Email is arguably the most important marketing channel for any business that is built around customer relationships.

Email marketing can accelerate your customer relationships, build your brand message, and drive cost-effective revenue for your business.

It’s how jewelry brand Bryan Anthony’s hit record holidays that lifted overall company revenue by 281% while increasing customer lifetime value and repeat buyers 354%.

In this guide, we break down the components of a successful email marketing program, from list growth to email testing, that drives business growth, with insights from our email strategists.

Email is the most mature digital marketing channel there is. With its unbeatable ROI, it’s no wonder email has been able to stand the test of time.  Email remains strong in the era of social media and the smartphone. It enhances the mobile experience, proving to be a powerful complement to emerging communication channels.

— Mandi Moshay, Associate Director, CRM & Email at Tinuiti


Jump to a Section


1. What Is Email Marketing?

2. Email Marketing Best Practices & Basics

3. The 4 Essential Email Campaigns & Email Newsletters

4. Email Design & Creative Strategy

5. Email Testing & Optimization


1. What Is Email Marketing?


Email marketing is the oldest medium for marketing directly to your customers, but that doesn’t mean it’s outdated. 91% of internet users send and receive regular emails, making email advertising a valuable marketing tool.

Email is the most cost-effective marketing channel where you can reach customers directly in their personal inboxes. With a well-executed email campaign, you can create a correspondence with your customers rather than bombarding them with ads. 

If you build email newsletters around curated audiences, your campaigns are more likely to be marketed to consumers who actually want them. 


Why Email Marketing Is Vital for Acquiring and Retaining Customers


With virtually every ecommerce site, social media platform, or digital application requiring an email address for sign-up, email isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

According to eMarketer’s Email Marketing 2019 report, 91% of internet users send emails, making it the most popular digital activity, even out-ranking Search and Digital Video use.

As one of the few owned media channels, marketers have more control over the content and reach of their email marketing campaigns, making it a vital component of any brand’s acquisition and retention marketing mix.


2. Email Marketing Best Practices & Basics


If you want to know how to do email marketing for your business, then you need to master the basics before moving onto more advanced processes such as AI and personalization.

This includes setting goals, creating an email list, your first email newsletter campaigns, and the triggers that automate each sequence.

Sending mass emails out to customers isn’t always effective, so creating an organized method to dictate which customers are receiving what email content is key.


Find the right Email Service Provider (ESP)


Your email service provider is the foundation for your email marketing operations. Creating campaigns, triggers, and tracking email performance would be impossible without a dedicated email service provider.

The good news is that there are more email service providers than ever before.

Should you use Klaviyo? Mailchimp? Or another? It all depends on your priorities and budget. If you need help selecting an ESP, check out How To Select an Email Service Provider.


Create an email list (and grow it)


Managing your customers starts by cataloging who has subscribed to receive your emails.

Creating a master list of your active customers is the first step. From there, you can segment your customers by different criteria that will influence how to do email advertising for your company.

Here are a few examples of basic email segments to consider:

  • Demographics: Factors like age, gender, and marital status influence consumer actions
  • Location: Different locations may call for different products or services
  • Purchase Activity: Tracking purchases can help guide what content you direct to each customer
  • Engagement levels: Interests based on categories, topics, or products viewed


The more you can segment your email lists, the more personalized and relevant your messaging will be for your audience.

For more on growing and optimizing your email list, check out 7 Ways to Build Your Email List Into a Marketing Powerhouse.


Grow your email list with capture forms


There are many different ways to grow your email list, from email capture forms to checkout and product promotions.

“You can use pop-ups and website messaging in every stage of your marketing funnel – from acquisition to nurture – to create highly targeted and refined customer journey touchpoints that capture and convert leads faster than ever before.”

— Jenna Ochoa, Partner Marketing at Justuno

gir email capture

Tailored seasonal creative (including email capture), a dialed-in promotional strategy, and an increased mailing cadence drove a dramatic increase in conversions, boosting email revenue by 1118% for GIR.


If you plan to use onsite pop-ups for email capture, you will need to think about your:

  • Audience targeting
  • Timing
  • Promotional strategy


There are also many ways to optimize sections your website for list growth, such as your:

  • Global footer
  • Checkout checkbox
  • Navigation bar
  • Blog signup 


Email personalization and privacy are important for longterm success


Personalizing your emails is essential if you want people to open and interact with your messaging.

This requires you to know your audience, your segmented lists, and tailoring your subject lines, copy, and creative to compel your audience to take action.

“If you’re not personalizing, you’re lost in a sea of emails. It starts with having CRM data readily available for personalization. Using a tool like Heap enables you to track user activity with a simple snippet. This gives you visibility on how users are interacting with your website and product pages to understand how to personalize the emails you’re sending out.”

– Kevin Charette, Marketing Operations Manager at Heap


Email newsletters allow customers a way to offer information about themselves to a brand they trust, so it’s important not to betray that trust. Using email surveys and quizzes allows you to gather customer feedback, but it’s important to use that knowledge responsibly and adhere to email marketing best practices.

carved email personalization


Email is a very personal channel, so privacy should also be top of mind as an email marketer.

Especially with GDPR and CCPA legislation that requires you to abide by a framework for collecting and using user data. Make sure you are you have settings that ensure compliance in whichever countries your customers might reside.

To maintain compliance, brands must tailor their data collection and use to the specific countries in which they operate or where their customers might reside. In general, adopting the highest standards across the board is your best bet to stay ahead of new legislation pending across several states.

— Mandi Moshay, Associate Director, CRM & Email at Tinuiti


Lean on automation to scale your program


The more you use AI to gather and analyze data, the faster you will be able to make smarter decisions that can scale your email marketing performance.

Most of today’s ESPs include machine learning and automation features that allow marketers to better organize, understand, and predict customer behaviors based on email engagements.

Make sure you are taking advantage of automated triggers, email newsletters, and promotional email campaigns that can support your marketing objectives.

klaviyo email marketing automation

Source: Klaviyo


3. The 4 Essential Email Campaigns & Email Newsletters


While email campaigns vary from company to company, there are a certain few that are universal no matter what your product or service.

Let’s take a look at four essential email campaigns your customers should be receiving on a regular basis.


1. Welcome Newsletter


The most common first interaction with a potential customer is the welcome newsletter. It’s the best opportunity you have to start your customer relationship, introduce your brand, and showcase your mission, products, and services.

This email gives the customer a sense of who you are and what your company is doing―think of it as you introducing yourself to the customer.

You’re not limited to sending a single welcome email either. Mailchimp recently found that sending a series of welcome emails yielded 51% more revenue than sending a single email. 


2. Abandoned Cart Email Campaign


It’s estimated that as many as 80% of carts are abandoned before purchase. This means that companies are losing out on a significant amount of sales―luckily, this is a problem that’s easily remedied.

It’s important to know that an abandoned cart isn’t bad news, it actually means that a potential customer is at the very end of the finish line, you just need to help them over with the right abandoned cart campaign. This can include incentives to compel them to finish their checkout process.


3. Product Promotion Email Campaign


Most of your customers aren’t checking out your website every day. This means that if you have a sale or promotion going on, they’re probably not going to know about it unless you reach out.

By setting up product promotion campaigns, you can inform consumers about new products or deals they might be interested in while also increasing brand awareness.


On top of that, tracking the results of product promotion campaigns can give you valuable insights about customer preference and shopping habits.


4. Holiday Promotion Email Campaign


Holiday promotion emails are similar to regular product promotions but are used to specifically promote seasonal holiday sales.

Since consumer shopping trends to increase over the holiday season, holiday promotion emails can be incredibly effective at increasing sales.

holiday email vip promo pele soccer

Remember to constantly optimize your email campaigns with regular testing.


For a full list of essential email campaigns and sequences, check out The 8 Email Campaigns Your Business Absolutely Needs In 2020.


4. Email Design & Creative Strategy


In a world where consumers receive hundreds of emails every day, it’s important to send email campaigns that stand out among the crowd.

Most of the time, this comes down to the design of your emails.

Humans are wired to process visual information. It’s estimated that 90% of the information processed by the brain is visual, meaning that humans tend to respond better to images than text. 

“The goal of your email design is to reduce the cognitive load. You want your emails to be clean and concise.”

Sammi Nutsongtat
— Sammi Nutsongtat, Klaviyo Design Specialist

email design and animation

It’s important to create email designs that are appealing to the eye and attractive enough to cut through the mix of other promotional emails. 

Want to know how to design emails that convert? Learn more with Anatomy of An Email: Email Template Design Best Practices.


Make it interactive, clean, and concise


If an email is difficult to read or unpleasant to the eye, chances are it’s going to end up in the trash. To avoid this, use designs that are clean and simple.

Utilizing bold, straight lines and white space will give your emails an airy, spacious feel while simultaneously making it easier to find the most important parts of your email.

Then you can highlight or even animate certain features to make them stand out even more.


Brand intelligently and maintain consistency


Branding should remain consistent throughout all marketing channels―that includes email. Any email campaigns that you launch should carry your company’s branding elements. This includes:

  • Logos
  • Color scheme
  • Design


Consumers don’t like to be shocked, which is why it’s important to make sure that your email design stays consistent. Otherwise, your customers may be turned off or not even recognize your emails.

This doesn’t mean you can’t ever switch things up, however. Experimenting with your design can lead to innovative new designs that could even outperform your initial creative. Just make sure to test them out on a small segment of users first before sending it to your entire mailing list.


5. Email Testing & Optimization


Email advertising is fluid and changing, which means you can’t just set it and forget it. Your best results will come from regular email testing and optimizing to find what works with your audiences.


Email Testing


When it comes to testing your emails, there’s nothing off-limits―everything should be tested. Most of today’s major ESPs include features that make it easier to run A/B tests and track results to find the winning variation.

In our industry, we talk about email A/B testing so frequently that we assume all email marketers are executing them. The truth is only 31% of brands test a majority of their emails and 39% don’t test their emails at all. Why? Because it’s easier not to.

jenny tran

― Jenny Tran, Strategist, CRM & Email at Tinuiti

Your regular email A/B testing should include:

  • Copy
  • Imagery
  • Send times
  • CTAs
  • Subject lines
  • Product offerings


When testing out the various factors in your emails, it’s important to have set KPIs so that you can measure performance and identify what’s working and what’s not.

email layout test

Common KPIs include:

  • Number of emails delivered
  • Number of emails opened
  • Bounce rate
  • Clickthrough rate
  • Unsubscribes


Email Optimization


Once you’ve tested out your emails and measured their performance, it’s time to optimize them. By identifying what variables need to be improved, you can optimize your emails for success, test them again, and repeat.

How you should optimize your emails can vary depending on your initial design. Common optimization techniques include:

  • Resizing images
  • Redesigning overlay
  • Changing the subject line


Optimization should be considered an ongoing process. As trends and consumers change, so will the success rate of the variables within your emails.


Build Your Foundation for Email Marketing Success


Email marketing in 2020 is constantly evolving, which means your email strategy should be as well.

Use these email marketing best practices to create email campaigns that are both appealing and increase conversions. 


Tinuiti Email Marketing Case Studies:

Two Blind Brothers Increases Revenue 16x

Purium Increases Calendar Campaign Revenue by +269%

Bryan Anthonys Partners with Tinuiti to Increase Email Marketing Revenue 1,027%


Ready to learn more about email marketing?


What’s New in 2020: Expert Insights for a Successful Email Marketing Program

CRM & Email Marketing Predictions for 2020

Email Deliverability 101: What is it and why should you care?

The Case for Email Cadence

Diagnosing Low Open Rates in Your Email Program

Better Together: Email & SMS Marketing Guide

The Next Three: Email Triggers To Set Up After Welcome, Browse, and Cart


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