Email Marketing Best Practices That Drive Results

Email marketing has the highest return on investment (ROI) of all marketing tactics, so it’s important to find the right email marketing software that will support your goals and help you grow your business. But implementing email marketing software is only the first step. Once you have the technology in place, it’s up to you to craft campaigns and messaging that will entice your audience. Following email marketing best practices will ensure your strategy is effective and your campaigns are successful.

Top 10 email marketing best practices for SMBs

  1. Utilize your subject line and email preview text
  2. Include your logo
  3. Leverage multivariate testing
  4. Personalize your emails
  5. Put your CTA(s) front and center
  6. Ensure device responsiveness
  7. Segment your audience
  8. Create automated campaigns
  9. Don’t use a [email protected] email address
  10. Include unsubscribe and contact information

1. Utilize your subject line and email preview text

You have a very limited amount of time to capture your audience’s attention in the midst of a sea of emails. The subject line and email preview text are your opportunity to stand out in your recipients’ inboxes, so they need to make your email irresistible to open. For example, you may want to create a sense of urgency around ordering a specific product, add emojis for a dash of personality, or ask a question that can only be answered in the body of the email.

Screenshot of email inbox with multiple email subject lines and preview texts.

When one of your contacts opens your email, they should know immediately it’s from you. Of course, this happens first with what appears in the “from” field, but it also happens in the body of the email itself. Brand identity in your email marketing campaigns is all about balance. Your logo should be visible at the top of all email communications, but not so large that it takes attention away from the content of the email.

Source: Sprout Social

3. Leverage multivariate testing

Most email marketing platforms offer support for multivariate testing. By sending two variations of the same email, you can learn things about your audience that you wouldn’t be able to otherwise. Mailchimp, for example, offers multivariate testing as an opportunity to understand what works for your subscribers, from the CTA to the subject line to the sender name. The key to success with multivariate testing is to be strategic with the elements you test and track what has better open and click-through rates over multiple campaigns. 

Screenshot of Mailchimp A/B testing feature.
Source: Mailchimp

4. Personalize your emails

Personalization can increase conversion rates in your email campaigns because it makes your recipients feel like the message was crafted specifically for them. Build your campaigns with opportunities for personalization, then add merge tags to have those details auto-populate. The more personalized the content is, the more relevant the email will be. However, it’s important to test the personalization elements of your emails to avoid a dreaded email marketing fail like the one below:

5. Put your CTA(s) front and center

The call to action (CTA) of your email has a major influence on its success. It should be very clear from the beginning what you want your audience to do, whether it’s placing an order, reading an article, watching a video, or something similar. You can have multiple CTAs in an email if they’re connected in some way, like in the example from Target below. However, too many CTAs can pull your audience’s attention in too many directions and negatively affect your campaign’s performance overall. If you have too many competing CTAs, consider breaking them up into multiple campaigns.

Screenshot of Target email.
Source: Target

6. Ensure device responsiveness

According to research from Adobe, 85 percent of consumers access their email from a smartphone. With this in mind, your email should look just as good on a mobile device as it does on desktop. Limit the pixel width of the graphics you include and consider differences in light and dark mode when creating your creative assets. The right email marketing software will allow you to preview your email across a number of device types, so you know exactly how your email will translate.

Screenshot of Native email.
Source: Native

7. Segment your audience

Similar to personalization, audience segmentation helps enhance the success of your email marketing campaigns. By connecting your CRM software to your email marketing solution, you can use your audience’s funnel stage, purchase history, and other data to determine what kind of messaging they receive. Segmenting your audience into multiple lists can get somewhat out of hand, though, especially as your business—and by extension, your audience—continues to grow. CRM-integrated segmentation with a solution like HubSpot allows you to meet the unique needs of your audience without grouping the different segments manually. 

Screenshot of HubSpot segmentation feature.
Source: HubSpot

8. Create automated campaigns

One of the most impactful features of most email marketing solutions is campaign automation. Automation-driven platforms like Drip allow you to configure workflows that send emails automatically based on specific criteria. Examples of automated campaigns you can create include welcome campaigns for new customers, post-purchase follow up campaigns, birthday celebrations, and more. Take advantage of this capability by strategizing and implementing automation workflows that will engage your audience, help with conversions, and ultimately save you time. 

Source: Drip

9. Don’t use a [email protected] email address

Many companies choose to use a [email protected] email address because they don’t want to mislead their customers into believing that the email address they receive mail from is the same one to use for customer service inquiries. However, “noreply” addresses can often trigger email spam filters, which means your message never reaches your audience’s inbox. Choosing something else to come before the @ is also an opportunity to reinforce your business’s brand identity, like Z Gallerie’s “inspired” choice. You could use a verb or adjective that’s related to your business or even use your own name to add a personal touch. A more meaningful email address will land your email in the right place and improve your engagement rate in the long run.

Screenshot of Z Gallerie email header.
Source: Z Gallerie

10. Include unsubscribe and contact information

The biggest reason you should include your unsubscribe and contact details in your emails is because it’s required by many regulations like GDPR in the European Union, CASL in Canada, and CAN-SPAM in the United States. If you’re found in violation of these privacy laws, you could face some hefty fines. Thankfully, most email marketing platforms are aware of these requirements and have guard rails to ensure you don’t inadvertently send a campaign without the right information. In addition to the basic requirements, you can also use the footer space to include copyright information, social media links, and other ways your customers can reach you. Nisolo does this well:

Screenshot of Nisolo email footer.
Source: Nisolo

Choose an email marketing tool that supports your goals

With all of these best practices in mind, it’s critical that your email marketing solution supports these goals and helps you create the perfect campaigns for your audience. If you already have an email platform in place, you may need to explore untapped features to maximize your potential. However, if you’re just starting out with email marketing or looking to switch to a different platform, our list of the Best Email Marketing Software & Platforms will help guide you toward the right solution.

Kaiti Norton
Kaiti Norton
Kaiti Norton is the editor of Small Business Computing. She is passionate about creating relatable, research-based content that helps small businesses thrive.

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