, 2020 (Updated: May 4, 2023)

person using iPhone and Laptop for Email and Images; concept for understanding the best practices of email marketing.

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Promote your small business with email marketing. It’s fast, easy-to-use, and very affordable compared to other marketing strategies. It also limits your business’ impact on the environment, a top consideration for modern companies. Discover why you need email marketing and explore our list of email marketing best practices in preparation for your next campaign.

What Is Email Marketing?

Email marketing is the use of email to promote a business. It allows you to connect with your audience in a new way that cultivates relationships and educates potential customers. Email marketing also keeps current customers informed about new updates related to your products, your services, and your business as a whole. As a direct form of marketing, it’s similar to direct mail or snail mail. The difference is that it’s more affordable since there isn’t a need for physical printing, and it’s also better for the environment because it requires no physical paper.

The concept of email grew and evolved since it first began and became a useful and valuable marketing tool. Nearly 85% of marketers agree that email marketing performance and use is on the rise.

Why Do I Need Email Marketing?

Below are several reasons why email marketing is a great option for your business:

More Effective Than Social Media

While social media is important in any digital marketing strategy, email marketing often influences consumers to convert through call-to-action buttons and engaging marketing copy. Social media is one of the best tools for interacting with audiences, building relationships, and encouraging them to sign up for emails. This makes it a vital first step toward conversion.


Email marketing is both effective and affordable, allowing businesses to reach larger numbers of consumers for little cost per message. For business owners with smaller budgets, email marketing becomes the more preferred choice over traditional marketing such as radio, television, and direct mail.

Using the traditional approach, which can include direct marketing, printing, and postage, often incurs large costs. Alternatively, with email, marketers use the same imagery and tactics with follow-up information readily available on the website.

Customizable Marketing

In email marketing, you often segment your audience into separate lists. Each list receives messages tailored specifically for them, their situation, and their point in the sales funnel. Send each list unique and valuable content for the best campaign performance.

For even more personalized messages, most email marketing providers allow you to address recipients by name. This creates an experience in which content within the email appears completely unique to the individual. This adds a sense of comfort and security to the message and encourages the recipient to convert.

Measurable Results

There is little guesswork involved with email marketing as most software tracks performance analytics and other metrics. Study the performance of current campaigns by identifying who opened the emails, which links they clicked, and how many people unsubscribed due to the campaign. This is valuable knowledge you can use to improve future campaigns.

During the campaign, you can even use these metrics to make adjustments and improve overall performance.

Consumers Check Email on Mobile

Mobile device usage is extremely common among consumers, allowing them to check their email at any time. Around 91% of people access their email through their smartphones according to a 2014 study. Only 75% use their phones for social media. Engaging with email marketing allows you to also engage with a larger number of consumers.

Email Marketing Best Practices

The following list outlines some of the best practices you can use in your email marketing campaigns:

Send the Message to Yourself First

Before sending out any marketing message, send it to either yourself or another internal source within your company. This gives yourself and others the opportunity to review the message for any errors it may have such as typos, incorrect images, format issues, broken links, and more.

Make Subscription Easy

Add a subscription button opt-in to your site and social media pages. Make it clear what users are signing up for and request no more than their email address. On your website, use a space that gets a great deal of attention for maximum results. Add-ons allow you to place subscription buttons in unique places as well. For example, with the help of an add-on, you can pin your button to the top or bottom of the page so that it remains there regardless of where the user scrolls.

Use a Double Opt-In Feature

Double opt-in features send automated confirmation messages to emails provided in the subscription sign up. These emails further outline what users signed up for and give them a final chance to either confirm or deny their subscription opt-in. This builds trust with your user base and informs them of the number of emails they might receive during a given time as well as a set frequency such as daily, weekly or monthly.

Offer Options to Consumers

Users enjoy having a sense of control over their email inbox. Instead of only allowing all of your messages to deliver to your consumers, provide your users with a list of email options. For example, potential options include:

  • Opting for less frequent messages
  • Pausing incoming messages for a short time

Create a Solid Subject Line

Effective subject lines are essential for increasing the open rate of your messages. Subjects are headlines that convince your users to open the message. Use A/B testing with various options until you find the best performing solution for your user base. High-performing subject lines often include:

  • The recipient’s name
  • A relevant emoji
  • Action verbs
  • A clear value proposition
  • Consistency among all email subject lines

Keep Your Message Simple

Within an email, your goal is to grab the reader’s attention and direct them to a call-to-action (CTA). Organize your copy to have the most important information above the fold. For example, include answers to the questions of who, what, when, where, and why. Include further details below the fold, if necessary, but make sure most users can make a clear decision about your CTA in as little copy and simplest terms as possible.

Add Alt Text

Images, videos, buttons, and other similar features require alt text or alternate text. Alt-text is a type of metadata that displays if the image cannot display itself. Search engines also use the information provided by alt text to determine what the content is and categorize it as such.

Create Drip Campaigns

Drip campaigns convince consumers to buy into your products or services over a period of time through proper nurturing. For example, several days after a welcome email, if the user has yet to take action, they receive an additional email with further information about the product or service or other helpful items the business wrote about. A process like this often continues after several days or weeks pass, and new emails can offer better content like free eBooks.

Encourage Sharing

A great way of building your subscriber base is to simply ask your readers to share your email with others. Encourage recipients to forward the message to their friends, family, or anyone else they know who might benefit from the information the email provides. You can also add social media buttons that link people directly to your social media pages for additional follows and further engagement.

Optimize for Mobile Use

Many people read their emails on their phones, making mobile optimization an essential component of your messages. Most email list builders and similar software provide helpful tools for optimizing your content. Areas to consider include:

  • 300KB or less in message size
  • Image compression
  • Email buttons around 50 pixels tall
  • Full width of message no more than 650 pixels

Analyze Your Progress

Email marketing requires consistent monitoring of analytics and metrics such as open rates and click-through rates. These metrics change frequently, and if they’re on a downward slope, you may need to edit your content for better performance. Other areas to manage and consider include:

  • Conversion rates
  • Content views
  • Test results

Offer Rewards to Subscribers

Getting users to subscribe to your newsletter is only the first step. Encouraging them to remain subscribed often requires incentives or rewards such as special offers, free products, and more. This keeps your user base engaged and encourages them to stay around as subscribers.

Use Three Typefaces or Less

Emails often perform better with less clutter as it makes it easier for users to read and understand the content. As a universal best practice, this includes the use of no more than three different typefaces. Using a small number of typefaces makes for easier reading of content. The better users understand, the more likely they are to convert.

Include an Email Signature

Include a signature on every email, even if the email represents the company rather than an individual person. When users see the message signature of the CEO or other relevant figure within the organization, the message appears more personable instead of coming from a marketing team. Users are more likely to trust the message and convert.

Keep the Call-to-Action Above the Fold

Users might quickly close messages if they don’t see interesting and engaging information above the fold.  Keep only your most important information above the fold along with your CTA. Ensure users understand the intent of your message right away. Additionally, make sure they have the means to convert on the message, such as a CTA button so that they follow through with a full conversion.

Personalize the Greeting

Your email greeting is often the first section of copy users read beyond your subject line. It needs to engage them and encourage them to continue reading the content. Personalize it by addressing the user by their name or the type of customer they are. This can be done through audience segmenting with the help of third party applications.

Email Marketing Tips

Refer to the following tips for your next email marketing campaign:

Encourage Replies

Email marketing opens your business up to meaningful conversations with consumers interested in your products or services. If you want to create a conversation and encourage engagement, consider implementing these three concepts:

  • Provocative or actionable subject lines
  • A distinctive brand voice
  • Targeted or tailored content

Keep Your Messages Out of Spam Folders

Ensure your emails are only sent to those who opted into your subscriber list. Doing so keeps you in line with the CAN-SPAM Act and keeps your content out of spam folders. Other areas to consider avoiding include:

  • Using all caps
  • Using too many exclamation marks
  • Using hyperbolic phrases

Additionally, poor HTML usage within emails can encourage a spam flag on your content. Use a reputable email marketing service and vet all of your messages before sending them out.

Use Interesting Calls-to-Action

The goal of most email campaigns is to improve traffic to a site or a specific page. Getting consumers to these pages requires interesting calls-to-action, otherwise, they might not click. Try including interesting visuals for your buttons with unique colors that stand out from other content. Additionally, add another call-to-action further down the page to give readers more than one opportunity.

Is Email Marketing Right for You?

Email marketing is a valuable tool for businesses both large and small. They’re also a great foundational tactic to help small businesses and start-ups find their footing in the marketing world. Email marketing is easy to use, affordable, and great for the environment. If you’re seeking a paperless workspace in your business, email marketing is your best option.

If you need content to link to within your email marketing, consider CopyPress for blog writing services. Additionally, if you’re looking for more than email marketing in your latest campaigns, take a look at our list of 12 Types of Marketing Strategies for Your Company to Try.

Author Image - jross

CopyPress writer

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