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Email Marketing Best Practices: 4 Steps to Connect, Deliver, and Profit in the Inbox

A woman holding a cell phone next to text Email Marketing Best Practices: How to Connect, Deliver, and Profit in the Inbox

Email marketing is a powerful tool to foster long-term customer relationships and increase sales. Today, we’re going to dive into email marketing best practices. We’ll explore common mistakes to avoid, and how to leverage the best tools and techniques.

Email marketing can be can be nerve-wracking

Email marketing can feel like navigating a minefield. One small mistake in your message will end up in the inboxes of hundreds, thousands, or even tens of thousands of people all at once.

They sit there, glaring evidence of your imperfections, on screens across the globe.

At least that’s how it feels.

As a seasoned content marketer, I’ve had my fair share of email marketing mishaps. So before we get into email marketing best practices, I’ll first give you a glimpse into my “Email Marketing Hall of Shame.”

I’m sharing these so you can avoid the mistakes many business owners make so you can build an email marketing program you’ll be proud of.

A monkey looking at the camera
Here’s my face when I realize I sent an email with a mistake.
  • Early on, I bombarded my entire list with ads for new products without understanding my audience’s interests. Now I know better – using interest lists and segmentation.
  • Later, I make the mistake of promoting products to people who had already purchased them. Oops! I learned how to avoid this by not sending those emails to customers who have already bought the product.
  • And I sent out emails with broken links – not a great look. But don’t worry, I have a solution for that too.

Email marketing is a smart investment

Despite occasional mishaps, email marketing has been a powerful tool for growing my business — and it’s a smart investment for your business too. Let’s talk about why it’s so effective:

  • Inbox delivery power: An astounding 90% of emails get delivered right to your subscribers’ inboxes. Compare that to Facebook, where only 2% of your followers see your updates in their News Feed – Forrester Research.
  • Intimacy and trust: Emails create a personal connection with your audience. Your messages appear alongside those from their friends and family, earning you their trust and attention.
  • Widespread usage: An overwhelming 92% of online adults use email, with 61% checking it daily (Pew Research Center). Your emails have a great chance of being seen by your target audience.
  • Profit potential: While social media has its place, email marketing reigns supreme in customer acquisition – nearly 40 times more effective than Facebook and Twitter combined (McKinsey & Company).

Related: Anatomy of the Perfect New Subscriber Welcome Email (Template)

Email marketing connection
A solid email marketing strategy helps you connect — and profit — in the inbox.

Email marketing best practices, step-by-step

Now that we’ve addressed a few potential missteps and understand the power of email marketing, let’s delve into the step-by-step email marketing best practices that will help you navigate it like a pro.

Step 1: Choose the right email service provider

Supercharge your email marketing efforts by selecting a provider that offers automation and tagging capabilities, such as ConvertKit.

Automation is like your 24/7 marketing assistant, delivering personalized email experiences based on subscribers’ actions.

Email automation delivers what your subscriber wants when they want it.
Email automation delivers what your subscriber wants when they want it.

Step 2: Embrace the power of automation and tagging

Automation is like your 24/7 marketing assistant, delivering personalized email experiences based on subscribers’ actions.

An automated email marketing workflow might look like this:

  • A subscriber clicks an email link to learn more about a specific topic.
  • The system triggers a pre-written email sequence about that topic.
  • They receive a tailored discount offer.
  • They purchase a product.
  • They receive a post-purchase follow-up sequence.

All these occur while you’re off the clock, making automation a cornerstone of email marketing best practices.

Leverage your email service provider’s tagging capabilities to group subscribers based on their interests and previous purchases. No more sending the wrong messages to the wrong people at the wrong time!

Email marketing incentives
Create an opt-in incentive that delivers results — fast.

Step 3: Build your subscriber list with incentives

To increase your subscriber list, create an irresistible opt-in incentive delivering fast results.

Forget lengthy ebooks or multi-part video series; today’s subscribers value quick wins. The sooner they see results, the more likely they are to stay engaged with your future emails.

Ask yourself: What can I deliver that will provide my subscribers maximum results in minimum time?

Related: Stop Begging and Start Giving: Why Perks Work to Build Your Email List

Email newsletters
Create a publication you’ll deliver consistently.

Step 4: Publish regularly

Create regular email publications to maintain audience engagement. Your consistent presence in your prospective and existing customers inboxes, with content that delivers valuable insights earns you a spot in their daily life.

“Newsletter” is a common term, but you can be creative with names like:

  • Weekly Tip Sheets
  • Best of the Web for [YOUR TOPIC HERE]
  • Resource Roundup
  • Weekly Tutorial

Just remember, best email marketing practices mean delivering consistently.

Related: How to Build an Email List: The Fast and Slow Methods

Crafting a high-quality customer experience through email marketing

Your customers’ inboxes are a private space where they welcome emails from brands they trust. By delivering a high-quality customer experience, you solidify your position in their inbox.

Here are email marketing best practices that create that experience:

Develop a consistent and personable brand voice

Before crafting any email, define your brand voice. Is your brand fun and playful, or serious and professional? Understanding your voice helps you communicate with consistency, making your emails recognizable and memorable.

Personalize your messages

Address your subscribers by name and use data to customize content that aligns with their interests and preferences. Personalization shows that you care about their individual needs, enhancing the customer experience.

Tell memorable stories

Weave compelling narratives into your emails that align with your brand voice. Stories evoke emotions, making your audience more receptive to your message. They’ll feel like they’re part of an ongoing conversation with your brand.

Create valuable content

Offer valuable content that educates, entertains, or solves problems for your audience. Provide actionable tips, exclusive offers, and insights that enrich their lives or businesses.

Engage customers with two-way communication

Encourage interaction and feedback by inviting your subscribers to respond to your emails. Respond promptly and personally to their messages to foster a sense of connection and trust.

Optimize for mobile

Ensure your emails are mobile-friendly as most people check their emails on smartphones. A seamless mobile experience enhances your brand image and encourages engagement.

Email marketing targeted offers
Targeted offers are less annoying!

Personalized solutions for your customers: (occasional) targeted offers

While crafting compelling email content is essential, email marketing’s true power lies in making targeted offers to your customers.

When you understand your audience intimately and cater to their specific needs, your offers become irresistible, driving higher engagement and conversions.

Here’s how to create personalized and targeted offers that will leave a lasting impact on your subscribers:

Know your subscribers

Use data and analytics to gain insights into your subscribers’ preferences, behavior, and past interactions with your brand. Understand what motivates them and what challenges they face.

Email marketing segments
Segment interested subscribers before a product launch.

Segmentation for precision

Segment your email list based on various criteria, such as interests, purchase history, or engagement level. This allows you to deliver highly relevant offers to each segment, increasing the likelihood of conversion.

Offer value and solutions

Ensure that your offers address your customers’ pain points and provide real value. Whether it’s a discount, a personalized recommendation, or a limited-time deal, make it clear how your offer will benefit them.

Timing is everything

Send your offers at the right moment in your customer’s journey. For example, you can follow up with a special offer after a customer completes a purchase, or send a personalized birthday discount. Timing adds a sense of urgency and exclusivity.

Test and optimize

Don’t be afraid to experiment with different offers and messaging. A/B test your email campaigns to identify which offers resonate best with your audience. Use the data to refine your targeting and improve your results.

By making targeted offers, you show your customers that you understand their needs and are committed to their success. This level of personalization fosters loyalty and trust, turning one-time buyers into repeat customers and brand advocates.

Email marketing best practices bonus tip — take your time

When you deliver targeted offers combined with a strong brand voice and a high-quality customer experience, your email marketing strategy is poised for success. But — and this is true with any marketing strategy — mistakes can still happen.

  • Sometimes web servers go down. Your link might be correct, but the site isn’t available.
  • Spelling errors and typos can slip past the best of us.
  • Our information changes and we forget to update our email sequences.

To mitigate these risks, I recommend adding some time between writing and reviewing your emails. Create a buffer to give your brain a rest.

This “fresh eyes” approach allows you to catch errors and make improvements before your message ventures into the world.

By consistently following email marketing best practices, you’ll strengthen your customer relationships, drive conversions — and increase your conversion rates and revenue.

 

Pamela Wilson

Pamela Wilson is the Chief Marketing Officer at DCS. She’s the creator of the Offer Accelerator Program. Learn more about Pamela’s content marketing books, and read reviews of the tools used to run this site.
Pamela Wilson coaches people in midlife to build profitable online businesses
I’m Pamela Wilson

In 2010, at the age of 45, I started this site and grew it into a business that offers freedom, flexibility — and consistent revenue.

13 thoughts on “Email Marketing Best Practices: 4 Steps to Connect, Deliver, and Profit in the Inbox”

  1. Informative post. Email marketing is the top promotional method nowadays for products and contents. The strategies you mentioned in the post will bring it to new heights.

    With best wishes,

  2. I’m delighted to have a transcript along with the article. I can scan the article to see if I want to go to the trouble of (and take the time) to listen to it (which is rare for me). I really dislike podcasts that give me no clue as to what is actually covered. I read widely and I just don’t have time to do all that listening.

    And, yes, I agree with other comments – it’s a nice combination of solid information (including references to research), with links to suggested deeper information of your own, as well as bonus bits. (As a collector of information, I appreciate article “usability.” )

    I have another question too. Given your recent connection with Rainmaker, why did you choose ConvertKit instead of Rainmaker’s platform that allows (or will have) similar tagging and segmenting?

    • So glad you enjoyed the article, Kate. Thanks for letting me know you listened to the audio, too.

      I needed a few features that ConvertKit has that Rainmail doesn’t (yet). The good news is that ConvertKit integrates flawlessly with Rainmaker: they talk between themselves like they’re old friends. It has been a very smooth transition, thankfully.

      • Hi Pamela. I found your post because I’m thinking of switching from ConvertKit to RainMail. I’ve had lots of problems with NRM and CK playing nicely. I get random page freezes from the modal opt ins. And CK support has been so unresponsive (compared to AWeber, which was awesome).

        I see your comment is pretty recent though, so maybe RainMail isn’t ready for prime time yet…

        Though I’ve thought the same thing about CK, and it’s so expensive (at least for a service I’m not happy with).

        Appreciate any advice.

        • I’m probably not the best person to ask for advice on this: I haven’t used RainMail at all, so I’d check with the Rainmaker Digital team.

          My experience with Rainmaker and ConvertKit has been trouble-free so far, I’m happy to report.

  3. I prefer both. The podcast is like a lecture and gives me the first pass at a topic.
    Reading is a follow up if I want to make notes and follow links.
    This was an excellent piece Pam. And Mark’s book sounds like a winner too.
    50 reviews on Amazon as of today. All 5 star. It’s on my order list.
    Thank you.

    • Barry, thanks for letting me know you enjoyed the audio! That’s great to hear. I think it’s helpful on longer articles like this one.

      I really liked “KNOWN” — Mark Schaefer’s book. I hope you enjoy it.

  4. Hi Pamela,

    I love that you included an audio version of this article! I consume best listening first and then having a written version to refer to afterwards. So this was great.

    And the content was perfect for where I am now. Thank you so much!

    Nicole

Comments are closed.

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