6 Email Marketing Best Practices

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There’s nothing worse than launching an email marketing campaign only to be greeted with abysmal open rates and a click-through rate (CTR) that leaves you wondering if your software is giving you faulty numbers. Finding that sweet spot of the perfect subject line, content, and call to action may be a rare art, but it is one that can be taught! Good email marketing increases brand awareness, allows you to target specific customers, and cuts your marketing costs.

Easier said than done, right?

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The good thing is that you’re not the first (or the last) marketer to struggle with these problems. We’ve gone ahead and put together a list of email marketing best practices that, once applied, will have your open rates, CTRs, and conversions quadrupling, taking your marketing efforts to the next level.

Optimize for mobile

In today’s digital world, consumers are viewing emails and websites on their mobile devices more than on desktop or tablet.  According to Informz, in 2015 “over 36% of mobile subscribers use[d] iPhones or iPads to read email and 34% of subscribers only use[d] mobile devices to read emails.” Mobile use statistics are only increasing, so you are at a significant disadvantage if you don’t cater your emails to a mobile device as well as a desktop.

If you’re like 39% of marketers out there, you likely don’t have a strategy for mobile email, according to the 2016 Email Marketing Industry Census. There are already a ton of helpful tips on how to make your HTML email responsive, but if you’re using a software such asMailChimp, Constant Contact,GetResponse, or any of the other user-friendly non-HTML email design software, you’ll want to be sure that you’re testing the emails on a phone and on a computer. Using text instead of images, testing font sizes and image width, and redesigning your layout to work vertically (for phones) and horizontally (for desktop) will help the emails seamlessly transition across platforms.

Make sure your emails are personalized (when you can)

Nobody likes receiving a marketing email that contains nothing relevant to their interests or needs. If I sign up for newsletters from a company that sells furniture and receive an email with a discount on baby cribs even though I don’t have a child, not only will I be unlikely to open the email, I may be tempted to unsubscribe altogether. Salesforce has some impressive stats regarding conversion rates and CTRs on personalized emails:

“Your subscribers will appreciate your messages even more if they’re personalized. Adding personalized product recommendations into marketing emails can increase sales conversion rates by 15-25%, and click-through rates by 25-35%.”

And it’s not just about content- personalized subject lines are also 22.2% more likely to be opened [via Salesforce]. If it’s at all possible to cater your emails to a specific consumer or create personalized content/subject lines, you should take advantage of that and enjoy increased CTR and conversion rates.

Automate your post-purchase messages

Post-purchase emails are often the best way to re-engage your customers after they buy from your company. There is typically a point when subscribers either purchase from your brand again or disengage, and this is when you should be doubling your efforts to capture their attention and encourage them to become a repeat customer.

The solution? Automate the campaign.

Automating your follow-up emails guarantees that you will send your customers relevant messages after this purchase; according to Campaign Monitor, “Companies who send automated emails are 133% more likely to send relevant messages that correspond with a customer’s purchase cycle.”

Incentives can increase your open rates

According to Hubspot, including incentives in your subject lines can increase open rates by as much as 50%. Rather than baiting customers with subject lines like “Big discount inside!” try more tangible incentives, such as “Free shipping on orders of $50 or more” or “$10 Amazon Gift Card with this eBook Download.” If the customer knows what they stand to gain by opening and engaging with your email, they’re much more likely to click through rather than deleting it unread.

“Keep it simple, stupid.”

Clutter is one of the biggest deterring factors when it comes to conversions in email marketing. Tons of different fonts, colors, and CTAs will confuse the subscriber and likely lead to a deluge of “unsubscribes.”

Try to use no more than 2–3 typefaces, consistent colors and imagery, and a clear CTA so the subscriber knows exactly what you want them to do.

Write short & compelling subject lines

It’s a personal pet peeve of mine to see a subject line in my inbox that gets cut off halfway through, no matter how large I make my browser window. And I’m not the only one — according to Chadwick Martin Bailey, 47% of people say they open an email because of the subject line alone. Ideally, you want to keep your subject line between 30-50 characters, but the shorter the better. Adestra’s July 2012 report found that subject lines fewer than 10 characters long had an open rate of 58%. And the actual words matter; I’ve already touched on the importance of including incentives in your subject, but word choice can make a huge difference too. For instance, B2B companies saw that subject lines with the words “money,” “revenue,” and “profit” performed better than “ROI,” “asset,” and “industry.”  The subject line is the window into your email, and you want to make sure it’s clear and enticing.


Everyone has a different formula for what makes their emails work, varying across businesses and industries. Are there any tips that you use and find helpful, or any that we missed? Let us know in the comments below!

Looking for Email Marketing software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Email Marketing software solutions.

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About the Author


Rebecca Weisenhoff

Rebecca Weisenhoff is a marketing associate at Capterra and a graduate of American University. When she's not working at Capterra, she enjoys going to concerts, illustrating children's books, and reading.



Thanks, so much info. Kinda get overloaded after awhile. But your article is great

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