10 Steps for Better Marketing Emails

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To date, email marketing remains one of the best lead generation and nurturing strategies. However, it's only as effective as your emails are.

If you want better marketing emails and better leads, follow these 10 best practice tips.

1. Don't Purchase Lists

One of the most common pitfalls business owners and marketers fall into is purchasing lists. It's hard to grow your list on your own, and it seems like a no-brainer to purchase a targeted email list. However, this can run you into legal issues.

Buying emails in bulk runs the risk of violating laws against directory harvesting attacks and the CAN-SPAM Act and GDPR. You can face some pretty hefty legal fees if your email goes to the wrong person and they decide to pursue legal action.

Beyond the legal ramifications, buying lists is often a very poor return on investment. You'll often be met with low opens and high unsubscribes.

→Read Now: Don’t Buy that List - How to Grow Your Email List for Free


2. Clean Your Email List Regularly

In order to keep your marketing emails effective, you want to make sure that your lists are healthy. Your email marketing tool will automatically remove people who unsubscribe from your lists, but there are still ways to further clean them up.

One way to begin is by removing bounces - look at contacts whose last 3 communications have all bounced. That's a sign that they're either no longer at a company or they're not keeping on top of their inbox. 

You may also want to make a plan for removing and re-targeting contacts who never or very rarely open your emails. Some contacts may stay subscribed but simply not engage with your emails, which can drag down your overall open rates and click-through rates.

One place to start is sending them an email with options to opt-in to only the communications they want to receive - they may not even realize they have this option. The next strategy is to move them to another list based on inactivity - perhaps instead of getting your weekly newsletter, you move them to your monthly only.

3. Use Auto-Responders

It's important to keep up communication with your audience, but not every marketing email needs to be a full campaign. There are many routine communications that make sense to automate with an auto-responder. You'll create a boilerplate email that will automatically send to contacts after certain actions or during certain events.

Some common emails that benefit from auto-responders include:

  • Welcome emails
  • Opt-in emails
  • Birthday emails
  • Appointment reminders
  • Cart abandonment emails

Automating for these types of communication allows you to stay connected to your audience without spending unnecessary extra time manually sending out emails.

→Read Now: Why You Should Automate Your Inbound Marketing


4. Put The Offer in the Subject Line

Everyone is busy, and most readers aren't willing to solve a complex puzzle just to figure out what your email is about. Putting the offer right in the subject line gets right to the point and can increase open rate.

Sometimes your email may not have a direct offer - like in the case of a newsletter or blog round-up. For these emails, you still want to make it clear what the email is about. A common tactic is by using one of your blog titles as the subject line.

5. Keep Subject Lines Compelling, but Concise

Most email readers will cut off a subject line at 50 characters (including spaces), so you want to be sure your subject lines aren't getting truncated.

When creating compelling and concise subject lines try:

  • Keeping it at 5-7 words or under
  • Including an action (e.g., "Join Us at the Design Conference")
  • Asking a question
  • Being punny
  • Including a deadline (e.g., "Last Day to Register")
  • Adding numbers (e.g., "The Top 5 Tools Every Business Needs")
  • Taking out spam words like "free" or "buy now"

And always remember the 2-2-2 rule: it takes two seconds to capture readers' attention, the first two words are the most important and you want to inspire action today.

→Read Now: Why Aren't People Opening Your Emails?


6. Don't Neglect the Preview Text

It's extremely easy to ignore the preview text and just use the default - which is to pull the first several words from the body of the email. The problem this creates is that more often than not, the first several words are the "having trouble displaying this email?" text. 

So you end up with something that looks like this:

subject line example

Make sure to always include preview text in your emails, and have it relate back to the topic of subject line.

7. Make it Clear Who the Email is Coming From

One of the best ways to improve your open rates is to make it clear who your email is coming from. This includes obvious steps like including your logo and making sure all send emails end in @yourcompanyname.com - but beyond that, you can offer clarity by choosing the right send name.

Yes, all your emails are coming from you - but not all emails are going to the same audience or covering the same topics. Tweaking your from name to the email topic and type can make it even more clear to your audience what the email will be about. Some examples include:

  • Boss Name with Your Company Name
  • Sales, Your Company Name
  • Support, Your Company Name
  • Events at Your Company Name

The specification will depend on your business and the email type, but this helps your readers see at a glance who the email is from and its general purpose.

8. Put the Most Important Information First

Think about a newspaper - they always put the most important article right at the top, above the fold. We take this same approach in digital marketing. You want your offer to be front and center.

Always open an email with your offer or the most important information. When your audience opens their email - no matter if it's on mobile or desktop - you want to make sure they're seeing the offer immediately without cutting it off.

9. Follow Font Hierarchies 

Most people scan emails, so we need to make them as easy as possible for the eyes to skim. One way to do this by ensuring we're using consistent font typefaces and sizes.

Font hierarchy just refers to the flow of how information is displayed. Instead of randomly sizing fonts, we're following a consistent structure. Titles are one font size and color, the subheadings are another, body font is set, and we're using the same color always for links. 

This creates visual cohesion and makes it easy for your readers to scan through your emails without being slowed down.

10. Use Personalization Where Appropriate

Personalization is a great way to improve open rates and make your readers feel like more than just a number. The most frequent type of personalization is a first name personalization in the subject line.

Instead of:

25% off coupon


Dave, claim your 25% coupon

You can also use personalization within an email - again, first name is the most common instead of using a generic "Hello there." 

However, don't go overboard. It can get clunky and creepy if you try to personalize every single element of an email. Stick to where it makes sense, and follow your gut. If a company you work with sent you this email, would you be creeped out? Then scale back on the personal details.

Email marketing remains a highly effective marketing tool, but it needs to be set up for success. Following these tips will help you craft better marketing emails.

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BizzyWeb is a Minneapolis-based digital marketing and web design agency that helps companies get the high-quality leads they need to grow and thrive. Our tactics include inbound marketing, SEO, advertising, web design, content creation and sales automation. We are an accredited HubSpot Platinum Partner and we offer full-service HubSpot onboarding, enablement and strategy for new and current users.

Dave Meyer
Author: Dave Meyer
Dave Meyer is President of BizzyWeb. Dave has more than 20 years of experience in marketing and communications and has presented digital marketing topics to thousands of people across the US and Canada.