It's safe to say email marketing is essential to business in today's digital age. 92% of adults use online email and email is 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Twitter or Facebook.

When just about everyone has email and the ROI is 3800%, you have to focus on getting your email marketing plan perfected or your business will be giving up tons of potential revenue.

Here are 15 email marketing best practices to apply:



1. Get personal

Did you know that people are 22% more likely to open your emails when their name is in the subject line? If that isn't a good enough reason for you to personalize your emails, I don't know what is.

I don't know about you, but when I get hundreds or even thousands of emails each day and skim through them for the few that might be worth looking at, the ones with my name in them always stand out.

Every good marketer knows that the first step to getting sales from email marketing is to make sure subscribers see the email in their inbox.

Without their name in the subject line, it may not stand out enough and people will skim over it. When this happens, it won't matter how good your email or offer is. They won't see it.


2. Model after other brands

“Don't reinvent the wheel. Success leaves clues. Do what successful people do until you get the same results.”

– Tony Robbins

There's no reason to make this any harder than it needs to be. You can learn a few tips from the best email marketers simply by subscribing to their list and analyzing the emails they send you.

Opt into the email list of 10 of the top brands in your industry. So, for example, if you're selling sports apparel, you might sign up to get emails from Dick's Sporting Goods, Academy, Nike, etc.

Go through their emails and find patterns between them. What are they doing differently from you? Look for emails that really catch your eye in your inbox, make you want to click a link or buy something.

Chances are, if an email they sent made you think about taking an action, it had the same effect on countless others. Break down the email and figure out why it's so appealing.

Then, when you've come up with some patterns between emails from industry leaders, implement them in your own email marketing campaigns.


3. Segment the list

One of the easiest ways to get terrible conversions from email marketing is by using a one-size-fits-all list. You can't just put everyone who goes to your website in the same list like that.

A great way to improve your conversions on, say, a blog, is to have categorized lead magnets. What do I mean by this? It's actually pretty simple and genius when you break it down.

Your blog might be about business, for instance. Maybe you have some courses that you sell on this blog and that's how you make a living. But, not everyone is going to be interested in the same courses.

By putting everyone in front of the same lead magnet and on the same email list, you assume that they all have the same interests. You blog is about business, but that's pretty broad.

This is why we have blog categories. So, maybe your categories are:

  • Marketing
  • Branding
  • Management
  • Startup

When people read an article in the marketing category, it's safe to say they have an interest in learning about marketing.

But, if you put them in the same list as people interested in branding, management and startups, you assume they are interested in 3 other things without any evidence.

You should never assume anything. Instead, to get the best conversions from your blog, you would want to make a separate lead magnet for marketing, branding, management and startup categories.

This way the offer is more in line with what the website visitor is reading and they will be more likely to subscribe in exchange for your more targeted lead magnet.

You can always figure out later if they are interested in the other categories, but that's a whole other lesson. Just keep offers targeted and you'll get a lot more subscribers, as well as better sales conversions.


4. Same email, different subject line

It sucks when you work so hard to write an email that you just know is going to do well and only a fraction of your email list ends up opening it.

Many marketers make the mistake of giving up and waiting to try a whole new email a few days later while just settling for the people that did open it. That's not very efficient email marketing though.

Instead, you should send the same email to the portion of your list that didn't open it while using a different subject line. This is something you'll see top email marketing companies and consultants do.

Here's an example of two identical emails sent the same day.

email marketing alternative subject lines

email marketing alternative subject lines

The second email was sent a few hours after the first while using the same exact copy, just with a different subject line.

By sending the first one right before work hours in the morning and then sending the second one in the afternoon when people typically get off to those who didn't open it, you really maximize exposure.

This technique alone get you a lot more sales for your company without annoying your list. Try it! It really works.


Related: 25 Email Marketing Tips And Tricks For Beginners


5. Give one call-to-action

Have you ever been on a website where you're trying to read a blog post and you keep getting annoyed by all the actions they want you to take?

For instance they'll ask you to share the post, subscribe to their email list, comment, follow them on social media, read their most popular content, check out their related articles, buy their product, follow their podcast, etc.

Studies show that when you give people a huge amount of choices, they tend to take less action, not more. Don't overwhelm your email list. Give them only one action to take in each email.

If it is a value email, it should just have a link to the blog post, video, or whatever the content is. If it is a sales email, it should have a link to the sales page. That's it. It's very simple and doesn't confuse people.

Make it crystal clear what you want your subscribers to do after reading each email and you'll notice a nice boost in conversions.

For a great example of how to do this, check out this email from Evernote:

email marketing example


6. Measure engagement

How are you supposed to figure out whether your email are working if you don't pay attention to engagement? If you get a lousy open rate, your subject line needs to be improved.

If you aren't getting any clicks after people open your emails, either your copy needs to be more appealing, you need to shorten the email or you need to improve link locations.

The goal is to get as many people as possible to take the one action you want in each email. Analytics are the key to figuring out how to do it.


7. Go mobile-responsive

In the U.S., about 66% of emails are opened on a mobile device or tablet. So, if your emails don't show up well on mobile devices, you could be giving up as much as 66% of potential business before you even hit the ‘send' button.

Clearly, you won't get very far if that is the case. Make sure your emails look good on smartphones and tablets by testing before sending. Send tests to your own email, so you can ensure that your emails look good on all devices.

Luckily, services like Getresponse tend to show a mobile preview of your email while you are composing it. But, don't just rely on that either. Always send a quick test email to yourself before emailing your entire list just to be safe.



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8. Have a short subject line

email marketing subject lines

If your subject line is too long, your subscribers won't even see the whole thing. On top of that, you might just be saying too much. Sometimes, the less you say, the more you let people use their imaginations to fill in the blank.

Mailchimp recommends subject lines be 50 characters or less for the best open rates. Infusionsoft says subject lines should be 6-10 words. These are two of the biggest email marketing companies online.

You should listen to their advice and keep subject lines short and sweet.


9. Don't be too sales-oriented

Business is a two-way street. You have to provide something of value in exchange for something of value. You already know that the customer can give you value through money.

But, the customer also needs to know how you are giving them value in exchange. Show them that your brand can be trusted.

Show them that your product or service will actually fill a need or desire and improve their quality of life so much that it is easily worth the price.

The mistake a lot of companies make is they focus too much on sales techniques and not enough on the customer's needs. Put yourself in your customer's place.

What would make you buy and feel comfortable with a brand. Sometimes, over-delivering, caring about the customer's needs and being transparent is a lot more profitable than your sales skills.


10. 80% value 20% pitch

You should not be asking so much of your potential customers. Just like any other relationship, if one side is constantly pushing and asking for things, while very rarely offering something without strings attached, the other side will move on.

The relationship your subscribers have with your brand should make their lives better before they even buy anything. This creates trust, loyalty and keeps them around long enough to consider what you're offering.

If they love your brand enough, they'll even spread the word. On the other hand, if you pitch them all the time and don't offer anything of value to them without demanding a purchase in return, they will see you as a part of their life they don't need.

80% of the time, you should send content that educates, inspires or entertains them while staying relevant to your niche. Don't ask for any kind of sale, just give them a reason to stick around on your list.

The other 20% of the time, make it easy for them to see how your product or service improves their quality of life. If you keep this ratio, your relationship with your list and your profits will be very healthy.


11. Keep email short

Your email is not a sales page. People will not read a 2,000 word email in today's society. Attention spans are short and people want you to get to the point. Don't believe me?

When was the last time you read through an entire novel of an email from a company? Thought so…

Remember how I said you need to narrow down your emails to one call-to-action? The whole purpose of your email should be to get them to take that one action.

You can do this with minimal wording. Check out the example below of a short email from a very successful marketer:

email marketing example

You'll notice that an email like this can be read almost entirely without scrolling on a mobile device. That is the length you should shoot for.

To drive home the call-to-action you want them to take, include 2 or 3 variations of the link throughout different areas of the email like the example above. That will get you the most clicks.


12. Tease them a little

Sometimes the best converting emails are the ones that create the most hype and reveal the least. Some of the best email marketers online tend to use the ‘tease technique' in their marketing, especially in subject lines.

They might use a subject line like this one:

email marketing tease

Of course, you can't get people's hopes up and not deliver or you will be out of business in no time. Hype them up, don't tell them exactly what they're going to see, and deliver something incredibly impressive that they will love.


13. Be timely

Ever noticed how you're in the mood for scary movies on Halloween, turkey on Thanksgiving or eggnog around Christmas? People have triggers and traditions that kick in around different times of the year.

You can capitalize on that with your marketing. You could have holiday sales, do fun content specifically for those days, talk about big events that your list can relate to, etc.

Be a brand that is updated with current events. That way, when these big events and holidays come around, you'll be ready to get a nice spike in business.


14. Ask a question

If you aren't getting much engagement from your subscribers, ask them a question. Even when people don't directly answer you, they are programmed to answer questions in their heads when asked.

Therefore, people will be a little more likely to leave a comment, participate in a poll, email you back, etc. You can also use it to get people to go look at a piece of content, especially if they don't know the answer.

I don't know about you, but if you ask me a question I don't know the answer to, I'd like to find out what the answer is. You can leverage this to get more blog post, video or social media post views from your list.

Here's an example:

email marketing question



15. Time it right

When is the best time to send an email? Well, there are different ways to look at it. First off, you need to be sending emails in the subscriber's time zone.

There is an option for this on the major email marketing services like Getresponse or Aweber. Make sure the email will be sent at the designated time in their time zone, not just yours if you have a business that is national or worldwide.

Second, there are a few approaches to sending emails based on a certain time of day. Many companies send emails around lunch time. Many of them claim engagement is highest around that time.

Therefore, you could potentially get the highest engagement between 11:00 AM and 1:00 PM, but you will also have to compete with more companies who are all posting at that time.

Or, you could post at odd times. Even though less people might be checking their email early in the morning or late at night, you can almost ensure that your chance of getting emails seen will go up by quite a large margin.

A good rule to go by is to post before and after typical work times. If a typical job is 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM, you could post around 8:00 AM and 6:00 PM.

I would start with a schedule like that and then test times even earlier in the morning and later in the evening.

Optimal emailing times won't be the same for everyone, but this should get you going in the right direction and the numbers from your tests can help you adjust.


Related: 62 Email Marketing Statistics And Metrics That'll Boost Results



Email marketing isn't going anywhere. It is still the lifeblood of many businesses today and will continue to be in the future.

You can get all the traffic and subscribers you want, but if you don't know how to do close the deal properly through email, you won't make enough money to survive.

Take these tips, run with them, keep testing and your business will do just fine.


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What do you think is the most effective email marketing best practice?

    2 replies to "Email Marketing Best Practices – The Top 15 For 2016"

    • Anupam Rajey

      Hey Justin,

      Thanks for writing 15 email marketing best practices. This is indeed a very useful post. And all the email marketing strategies you suggested are easy-to-follow. I completely agree with you that having a short subject line increases the success of an email marketing campaign. The more catchy subject line of emails, the more people will open ethe mails. What’s your take on this?

    • Maria Miller

      Hi, Justin
      Thanks for sharing 15 email marketing best practices.

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