Email Marketing: Tools and Best Practices

Some of the most recent trends in digital marketing including social media have left more ‘traditional’ methods such as email marketing gathering dust on the top shelf. Although these new trends are exciting and effective in their own right, there is no excuse for ignoring such a powerful tool as email marketing.

The upside is it offers you a 100% conscious and willing invitation by the consumer or company into their email inbox, and in 2011 the Direct Marketing Association found email marketing to have the highest ROI of any other digital marketing effort. The downside? There is a very thin line between a worthwhile marketing email and junk, and even avoiding a direct route to the Junk mail folder does not ensure that the email will be opened or read at all. That’s why the tools and practices used in email marketing are extremely important to the success of the campaign.

Tools of the Trade


The favoured among many of today’s digital marketers, this application attempts to make email marketing less intimidating by adding some cheeky humour to the process. Not suited to every taste, but most people find the humour takes the edge off and adds a smile to your work routine.

Another draw of MailChimp is it has a ‘Forever Free Plan’, allowing anyone in any company and any industry to send upto 12,000 emails per month to anything up to 2,000 subscribers, which makes it a huge hit with small to medium businesses. They do offer paid monthly plans and the option to pay-as-you go if your usage exceeds this, but the rates are relatively competitive, with unlimited emails priced from just $10 per month for up to 500 subscribers.
It appeals to both novice and more experienced email marketers with templates and customisable options, allowing you to change any aspect from just the header to the entire email template with a little HTML knowledge, or simply stick with their plentiful premade and free templates for speed and ease.


With several impressive awards under their belt, such as Salesforce’s Top Email Marketing Application for 2010 and 2011, and TopTenReview’s Gold Aaward, this email marketing tool is definitely one to consider.

 Although there is no free plan, the monthly pricing starts at £8.68 per month for up to 500 subscribers, slightly cheaper than MailChimp’s paid option. You do get to try before you buy with a 30 day free trial, and even a first time email marketer would be completely at ease with this tool. It also offers a “MessageCoder” for the more experienced to have free reign over their email creation.

The support offered with this tool is also superior to most other email marketing tools, as it includes advice services and tutorials in video format, as well as webinars, live chat and email marketing help guides. 
What to Do and What NOT to Do in Email Marketing
A large part of the uphill battle that is getting your email marketing campaign into inboxes and actually read by recipients is in the subject line, layout and general feel of the email, and that is why a set of Dos and Don’ts is important to be established and followed to optimise open rate, click through rate and generated leads and sales. 


 In many cases the email may be an incentive offering exclusive offers and information, and putting this in the subject line is a great way to hook people in, as they know instantly what is in it for them. Including an incentive in any email campaign will always boost open rates.

Keep the look and feel of the email as close as possible to the landing page you are directing the readers to, and place company logos and any other important information in the top half of the email. There are two main reasons for this. Firstly, people’s eyes automatically start to scan the page from the top left corner, and move across and down, hence why many companies place their logo in the top left corner. Secondly, as much as 70% of readers will not scroll down below the fold, so it is important to capture their attention enough to try to encourage scrolling, and if they don’t scroll they have still taken away the key facts and call to action.

To ensure you have the subject line and top information all correct and to the point, try sending a test to a friend or colleague who has no idea what the email is supposed to be about or what the call to action should be. Ask them to tell you what they can discern from the email after 5 seconds of receiving it. If they come back with the correct information, you know you have it spot on, but if they don’t get all the key points or call to action it is back to the drawing board.


Don’t be ambiguous in your subject line. If people don’t get the gist of the email or the call to action from the subject they are more than likely going to bin the email without even opening. The best way to combat ambiguity is to be short and to the point, by putting the call to action in the subject line.

Don’t use more than 2 typefaces ideally, and at the very most 3. Although having a few different typefaces keeps people interested and grabs attention, too many different typefaces will not appeal to the eye, and will make the email appear too cluttered, giving readers a headache.

Another thing that gives readers a headache and can put people off is having to scroll horizontally as well as vertically. To avoid forcing people to have to do this, keep your email width between 500 and 600 pixels, with 650 pixels being the absolute maximum before horizontal scrolling is a must.

There are many more useful tools and best practices that we haven’t touched on, and if you have some you would like to share we would love to hear about them, so please comment below!

Labels: , , , , ,