Email Marketing 101- Effective Best Practices for Email Marketing

Updated: Oct 21, 2021

As everyone would know, marketing is the process of promoting and selling products and services of a business or individual. The field of marketing has been around since time immemorial and it's nothing that the layman is not familiar with. Digital marketing on the other hand is a relatively new field though most of us have now been acquainted with it. The phrase digital marketing was first coined in 1990 but it started gaining momentum only in the late 2000s and early 2010s after the launch of some of the most popular digital platforms such as Gmail, Facebook and Whatsapp. The emergence of these platforms revolutionized the way businesses could interact with their customers.

One of the earliest forms of digital marketing was email marketing. It is common belief that email marketing has lost its charm in the current day and age as social media has taken center stage in the world, but this is a myth. People expect to receive such advertisements, long form knowledge and tips through emails but they are annoyed when they see the same on social media. This is why the ROI (Return On Investment) for email marketing remains the highest amongst all forms of digital marketing which is a return of $36 dollars for every $1 spent. Getting into the email marketing game can be tricky as there is high competition. There are certain tricks and nuances that can help you capitalize on your campaign and here we lay out a roadmap to creating the perfect campaign, right from the planning to the SaaS that can help you deliver.

Types of marketing emails

The content of marketing emails can be broadly grouped into three distinct categories based on the type of information and value they provide to your customers. Let’s take a closer look at these email types -

  • Content newsletters - these emails should contain little to no promotion of your product or service but should instead provide value to the person receiving the email. This can include a compilation of resources or simply a prelude to your latest blog post. The best newsletters have cool tips and tricks and useful information about topics related to the brand. Providing links to more detailed documentation will also help increase the legitimacy of your content.

  • Marketing offers - these emails inform your customers about an ongoing sale or offer on your product or service and urge them to grab the deals immediately. Here, make sure the offer and its CTA are the most eye-catching portions of the email but don’t forget to include other relevant information such as the end date, benefits and terms and conditions.

  • Announcements - these are emails that announce the introduction of a new product, service or feature, or acts as an informant about a new process or channel to engage with your product. You can also use this template to make your customers aware of limited edition products. Using words and phrases like ‘introducing’ or ‘for the first time’ in the subject line can serve as a good hook.

Contents of a marketing email

Now that we have a basic understanding of email marketing and what it entails, let’s dissect the email itself to understand the important factors that determine whether your campaign will be successful.

Email Structure - From/Subject Line/Message Preview
Sender, subject line and message preview

Image source: Backlinko

  1. Sender name - Use a constant sender name for all your emails so that your customers know exactly who the email is from and what they can expect from it. Using your brand name here is a good strategy to encourage brand associations.

  2. Subject line - Tests show that short and to the point subject lines (3-5 words) tend to perform better in terms of open rates and deliverability. If you are unsure about what would be the best wording, an A/B test with a small sample of your email list can help you decide.

  3. Message preview - These are the first few words or lines of your email that are visible to the user even before they open the email. Optimizing this helps increase the customer’s curiosity and hence results in higher open rates. Remember that this will be visible to the users only if your subject line is short.

  4. Body - This is the main content of your email so get creative with it. Make sure to clearly address the objective of the email and what value the user gets out of it. Contrary to common perception, people tend to prefer simple text based emails that feel personal rather than loud and colourful images or animations. People in general don’t engage with emails that seem like advertisements. Making plain text engaging can be a challenge but opening with a two line anecdote about how this information is relevant can go a long way in getting the users’ attention.

  5. CTA - Make sure all your marketing emails have a clear CTA to direct users to your website or to make it easy for them to complete a task you want them to. CTAs do not always have to be big blinking buttons, but they can also be a simple link.

  6. Postscript - People usually tend to skip through the body of the email but many people read the ‘PS’ word for word. You can include a one liner here which summarizes your email to leverage this human tendency.

Email marketing tips

So now that we’ve got the basic components of a marketing email out of the way it's time to discuss some important do’s and don'ts to help you grow and manage your email list.

  • Firstly you will need to set up subscription CTAs in landing pages on your website to encourage people to sign up to your mailing list. Concisely inform the user what they are signing up for by mentioning the type of content you will provide and its frequency to make it clear that the user will not be spammed.

  • Include lead magnets, i.e. incentives you provide to acquire a lead, within your email content. This could range from case studies to downloadable checklist to infographics to promotional discounts.

  • Optimizing frequency and send time can also have a huge impact on the impact of your campaign. Here, there is no right or wrong time but the optimal time depends on the nature of your campaign. If your target audience are those working in a particular business, sending the email during office hours will increase the open rate. One hack here is to send the email around the middle of the day, as sending it early in the morning or late in the evening can cause your email to get buried under tons of other emails. If you are targeting customers who want to shop in their leisure time, weekends and holidays will receive higher open rates. Doing A/B tests with send times can be insightful. Sending emails too frequently might be considered as spamming. A frequency of one email every week can be used as a rule of thumb but needless to say this can also be tweaked to match your needs.

  • Sending welcome emails to new subscribers is a simple way of building a relationship with them. Short emails that clearly outline the content the user will receive and when they will receive it will prevent users from unsubscribing within a few days or weeks.

  • Try to make sure that 80% of the emails you send contain information and value and use the other 20% to pitch your products. You will be able to retain subscribers only if they see value in your content.

  • Once you have a sufficiently large list of subscribers, segmenting them based on demographics or interests and sending customized content to each segment will lead to increased engagement.

  • Finally it is important to monitor your KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and customize your content accordingly. Some important KPIs include open rate, click through rate, spam reports and number of unsubscribes. If these rates are at or above industry average you have nothing to worry about. If they are less or are declining it's time to revamp your email marketing strategy.

Top SaaS for email marketing

Phew! That's a lot of information to keep in mind. This is exactly why there are many SaaS available in the market which simplify your workflow and reduce the burden on you. We’ll introduce you to 3 such SaaS that are currently at the top of the game.

  • MailChimp is the OG SaaS for email marketing which was founded in 2001 as a low cost alternative for small businesses. This has evolved over time to become an all-in-one platform for digital marketing including social media marketing, CRM, landing page creation and more. It remains one of the top SaaS for email marketing to this day. A free plan is available to get you started and other plans with more features have a free trial period before you are required to pay. If there is a downside to MailChimp it would be that you are restricted to certain formats only and customizability is poor.

MailChimp email builder. Image source: MailChimp

  • Sendinblue has carved its place in the top 100 SaaS list of 2021 as the best marketing automation platform for SMBs (Small and Medium sized Businesses). It tackles both email and SMS marketing and also provides chat functionality for websites. Sendinblue also has a free plan for small teams but offers more advanced features such as A/B testing and automation only on paid plans starting at Rs. 1,510 per month.

Sendinblue dashboard. Image source: Sendinblue

  • Omnisend is a relatively new SaaS in the fishpond but has quickly become popular in the digital marketing space by specifically targeting the booming e-commerce industry. They provide the basic email and SMS marketing automation along with useful features such as segmentation and pre-built templates for cart abandonment, welcome series and transactional emails. They also have multiple third-party integrations with popular e-commerce platforms such as Shopify. Omnisend provides a free plan with many useful features but with a limit on the number of contacts that can be reached which works to the benefit of start-ups. Paid plans are available for larger target audiences starting from $16 per month.

Omnisend dashboard. Image source: Omnisend

The time has come to start your own email marketing campaign armed with this boatload of information. We are eager to know what worked for you and what didn’t. Do let us know if this article was helpful and if you have any new hacks you’d like to share.