From boosting open rates to the proper design, here’s everything you need to know about creating successful marketing emails.
Here, you’ll find:
- A breakdown of email marketing types
- The latest email marketing stats
- What design elements make up effective marketing emails
- Common email mistakes to avoid
The stats surrounding emails are dizzying. In 2020, more than 300 billion emails were sent and received every single day, according to Statista. (Judging by my always-overflowing inbox, I believe it.)
So, what does that mean for email marketing? Well, it means this practice is alive and well — and that we’ve all got fierce competition.
Experience tells us that email can be a crucial and highly effective part of a well-rounded digital marketing program, whether you build nurture campaigns, dispatch regular newsletters, send event invites, or all of these and more.
Whether you’re just getting started or are looking to optimize your current email marketing practices, here’s what you need to know.
What is email marketing?
In essence, email marketing is any email message sent from a company or one of its representatives for a commercial reason. Marketing emails are generally sent to a group of recipients from an email list, but they can also be sent one-to-one, such as from a marketing rep to a potential client.
“Anytime a company sends out an email, aside from order confirmations and direct responses to customer questions, it could be considered a form of email marketing,” The Balance Small Business notes. When done right, marketing emails can build trust with your target audience, turn leads into customers, increase sales, and more.
What are the different marketing email types?
Marketing emails come in all shapes and sizes. The type (or types) your company sends out will depend on a variety of factors like your bandwidth, industry, and goals.
The main types of marketing emails are:
- Newsletters – usually these are sent out regularly to subscribers and can include a mix of company updates, new content, and even special offers
- Product or service updates – these emails let prospects and customers know about new and improved offerings from your business
- Company announcements – these emails let people know if your company makes a big change (such as getting acquired, adding a new service, or changing its name)
- Special offers or promotions – sweeten the deal for subscribers by offering them early access to a sale, a special discount, or another incentive to keep them subscribed
- Exclusive invites – give recipients first dibs to RSVP to in-person or virtual events such as conferences, webinars, or consultation opportunities
- Lead generation – these emails are usually deployed as part of an email campaign and are triggered by an action someone takes on your site (like downloading an e-book or filling out a form)
What are the latest email marketing statistics?
Email marketing has been around for decades, so it’s no surprise that this tactic has gone through quite an evolution. Here are some of the latest statistics surrounding email marketing.
- Mobile opens account for 46% of all email opens. (HubSpot)
- Email marketing returns an average of $42 for every $1 spent. (Litmus)
- The average email open rate is 21.33%. (Mailchimp)
- 31% of B2B marketers say email newsletters are the best way to nurture leads. (Content Marketing Institute)
- 73% of millennials prefer communications from businesses to come via email. (HubSpot)
- It’s expected that there will be 4.3 billion daily email users by 2023. (Statista)
What are the top email marketing best practices?
If there were a golden rule about email marketing, we’d say it’s this: Don’t send an email unless you have something important to say to the recipient. For most of us, inboxes are overstuffed as it is. You don’t want to add to the clutter and noise by emailing just for the sake of it.
With that in mind, you also want to make sure that you’re not skirting or breaking any guidelines when it comes to your emails. Per the CAN-SPAM Act, this means your emails should have a clear way to unsubscribe, be free from deceptive or clickbait-y subject lines and copy, and include a valid physical postal address.
At the end of the day, the most effective emails show a clear value to each recipient. While you may not be able to incentivize every individual open, you can illustrate to your readers that you value their time and their eyeballs by providing value wherever possible. This could be in the form of educational insights, news, exclusive access, a discount, or something more.
Need more help getting your email marketing on track? We can help.
What are the design elements of effective marketing emails?
Don’t let your email’s message get lost in a sea of bad design. The way you format and lay out your email’s design is arguably as important as the copy it contains.
Email design is about so much more than colors and graphics (though these aspects matter as well). It also pertains to things like personalization, visuals, and how the content is organized.
An effective marketing email design includes elements like:
- A thoughtful subject line and pre-header
- Concise copy
- A tone and aesthetic that mirrors your website
- Content in descending order of importance
- A mobile-friendly format
- Ample white space (which doesn’t necessarily have to be “white” in color)
Your marketing emails should feel like an extension of your website, or even a toned-down, more minimal version. Above all, you want them to be scannable, professional, and easy to read.
Pro tip: HubSpot recommends also considering email design elements like textured illustrations and 2D images, experimenting with “dark mode” compatibility, and monochromatic or muted color layouts.
How can I improve email marketing open rates?
What good is a well-written and beautifully designed email if no one opens it? When crafting your campaigns, keeping open rates in mind can help inform everything from the time of day you send your dispatches to how you phrase subject lines and pre-headers.
Keep your email open rates climbing with tactics like:
- Keeping your email list updated – Sending emails to addresses that have been deleted or to people who no longer work at their company is a recipe for low open rates and high bounce backs.
- Personalizing your sender – Whether it’s someone from your marketing team or your company’s CEO, sending an email from an actual human instead of a nebulous “company” can help your messages feel more credible and personal.
- Segmenting your audience – The more specific your audience, the more directly you can speak to them. You can segment by attributes like demographics, purchasing behavior, business type, and more.
- Sending on Tuesdays – Data shows that emails sent on this day often see higher open rates when compared to other business days.
- Avoiding spam traps – Don’t use elements in your emails that could get them caught in spam folders. This includes embedding forms in the body of your email, having too many graphics, employing trigger words like “earn,” “cheap,” or “free,” and using excessive exclamation points in your subject line.
What are the common email marketing mistakes to avoid?
Ever sent out a marketing email then realized you input the wrong name token or included a (now) obvious misspelling? Mistakes happen. Luckily, there are easy ways to avoid them.
One thing that’ll help safeguard you against email marketing mistakes is to create a checklist. You can use this to ensure everything is complete and accurate before sending or scheduling your email. It’s also a good idea to have another team member or colleague proofread your email to catch anything you might have missed.
Here are a few more common email marketing mistakes we see:
- Not formatting with mobile in mind
- Failing to segment your subscribers
- Not including a clear call to action (CTA)
- Designing emails with too many distracting elements
- Using too much jargon and esoteric language
- Focusing too much on selling
- Buying third-party email lists
- Auto-subscribing people without their consent
Email marketing isn’t disappearing from inboxes anytime soon. The trick is to figure out the most effective way to use email to reach your target audience.
Once you figure out the content, frequency, and format that resonates most with your subscribers, you can focus on building a relationship with them and encouraging a dialogue through your email correspondence. Marketing is about connection, after all — your emails should be no different.