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Email marketing best practices: part one

Customer preferences about promotional emails show that 86% would like to receive promotional emails at least monthly, with 15% preferring promotional emails every day. And according to the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), email has a median ROI of 122%—4 times higher than other formats examined! This demonstrates that email marketing is just as relevant today as it was two decades ago.

Whether using a traditional outbound email campaign methodology or a lead generating inbound email campaign, marketers should follow these email marketing best practices in developing both verbal and visual content.

Verbal Content

Captivating Subject Line
  • Use second person (you, your, yours) and focus on your customer rather than your brand
    (But remember emails with “You” in the subject line are opened 5% less than those without)
  • Talk about the benefits of your product or service, not about the features
  • Be brief and offer means to click through
  • Make sure you let your brand personality shine
  • Customize as much as possible with personalization tokens for the contact’s name, the company name and more.
  • An email sent by a person instead of from a generic email address is more likely to be clicked. Consider adding a Google+ profile photo and your personal phone number.
  • Include “Follow Me” section with buttons or links for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media
  • Allow recipients to share the email, especially if it contains a free offer, with their network through social sharing buttons so your offer can go viral

Visual Content

  • Optimize for mobile as 54% of email is now opened on a mobile device
  • Your logo should be in the upper left-hand side as data indicates viewers instinctively look here
  • Email width should be under 600 pixels (650 pixels wide is no-no because of horizontal scrolling)
  • Design with tables so the email design renders correctly across multiple email clients
  • Align subject line copy and email copy for crisp design aesthetics
  • Don’t use fonts smaller than 14 pt
  • Avoid background images as Outlook does not recognize them. Instead use color and images in other ways.
  • Use absolute paths for images and file attachments to your server
  • Optimize image size to be as small as possible without losing integrity of image
  • Declare image width and height so email maintains structure when images are turned off by email clients (aka email applications or email systems)
  • Use descriptive alt text under images in case image doesn’t display
  • Avoid using .png images as Lotus Notes does not support .png image formats
  • Avoid using image maps as Hotmail will not recognize image maps
  • Have an even balance of text and images, and make sure there is lots of white space
  • As recipients will be clicking with their fingers, your CTA should be at least the size of an average thumbprint, 44 x 44 pixels
  • A/B Testing of images often a great way to measure improvements

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Michaletz Zwief
Marketing and digital communications agency specializing in smart, meaningful content development.

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