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Email Marketing Tips and Best Practices: A How to Guide

One of my most trusted partners and respected colleagues wrote this post just for SarahBundy.com in order to help advertisers understand what opportunities really lie in email marketing best practices. Jennifer Myers Ward has been involved the online marketing industry since 1997. She worked for Amazon.co.uk for 3 years, where she won the "door desk" award for her contribution to Amazon's UK growth. This post is for you, from her, so you can understand what's involved in true email marketing and how to become more successful online:

"If I had a dime for every time a prospective client tells me, “yes, of course we do email marketing”, let’s just say I’d be floating on a yacht somewhere in the Caribbean right now. So what does it mean to “do” email marketing? Sending out one big email to your whole file and sitting back waiting for the sales to roll in? If only it were that easy.

Sure, for very little to no money you can sign up with some of the more simplistic email service providers that allow you to upload names and send out blasts using their WYSIWYG (What You See is What You Get) template builder and voila, emails are flowing. However, this is a far cry from true email marketing.

The term email marketing includes several different components necessary to produce a successful, cohesive email marketing program. What are these magical ingredients needed in the ‘recipe’ for the perfect email marketing program? There are 5 basic areas of focus: list growth, transactional emails, broadcast emails, segmented emails and auto-triggered emails.

List Growth: This is an important area to always keep in mind. List growth is the process of continuing to build the size of your email list with quality names. This can be done using simple techniques such as an opt-in box at checkout to add your new buyers to the list or even offering a discount to shoppers are willing to sign up for your email program. On one hand you are insuring that you are keeping in touch with your newest customers, and on the other hand you are ensuring that you get an email address from those shoppers who may not decide to buy at that time. There are other means for list growth such as product giveaways, promotional offers, strategic partnerships, social media plugs, etc.

Transactional Emails: These emails are not only the ones most ignored by companies, ironically they have the highest open rates, typically over 90%. Transactional emails refer to system-generated emails such as the order confirmation email, the shipping confirmation email or the account creation email. Each of these emails represents a valuable customer touch point and one that, if optimized, can help speed up the consumer’s next purchase thus increasing their lifetime value, brand loyalty and your bottom line.


Broadcast Emails: The most common emails sent, broadcast emails clog up our Inboxes while we are sleeping and usually purged in a mass morning delete in order to clean out our cluttered inbox. These are the more general/ bulk mailings to a larger part of the email list, and include messaging about sales, new products, short-term promotions, etc. Though broadcast emails are more generic in tone, they are a necessary evil so to speak. Given that most brands email on average 2 times a week, companies need to stay out in the mix both to foster brand awareness and keep potential competitors at bay.

Segmented Emails: These are emails that begin to be more targeted and relevant to your list. Segmented emails deal with a specific segment or subset of your main email list that shares common behaviors such as last purchase date, brands purchased, categories of interest, etc. With these emails you can begin to tailor the messaging and content based on known characteristics of customer groups. This is where the true power of email marketing begins, and unfortunately, where very few companies ever venture.


Buyer vs. Non-buyers

Auto-triggered Emails: These emails are the crème de la crème of email marketing, auto-triggered emails are automatically generated emails based on the exact behavior of an individual, and can be deployed in real time and with totally dynamic data. These are emails such as upsell or cross sell emails based on product purchased, replenishment emails, invitation to review a purchased product, birthday emails, cart abandonment emails, etc. Each of these has a very personalized, one-on-one feel to the message as well as the timing. Auto-triggered emails help build a stronger customer and brand relationship by making the recipient feel like the company knows something about them and cares.

Forrester Research recently reported that behaviorally triggered email campaigns have a 30% higher click-through rate and three times as many conversions as standard broadcast emails.

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If you're interested in speaking with Jen about email marketing services just click the link or email her here. Make sure you tell her Sarah Bundy sent you so you get your free consultation. Strategic email marketing is massively overlooked by so many organizations. I encourage you to look at creating a campaign that can and will produce exceptional results.

Email Insider Creative Secrets: How to Craft Messages That Connect, Engage and Sell

This is a live blog post from #OMSummit. Presentation by Karen Talavera @SyncMarketing, Top 100 Women in Ecommerce 2012 by WE Magazine.

Deliverable, Readable, RESPONSIVE, Email Message:


The traditional email: AIDA (quantity over quality approach)

  • Attention - From line, Subject line, What's visible in preview window
  • Interest - Pre-header text, headlines and subheadlines, Images and especially VIDEO
  • Desire - Subject line, Images, especially VIDEO, body copy
  • Action - Button shape, colour, copy, call to action etc.


An Alternative for Today: IEEO - selling in the way of serving first (quality over quantity approach)
  • Invite
  • Engage
  • Education / Entertain
  • Offer


  • Free trial on a new product intro without asking to buy - let us prove that it's right for you and you make your own decision.
  • Watch a free demo to help you learn XYZ  to get them engaged
  • What makes RedEnvelope different? - sent request for feedback on service and why customers appreciate them.
  • Content marketing - information / newsletter


Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
Maslow's hierarchy of Needs says "we have to satisfy our more basic needs before attempting to satisfy more sophisticated needs".
Based on Humanistic Psychogy, as the question, which level of needs does your product /services satisfy from both practical and emotional standpoints?  From most evolved to most essential basic need:
  • Self Actualization
  • Esteem
  • Love / Belonging
  • Safety
  • Physiological
Your product or service should fulfill at least one of these levels of service and address them. A high end resorts could offer a level of safety, belonging and esteem.


Key Take Aways
  • You can't control a person's level on the pyramid (but your product or service may be able to influence it)
  • Try to learn the level of your ideal clients (Keep in mind, not all target audience members at same level at the same time, if ever)
  • Pyramid is bi-directional  (Ideally people move upward, but distinct events can cause regression (temporary or permanent - natural disasters, economic crisis, "life events")
  • Change your messages based on people's immediate needs and situations. Be mindful and relevant and timely based on the NOW.


Why Resonance? 
  • Because if people can't connect, they are indifferent. If they are indifferent they won't respond (hate is not the opposite of love, indifference is)
  • Connections can be emotional or intellectual
  • Connections can be emotionally positive or negative (resonance is a feeling of  alignment, harmony and empathy, but can be in a positive or negative context)


How? Two ways to Connect
Emotionally (Authenticity, Tranparency, Personality, Community)
Intellectual (Facts, Education, Curiosity (Q&A) and Proof)
Emotions are innate and instinctive, existing before the brain, mind and ego develop
IN a reality where we're faced with hundreds of decisions per day, emotions serve as a sort of built-in "guidance system" that kicks in before intellect has a chance.
For Emails - Here's what Matters (based on the above info)
Design - Design for both deliverability and proper rendering
Email receiving environments - think both big and small screens.
Message rendering a growing issue
  • Proliferation of hardware, software, and physical place for receiving and viewing email create infinitely different and changing view-ability
  • Image blocking inoign in Google, Outlook, corporate environments
  • No uniform standards across receiving email clients (Some like iOS resize messages, others don't)
  • Anti-spam
Email Format Choices
  • Text
  • Static HTML
  • Dynamic HTML (with Animation or video)
  • Mobile


50% of all email marketing messages are now being opened on a mobile device.


Email Design Building Blocks
1. Pre-Header
  • Main Offer
  • View as web page
  • Mobile link / text option
  • Whitelist / address book request
  • Social Media connections


2. Headline (or Graphic Header)
  • Large enough to show in preview or mobile
  • Not so large as to dominate usefulness
  • Relates to Offer


3. Body
  • Sub headline(s)
  • Images
  • Copy
  • Links
  • Call To Action buttons, icons, arrows


4. Call to Action


Designing Emails for Visibilty
  • Keep "view as Web Page / mobile" links in pre-hearder
  • Add ALT-tags to images (these tags allow the designer to insert descriptive copy o rinks that views can read in place of blocked images)
  • - Keep ALT-tag copy short and specific (Less than 10 words is good, less than 5 is best)
  • Include "bullet proof buttons" - HTML code the graphic vs inserting a link or image
  • Test all URLs and links to ensure they work and display properly


Top HTML Email Design Solutions
High Impact Designer by TemplateZon - highimpactdeigher.com


Responsive Design 
  • An email design approach that uses a media queries to sense the type of device on which email is being used and optimize display for that device (Requires using CSS3 in HTML)
  • The most resource demanding email option, but it's the direction the industry is going.
  • Pros - consistent viewing across multiple devices, mitigates mobile email viewing frustrations, better subscriber experience, better response rate
  • Cons - Requires strong HTML and CSS coding knowledge, takes longer to code / design, long load times can still cause slow rendering especially on mobile.


Mobile Visibility Matters
  • About 44% of all email now opened on mobile devices as of Dec 2012
  • 90% of smartphone users access the same email account on mobile and desktop
  • 70% of mobile device users delete emails that display improperly
  • If not using responsive design - use designs created on a grid, use single vs multicolumn layout, view designs on smart phone and big screen while designing and viewport meta tag for iOS


Design Key Takeaways
  • Think "architecture" vs "art"
  • Assume partial vs full view
  • Plan layout to stimulate both open and click. Know where response hotspots are and use them to your advantage (upper left? Upper right? Re-header? Bottom?
  • Simplify content organization
  • Design with a "mobile is the mainstream" mindset
  • The confused eye doesn't buy! Make it as simple and clear.


Subject Line Best Practices 
  • Use your brand or company name
  • Get to the point
  • Do TEST long vs short - even long subject lines have proven effective
  • Do test your subject lines for both response and filter tolerance level
  • Do monitor affiliate subject lines and sending for CAN-SPAM and corporate policy compliance
  • Do relate the subject line to message content
  • Do relate the subject line to your offer
  • Do follow naming or title conventions for newsletters, etc.


Key subject line words that work:
  • Free product offer
  • Discount offer
  • Contains familiar brand name
  • Contains recent pruchase info
  • Free shipping offer
  • Limited time offer
  • Breaking information / news
  • New product announcement


Apply and Align Messaging to the Customer Lifecycle
  • Pre-conversion (Prospects)
  • Conversion (All Customers)
  • Post- Conversion
  • Relationship-Building
Storyboard your email program (some message frequency and sequencing can be planned, but allow for triggered emails. Create a flowchart illustrating message types, timing, etc)



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