13+ Email Marketing Best Practices for 2020 and Beyond

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Summer Updated: 2020-11-01

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According to Statista the number of email users in the world was around 3.9 billion. And when it comes to 2023, this figure is set to increase to 4.3 billion. That’s an extraordinary number, which is half of the world’s population.

If your company’s in or will join in the digital world, email marketing is an opportunity that you shouldn’t be missing out. No matter your business’s size, by making use of email marketing, you have the power to reach your target audience anytime you want.

Email marketing is considered one of the most cost-effective marketing solutions to approach new customers and retain existing ones. Especially when you have a limited marketing budget, and you need to make every dollar you spend count.

Then, email marketing can help you out.

To help you along, we’ve put together a brief list of best email examples that you can integrate with your current email marketing strategy and put it into practice.

Table of content

Make it exclusive

No one will deny free things.

Having an idea of giving limited offers to a particular group of customers can bring back unexpected results. Dr. Robert Cialdini, a famous psychologist, proved that people tend to desire and place more value on scarce things.

In the past, you might have used a lot of promotional emails with the hope of encouraging your subscribers to click on your site and make purchases.

Now, you have another direction of deploying your discount email by using the principle of scarcity. Thus, this way can help you entice customers to engage with your email and take action more quickly.

Look at how Harvey Nichols used the sense of scarcity in their Black Friday email.

They offer the sale preview to only Reward members. Through the mail, reward members knew that they had the early access permission to sale-off items. Hence, the open and click rate will be much higher.

Harvey Nichols’s Black Friday email
Harvey Nichols’s Black Friday email

Make use of welcome emails

Do you think that welcome email is important? If not, have a look at this figure.

According to GetResponse, average open rates for welcome email are around 80% – and click-through rates are everywhere 22-25%.

Not only do welcome emails give your new subscribers a warm welcome, but they also provide them with relevant content at the right time, when customers are psychologically ready for you.

So how to make use of the best of your welcome emails?

A thank-you word will never be abundant, especially with a welcome email. See how Vente-Privee sends thanks word to their subscribers right in the email’s header coming with a shopping discount.

Vente-Privee’s thanks
Vente-Privee’s thanks

Or consider the way Virgin America, an airline brand, reminds new subscribers why those emails matter—and why they should fly Virgin with various flying advantages.

Simple but still useful.

Virgin America’s reminder
Virgin America’s reminder

Get the timing right

Every email marketer wants their newsletter to be at the top of the inbox.

Typically, most subscribers intend to pick the emails they see first. However, in reality, there’s no explicit rule for when to send out your emails unless you know what exact times work for your audience.

Why? Because different customer segments will have different online habits. That’s also the reason segmentation before running an email campaign is crucial.

Time slots usually get the most average email open rates
Time slots usually get the most average email open rates

In general, somes time slots usually get the most average email open rates are

  • Between 6-7 AM: Aim at those having a habit of checking email after waking up
  • Around 10 AM: Normally, after people arrive at the workplace and start their working day
  • Between 1-2 PM: Customers are catching up on emails after the lunch break
  • Between 5-6 PM: when people need a little pick-me-up to get through the last hour of the workday
Pick the right day
Pick the right day

To pick the right day, the difference between is not huge to our daily working routine:

  • On Monday and Tuesday lead both in terms of open and click rates
  • On Saturday and Sunday, the open rates firmly decline as they are break day, and customers are usually less competitive and energetic.
  • The CTRs are highest on Saturday and Sunday

Either way, I recommend you run an A/B test or ask your audience to pick the most effective days and times for your email lists.

Just remember that your sending email time will depend a lot on your customer segments and types of email. So take it seriously when building your email list.

Plan a smart thank-you email strategy

Gratitude is a great virtue to possess, especially for a business.

If above, I’m only talking about using thank-you words in welcome emails, then in this part, we will go through some ideas of applying at various stages of your email marketing lifecycle.

Apart from sending a thank you word after a new subscriber is made, consider leveraging your email value by combining the order confirmation email with a thank you note won’t be a bad idea.

Just like Classic Specs, an online eye-wear store, has done well in their email.

Classic Specs’s email
Classic Specs’s email

Typically, after a customer finishes the checkout process of your site, they tend to wait or expect a receipt against the purchase. Most customers will surely open it to check as soon as they receive it.

Or simply a thank-you message sent to customers on some anniversaries as well as important milestones. Similar to Fibit’s thanks for completing 10 glorious years:

Fibit's thanks
Fibit's thanks

Showing your appreciation for your customers’ continuous and unwavering support can certainly amplify their engagement with your brand, though it might not directly lead to sales.

Sum up some opportune times for sending a ‘Thank You’ email:

  • After a new subscription
  • After a purchase is made as a way of asking for their feedback
  • On special days (holidays and special occasions)
  • When your store achieves a milestone
  • After customers reviewed your product or service

Optimize email subject lines

Do you believe that all your subject lines are working well on increasing the open rates?

If you usually don’t put too much mind into naming your emails, you should start it now as 47%of email recipients open an email based only on the subject line.

I have compiled the 3 most important best practices for email subject lines. Follow these tips to be on your way to generate more opens, click-throughs and drive engagement to your emails.

Personalize your emails

We have to admit that no one, even us, will enjoy feeling like being marketed to. That’s why creating a personal experience in emails is essential.

Your email subject line needs to make the prospects feel like businesses speaking to them directly, not an automatic program.

This is how ReportLinker Alerts did by putting the receiver’s name right on the subject line’s head.

ReportLinker Alerts’s personalized email
ReportLinker Alerts’s personalized email

Use numbers

Including numbers in subject lines can convey a sense of credibility. Often, hard numbers can grab readers’ attention right from the get-go, while a general description of something can easily be ignored.

Have a look at a promotional email of Grammarly.

Promotional email of Grammarly
Promotional email of Grammarly

Convey a sense of urgency

Email subject lines that make sense of urgency can generate a 22% higher open rate.

For example, instead of using “we have a special” phrase for your discount email, you could create an urgent feeling by saying: “Final Hour! Up to [number] Off [product name]

Something like this will be much more effective. Crello used this technique in the example above.

Crello’s email subject lines
Crello’s email subject lines

Drafting the perfect subject line is not easy. And in reality, there is no real “perfect email subject line”. The more you understand your audience, the closer you can draft the best email subject lines.

Use eye-catching header

Email headers come at the very top of emails.

Studies show up to 50% of subscribers decide to open a message based on the subject line.

It’s the first thing your customers will look at and allow them to decide whether the mail they’re reading is attractive enough to keep scrolling through.

And a good header needs to be attractive, brand-identifiable, set the tone for your email and get to the main points.

Here’s an example from Loft. The first thing subscribers see will be the offer presented in a very compelling way with the call to action.

Loft’s email headers
Loft’s email headers

Email footer is typically an afterthought for brands.

Businesses use it to provide all the legally required information, like the unsubscribe button or their company address, and that’s about it.

It’s a waste if you ignore your footer cause there’s so much more you could do with it to help you drive more conversions and let customers understand more about your brand.

Crello is a good illustration of making use of their email footers to increase their social reach.

Crello’s email footer
Crello’s email footer

Another example tells the receivers a brand’s story, to be more specific is about the team behind the newsletter and even offers you a special deal.

Make better use of the footer
Make better use of the footer

Use social proof

Remember the last time that you buy something online without checking the reviews first? 78% of US consumers will read reviews before deciding to purchase anything.

Social proof is based on the idea of normative social influence or bandwagon effect, which states that people are more likely to engage in action if other people around them also do it.

That’s how social proof works by the most effortless understanding.

Some popular forms of social proof you can know, such as customer reviews, star rating, and user-generated stories, make a significant contribution to your business credibility. By increasing the customer trust to your brand, it’s less challenging for you to get a deal from your visitors.

Explore Product reviews as social proof here!

An excellent illustration of using social proof in email marketing is Quora.

Quora’s social proof
Quora’s social proof

The email of Quora includes relevant and user-generated questions along with the authors’ names. Besides, content for the recommended email relies on a user’s individual activity on the forum.

One way not least effective is to put reviews on display. One perfect example of applying this technique we have to mention is Tripadvisor.

When a user browses the website, TripAdvisor remembers which pages they visit Then, it sends a follow-up email, including the recommended listings with customers’ reviews.

TripAdvisor’s follow-up email
TripAdvisor’s follow-up email

Deliver engaging content

Have you ever wondered why some emails can gain a very high click-through rate?

Looking back at your inbox and finding some emails that you think are compelling and attractive. Then, you might see the common threads of those click-worthy emails.

They usually offer best seller products, interesting stories, valuable information related to the readers, thought-provoking articles, beautiful images, or funny videos.

Emails including images can perform better than those without. What’s more, the email with a video even has CTRs of up to 8%.

** BuzzFeed** is one of the best at creating some awesome content.

BuzzFeed’s engaging content
BuzzFeed’s engaging content

Include a CTA button

Knowing how to use CTA buttons probably can increase your CTRs by 28% over a link-based CTA as the links can malfunction or be mistaken as just more text.

What’s more, emails with a single call-to-action can drive clicks 371% and sales 1617%.

One important point when including CTA buttons in your emails is to ensure it’s not hidden at the bottom. Otherwise, you may risk a subscriber scrolling only halfway through the email, and your button is never to be seen again.

Well-organized design

No matter how compelling your email content is, your email needs to be organized logically. Though there is no single format that applies to every email.

The overall design of an email will affect the reader’s reading flow and make the receiving information process easier. Moreover, email design can be an essential element to encourage customers to read your whole email and even take action like tapping on the CTA button or just the email images.

An email from Kate Spade is a great example of a well-organized and straightforward design, which is extremely skimmable.

Kate Spade’s well-organized design
Kate Spade’s well-organized design

Email receivers can easily grab all the information in a blink of eyes.

Although there’s not much context in the email, all the main parts and information are displayed nicely. Viewers will follow the numbers and finally come to the CTA button.

Some best practices when designing your email:

  • Keep emails short. Or else, mobile readers will not have enough patience to read to the end of your email as all the content lays down into one narrow column
  • If you want to highlight different types of content, clearly define sections by using spacing and lines to make it skimmable

Use the Inverted Pyramid Method

What comes to your mind when thinking about essential factors to make a great email?

I believe the most common answers can be content and design. Well, it sounds counterintuitive.

However, to generate the best email, you need to reduce as much friction as possible. And a simple model called Inverted Pyramid can keep your email focused.

To make it easier to imagine, look at the below model structure and its works.

Inverted Pyramid Method
Inverted Pyramid Method

Inverted Pyramid a template designed to help you create great emails by eliminating distractions for the readers.

That’s exactly how Nike designed their emails for Black Friday event. First, they grab your attention, then guide your eyes towards the CTA button.

Nike’s emails for Black Friday event
Nike’s emails for Black Friday event

Follow a pre-send checklist

It’s important for you to create a checklist before hitting “send”.

They’ll help you remove unnecessary mistakes, making you look unprofessional and sloppy in front of your subscribers. After all, one bad experience may be enough to turn a subscriber away for good forever.

Some question to ask yourself before clicking the “send” button:

  • Are there any typos or missing words?
  • Are your grammar and punctuation correct?
  • Do all the links work and take subscribers to the right page?
  • Did you include an alt-text for your images?
  • Is the content explicit and easily understood?
  • Is the email mobile-friendly?

There are 2 options for you to choose for this step:

  • Create an email and send it to you. Have a check at both devices: smartphones and computer
  • Use a third-party tool to test and preview your emails across different clients

Segment your email list

You should admit that sending an email blast to your entire list may work from time to time.

According to DMA, 77% of email marketing ROI came from segmented and targeted email campaigns.

An email strategy based on identifying target audience can deliver more tailored messaging for stronger connections.

Identify your crucial segment, for example, the old customer group who has abandoned your site’s products on their carts. You can target them again via email campaigns.

When finding these customers, you can stick to that segment and think of the content that hits the right tones - solving customer’s problems and meeting their needs. You’ll see an upwards shift in the results.

An abandonment cart email of Doggyloot used to remind their customers about their forgotten items to entice them to make purchases.

An abandonment cart email of Doggyloot
An abandonment cart email of Doggyloot

Read more:

7 Common Email Marketing Mistakes You Must Avoid

How to Use Email Retargeting to Boost Sales

Conclusion

You now know all our recommended email marketing best practices.

Hopefully, after this article, you can come up with some interesting ideas to create some inspirational and wonderful emails for your own business.

A sufficient email will go far beyond its simple functionality - delivery message but make up a strong connection between a brand and its customer.

Abandoned cart email.
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