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Best Practices for Email Marketing Campaigns

12 Nov
Overhead view of seated person using a laptop, next to a graphic that says "Email Marketing"

Since its rise to ubiquity in the 1990s and early 2000s, email has been a powerfully effective avenue for marketing communication. Despite the growing presence of social media platforms, email remains a top marketing tool. In fact, the global data and business intelligence platform Statista projects that the total number of emails sent per day will hit 392.5 billion by 2026.1 By 2027, email marketing revenue is projected to reach $17.9 billion,2 as 77% of marketers are seeing an increase in email marketing engagement.3

To achieve this growth, however, email marketers will have to know how to embrace best practices such as deliverability optimization, mobile-friendly email design, and comprehensive email re-engagement strategies. Keep reading to explore several email marketing best practices.

Make Your Emails Deliverable and Readable

Email delivery optimization is vital if you want to break through the clutter of your consumers’ inboxes and stand out from the crowd. This means developing an email marketing strategy to make sure that your messages are opened, read, and acted upon.

To optimize for deliverability, focus on maintaining a clean and engaged subscriber list. Though you want to reach as large a target audience as possible, low engagement rates reduce your email deliverability, so don't just throw the proverbial spaghetti at the wall. To reduce your bounce rates and enhance your reputation, implement double opt-in strategies through which subscribers not only sign up but confirm their willingness to receive email. Additionally, by incorporating authentication protocols such as Sender Policy Framework (SPF) and DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM), you’ll strengthen the credibility and deliverability optimization of your emails.4

Mobile optimization is an essential email marketing best practice. According to HubSpot’s 2023 Marketing Strategy & Trends Report, 41% of email views come from mobile devices.5 Mobile-friendly design has become non-negotiable if you want to increase your email message open rate.

Create Engaging Content

The soul of every successful email marketing campaign is compelling content. Following subject line best practices and keeping your messaging clear is key to creating emails that your audience will want to read.

Email subject lines are the first impression that your content makes. In the best email marketing campaigns, the subject lines are clear, concise, and compelling. Use actionable language and pose questions to pique curiosity. For example:

  • Unlock your potential: Are you ready to transform your career in just 30 days?”
  • Discover more: Want to take the trip of a lifetime?”
  • Start saving now: Want to earn 5% on your account balance?”

The phrases, “unlock your potential,” “discover more,” and “start saving now” offer actions the consumer can take to achieve the enticing prospects posed by the questions. Utilizing this tactic can improve the open rates for your email campaign.6

Once they open your email, readers want to find a well-defined message that gets right to the point. Stay focused on your core message, use a second-person perspective, and be brief so your email recipients don’t get bored and look for the "Unsubscribe" link.7 Visual aids and infographics can help keep people engaged and leave a lasting impression. This is true in emails, landing pages, and across marketing channels: Venngage’s annual survey on visual content marketing found that, in 2021, most marketers used visuals in 91-100% of their content.8

Say the Right Thing to the Right People at the Right Time

One way to improve the click-through rate (CTR) and overall success of an email marketing campaign is by segmenting your recipient list effectively.3 Email segmentation—the process of dividing your subscriber list into smaller groups based on set criteria9—helps you personalize your marketing to speak directly to your customers’ unique interests.

When emails contain relevant, personalized content, recipients are more likely to read them and take the desired action. For example, if a marketer segments a list of consumers who have purchased before, this is the perfect opportunity for an upsell. The email subject line might say something like, “Unlock enhanced features with an exclusive discount just for you!” Those last three words can help customers feel that they’re receiving a personalized perk unique to them.

Segments will be as unique as your business and consumers. You can segment by:

  • Demographics: age, sex, geographic location, and so on
  • Psychographics: belief systems, goals, values, and attitudes
  • Purchasing behavior
  • Customer journey
  • Customer loyalty
  • Product or service specifications

By automating your email delivery, you can ensure that the right content reaches the right audience at the right time. This makes your segmented email campaigns more efficient and effective. Set predefined triggers and actions so that, for example:

  • New subscribers receive a welcome email
  • Shoppers who have abandoned online carts without purchasing get a reminder email
  • Customers who purchased above a set amount receive a reward email
  • Subscribers who have been inactive for a set amount of time are gently reintroduced to the brand, service, or product

Stay Legal and Ethical

Knowing what you can and can’t do as an email marketer is vital to keeping your campaign on solid legal ground, and adherence to legal and ethical standards remains crucial. Compliance with regulations such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing (CAN-SPAM) Act is about avoiding penalties—but it’s also about building trust.

The GDPR mandates explicit consent from European Union residents before sending them marketing emails and provides them with rights over their personal data.10 The CAN-SPAM Act, applicable to the United States, outlines requirements for transparent communication, prohibiting misleading subject lines and requiring a valid physical address and opt-out mechanism in emails.11

To stay above the law and to keep a good reputation among your subscribers, every marketing email should include a clear, straightforward way for recipients to opt out of future communications. This is easily done by incorporating an “Unsubscribe” button or link in a clearly visible location within the email.

Keep Refining Your Email Marketing Tools

The use of A/B testing for emails while tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) will help you attract new consumers and develop email re-engagement strategies for users who may have drifted away.12

A/B testing involves sending two different versions of an email to two small segments of your audience and analyzing which version performs better.13 Measure performance in terms of open rates, click-through rates, or other defined KPIs, such as:

  • Bounce rate
  • Conversion rate
  • Unsubscribe rate
  • Forward rate

In A/B testing, you make variations in subject line, content layout, imagery, call to action, or send time. By systematically testing these elements, you'll gather data-driven insights, ensuring that your content not only aligns with the audience’s preferences but is also optimized for engagement and conversion.

By analyzing performance metrics, revisiting strategies, and making informed adjustments, you can keep your email marketing campaigns targeted and effective, helping to ensure the success of future campaigns.

Successfully Influence Consumer Behavior

In the dynamic world of marketing, consumer preferences are constantly changing, so up-to-the-moment expertise is essential for a successful career. The comprehensive Online Master of Science in Marketing program from the Leavey School of Business at Santa Clara University instills fluency in the best practices of marketing campaigns. Explore the inner workings of the marketing industry and strengthen your long-term career momentum through a robust curriculum led by seasoned experts.

To get started, schedule a call with an admissions outreach advisor today.