Email Marketing Best Practices

Here at TN&A, we’re all about the art of the email. In our humble opinion, a creative approach to email marketing is one of the most valuable strategies a brand can have.

But one’s email efforts can always use a little sprucing up. Cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all messaging simply isn’t best practices for email marketing in 2019. 

The ROI potential of email marketing is huge. According to a study from Salesforce, for every $1 you invest in email efforts, you stand to get an average of $38 in return. Those are great stats—and it’s why marketers aren’t moving away from email any time soon.

A report by the Direct Marketing Association states that 91 percent of marketers rate email as a key strategic channel, even more than social media at 83 percent. Respondents said the main objectives of email campaigns are sales (62 percent), engagement (50 percent), brand awareness (47 percent), and building loyalty (45 percent).

And that’s the problem. Email has been used more and more for sales pushes instead of supporting the important factors of engagement, awareness, and loyalty. We’re calling out drip-feed campaigns—which are campaigns that send consumers down the “nurture path” without starting genuine conversations or relaying any actual information. Email is also competing for attention and budget with flashier tools like the latest advances in AI and martech.

So how much money should you allocate to the email team? We’re talking about the people who put together the content and strategy for engaging your audience, who analyze the metrics and push for improvements.

Email Isn’t Just for Sales Anymore

Email marketing in 2019 is all about scaling back and being less pushy. It’s more about building empathy and telling stories. Through online communities and groups, marketers have a chance to really grab audiences while sending their messaging through a dedicated, stand-alone feed.

Email is the perfect marketing tool because your audience has to opt in to receive your emails, which means they’re truly interested in your brand. You’re entering the inbox of their personal space, not conducting a true-blue business pitch. Email is the high-tech version of the humble letter—you can’t get much more personal than that.

So, sure, drip campaigns, nurture journeys, and marketing automation are important, but email is capable of so much more. It’s time to get creative and implement an email marketing strategy that brings a personal touch to the inbox.

Email Marketing versus the Newsletter

What is the difference here? Email marketing typically has two branches: the marketing and the email. The marketing is the previously mentioned tactics and campaigns, like the lead scoring, daily deals, and general sales. The email newsletter is an opportunity to speak to your customers on their terms in a friendly, person-to-person way. 

This is not just for B2C—93 percent of B2B companies are using email as a content distribution channel, and three out of four use e-newsletters as part of their content marketing programs.


The e-newsletter is typically a collection of articles and opinions that has a standard design and is often automated to be taken directly from the company website. But it doesn’t need to be. Think about the relationships you could build by starting a conversation in an email—it’s a much wider net to cast and generally makes your company feel more personable and accessible. 

So, back to the newsletter. Our first piece of advice is to offer value. Your newsletter needs to be something people want to read and see in their inbox. It’s a chance to show your personality, tell your brand story, and engage your audience beyond article clicks.

You need to promote your newsletter, too. Have a big subscribe button on your website and consider using an opt-in pop-up, since it can be great for conversions. If you build something valuable with your newsletter, people will want to share it, and it will naturally grow.

Personalization ≠ Personal

According to the Nielsen Norman Group, 80 percent of people only skim emails. As marketers trying to grab attention, we’ve turned that into a need to use email only to emphasize important messages and now use “clickbaity” subject lines to get attention. We all know the type of e-newsletter with a huge image, a couple attention-grabby charts or graphs, and a boring, canned call to action. It’s not informative or engaging.

But here’s the thing about personalization: going with the generic “Dear [NAME]” isn’t actually personal communication. Using a simple formula to insert someone’s name in an email doesn’t go far enough.

Segmenting your email list is a great way to get more creative with marketing strategy. Mailchimp data shows that segmented email marketing campaigns get 14 percent more email opens and 100 percent more clicks than non-segmented campaigns. A segmented list lets you speak more personally to a specific demographic, which helps steer content and tone in a more distinct direction that’s more relevant to their likes. Segmenting can alter the content to interests and needs.

Humanity Helps Create a Growing List 

Email marketing in 2019 is all about showing off your tone of voice and key messages. Get creative by getting personal! Tell stories about what you’re up to and recent insights you’ve had, and show off your writing skills. 

Engagement is always the target goal, so actually be engaging. Your audience appreciates spam exactly as much as you do, so don’t do that to them! Audiences today are smarter than ever, and are not afraid to unsubscribe from bad content.

Have Consistency and Quality as Your #Goals

According to Salesforce, the main best practice to be followed in all your marketing efforts is having a clear-cut plan in mind. Start by:

- Setting your strategy, objectives, and goals

- Determining your KPIs

- Reviewing your analytics

- Turning data into action

It’s a tough balance to strike, but by setting these up at the jump, you’re more likely to have a succinct strategy that will give you room to try out different wording as you go. You should try to focus on a more conversational delivery that starts with:

- Knowing your audience

- Being relevant

- Championing quality over quantity

- Being consistent

- Asking them what they want to hear

Again, the email newsletter is a conversation. Bolster your audience to reply to you with what they want more of. Respond to the conversation to learn about them and to make the message you send back all the more relevant to their needs.

Listen, the subscriber fatigue struggle is real. People are very much aware of the value of their personal data and, in turn, are more cautious about sharing it.

Email is the only place where people are still in charge, instead of algorithms. With all the changes going on in marketing today, brands should make a genuine attempt to drive real connections with their consumers.

If you’re looking for help producing newsletters that get your writing read by your readers, T. Nugent and Associates has you covered! For a free, no-obligation consultation, call or text us at 708.334.8414 or email terry@tnugentassociates.com.