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  • Writer's pictureChristy

Email Marketing Do's and Don'ts

Updated: May 8, 2023

In my last blog post, I hope I convinced you NOT to delete your email subscriber lists. (Hello - 4350% ROI!!) We also talked about how to grow your list through incentives and face-to-face interactions. Now, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty and talk about what makes a good email.

Here’s my list of do’s and don'ts for crafting a great marketing email so you can be sure you grab some of the 50% of people who buy from marketing emails at least once per month. (Salecycle, 2022)


1. Personalize your letter

Personalized emails have higher open and click-through rates than generic ones. If possible, use the recipient's name and tailor the content of the email to their interests and preferences. Gather as much demographic information as you can (age, gender, location, purchase history) through sign-up forms, surveys, and by tracking user behavior on your website. Then, divide your email list into different segments based on that information so you can send relevant, targeted emails.

2. Write a catchy subject line

I’ll spend my entire next post talking about the subject line, it’s that important. Your subject line is the first thing recipients will see, so make sure it's attention-grabbing and clearly conveys the purpose of the email.

3. Give them a next step

Your email should have a clear and concise call to action that prompts the recipient to do something. A few tips for your CTA:

  • Use a button rather than a hyperlink.

  • Make sure the CTA button is prominent and occurs once above the fold, and once at the end of your letter.

  • Make your button pop with a contrasting (but complimentary) color to the rest of your letter.

  • Use the same text & color on both buttons.

  • Use only one CTA (appearing twice) per letter.

  • Use short action words. (“Get your coupon” is better than “Your coupon awaits”) Your CTA is not the place to wax eloquent.

Aviation ground controller meeting passenger plane at the airport

4. Write valuable content

You can hook your readers with a catchy subject line, but if you don’t take the time to craft a value-rich body, they will eventually quit opening your emails. Get to know your customers well, and base your email content on their external and internal needs. Some marketers will suggest using a breadcrumb method of giving enough information to whet their appetite, then urging them to click for more. I prefer giving more meat up front, thus gaining their trust, and then calling them to a specific action based on that information.

5. Brand your letter

Equally as important as your valuable text is your visual branding. Incorporating images, videos, and infographics into your emails will make them more engaging and memorable. And staying consistent with your brand’s colors and fonts is crucial. Remember, this is another touchpoint that will help lock your brand into their memory, even if they just glance at the email and throw it in the trash.


1. Spam your recipients

You know how this feels, right? When your inbox fills up with 2-3 emails a day from the same brand, or when the content is superficial or irrelevant? You start ignoring their emails and eventually, you unsubscribe. The word “spam” has become a catch-all term for any unwanted content (and is now used more often as a verb, have you noticed?) but it is actually illegal to send unsolicited emails, as per the CAN-SPAM act. Read up to make sure you are following the rules.

2. Use clickbait subject lines

This is the fastest way to lose customers, and can significantly damage your brand in the long run. If you hook your readers with misleading or sensationalist subject lines that don't accurately represent the content of the email, they will stop trusting you. If you’re not sure if your subject lines are too “click-baity,” pay attention to your open rate vs. your click rate. If your open rate is above 25%, but your click rate is only 0.5%, you may want to revisit your content to be sure it is relevant to your subject line.

3. Use too much text

Too much text can be overwhelming and lead to low engagement rates. You might be surprised to learn that the optimal word count for effective emails is between 50 and 125 words. That’s it! You have 125 words to get your message across. Make them count.

4. Neglect mobile optimization

81% of emails these days are opened and read on a mobile device. Make sure your emails are optimized for mobile screens, with font size, photos, CTA buttons, and graphics all tailored to a mobile experience.

5. Forget to test

Always test your emails before sending them out to ensure they are visually appealing and free of errors. This will help you avoid embarrassing mistakes and ensure a positive user experience. It’s a good idea to A/B test a few emails a month as well - just be sure to only test for 1 or 2 elements at a time. (CTA wording, button placement, colors, subject lines, etc.)

In my next post, we’ll discuss the art of the subject line. But hopefully, these tips help get you going in the right direction with your next email campaign.

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