Email Marketing Best Practices

A macro photo of a cursor clicking a link to their Inbox
E-mail marketing can be a tricky component to your marketing strategy, but it doesn't have to be all guess and check!

Here’s a list of tips and tricks we’ve put together to help you get the best results from your email campaigns.


  • AFFINITY for the brand and INTEREST in the subject are the two most important factors in email participation.
  • Users spend an average of 51 seconds reading a newsletter.
  • 69% look forward to receiving at least one of their newsletters.
  • Users read content as a form of personal address—anything you write should be directed specifically at them.
  • Users hesitate to subscribe to newsletters because they already receive too much information, and are concerned about information overload.
  • LISTEN TO YOUR GUT: If you’re really stumped for something interesting or compelling to write about, chances are your readers are tuckered out too.

Some User Pet Peeves

  • Too-frequent mailings
  • Irrelevant content
  • Unsolicited newsletters
  • Ads that lead to sites with pop-ups


Things to think about with every email you send

  • Does my subject line entice readers to open it?
  • Am I making the most of my preview pane?
  • Is it easy on the eyes?
  • Does the message come through even if the images don’t? Add descriptions to images (alt tags) so that users can still know about the images even if they are blocked.
  • Does this email have a personal touch or does it feel like a “blast”?

Make content conversational, readable and compelling

  • Strike a balance between more general information and insider scoop. Your readers signed up for the newsletter — make them feel like they’re “inside the organization.”
  • Include employee recommendations, favorite spots, etc.
  • Offer something in the newsletter the reader can’t get anywhere else – content that isn’t on your site or in your brochures, etc.
  • Think about expanding content authors… guest posts on newsletters are interesting because they provide different perspectives.

Make content easily scannable for your readers

  • Feature prominent headlines
  • Keywords should be in the first few words of a headline
  • Go for impact rather than complexity…they’ll keep reading, we promise.
  • Appealing campaigns make their appeals EARLY
  • Too many campaigns bury the lead
  • Group similar items together, like News & Announcements, Events
  • Pull out common, desired information across content groups for sub headers. For example for Events, use the Event Title as header, with dates & location as subheaders.
  • Keep content short and use the website for discursive material
  • Give your readers a teaser and make them click the link to read full details

Ensure content is timely/recent

  • Think about when you send your emails out and when is the most likely time that these readers will actually read your newsletter. If possible, look at your stats to see how send times affect open and click through rates.
  • Tuesday through Thursdays fare a little better than Monday or Friday due to full inboxes. 3:00 – 4:00 is a good time window to hit readers who may be reading at work- people are usually more receptive to a “distraction” during this timeframe so make sure to have you email delivered before then.

Subject Lines

  • Use descriptive but short subject lines that entice readers to open the e-mail and distinguish this e-mail from spam
  • Use A / B Testing to determine effective subject lines
  • Good content often comes from bad- write the most boring subject line first and improve from there
  • Consider a consistent newsletter title for easy recognizability
  • The subject line is another form of identification for your email. Leverage the fact that the reader signed up for your email, not that you’ll create a compelling enough subject line to trick them into opening in.
  • Inform but entice
  • Avoid using words that could get your campaign filtered, such as FREE, HELP, PERCENT OFF, and REMINDER. It’s also best to avoid exclamation points – typically subjects framed as questions work better.
  • Stick to 50 characters or less – 80 characters are ok if it’s an active sentence
  • Think of it as a newspaper headline


  • First few inches of your e-mail is key (above the fold)
  • At least 60% of your subscribers will see your email in a preview pane, therefore avoid large link groupings or images at the top of the page.
  • Include your logo (but not too big)
  • Include the content you want to emphasize most
  • Things such as mission statements, taglines, regulatory info, etc. need to occupy cheaper real estate
  • Beware of the side column, Readers may ignore a list of things in a side column—this is often used as ad space, and, if using a free webmail service, readers will already see a column of ads/sponsored links on the right.
  • For your events, consider having a single link to a PDF that readers can print and keep
  • Provide prominent links to Unsubscribe, Send to a friend, Contact Information (if they have questions), an Online Version, and JTHG’s website
  • Provide sample eNewsletters on your website. This encourages users to subscribe because they can see what they’ll get (and what they’ve missed).


  • Break newsletter down into smaller, targeted segments
  • If including reader information is possible, consider personalizing with info other than last name
  • Send out a welcome email and allow people to make selections on what topics interest them, where they live, etc.
  • If possible, follow up with targeted email based on their click through activity.
  • Go through subscriber lists and periodically send out emails to readers that haven’t opened your emails in six months. Sometimes in offering to remove them from your list, you re-spark an interest in your newsletter. Ask them for feedback!


  • Keep them!
  • Break newsletter up into trackable components and keep track of what works and what doesn’t.
  • Review statistics and revise subject lines, number of articles and width of header accordingly.
  • Review time of delivery compared to open and click-through rates
  • Review open rates by subject type – events type, calls to action, etc.
  • Follow up click throughs with targeted emails if possible
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