10 Email Marketing Do’s and Dont’s

Is email marketing dead? Absolutely not! Email marketing is still alive and well and continues to be one of the most dominant forces in internet marketing today. According to Campaign Monitor, email marketing generates an average of $44 for every $1 spent on email marketing. 

However, that does not mean that email marketing is easy. While the ROI of email marketing has grown over the years, email marketing has become more difficult. In part due to the sheer amount of emails that the average user receives. The average user receives 147 emails per day!

Standing out in a crowded environment like that requires strategy. A proper email marketing strategy is not an option in the modern day and age. 

If your company has yet to establish an email marketing strategy, here is a list of ten email marketing “do’s and dont’s” that will help you create an email marketing strategy for your organization.

Email Marketing: The Do’s 

1. Track metrics and conduct A/B testing

A/B testing is already very popular and will continue to be popular in the future. A/B testing allows companies to narrow down the most effective elements of their promotions.

How Does It Work?

Here is an example of how A/B testing works for email marketing. Company A has a mailing list, and they send out two different emails. One email goes out to one half of their mailing list and the other email goes out to the other half of their mailing list. Company A then tracks the performance of each email and uses the best performing email in the future. 

A/B testing can be used to test just about any variable, so it is important for marketers to define the variables that they want to test first. A/B testing for email marketing can be used to test subject lines, email copy, prommotional offers and calls to action. Each one of these will different variables to test. 

For example, if you want to test your subject lines, then you might use click-through rates (CTR) and open rates as your variables. The email with the higher CTR and open rates probably have better subject lines. 

Have A Hypothesis And A Control

When A/B testing, it is , to start out with a hypothesis so that you have a rough idea of the results that you are going to get. Also, remember to use a control. Or, an unaltered email that you would normally use that you can test against. For example, when testing your call to action (CTA), you might have an email with a text-based CTA, and one CTA that is a button. 

Also, keep in mind that A/B testing is not an overnight project and takes time. The amount of time is going to depend on how much traffic your company gets.

Tests could take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. Also, the most accurate results come from performing one test at a time. 

Also, remember that marketing automation tools such as Hubspot can streamline the testing process. Hubspot Academy is also a terrrific free resource for learning topics such as email marketing. 

A/B testing is a very powerful tactic and should be used in every email marketing campaign. 

2. Segmentation

Segmentation is a Vitale part of email marketing. According to HubSpot, emails that are segmented and targeted account for 58 percent of all earnings. 

Treating everyone on your mailing list as though they are the same person in the same stage of the sales cycle is a cardinal sin. Different contacts in a mailing list are in different stages of the customer life-cycle.

Therefore, marketers should segment based on the stage of the customer life-cycle that each contact is in. Audiences can be segmented in a variety of ways including:

  • Geography
  • Seniority
  • Age
  • Past Purchasing Behavior  
  • Organization Type
  • Industry
  • Job Function
  • Stage in the sales cycle
  • And More

Sales Cycle Stages

The stage of the sales cycle that the customer is in is very important to segmentation. For example, a contact that just signed up for your mailing list and has yet to set an appointment with a sales representative is at the beginning of the sales cycle. Therefore, they should receive a welcome email as opposed to a promotional offer. Someone who has purchased from your company in the past or at least spoken with a salesperson might be open to a promotional offer. 

Buyer Personas 

Let’s take the example of a software company. Your mailing list might include the CFO, the head of IT, and the end-user. All three people are concerned with different things. The CFO is more concerned with the initial purchase and recurring costs. The head of IT is concerned with implementing the software. The end-user is more concerned with how they will use the software. Therefore, they should all receive different emails. An email explaining how to use the software would be attractive to the end-user for example. 

Website/Email Interaction

Another way to segment is by the number of website visits a particular contact has. For example, a contact that has visited your company’s website many times might be open to an email from a sales person asking to set up a call. 

Overall, Segmentation works and has been proven to increase conversion rates by 203%. According to research by Lyris Inc., 39% of marketers experienced higher open rates due to segmentation.

There are many different ways to segment a mailing list. For more information on the different ways to segment audiences, see this article by Hubspot.

3. Optimizing Email For Mobile Devices

According to EmailMonday.com, in 2018, mobile devices accounted for 59% of email opens. Also, EmailMonday reports that 75% of people reported that they use their smartphone to check email most often. Furthermore, the Millennial generation lives on their smart phones, and soon they will overtake Baby Boomers in terms of purchasing power. Obviously, those numbers show that optimizing email for mobile devices is very important. 

How Do I Optimize For Mobile?

Paying attention to the pre-header text is the first step. 


The pre-header text provides some information about the content of the email without the reader having to open the email. The subject line is often prioritized over the pre-header text, but the pre-header text is equally as important. 

It is important to keep the pre-header text short and to the point. Well-written pre-header text can help the reader decide if the email is worth opening almost immediately. 

Pre-header text can be A/B tested and tailored to specific audiences in the same way that subject lines can. There are a number of ways that pre-header text can be optimized, including: 

  • Making the subject line and the pre-header text all one connected message
  • Making the pre-header text a short summary of the email
  • Personalizing the text to the individual who the email is for
  • Including price points and discounts

Make Good Use Of Buttons 

Buttons are more distinctive and easier to click on than text-based links when using a mobile device. Therefore, using buttons as a call to action is a must when optimizing for mobile devices. 

Furthermore, the Digital Marketing Institute recommends limiting the number of words used on buttons for CTAs. As well as using action verbs that serve as additional encouragement to click. For example, “download now” “click here for more information.” 

Use Mobile Detection

As mobile has become more common, so has mobile-responsive design. Or templates that are designed to look good for mobile. However, an alternative to this is mobile detection. Email service providers now offer the ability to detect when an email is being opened on a mobile device and automatically adjusts the layout of the email to be more mobile friendly. 

4. Make Emails More Interactive 

Interactive content performs better than static content, period. How can you make your email content more interactive? 

One way is to include content like video, memes, and Gifs. These are creative ways of distributing content and will delight your audience.  However, as a warning, email can be difficult to implement. I am not going to go into detail as to why, but keep it in mind. 

Another way is by adding content like quizzes, tests or calculators. All of these things can pique the audience’s curiosity. For example, quizzes can be used as a way of testing the audiences knowledge on a subject. Testing the audience’s knowledge gets them curious about how much they know about a given topic. For example, knowledge of digital marketing, nutrition, or real-estate. The audience then often has to  leave their inbox and go to your website to take the quiz, which is good for your CTR. 

5. Compliance

GDPR and compliance are important topics in email marketing that have become top of mind for many people as of late. Security breaches and data misuse have caused people to be more careful about giving out personal information. Therefore, GDPR and compliance are integral to a modern email marketing strategy. 

How Can I Comply?

There are a few ways that can ensure your email strategy is in compliance with privacy laws: 


First of all, you must ensure that you have permission to email people on your list. Obtaining permission means providing a checkbox on the email opt-in form that states that the person opting-in gives you their permission to send them emails. 

Be sure to do your research, as the definition of permission varies by state and the way that the opt-in box is supposed to verify that permission varies depending on the compliance law. I.E., GDPR vs. CAN-SPAM laws. 


Identify Your Email As An Advertisement

CAN-SPAM laws require that advertisements be clearly identified. 

Include A Way Of Opting-Out Of Future Emails

Most spam laws require that emails be easy to opt-out of. Most email marketing platforms and domain providers offer an unsubscribe feature that is easy to set up. Just be sure to make it clear on your website and in each email that there is an unsubscribe link that the user can click. 

Keep Records Of Consent

GDPR also has stipulations that require companies to keep records of consent. Be sure to do your research and establish a method for keeping records of consent. 

The “Do Not’s”

1. Don’t Buy An Email List

Why not? First of all, you cannot trust the quality of the list. The list may have the following problems

  • Missing or incomplete information
  • Out-of-date information
  • Information obtained illegally (CAN-SPAM law violations)

Furthermore, you will come across as a spammer given that people will start receiving emails for things that they don’t remember opting-into. Also, you may have to pay a host of legal fees if legal action is taken against you. 

Also, you will get a poor response rate. According to Optin-Monster, the average open rate of a healthy email list is 20-25%, but the average for a purchased email list is much lower. 

Just don’t buy an email list, it is a bad idea for many reasons. 

2. Don’t Make New Subscribers Wait To Hear From You After Signing Up

The very first email that new subscribers should receive is a welcome email. You should set this up in your email automation platform so that new subscribers receive an automated welcome email within minutes of subscribing.

The welcome email confirms that they are now a subscriber and serves as an opportunity to build trust. The welcome email is also an opportunity to build your brand and move your customer through the customer experience journey. 

3. Don’t Send The Same Email To Every Subscriber

We have covered the importance of segmentation, A/B testing, personas, and personalized content.  Sending the same email to every subscriber causes the marketer to miss out on the opportunity to speak to the specific needs of each subscriber. 

One subscriber could be a first time subscriber and another subscriber could be a returning customer. These two are both in different stages of the customer experience journey. Therefore, they should receive different emails to help guide them through their own unique journies. 

4. Don’t Ignore Your Email Reporting Analytics

Reporting analytics are designed to make your life easier, so use them! If you are seeing higher open rates with a particular kind of email, then continue using that one!

Conversely, if open rates are declining, then perhaps conduct an A/B test and try to figure out what the problem is. Is it your copy? Is it your subject lines? Your segmentation? Do some research, do some experiments and figure it out.

 5. Don’t Stuff Copy With Too Many Links

Too many links are difficult to navigate when on a desktop and nearly impossible to click on when using mobile.

Having too many links can also affect deliverability. Too many links can cause your emails to look promotional and therefore end up in the promotional tab of Gmail. Make sure that your emails get through by not including too many links. In general, three links or fewer is the right amount. 


Email marketing is a critical part of any company’s marketing strategy. While email marketing may be challenging, the bennefits are worth the effort. 

Use the above content as a “best practices” guide, and you will have a successful email marketing strategy implemented in no time!