Email marketing is one of the most powerful digital marketing channels we have access to in 2021. It’s intensely personal, resulting in extreme levels of engagement, and ultimately ROI.
But it’s hard to do, which is why we’re here to help you.
This guide will cover 36 of the best email marketing tips. They’ll be categorized into 4 different groups, including:
- How to write better email subject lines
- How to write better email copy
- How to improve your email marketing strategy
- How to build your email list
Ready to get into this? Let’s go.
How to Write Better Email Subject Lines (10 Tips)
- 1. Personalize Your Subject Lines
- 2. Take Advantage of Power Words
- 3. Test Out Numbers and Statistics
- 4. Test All Your Subject Lines Before Sending Them
- 5. Use Their Name Within the Sender Field
- 6. Optimize For the Preview Email Snippet Text
- 7. Avoid Capitalizing Every Letter
- 8. Test Out Emojis
- 9. Run A/B Split Tests
- 10. Utilize the Power of the Curiosity Gap
1. Personalize Your Subject Lines
“A person’s name is to that person, the sweetest, most important sound in any language.” – Dale Carnegie
One of the easiest ways to improve your email subject lines is to personalize them by using their name. This creates a personal feel that’ll resonate with them, well, personally. Their eyes will be drawn to your email’s subject line within their inbox, encouraging them to open it.
2. Take Advantage of Power Words
If you want your emails to get opened, you need your subject lines to evoke action. You want to create an emotional response, which can be done by using “power words.”
Power words are words that create that emotional response in a reader. That emotion can be a variety of different things, like urgency, scarcity, excitement, or curiosity. Here are some common examples:
- Limited time
- Limited stock
- % off
- 24-hour giveaway
- Last chance
Here’s a good example of power words used correctly to create urgency and scarcity:
Here’s an example that creates curiosity and excitement:
The key to creating great email subject lines is to prioritize creating an emotional response. Use the right power words to evoke the right feelings in your email subscribers and cold targets.
3. Test Out Numbers and Statistics
Numbers and statistics can be a great way to upgrade your email subject lines. In fact, a study from YesWare showed that email subject lines featuring numbers had greater open and reply rates. They analyzed over 1.15 billion emails sent, so it’s a large, significant sample size.
Image Source: YesWare
Why are numbers so successful? Well, there are a number of reasons — no pun intended. They’re specific and measurable, which makes them easy to understand and process. They lack the vagueness in meaning and intent that words often do.
Numbers are also powerful as a tool of proof. Statistics can validate a claim, belief, or opinion, giving your email subject lines a magnetic quality.
Pro Tip: If possible, consider using odd numbers over even ones. Why? Well, for some reason they seem to perform better in headlines — 20% higher click-through-rate. Consider that email subject lines are basically headlines, so they follow similar best practice.
4. Test All Your Subject Lines Before Sending Them
There are a number of different free email subject line testing tools available to you online. These help improve them by identifying any potential spam triggers, as well as offering grading scores and suggestions for improvement.
Here are the best options available:
My personal favorite is Omnisend, which gives you a percentage score out of 100.
It also gives you a length analysis, which obviously is very important regarding open rates.
The spam analysis is also particularly useful. The last thing you want is to end up in the spam folder.
5. Use Your Name Within the Sender Field
When someone gets an email from an actual name, not just a brand name, they’re more likely to open it. You should use this to your advantage by including an employee’s name within the sender field.
Your email service provider should have a feature/function that allows you to change your sender field. You can either include a name with your brand, or just a full name. It depends on what your business is, and how big it is.
A solo entrepreneur might want to include their name and brand. An employee of a big brand might just use their full name. This is just another way to increase the personalization of your brand, which’ll no doubt improve open rates.
6. Optimize For the Preview Email Snippet Text
On some email platforms, like Gmail, there is a small preview snippet text shown after the subject line.
This short text snippet features the first few lines from your actual email’s body text.
It acts as a short blurb that tells someone what an email is about. It gives a little more information while unopened in the inbox.
The length of your sender name, as well as your subject line, affects how much is shown in the snippet. Screen size and browser zoom can also influence it.
It’s important that you optimize this snippet preview text, as it can help entice people to click on your email. Think of it like a meta description of a Google search result — which have been shown to improve click-through rate. The email preview snippet text will likely do the same.
To optimize, here’s a few things you can try:
- Preview a deal/offer
- Use urgency
- Ask them a question
- Use their name
Here’s a good example:
Test out, try different ideas, see how it affects your open and click-through rates.
7. Avoid Capitalizing Every Letter
Capitalizing your entire email subject line is obnoxious and off putting. It’ll discourage individuals from opening your emails. I mean, does this look inviting?
All caps is a cheap way to get attention. Avoid it.
8. Test Out Emojis
Adding emojis to your email subject lines can help improve your email open rates — by as much as 56% according to research.
It’s a way to modernize and bring some emotion to your subject lines. It’s an effective way to attract attention within the inbox of your subscribers and cold targets.
You can use GetEmoji.com to find various different emojis you can use. Get creative, try out, and test.
9. Run A/B Split Tests
Regardless of what subject line strategies or methods you implement, they all require you to test your efforts. How else can you know what you’re doing is successful?
The best way to test is to run A/B split tests.
A/B split tests are when you send two different subject lines of the same email, comparing which one performs better.
Your ESP — email service provider — will have features that allow you to run A/B split tests. If you don’t have one, here are the most common options:
10. Keep It Short
After a certain length, email subject lines are actually cut off, unable to be fully seen within the inbox. Given this, it’s extremely important that you keep them short.
So, what’s the ideal length?
Based on research from Marketo, 41 characters (7 words) is best, as it got the highest open rate.
Image Source: Marketo
Now, you might struggle to fit every email subject line into 7 words. Not all emails are the same, but try to get to a close to 41 characters as possible. This is especially important when you consider that most people view emails with smartphones, which shorten the screen even more.
How to Write Better Email Copy (10 Tips)
- Use a Call to Action (CTA)
- Emphasize Benefits, Not Features
- Get to the Point
- Make Your Copy Scannable
- Find Your Brand’s Unique Voice
- Keep the Focus on the Reader
- Don’t Use a Generic Template
- Always Provide Value
- Use a P.S. to Add Extra Links
- Use Social Proof
1. Use a Call to Action (CTA)
It might be common sense, but it needs to be said: every email you send should have at least 1 call to action.
A call to action is a specific directive you give to readers, asking them to take an intended action. Within an email it’s either a button or a link, with a specific intent.
It might be to send you to a blog post, or video. It might even go to a product page, wanting you to buy something.
It’s essential that you have at least 1 CTA present in every email. In fact, you can, and should, have multiple, like in the example above. This’ll increase the chance your email converts, offering multiple points to click. This is important as we don’t necessarily read chronologically.
Some ideas for places where you can put CTAs include:
- In your email header graphic
- A button at the bottom of your email
- Within the body text of your email
Here is a good example utilizing all 3:
Make sure the CTAs are all natural, and not forced. You still need to properly engage your readers if you want them to click on your links and buttons.
2. Emphasize Benefits, Not Features
This is an old-school, fundamental concept in copywriting, used to maximize conversion. If you’re trying to sell or promote something to someone in an email, you should emphasize benefits, not features.
Benefits are what they stand to gain from something, the ultimate goal or result. For example, buying a treadmill, the benefits would be to lose fat, look good, and improve overall health.
Features, comparatively, are the specific aspects of the product or service that help one reap the benefits. For a treadmill, the features would be an incline mode, various speed settings, and automated programs.
Copywriters understand that the key to selling is to appeal to their emotions first, and logic second. By putting an inherent focus on the benefits, you’ll be able to more effectively emotionally engage them, making selling easier.
Here’s a great example of an email that puts the benefits front and center:
NOTE: You’ll still want to mention the features, just not as much as the benefits. After they’ve been emotionally stimulated, they’ll look to rationalize a purchase. This is when features will come into play.
3. Get to the Point
Like your email subject lines, the content of your emails should be short, getting to the point. This means that:
- Sentences should be short (under 20 words is good)
- Paragraphs should also be succinct (3 lines or less)
- Your email has a clear objective/point
- Has call to actions
Here’s a great example:
4. Make Your Copy Scannable
Your emails should be scannable, so that they can be easily read and digested. You need to make it easy to find the important details.
How do we do this? As was mentioned in the point above, shorter sentences and paragraphs to start. Sentences that are 20 words or less are easy to comprehend, to understand.
Paragraphs that are short — 3 lines max — are visually more appealing to the eye. Have you ever seen a big wall of text? Unsightly and off putting to read.
Aside from those two things, you should:
- Use bullet points and numbered lists to breakup points of information
- Feature images to visualize a point and breakup walls of text
- Have a clean subheading format (H2, H3, H4)
Put it all together and here’s how it might look:
NOTE: It’s ok every now and then to have a sentence longer than 20, or a paragraph more than 3 lines. It’s more about the total, accumulative, bulk.
5. Find Your Brand’s Unique Voice
Most individuals inboxes are full of emails that they disregard. If you want to stand out, you need to find your brand’s unique voice. This is how you come across in your emails, which is what sticks in people’s minds.
Use this chart to help you discover the right voice for your brand:
6. Keep the Focus on the Reader
No one will want to read your emails if all you do is talk about yourself. But, if you talk about their problems and how to solve them? You’ll have their full attention.
When writing your email copy, make it a priority to put your reader’s problems, issues, and pain points in focus. Here’s a good example, as well as a bad one:
- Good example: “Download your favorite shows online 40% faster with a new modem.”
- Bad example: “Our new internet modem is 40% faster.”
The good example puts the benefit at the forefront, helping them imagine downloading their favorite show much faster, saving time.
The bad example only talks about the new modem, which is a feature, not a benefit. It’s not reader-focused, which won’t draw their attention.
7. Don’t Use a Generic Template
A template can be used as a starting point, but you shouldn’t really send emails with that generic format. People have seen the same stuff again and again, putting them off. When they see your copy-and-pasted email, they won’t bother to read it all, and think less of you.
Instead, come up with something unique, something you. Use the generic template as a canvas, but get creative, mix and match. Try to stand out — if you do that, you’ll make a lasting impression on readers.
8. Always Provide Value
Every email you send needs to provide value to the readers it’s sent to. You need a clear, precise purpose for every email, whether that’s to promote, educate, inform, or entertain. If it doesn’t provide any value, then it’s not worth their time — and they won’t open it.
Before you send out an email, consider asking yourself these following questions:
- “What is the purpose of this email?”
- “Is this high quality content?”
- “Would I find value in this email?”
- “What can I do to make this email more valuable to readers?”
Whether you’re promoting new content, or trying to sell a product or service, you must prioritize value to the readers. If you’re sending a weekly/monthly newsletter, are you sharing valuable content with them? People subscribe to your list because they find value in what you do.
Every email you make should satisfy WIIFM — what’s in it for me? Never waste an email, don’t send one’s that provide no value to who it’s sent to.
9. Use a P.S. to Add Extra Links
A lot of types of emails you send, like newsletters or roundups, will naturally include lots of links. For your basic text emails, it’s generally best to just use links towards one call to action location.
However, if you need to share additional links, a great way to do this is to include them in your P.S. section.
You can also have multiple links in the P.S. section.
Some potential links you can put here include:
- New blog posts
- New videos
- Future events
- PR/News announcements
- Social media profiles
This is an effective way to promote other aspects of your business, without forcing things, affecting the actual email content. Your email’s call to action/purpose will not be impacted.
10. Use Social Proof
Adding social proof to your emails can greatly improve your conversions for promotion emails. Whether you’re selling a product or service, or advertising an event or webinar, you should use social proof.
The easiest way to use social proof is to include testimonials:
You can also list your sponsors, or companies that use your product or service.
You can also include badges/logos as well, which are more effective than just text.
How to Improve Your Email Marketing Strategy (8 Tips)
- 1. Avoid Buying Paid Email Lists
- 2. Create Alt-Texts for Your Email Images and Buttons
- 3. Insert Whitelisting Instructions Within All Your Emails
- 4. Make It Easy for People to Unsubscribe
- 5. Send Emails at the Right Time
- 6. Use Email Segmentation to Increase Personalization
- 7. Remove Inactive Subscribers on Your Email List
- 8. Use a Mobile-Friendly Design
1. Avoid Buying Paid Email Lists
You should never buy paid email lists, as the people on the bought lists have never heard of you. They might not even have any interest in the niche or industry you serve. Engagement matters, as those individuals are highly unlikely to continue to open and read your emails.
There’s also a great chance they’ll just unsubscribe, which might only be the least of your worries. You might have even violated the CAN-SPAM Act.
Bottom line? Engagement and conversion matters more than subscriber count. Take your time to build a legitimate list.
2. Create Alt-Texts for Your Email Images and Buttons
Adding alt-texts to the images and buttons in your emails will help make them more accessible. It’ll make it easier for the visually-impaired, as well as low-bandwidth users who fail to load images.
Image Source: https://www.outlook-apps.com/alt-text-images-outlook/
Your email service provider will have features to do this.
3. Insert Whitelisting Instructions Within All Your Emails
Whitelisting is a process that individuals on your email list can follow to ensure your emails reach the inbox. It’s essentially a way to verify a specific address/sender, so they don’t end up in the spam folder.
The easiest way to include whitelisting instructions in your emails is to put a small link somewhere. The anchor text should be something like these:
- Add us to your address book
- Add us to a Safe Sender list
Here’s a real visual example from my own inbox:
The link you include should be a unique URL, supplied from your email service provider. Whitelisting is common practice, so they’ll have educational resources available.
4. Make It Easy for People to Unsubscribe
Yes, the priority is to get people onto your email list, but you should still make it easy to unsubscribe. This ensures that you/your brand comes across as less desperate, more confident. You don’t want to give the impression that you’ve trapped them.
The best place to put an unsubscribe link is in the footer of all your emails. It’s visible, as well as easy-to-find.
5. Send Emails at the Right Time
When you send your emails matters. The best time to send will obviously vary for every individual, and audience/niche/industry. When it comes to research, it’s all over the place.
My personal recommendation: send emails during the working week, and late at night.
My justification is that people don’t check their emails as much on the weekend, because they’re not working. 60% of people also look at their inbox first thing in the morning, according to OptinMonster.
6. Use Email Segmentation to Increase Personalization
Email segmentation is a way for you to breakup your email list into smaller groups. These groups can be based on a variety of things, including:
- Geographical location
- Subscriber activity
The benefit from creating these segmented subsets of your email list is that it makes it easier to personalize. The emails you send them can be far more personal, which’ll increase engagement and ultimately conversion.
Imagine if you got an email, specifically regarding your local suburb, or city. You’d be far more interested in reading and interacting with it.
7. Remove Inactive Subscribers on Your Email List
Having too many inactive subscribers on your email list can actually negatively affect your overall deliverability. This means that even your active subscribers might start not seeing your emails anymore.
You need an email list that is actively engaged, not just a large one. Engagement matters.
Brain Dean (Backlinko) regularly cleans his list. He once removed over 28,018 subscribers, which led to a dramatic 20.8% increase in open rate.
You can send a re-engagement email to inactive subscribers first, to try get them back into the fold. If they don’t respond, then you can go ahead and remove them.
8. Use a Mobile-Friendly Design
Given that most people nowadays check their emails with their smartphones, you need to make sure yours are mobile-friendly.
This means that emails you send should have a responsive design, which means it scales to device and screen size. Luckily most email service providers have this built-in for HTML emails. Also make sure text emails are scannable, with easy-to-read copy.
How to Build Your Email List (8 Tips)
- 1. Optimize Your Opt-in Forms
- 2. Run a Free Giveaway Contest
- 3. Use an Exit-Intent Pop-up on Your Website
- 4. Include an Email Signup Link Within Cold Emails
- 5. Put an Email Opt-in Form in Your Website’s Footer
- 6. Run a Social Media Campaign
- 7. Build Social Proof by Advertising Your Email Subscriber Count
- 8. Create Content Upgrades for Your Blog Posts
1. Optimize Your Opt-in Forms
The primary way you build an email list is by converting website visitors into subscribers, thanks to opt-in forms.
How you create your opt-in forms matter — here’s some best practice to follow:
- Include a lead magnet: this is something of value you give them, in exchange for their email address. It could be an eBook, checklist, whitepaper, or an exclusive video.
- Limit the number of form fields: these are pieces of information you ask them for. Their name and email address is usually enough.
- Use a contrasting button color: your call to action button should be a color that stands out. Orange or red works well, but it depends on your overall website color scheme.
- Write persuasive copy: write like a copywriter to appeal to their emotions. Motivate them to want to subscribe to your email list.
If you those things correctly, here’s how it might look:
Image Source: https://gracefulresources.com/email-opt-in-form/
2. Run a Free Giveaway Contest
Running a free giveaway contest is a fantastic way to build your email list. Although this strategy isn’t ideal for everyone, it can be an explosive method if you’ve got an existing audience.
You can use a tool like ViralSweep to help you run it.
3. Use an Exit-Intent Pop-up on Your Website
When someone lands on your website, you want to keep them there. A great way to do that is to use an exit-intent pop-up.
An exit-intent pop-up appears when they gesture to leave. Basically when their mouse hovers over either the back button, close button, or to another tab.
They’re an effective way to re-engagement your website visitors, while building your email list, too. In fact, in one case study, using exit-intent pop-ups increased conversions by 520%.
4. Include an Email Signup Link Within Cold Emails
Do you send a lot of cold emails out? If so, it’ll be highly valuable to include an email signup link within them. Add them in the footer/P.S. section of the emails, as to not be too intrusive.
5. Put an Email Opt-in Form in Your Website’s Footer
An easy tactic to get even more email signups is to put an opt-in form in your website’s footer. It’s estimated it might add 1% to your total list growth, which is still worth your effort.
6. Run a Social Media Campaign
If you’ve got a solid social media following you can use your profiles to run a list building campaign. You can either run specific campaigns for new lead magnets you’ve created, or you can funnel them to your website.
7. Build Social Proof by Advertising Your Email Subscriber Count
By mentioning not only how many, who is on your email list can build significant social proof. This creates a magnetic influence, which’ll persuade people to sign up.
8. Create Content Upgrades for Your Blog Posts
Content upgrades are lead magnets that act as an additional resource to a blog post. They can come in various forms, including:
- PDF reports
- White papers
- Case studies
They act as ways to effectively convert all the search engine traffic you get from blog posts. They’re like lead magnets, but specifically made for an individual post, which makes it more likely to convert.
In this post we covered 36 of the best email marketing tips in 2021.
Email marketing is an extremely powerful marketing channel, largely because of how personal it is. You’re sending messages, directly to a private inbox — it’s the digital equivalent of putting mail in their letterbox.
Hopefully these 36 tips will help you make the most of email marketing.
Got any questions? Leave a comment below.