December 5, 2018

To mail or not to mail: The golden rules of email marketing

email marketing of branded content indicated by a hand sending out emails

The online marketing landscape has been through many shifts, but email marketing is one branch of digital marketing that continues to thrive. Wondering why?

Email marketing provides businesses with a great opportunity to reach out to a wide audience on a small budget. When 72% of consumers prefer that companies communicate with them via email, the idea of email marketing works great for both parties.

But it can quickly become a wasted effort if not done right. Here are some easy ways to avoid this.

1. Don’t use clickbait subject lines

Even if your users click on a subject line that knowingly baits them, and they don’t find what they expect inside the email, they’re not going to convert.

Moreover, in the long run, they might just stop reading your emails because of the mistrust you’ve created. Let your subject lines be catchy but not at the cost of fooling users.

Here are some subject lines to learn from.

2. Pay attention to the email pre-header while marketing

An email pre-header is something you see next to the subject line in your inbox. This gives a preview of what’s inside.

Understood from the lens of a marketer, it’s an added opportunity to encourage your audience to open your email; a study indicated that improved pre-headers increased click-through rates by 30%.

You could consider crafting a pre-header by doing the following:

  • Succinctly yet attractively summing up the message of your email
  • Making it actionable
  • Making it personalised and conversational, such that it adds to your subject line

Consider this example of how a pre-header can support the subject line:

example of email marketing showing subject lines and pre-header


But for the love of email marketing, don’t allow these phrases to make it to your pre-headers:

“Click here if you are having trouble viewing this message”

“This message contains images, please enable images”

“You are part of an email list, you can unsubscribe here”

Most businesses make the mistake of not thinking through the overview adequately. Don’t be like most businesses.

3. Pay attention to the design and language

People receive multiple emails a day. Think about how yours is going to be different.

First comes the design. A study conducted to understand user behaviour across websites established that 94% of their first impression was influenced by the design of the website. And a poor job evoked mistrust amongst the survey participants.

The easiest way to nail the design aspect is to understand its principles and learn from successful examples.

With the content, always aim for it to be clear and understandable before anything else. Avoid the use of jargon unless you’re confident your audience will understand it. Next, ensure that the content is aligned with your brand voice. Third, weed out all unnecessary elements.

Your consumers are frequently multitasking or distracted. Don’t send them emails that take significant effort to process.

4. Don’t go overboard with CTAs

Don’t bombard your users with a creative where clicking on anything and everything leads to your landing page; that’s just a frustrating experience.

If you think your email needs more than one CTA, spend some time thinking about the right placement. While it shouldn’t hamper the user experience, it should also be clear and easily differentiable.

5. Make your email mobile-compatible

Consider this: in July 2018, 59% of emails were opened on mobiles. So, if your email does not suit the specifications of mobiles, you are likely to lose a lot of potential consumers in your marketing.

Whether or not you can get your hands on an email template tailored to mobiles, ensure that you do the following:

  • Write short subject lines; 40 characters should do the trick
  • Don’t use a multiple-column template; you don’t want the mobile user to open a cluttered email
  • Don’t use typefaces smaller than 13 points
  • Use small images

6. Don’t unknowingly increase the load time

Once your creative and mail body is in place, don’t forget to test the load time. This can be unintentionally increased when your email is graphically heavy.

When you test the load time, as highlighted before, check it on both mobile as well as desktop. About 3 in 5 consumers check their email on the go, so if the email opens fast on a desktop but is slow on mobile, it can be a big problem.

7. Recheck all elements periodically

Your work doesn’t end once the body and creative are ready. Keep checking regularly if all the elements of your email work as they should.

For example, if you have a ‘Buy Now’ button, but at some point it fails to work, your click rate will take a hit. Similarly, if your button works but the landing page URL is malfunctioning, your conversions will get affected.

8. Give a personal touch to your email

When in the service industry, it’s commendable if you can address acquaintances by their name. On marketing emails, when it’s automated? Not so much.

So, what else can you do to personalise your communication?

Begin by categorising the contacts on your email list; you don’t want to be sending the same template to everyone. After all, different people have different motivations for looking up your services.

One way to do this is by sending out an email that allows them to choose their preferences of subject and frequency as soon as they subscribe to your newsletter. You can further use the data gathered to create personas, which you may then cater to in future emails.

Other ways of personalisation can include sending out email when you know your audience is most likely to respond actively to them.

The ways are endless; it all depends on how creative you’re willing to get. If 94% of companies agree that personalisation is key to marketing success, there is surely some merit in putting effort into content that becomes a touchpoint between you and your consumers.

Parting words

When it comes to other forms of digital marketing, every age group displays distinct preferences. But email is popular among a sizeable chunk of every demographic. So take advantage of this highly effective marketing method, remember to nurture your leads, and you will gradually see them turn into customers.


  1. 10 Essential Tips for Creating Mobile-Friendly Emails
  2. 6 Email Personalization Techniques That Go Beyond a Name