Our 8 Email Marketing Best Practices & Platforms We Recommend

Implementing email marketing best practices can be quite the undertaking for brands trying to drive conversions directly in a customer’s inbox. However, increasing email click rates through tailored email copy and compelling subject lines shouldn’t be overlooked as a critical marketing opportunity for your business. Email marketing is special because it breaks down the barriers between brands and customers. When an email arrives in a customer’s inbox, it feels like a gift. It’s personal. Various types of emails serve unique purposes: from greeting newcomers with a welcome email to updating your brand’s biggest fans through informational newsletters or sharing sales promotions to encourage repeat customers, you have an opportunity to showcase your personality and offerings on an individual level, customer by customer. Maya Angelou famously said, "People will never forget how you made them feel." Providing customers with the exact information they need paired with a personal touch in an email makes them feel like they're more than a number on a subscriber list.

Still, email marketing best practices evolve year after year, so keeping up with what works best is easier said than done. Our digital marketing experts at Blue Compass stay up-to-date on email practices that resonate while maintaining a firm understanding of which email platforms simplify email messaging. Successful email marketing comes from a brand’s commitment to continuously growing and evolving its methods to increase email click rates. By granting the ability to communicate to an expansive audience directly in their inboxes, email marketing allows companies to deliver targeted messages, personalized offers and special content just for their customers. Leveraging the power of email nurtures leads, builds customer relationships and fosters brand loyalty. Discover the importance of email marketing and how to optimize messages to gain powerful results.

What is Email Marketing?

Email marketing is an influential digital marketing channel to inform, promote or increase awareness of a business's products, services or offers to new and potential customers via email. The ability to reach a vast audience on their own turf with just one click makes email a comparatively inexpensive marketing tool with a potentially high impact.

According to Statista, there will be 4.45 billion users of email in 2023, with numbers expected to soar to 4.6 billion users by 2025. Email has evolved into an impactful digital marketing platform for businesses to share updates, promote services and more. Even with the emergence of new communication channels and social media platforms, email remains a widely used and highly valued method of communication. Here are a few reasons why email is still popular:

  • Cost-effective: Sending emails is relatively inexpensive, especially when compared to traditional marketing methods like print or billboard advertising. Email enables businesses to reach a large audience at a fraction of the cost.
  • Automation and personalization: Email automation features allow businesses to send targeted, timely, personalized emails based on specific triggers or user behavior. Automating and personalizing your email newsletter helps deliver relevant content to customers easily and in a timely manner.
  • Direct and personal: Businesses can readily reach their audience through their inboxes! This provides a personalized, one-to-one communication channel from the brand to the consumer, allowing for a tailored message and relevant content based on the recipient's preferences.

How to Get Email Lists for Marketing

Growing your email subscriber list might feel like a tall task; however, if your strategies focus on attracting, engaging and retaining subscribers, producing a list is attainable. Our experts' recommendations include adding opt-in forms on your website, blog and landing pages. Using catchy text like "Tell me more!" or "Stay in the know!" can create the feeling of exclusivity and encourage visitors to sign up for VIP information. Incentives like discounts on your products or services make a reason for a person to sign up for your newsletter, too. If you have a helpful resource that benefits your visitors, capture an email address by offering to send the information via email. Last but not least, we recommend creating hype around your emails by promising never-before-seen and behind-the-scenes content!

Once you've developed an email strategy to attract and retain subscribers and your business has a growing subscriber list, you can begin your email marketing journey! Discover eight best practices our digital marketing experts recommend following.

8 Email Marketing Best Practices

Before writing an email, it’s crucial to think through the purpose of what you’re planning to send. That’s why it’s important to ensure email best practices are in place to help your campaign succeed. Our digital marketing experts have put together eight best practices for your next email marketing campaign to help it attract engaged visitors and drive traffic to your website.

1. Abide by the CAN-SPAM Act

When starting an email campaign, one of the most important elements is understanding the CAN-SPAM Act. The CAN-SPAM Act, implemented in 2003, sets the rules and regulations for commercial email sent in the United States. The act doesn't just apply to bulk email—all commercial messages are subject to these regulations. The Federal Trade Commission defines the law as "any electronic mail message the primary purpose of which is the commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service."

When violated, penalties are extremely expensive, so it's important for businesses to understand the rules to avoid fines. Key requirements for an email, according to the CAN-SPAM Act, include:

  • Accurate information about the sender: The domain name and email address, as well as your "From," "To" and "Reply-To" fields must accurately identify the individual or business that initiated the message. The sender must include a valid and physical postal address, like a current street address or post office box, somewhere in the email.
  • Subject line accuracy: The subject line can't be deceiving and must remain true to what the email is about.
  • Opt-out option: It's a requirement that email recipients have a clear and noticeable option to unsubscribe from the email list. The recipient should be able to recognize, read and understand that they can opt out of the email list by clicking on the respective link.
  • Honoring your opt-out requests immediately: The sender must allow recipients to submit an opt-out request for at least thirty days after the email is sent. If a person opts out, the sender must honor that request within ten business days.

After reading guidance on the CAN-SPAM Act and ensuring your email meets all the legal requirements, you'll be off to the races with your campaign!

2. Segment Your Email Contacts

Another best practice to improve your email campaign and enhance its effectiveness and relevance is to segment your mailing list. Our digital marketing experts recommend segmentation because it separates your audience into distinct categories, like age, behavior or location and provides the opportunity for you to create content that is relevant to your respective audience based on the criteria you’ve put in place. Let’s look at a financial services company that provides various services for people in different life stages and age groups. They might send emails on the importance of investing in a 401(K) to the younger audience on how their products and services help create and manage the customer’s 401(K). Older customers who are nearing retirement, are interested in securing retirement income and want to be assured their futures are covered could be curious to learn about the company’s financial planning services. Tailoring your email message to specific segments can increase the number of email conversions because you’re providing relevant services to help them meet their goals; therefore, they might become loyal customers.

In addition, segmenting your contacts creates higher open rates, higher email click rates and drives more conversions. As a result of the hyper-relevant email you send to your specific audience, there’s a higher likelihood they’ll open, read and take the desired action in your email. By segmenting your contacts and sending tailored emails to those who will most likely enjoy reading the content you’ve sent out, your brand can elevate the customer experience.

3. Optimize Your Email for Mobile Devices

In this day and age, mobile device usage has taken the world by storm. You can’t go anywhere without seeing someone on their phone. As more people use their phones to read, search the web or respond to emails, it’s important to design your email to look good on both mobile and desktop. If your email campaign isn’t optimized for mobile, your user base could drop due to poor user experience (UX). Our digital marketing experts at Blue Compass continue to find ways to improve email for mobile devices to provide a great user experience. When designing email newsletters, Blue Compass’ web design and development team utilizes responsive web design so users can easily read emails, whether on desktop or mobile devices.

Two types of layout designs work best to optimize your mobile-friendly emails: single-column and multi-column layouts. If you have a predominantly text-based email, we recommend using the single-column format so users can read and scroll at their own pace. Below is an example of a single-column layout email newsletter design for our client, Lozier Heating and Cooling. Users can scroll up and down to see what they’re able to click on and navigate to the website to read blogs or book an appointment. Multi-column emails are a great option if your email has various image-based content. An e-commerce business like Pottery Barn is a great example of how to use a multi-column layout to display multiple images of different products targeted at the recipient.

Lozier newsletter.

Pottery barn newsletter.

4. Craft Catchy Subject Lines

The attention-grabber for your email is the time to let your creative juices flow to create a striking, intriguing subject line that readers won’t think twice about opening. Of course, highly segmented emails give brands even more flexibility to personalize the subject line and capture the reader’s attention. However, writing concise, clear copy and a creative subject line for the masses can still encourage subscribers to click on your email and convert. Developing a sense of urgency encourages readers to open your email and take the desired action before they miss out on something special.

Even if subscribers sign up for your newsletter, there’s no guarantee they’ll open it every time. Including actionable language in the subject line clarifies to the recipient what they can do with the information in your email. For example, a brand’s subject line could be, “Act Now to See Taylor Swift in Action at the Eras Tour.” This informs the reader they might miss out on seeing Taylor Swift if they don’t act now by signing up for the 8:00 a.m. sale time. Sometimes, providing a little mystery or suspense will inspire curiosity within the reader, making your email an exciting or thrilling experience for them where they will want to make your desired conversion.

5. Write Concise, Intentional Copy

After creating a captivating subject line and capturing the reader, it’s time to create copy that will keep them clicking. Intentional copywriting strives to establish relevance through personalization. It’s crucial to understand your audience’s needs and wants. Our Blue Compass experts encourage businesses to write in the second person, which means using the pronouns “you,” “your” and “yours” to orient the email toward the reader. Addressing the benefits of your product, like the fabric, versatility or another stand-out feature shows readers why they should buy from you and not your competitor.

Your audience is likely to skim your email to learn about a new product or company update, so it’s best to be concise with what you want to convey, along with prominent CTA buttons to direct them to key conversion points. This ensures your messaging keeps their attention and points to your desired action. Remember, having one primary call-to-action in your newsletter can potentially result in a higher email click rate because concise copy gives your subscribers just enough content to want to click and learn more.

6. Add Personalization to Your Emails

Congratulations! Users are opening your email newsletter and reading the content you carefully crafted! Now comes a crucial question—how do you take your email marketing to the next level? The answer is email personalization. Brands should customize content to their audience based on multiple factors, including recent actions taken on your website, recent purchases and where each user is in their customer journey. Benefits of personalizing your email newsletter include increased open rates by capturing recipients’ attention, boosted customer engagement and improved relationships between the consumer and brand.

You can segment your audience based on common features that help you determine what personalized message or update you want to send your customers. For example, brands could target individuals who have recently purchased the same product by emailing them about similar products they might be interested in purchasing. A key to successfully increasing conversions or website visits is not just segmenting your audience or having exceptional discounts but also incorporating influential call-to-action verbiage to seal the deal.

7. Incorporate Powerful Call-to-Action Buttons

The main goal of any email newsletter is to have recipients click through to the desired location in hopes of making a conversion. Call-to-action (CTA) buttons are a great opportunity to take up real estate and steer the visitor to the next logical place they need to go to make a conversion. A clear CTA makes it easy for the reader to understand what action they should take and provides a clear path toward the desired outcome (i.e., leaving a review after a recent purchase, website visits or purchasing a specific product). When a CTA is clear and compelling, the user is more likely to take the recommended action.

Simplicity is key when it comes to our CTA best practices, which include strategically placing the button to keep the natural flow of the user’s eyes on their screen, using fewer words in the CTA verbiage and incorporating action-oriented language such as “schedule service today” or “restock on essentials” to encourage the reader to take your wanted action. By implementing a powerful CTA in strategic places on your email newsletter, you’re maximizing the impact it can have on meaningful results for your business.

8. Images are Worth a Thousand Clicks

Imagine your company is selling plane tickets to San Diego, California. Yes, you’ll mention the flight details and the price, but the high-quality images of the gorgeous mountains and bright blue water in your email campaign will really win people over. Pictures can enhance your brand’s message and motivate readers to feel or do something, which is why it’s essential to include them in your emails. Businesses can use images to illustrate their products or services, engage their readers or appeal to visitors’ click triggers with embedded, button-esque text. One of our favorite examples of appealing to a user’s click response is from a Blue Compass client, Lozier Heating & Cooling. Our experts design clickable images with a clear call-to-action so users can quickly click and go to the next desired destination to achieve Lozier’s goal with the newsletter.

Email image best practices include using a mobile-first approach since 85% of users access their emails on their mobile phones. If the image is optimized for mobile, responsive design ensures it’ll also look good on desktop. Be careful to maintain a balance between images and text so the reader can skim your newsletter to see what you want to tell them. Lastly, don’t add an image just for the sake of having one there—make sure it elevates the rest of your newsletter and helps achieve your end goal.

Our Favorite Email Marketing Platforms

Have you decided to try email marketing but are unsure which platform to use? At Blue Compass, our favorite email marketing platform is Mailchimp. It’s one of the most well-known and popular email marketing platforms that has an intuitive user experience so businesses can become successful email marketers. They offer a standard-setting drag-and-drop editor and email templates designed to meet a variety of business goals for publishers, e-commerce businesses, services and more. Mailchimp’s platform is beautifully modern, which makes it easy to use from creation to recapping campaign success with analytics.

Blue Compass’ other favorite email marketing platform is HubSpot due to its sleek design and easy user interface. HubSpot’s customer relationship management (CRM) system provides access to valuable insights from your contact list, which helps your business deliver personalized emails to achieve your marketing goals. HubSpot also has an easy drag-and-drop editor, so customizing your layout, adding call-to-action buttons or images and modifying content is effortless. There are many exceptional email marketing platforms, but Mailchimp and HubSpot are at the top of our list for simple, easy-to-use interfaces with intuitive features that enable us to implement our email best practices for a successful email marketing campaign.

Increase Email Click Rates by Following Our Email Marketing Best Practices

Our Blue Compass digital marketing team is dedicated to helping clients achieve their online marketing goals. We believe in a customized approach for our clients because we know no two businesses are the same. Let the Blue Compass team stay on top of ever-evolving web trends and your email marketing performance by contacting us! We’ll be happy to discuss your email and digital marketing needs.

headshot of Elizabeth Cash.
Elizabeth Cash

Elizabeth, a digital marketing specialist at Blue Compass, graduated from Drake University with degrees in Marketing and Management, concentrating in marketing analytics. She enjoys staying up-to-date on the latest digital marketing strategies to ensure our clients see continued success with their digital campaigns.