The Best Email Marketing Practices for 2021

Rukham Khan
Rukham Khan

Last updated on

February 8, 2023

Whether you’re new to email marketing or a seasoned expert, it’s valuable to stay up to date with the best industry practices.

Email Marketing is a great way to generate leads and convert prospects and it has one of the best ROIs in comparison to other marketing methods.

This article combines some ever-green email marketing practices along with some that have caught on over the previous years to become essential to any email marketer. So let’s dive in and go through these 14 email marketing practices that’ll serve you well in 2021.

1. Use welcome emails

Welcome emails are proven to be more effective than other sorts of emails:

Not only have customers come to expect welcome emails when they share information with an online store, but because their interest in the store is fresh when they receive such emails, these emails receive a high open-rate.

To give your engagement rates a boost, make welcome emails an integral part of your automation campaign.

2. Use lead magnets to grow your email list

Most of the time, people won’t get into your email list just like that.

They need a strong reason.

One of the best ways to get them to opt-in is to use a lead magnet – something valuable that you offer your visitors in exchange for their e-mail address.

You lead magnets can look like:

  • Reports
  • Cheatsheets
  • Resource lists
  • Training videos
  • Free coaching
  • White papers
  • Ebooks

You’ll need to create several lead magnets and then test them out in the field. After a while, you’ll start to get a feeling of what your audience responds well to, and you’ll get amazing results from your lead gen efforts.

3. Don’t ever buy contact lists

People usually opt for buying email lists when they mistakenly believe these lists will help them boost their campaigns, and deliver their marketing messages to intended people. Or they might find themselves in a moment of desperation; they want to support their sales team and provide them with leads but they are strung on options, so they decide to buy leads.

Buying email lists is definitely more of a gamble than an investment. Here are some reasons to avoid buying email lists:

  • You can incur a GDPR violation
  • Good email lists are never for sale so don’t expect good engagement
  • People from bought lists don’t know you, again don’t expect them to engage
  • Bought email lists can damage your reputation

4. Create automated campaigns

Automation in email sequences alters the manual work that ultimately saves you a lot of time to focus on other sales activities.

These are some areas where automation can help you save a lot of time:

  1. Design steps of emails and set up an interval between each email.
  2. Create email templates to use again and again.
  3. Add/remove bulk contacts in a sequence.
  4. Automatically remove contacts from the sequence who unsubscribe from emails.
  5. Give reminders on activities of your choice.
  6. Continue the sequence based on your daily usage of emails from the provider.
  7. Send emails based on your prospects’ time zone.
  8. Associate contacts to a certain list using tags, so you can reuse the list for other purposes.

These are some of the handy advantages of automation in an email sequence.

5. Segment your list for better results

email list segmentation is about dividing your subscribers into distinct groups and emailing them accordingly. The idea here is that different people have different responses to different marketing tools and messages. If a business can determine the most appealing ways to reach each of their targeted demographics, they are more likely to convert people into customers.

If you conduct email marketing campaigns that target different types of customers in different ways, you may find yourself rewarded with improvement in everything. More people may open your emails, follow the links, and make the conversions you want.

6. Use double opt-in for new sign-ups

A double opt-in is adds an additional step to the email subscription opt-in process, requiring a user to verify their email address and confirm interest.

Double opt-in practices have a few advantages. By asking your subscriber to confirm if they wanted to sign-up for your mailing list, you’re making sure that you’re only getting quality leads and also making the subscriber happy by giving consent with them

Double opt-ins reduce bounce rates because only people who get a verification email will receive future emails from you.

Double opt-in also falls in line with GDPR practices.

7. Reward your subscribers

Reward your subscribers when they reach certain milestones. Send out emails showing that you appreciate their continuing interest and offer some extra benefits to thank them. For example, you can offer certain coupons and promotions when customers reach a year-long mark of being subscribers.  

Make sure that your subscribers benefit from reading your emails. Share some free content or extra benefits as a way of saying thank you.

8. Take note of email technicalities

Email Width

In the olden days of the internet, emails had to be a maximum of 600px wide due to screen size limitations.

But even today, with ultra-wide screens, most businesses stick with 650px width. They do so because email clients like Outlook and Yahoo mail use a 3 column view by default which reduces the screen size available for emails.

And forcing subscribers to scroll side to side will lower the response rate for your emails, so its best to stick with 650 pixels max.

Email Fonts

With emails, you have to be super careful with fonts. The first reason has to do with your branding: Use fonts that complement your brand’s tone.

Second, and most importantly, the font you’ve chosen might not look the same across different email clients. Apple Mail, Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo Mail, all have different sets of fonts and they may load differently across them.

The good news is there are some fonts that load invariably the same across most email clients and devices. These include:

  • Arial
  • Verdana
  • Tahoma
  • Trebuchet
  • Lucida
  • Georgia
  • Times
  • and Helvetica

Using these fonts ensures perfect rendering across platforms, and great readability, making sure your message is heard loud and clear.

9. Write compelling subject lines

Your e-mail subject line is the most important part of your entire e-mail. It will determine whether or not that e-mail gets opened.

If you do it right, more people will open your e-mails and, you will get higher click-through rates, traffic, and sales from your e-mail marketing campaigns.

If you do it wrong, people won’t open your e-mails and you will fail to lead to your website and convert them into customers.

To create really compelling subject lines, use the C.U.R.V.E formula:

  • Curiosity
  • Urgency
  • Relevancy
  • Value
  • Emotion

10. Add enticing CTAs

CTA, which stands for “call to action”, is used to motivate potential customers. A call to action in most cases is words or phrases that can be fused into an advertising message, email forms or web pages in other to make customers take immediate actions.

The action can either be to buy a product, or to sign up for a newsletter, or to sign up for a free product. Even with giving out freebies, a CTA would determine whether people would sign up or not; unattractive CTAs are as good as nothing.

To create enticing CTAs, you can:

  • Make use of strong and catchy words
  • Stay concise
  • Stay consistent
  • Provide value with your words
  • Create a sense of urgency
  • Build curiosity

11. Tell engaging stories

People love hearing stories. When we hear an interesting story, our attention shifts, we tend to become emotional and remember more. That’s why a good story has the power to breathe new life into your old email campaign. Not sure how to utilize stories in your emails? Here are some useful tips to follow.

  • Tell engaging stories that eventually lead to your sales message.
  • Put out stories relevant to your subscribers’ thoughts on a particular stage of a sales funnel.
  • Use the names of actual people to narrate your stories.
  • Tell your recipients about personal experiences with your products or services.
  • Ask your most loyal customers for feedback and tell customer success stories.

12. Optimize for mobile

A huge chunk of email clicks now come from mobile devices as they’ve become more accessible and easier to use over the years.

This means that your email should be well designed for the phone experience. It should be easy to read, should load fast, elements should be easy visible and distinguishable, and CTAs should be bold and standing out.

13. Always test your emails

Testing your content will help you find your unique voice. A/B tests are great because they show you which aspects of your email work and which of them require optimization. Here is a list of 10 useful email elements you should consider testing.

  • Subject lines and headers. Your subject line is the first thing your subscribers notice. That’s why it’s essential to test the different variations of subject lines and headers first. For instance, you can experiment with different words, phrases, questions, and emojis to see which ones look more organic and are better attention-grabbers.
  • Frequency. Commonly, reading rates drop as email frequency increases. Testing will help you determine the optimal email frequency.
  • Body copy length. A simple welcome email doesn’t need testing for copy length, but this changes dramatically when it comes to promotional emails. See if your recipients click through to your landing page more when your content length is shorter or longer.
  • First name personalization. Test different personalization aspects to understand subscribers’ behavior and responses. For example, you can test the subject line personalization and in-the-body personalization separately to see how your recipients respond.  
  • Visuals. Testing visuals will show you which kinds of visuals drive higher email engagement and increase click-through rates.
  • Sender’s name. The sender’s name is just as important as your subject line. Make sure to test various sender’s names (e.g. person vs. company, first name vs. full name, etc.)
  • Call-to-action. Test different CTA’s designs, sizes, colors, positions, and wordings. Testing will help you find CTAs that drive more conversions.
  • Delivery time. Test your emails’ timing to see which days of the week and time of the day work best for your subscribers. Consider segmenting your recipients based on email timing and frequency.
  • Layout and format. Test your layout to determine whether it’s appealing, not too distracting, and leads subscribers towards taking action.
  • Copy. As you improve, play around with content and constantly test it to see whether your adjustments work or not.  

Make testing a part of your daily working routine. Also, make sure to test one element at a time. It’s harder to interpret results when you test multiple elements simultaneously.

14. Track and analyze your performance

The only way to improve your email marketing performance is to know how your emails perform so you can analyze the information and make changes. Sending out the email is just one step.

Next, you have to review your analytics to gauge stats such as:

  • Open rates
  • Click rates
  • A/B test results
  • Conversion numbers
  • Overall assessment
mailmunch dashboard screenshot

Mailmunch provides comprehensive analytics that can help you see a lot of these numbers along with information on where your subscribers opened emails from and what devices they used.

Then you can ask yourselves questions like which links performed better? Which subject line got more attention? Which articles performed better than others? Did people click on videos and images?

When you answer these questions using analytics you can make changes to your emails to make them even more engaging.


These practices are those that you try and experiment with to see what works in your case. Your goal should always be to deliver the most value to your audience through email marketing and these practices will help you a long way towards that goal.

Author Bio

Rukham Khan

Rukham is the Content Lead at Mailmunch. He believes trust should be the basis for all marketing communications.


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