Best Practices For Email Marketing In 2021

best practices for email marketing
Ravi Davda Rockstar Marketing CEO

Written by Steve

Feb 19, 2021

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We decided to create this blog on best practices for email marketing after speaking to some of our customers. To our surprise, most of them felt that email marketing was redundant in 2021. We understand where that feeling has come from. Digital marketing has exploded at a frightening pace in the past decade or two. There are, more dynamic marketing tools, such as social media marketing and PPC which are more updated. Email marketing appears to be tame in comparison.

But here’s the truth. Email marketing is timeless. It is as consistent as it was a decade ago. It’s the eternal golden goose that you do not want to kill. What’s even more amazing is that as the focus shifted towards other forms of marketing, email marketing has become cheaper.

Well, only marginally so. But even that can make a significant difference to a small business’s marketing spend. All said and done, your success with email marketing in 2021 depends completely on the campaign your marketing team creates. That’s where we step in.

Here’s a set of best practices for email marketing that we’ve created after years of constant testing, tweaking and analysis.

#1 – Start with a welcome email

Everybody loves a welcome email after subscribing to a newsletter or mailing list. There is a multitude of statistics to prove this too. Welcome emails have an average read rate of 34%. That’s almost 42% more engagement than any other email that follows. That’s not all. The timing of the welcome email is just perfect. That’s when your customer’s most interested in your business. This interest might wane if they don’t hear from you for a day or a week.  

Even a simple welcome message grabs attention and helps you connect to your customer. There are other benefits too. It helps a business confirm the legitimacy of the email address and helps weed out incorrect addresses. Oh, that click through rate is also an indication of the number of subscribers who are likely to open future promotional emails. Customers that do not engage with welcome emails are more likely to be non-responsive.  

#2 – Best Practices for email marketing – Timing is everything

Most businesses will happily pay a sizeable sum of money to place their marketing mails on top of the inbox. But you don’t need to pay an additional penny if you follow this best practice. Send your emails on Tuesday and Thursday to maximise your chances of engagement. That’s all there is to it.

There’s tons of research data surrounding the best time to send marketing emails. A lot of the information is contradictory. But there are two recent studies that illuminate a few noteworthy facts about the effectiveness of sending your emails on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This study from Omnisend suggests that Thursdays and Tuesdays offer a better open rate and click through for marketing emails. Part of this is concurred by this study by GetResponse, who also agree on Tuesday for high open rates.

Campaign Monitor and Klaviyo also suggest that Tuesdays might be more effective than any other day to send a marketing mail. The take away is that Tuesday might be the best day of the week for your weekly mailer.

#3 – Minimal is more effective

best practices for email marketing tips
Best practices for email marketing – Get the mailing frequency right

We’re sure that you agree that there’s nothing more annoying than frequent marketing emails. This study confirms exactly that. A business that sends out just one marketing email a week significantly improve their open rates and engagement. The open rate was as high as 34.26%, while the click-through rate was a staggering 4.88%. On average, the UK has an email open rate of just 18.39%.

However, there’s always a risk of under mailing which can lead to poor visibility, inconsistent reputation and also lost revenue opportunities. Business must strike a balance to avoid this. A skilled email marketing team will be able to create a custom campaign frequency that works. It will probably involve some A/B testing. But it’s critical to get these email marketing best practices right.

#4 – Watch out for the spam score

Getting a customer to sign up for your mailing list is only half the job done. Businesses must also ensure email deliverability. One of the biggest factors is the ever-vigilant spam filter that has evolved at the rate of knots. Gmail, in particular, has perfected the spam filter to watch out for the slightest hint of suspicious activity.

What’s worrying though is that most of the time, even simple emails end up in the spam folder. A skilled email marketing team will help run a spam score on every marketing email. This should minimise the risk of an email landing in the spam folder.

#5 – Make it personalized

Most businesses in their welcome emails talk about how they value the new customer relationship. They go on about the importance of customer opinions, feedback and what not. That’s great. You’ve just managed to win the trust of a potential customer. Then, why do you follow it up with an email that starts with ‘noreply@yourbusiness.co.uk’?

How ironic is that? It’s a simple way of saying that ‘We don’t really care about your feedback or opinions’. Do not make this mistake. Instead, use a catchy personalised sender name. Think of it as a digital representation of your brand voice. There are many tried and tested formats that you can choose from, including:

  • [Brand Name]
  • [Employee Name] from [Brand Name]
  • [Brand Name] Customer Support
  • [Employee Name] @ [Brand Name]

The actual format that you use has to be in sync with your branding efforts. It will take some analytics and testing before you can find a winning formula. Once you find what works, stick to it. Consistency reinforces trustworthiness and brand recognition.

#6 – Best practices for email marketing – Work on your subject lines

best practices for email marketing guide
Best practices for email marketing – Work on your subject line

47% of your email recipients will decide whether to open an email or not based on the subject line. 69% of them might even report it as spam based on the subject line you choose. These statistics make complete sense. Think of it from a recipient’s perspective. When they scan an inbox, all they see is the sender name, the subject line and a tiny pre-header. Then depending on which email client they use, they may see labels or filters. But these are the basic visible parts of an email. That’s all they have to determine if a mail is spam or not. Or, whether it’s interesting enough to be opened or not.

We spoke about the importance of a great sender name earlier. Work equally hard on your subject line. Run A/B tests and use the analytics data to determine what works better. At Rockstar Marketing we treat the subject line as the most critical part of every marketing email. We often use emojis and personalised messages because we know it works.

#7 – Don’t hide the ‘Unsubscribe’ button

We know how hard it is to create an email list and to grow it. But businesses often make the mistake of making the unsubscribe process cumbersome, hoping that customers will stick. You need to realise that there are many reasons why a customer may choose to unsubscribe. Most of these are beyond your control. You can try to minimise this by providing great value. But even then, losing subscribers is an unavoidable part of email marketing.

Making the unsubscribe process tedious sends out a wrong message. If a customer wants to unsubscribe, but cannot find the way to do it, they might report the email as spam. If they don’t, they will set a filter that sends the mail to a folder they don’t use.

Always make it easy for the customer to unsubscribe. Most successful email marketing campaigns use the footer to place a customised message, along with a hyperlink that leads to the unsubscribe page. Use clear text, large font and common words on the unsubscribe page. Trickery doesn’t work in marketing.

#8 – Best Practices for email marketing – Work on the content

This one’s self-explanatory. Take a look at your inbox and check for emails that you find click-worthy. Alternatively, take a good look at the newsletters that you may have opened in the past. What common thread do you find in them? Chances are that they offer great content and have a great design. Your content should look appealing and provide value. It’s almost like the benefits of great website design.

It can be a value-for-money product or a service that seems like the exact thing you are missing in your life. Some brands use their best articles or just a funny video. As long as it adds value, appears catchy and delivers the message, the mail usually works. Take a look at this brilliant marketing email from Trello, which is a popular visual collaboration platform.

best practices for email marketing list
Best practices for email marketing – Highly captivating mail from Trello

The subject line says ‘A free personal habit tracker for you’. The message is loud and clear. It informs the user that they can avoid procrastination with a free tracker from Trello. Procrastination is something most people struggle with. Trello’s offering instantly appeals to anyone in project management.

Also, there’s a clear CTA and the branding’s consistent. We are a little sceptical generally to use the word ‘free’ in subject lines. But as long as the spam score is positive, it’s good to go.

Are you incorporating our best practices for email marketing yet?

Chances are that you are not. But that’s only a phone call away. Speak to us at Rockstar Marketing to experience the difference that we can make to your email marketing campaigns. Our services include marketing strategy, design, list management and testing. We can help you to find campaigns that hit bullseye with minimal error rates.


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