Skip to main content

Top 13 Email Marketing Best Practices

In this guide, we outline some of the mistakes any email marketer can make and provide tips on how to avoid them, especially if you’re just getting started.

Hero image for Common Rookie Mistakes for Email Marketers

No matter the industry your business is in, effective email marketing is essential. When executed correctly, email campaigns can increase engagement, convert prospects, drive sales, boost website traffic, and so much more. But how do you ensure your email campaigns are compelling and interesting?

While creating an effective campaign may seem like a challenge, our specially curated list of email marketing best practices can ensure you reach your goals. The 13 best practices below can help you develop a successful email marketing strategy.

Email marketing best practices

1. Write captivating copy

Email is often an entry point into digital marketing for small businesses. If you’re a newcomer, you might be tempted to include sensational phrases like “Buy now!” or “Limited time offer!” in your subject lines because you’ve seen other companies do it. However, keep in mind that what works for one company may not appeal to your audience.

When writing subject lines and content for your emails, the general rule is to make them relevant and interesting to your subscribers. Write short subject lines that tell rather than sell what’s in your email. And be sure to avoid pushy sales copy and gimmicky catchphrases that can annoy your subscribers and get your emails caught in spam filters.

2. Avoid sending campaigns to a stale list

An email list will go stale pretty quickly if you don’t send to it regularly, even if all the addresses were added through a double opt-in process.

Think about it: If you don’t email your subscribers regularly, there’s a good chance they’ll forget they signed up to your list in the first place. Sending emails to a stale list can lead to high bounce rates, spam complaints, and unsubscribes.

If you think there are email addresses that have stale, ask contacts to reconfirm their subscription

One effective email marketing tip that can prevent this from happening is to create a campaign schedule. This ensures that your subscribed contacts receive your emails on a regular basis and you remain top of mind. If you think there are email addresses on your list that have gone stale, ask contacts to reconfirm their subscription.

3. Only send email campaigns with permission

Building a quality email marketing list takes time, patience, and a verifiable signup process. Getting people’s permission to send them your marketing campaigns not only complies with anti-spam regulations, but it also ensures you’re cultivating an audience that’s loyal to your brand.

In Mailchimp, we recommend that users add subscribers to their list through a double opt-in process, which usually includes a signup form and an automated email that is sent immediately to a subscriber so they can confirm their subscription.

It’s important to get permission from the people you want to email so that they know what they’re signing up for. As a result, you’ll also have concrete proof that they wanted to receive your marketing communications.

Here are 2 key things to keep in mind when it comes to permission-based lists:

Make sure you have permission from all your recipients before you send your first marketing email

When you ask people for permission to send them your marketing campaigns, it helps ensure that all your recipients want to hear from you. Having a permission-based list means that your subscribers either signed up through a signup form you’ve shared on your website and social channels or they explicitly asked you to add them. Not only will this result in fewer spam complaints on your campaigns, but also improved deliverability with higher open and click rates.

All recipients should understand what they’re signing up for and why they’re receiving email from you

Your signup form should clarify what type of emails you’ll be sending and how often. Since subscribers can sometimes forget that they ever signed up at all, it helps to include a short reminder in each of your emails about why they’re receiving them. A permission reminder can be a short sentence that tells subscribers they’re receiving an email from you because they filled out a form on your store’s website.

4. Don’t purchase email lists

We don't recommend buying a “totally legitimate list of 30 million opted-in emails” from a sketchy piece of spam that lands in your inbox. While it's not technically illegal, many ESPs prohibit sending to purchased lists. The way many vendors get around it is by collecting email addresses and asking members if they’d like to receive special offers from third parties.

ESPs prohibit sending email campaigns to purchases lists

As a leading marketing platform, Mailchimp has a strict permission-based list policy. We do not provide, sell, share, or rent email lists to users. We also don't allow purchased, publicly available, third-party, or rented lists to be imported into our system.

5. Segment your audience

Segmentation is often an overlooked email marketing best practice because it can be challenging to accomplish, especially without the right set of tools. The idea behind segmentation is to develop categories based on customer traits, such as demographics, purchasing behavior, and so forth. Then, you'll market to each audience segment accordingly.

For example, you may have a repeat buyer segment or a segment that includes contacts from a specific zip code. While these two groups may both like what you offer, you wouldn't market your products or services in the same way.

Keep the segment in mind when you create email campaigns. Use different languages and modes of appeal with each.

6. Know the difference between transactional emails and email marketing

Do you have a list of customers who have purchased products from your online store? Most people who shop online like to receive receipts and shipping notifications for their orders via email. These types of one-to-one messages are known as transactional emails, and they’re different from email marketing campaigns because they’re sent to individual customers rather than in bulk.

But the other key difference between email marketing and transactional email is that people need to opt-in to receive your marketing communications. In contrast, transactional recipients can receive information about their purchases like receipts and shipping notifications without signing up for your email marketing.

7. Take your time creating campaigns

There are many best practices for email marketing, but rushing to get emails out is not one of them. We know you might be under the pressure of a strict deadline, but speeding through the campaign creation process without thinking about your design, content, and subject line can cause some issues. If your content isn’t relevant to your subscribers or is different from what they signed up for, there’s a chance you’ll see a decrease in opens and clicks or a rise in spam complaints and unsubscribe rates. So slow down, take a breath, and make sure your list and campaigns are in pristine condition.

8. Understand spam filters

Email spam filters use a long list of criteria to decide whether or not your campaign will be placed in a recipient’s spam folder. The list of spammy criteria is constantly growing and adapting because filters learn more about what spam looks like every time someone clicks “This is junk” or “Mark as spam” in their email client. Spam filters even sync up with each other to share what they’ve learned.

There’s no magic formula for evading spam filters, but we have some tips email marketers can use to avoid the most common mistakes that get emails marked as spam.

  • Maintain a good sending reputation. Some spam filters will flag a campaign if anyone with the same IP address has ever sent spam. When you send through Mailchimp, your campaigns are delivered through our servers, so one person getting flagged for spam could affect the deliverability of our users. That’s why we work vigilantly to keep our sending reputation intact and require users to abide by our Terms of Use.
  • Use email templates that are properly coded. Sloppy code, extra tags, or formatting code pulled in from a rich-text editor can trigger spam filters. If you’re not familiar with HTML code, we recommend using one of our templates or working with an expert.
  • Make your intentions clear. You’ll also want to make sure your intent is clear so your subscribers know why you’re emailing them.
  • Make sure all subscribers on your list have opted-in to receive your campaigns. This is the easiest way to ensure no one unsubscribes, complains about, or reports your campaigns.
  • Be consistent. Try not to stray too far from the content and design your audience already associates with your brand, website, or social media channels.

9. Test your emails

A/B testing, also known as split testing, allows you to send different versions of your campaign to your subscribers to find out which form of the campaign delivers the best results.

With A/B tests, you want to find out which segment likes what types of content the most. Therefore, you want to pay close attention to the results and not repeat unappreciated messaging to the wrong people. Testing is critical to writing sales emails that convert.

The campaigns you design in Mailchimp will always look a little different when they’re sent and viewed in your recipients’ inboxes. And different email clients and devices display HTML emails according to their individual rendering engines. Before you send an email, we recommend using the preview and testing tools we’ve created so you can preview what your design will look like as a live campaign in various email clients.

In just a few clicks, our Inbox Preview feature automates this testing process by generating different renderings of your campaign as it will appear across up to 40 email clients.

10. Analyze campaign reports

Ignoring your reports means you’ll miss key information about your customers and campaigns that can inform your marketing strategy. Keeping tabs on the day and time your campaigns see the most engagement will tell you when you should send your e-commerce emails to get the greatest return. Your campaign reports will provide insight into what an audience likes and dislikes in terms of emails. Paying attention to these reports is your key to creating emails your audience actually wants to see. It can also help you pinpoint the best time to send an email.

One of the benefits of using Mailchimp for your email marketing is being able to track and measure the results of every campaign you send. Mailchimp’s account dashboard and campaign reports contain a lot of data that can help you analyze how your campaigns are performing and provide insight on what you can do to improve future campaigns. You can also use Mailchimp's email marketing statistics by industry as a benchmark.

If you’re an online seller and connect your store to Mailchimp, you can track e-commerce data from your customers to create personalized campaigns and automations. Our e-commerce segments allow you to narrow down your audience and send more relevant campaigns if you’d like to showcase items from your store to customers who purchased similar products or offer a discount to those who have spent over a certain amount.

11. Refrain from using a no-reply email

An email campaign best practice that shouldn’t be ignored is to avoid using no-reply email addresses. No-reply email addresses don't allow you to receive replies from recipients. As a result, you may miss out on valuable conversations with your audience. These types of emails often lead to a poor customer experience, especially if you haven't provided another way for your contacts to reach you. No-reply emails also significantly impact deliverability since they're often filtered as spam.

12. Ensure emails look good on mobile

Many consumers will read your emails via their mobile devices, regardless of the industry you’re in. So it's important to ensure your emails look good in a mobile format. Make sure the text wraps well to fit the screen, everything is functional, and the content is easy to read. This is just one aspect of good email marketing design.

With Mailchimp, you can easily preview your emails to make sure they look good across different web and mobile email clients.

13. Personalize your emails

Personalizing individual emails is a powerful way to set customer loyalty in stone. Everyone likes to feel heard, and customizing emails to include a contact's name is one way to do just that. You can also include tailored shopping recommendations or birthday promo codes to show your appreciation.

Apply what you learned and create an effective email marketing campaign

Now that you have reviewed these email marketing best practices, you know what to do and what to avoid when creating an email campaign. This way, you can outshine the competition and start nurturing the relationship with your customers.

Mailchimp offers powerful tools that make email marketing more manageable. From easy-to-use email builders to segmentation tools, we can help you reach more inboxes and boost your marketing efforts. Learn more about our email marketing software and start hitting the mark today.

Share This Article