Best Practices in Email Marketing

Best Practices in Email Marketing

Is email marketing still effective? With so much of hype surrounding social media, email marketing looks passé. This article tries to explore whether email marketing is still effective, and some of the best practices in email marketing.

Consider these Facts

More than 50% of consumers make purchases as a direct outcome of email.2 ROI was higher on email marketing compared to any other channel including social media and PPC.2

Research indicates that more than 50% of consumers make purchases as a direct outcome of email. It also drives more ROI than any other channel including social media and PPC advertising.3

More than 90% of consumers go online everyday to send and receive emails.4

42% of consumers said they preferred receiving promotional emails.6

—Employees spend 13 of their working hours each week in their email inbox (on average). – McKinsey & Company

—72% people prefer to receive promotional content through email, compared to 17% who prefer social media. – MarketingSherpa

—The average order value of an email is at least three times higher than that of social media. – McKinsey

—90% of email gets delivered to the intended recipient’s inbox, whereas only 2% of your Facebook fans see your posts in their News Feed. – Forrester Research

—57% of email subscribers spend 10-60 minutes browsing marketing emails during the week. – ChoozOn

—You are 6x more likely to get a click-through from an email campaign than you are from a tweet.- Campaign Monitor

When it comes to purchases made as a result of receiving a marketing message, email has the highest conversion rate (66%), when compared to social, direct mail and more. – DMA

What do these statistics mean to the marketer?

These statistics clearly indicate email marketing is still very important. The old saying, “Money is in the list” still holds true. The last time I had a seminar, I asked my attendees “How many of you have a mailing list?” Less than 5% said yes. Out of the 5%, how many of them are doing it right is anyone’s guess.

Pillars of Email Marketing

#1 An opt-in list

This is a list of emails where subscribers have willingly given you permission to send them emails. Email can be collected using an email marketing software.

#2 Autoresponders

They are pre-scheduled emails that go out to subscribers in a sequence.

#3 Sharing Valuable Information

Most people usually send only offers. While there is nothing wrong with sending offers once in a while. It is important to build a strong relationship with your subscribers by sending them valuable information first before anything else.

How email scores over social media?

  • Your opt-in list is yours. You can’t say the same about all the subscribers to your Facebook page.
  • Just 2% of your Facebook posts even get seen, while 90% of your emails get delivered to your recipient.
  • Email is more personal and intimate.
  • You make the rules. Social media is not under your control. Social networks can change the rules of the game at any time.

Now, the best practices

Best Practice #1: Permission based – double opt-in

Email marketing has to be permission based. What does this mean? Subscribers to your email list should have specifically asked you to add their contact details to your database. This could be done by either a double opt-in form on your website, or if you are collecting information offline you may have to specifically ask them to check a box on the form that clearly gives you permission to add them to your mailing list. There are several online softwares (see list here) that can help you set-up a web-based form to collect subscriber information.

Best Practice #2: Option to Opt-out

It must be easy for subscribers to opt-out of your mailing list. Good email marketers usually have an unsubscribe link at the bottom of their emails or at a prominent location that makes it easy for subscribers to unsubscribe to your mailing list. If you any of the top email marketing softwares, this is usually taken care.

Best Practice #3: Clarity of permission

When subscribers opt-in, they need to be told what information they will be receiving. Is it going to be special offers, information, articles or promotional emails? When subscribers are opting into your mailing list, they are giving you permission for something specific. For example, someone opting into a business newsletter does not expect to get information about women’s skirts. So, be clear about what information the subscriber will be receiving.

Best Practice #4: The sender and the subject

Subscribers need to be clear who they are going to be receiving information from. The sender information has to be clear and accurate. The subject line should not be deceptive. The email has to be related to the topic in the subject line.

Best Practice #5: Scheduling Frequency

The scheduling frequency needs to be consistent. If you send an email every Friday, then continue sending an email every Friday. You may break this pattern once in a while, but for the most part try to be consistent.

Best Practice #6: Be clear if your message is an advertisement

A lot of email subscribers do not mind receiving an advertisement, but they need to be told it is an advertisement. So do not try to deceive an advertisement as educational content. A lot of companies try to deceive sales letters as educational content.

Best Practice #7: Follow CAN-SPAM and other laws

CAN-SPAM relates to both email and other electronic messages. To know more about CAN-SPAM, visit

 Also read Top 7 Email Marketing Softwares, click here.


1 Direct Marketers Association

2 Forrester Research

3 ExactTarget’s survey conducted in December 2009

4 6th Annual Consumer Email Study, DoubleClick

5 ExactTarget (2010) “Subscribers, Fans, and Followers: The Social Profile”

6 Econsultancy (2010) “How we Shop in 2010: Habits and Motivations of Consumers”

Email Marketing in 2011: Industry Facts and Statistics [online] Available at'

I help brands achieve their marketing goals primarily through content marketing and experiential events. I presently live in Bangalore, India after having lived in South Florida and Mumbai in the past. I love the sunshine, beaches, and of course sports. You can connect with me on Twitter @VinilRamdev or by email on [email protected]