The new year is finally upon us so it’s time to discuss email marketing best practices. The new year gives us a new beginning to start again and do things better and more effectively.

Use these 5 best practices to get your email marketing off to a fresh start this year.

1. Design matters

Did you know that there are data driven design factors that can help increase your engagement? Here are 3 things you will want to incorporate into your email design in order to start seeing better results.

600 pixels wide is the norm due to email client restraints

A basic rule of design is that emails should be no wider than 600 pixels although some email designers and marketers are starting to push the envelope with this “rule”. So why does the seemingly restrictive standard of  600 pixels still exist? According to Elliot Ross from Action Rocket in a recent discussion on Litmus, “I think 600-700 is still the standard, mainly due to inertia more than anything else. It’s worth remembering though, that while a website can easily be up to 1600px or so wide (or more), email in webmail or in a desktop client still has a lot of browser chrome around it, so email rarely ends up taking the full width of the screen. From a typography standpoint, it’s also not that good to have a measure that spans too much width as if you have too many words on a line it’s harder to read for users.”

To avoid this problem, either make sure your custom design is no wider than 600 pixels or use a pre-designed template from Campaign Monitor. In the example below from Rip Curl, they use a custom template, but you can mimic many of the elements using a pre-designed template.

Rip Curl email example

Highlight your brand with proper logo placement

To effectively brand your email campaign, you need to help your subscribers immediately understand who the email is from. You can accomplish this by adhering to some rules of science that help you with strategic logo placement.

As English speakers, we learn to read from left to right, and we are biologically wired to develop patterns for processing images the same way. As such, the top left corner of emails is given the most eye attention from readers, making the top left corner the perfect place for your logo. Front and center in the top 2 to 4 inches is also considered prime real estate for your logo. You’ll notice when you look at most of the campaigns featured in our Top 100 Email Campaigns of 2015, that they adhere to this guideline, like this example from O’Neill and all the other examples in this post:

Oneill email example of logo placement

Keep your call to action front and center

Many marketers would agree that the call to action is the most important part of an email message. Therefore, the call to action should be clear, concise, and given ample visual attention.

In order to do this, the call to action should be placed above the fold. Content that is above the fold gets 84% more attention than content below the fold. If you want your call to action to get the most action, make sure it’s placed above the fold and uses active language like this example from Virgin Experience Days:

Virgin Experience Days email example

2. Get personal

As the world of internet marketing grows, there are more and more opportunities to personalize the experience. While you may be tempted to send a generic email to all of your subscribers, you’ll be interested to know that emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened and marketers have found a 760% increase in email revenue from segmented campaigns.

personalization improves your email campaigns

With Campaign Monitor, you can import demographic, preference, behavioral, and transactional data into your account, making it easy to personalize your messages based on user information and actions.

As you personalize your emails based on data you are already collecting, you’ll see higher conversion rates. In fact, studies show that personalized emails receive 6 times higher transaction rates, but 70% of brands fail to utilize personalized emails.

This year, make it a goal to be part of the 30% that reap the benefits of personalized email content.

3. Optimize for mobile

From 2010 to 2015, email opens on mobile devices increased by 30% and while there’s no telling where your subscriber will be when they open your emails, there’s a good chance it will be on a mobile device. In fact, over 53% of emails are opened on mobile devices.

mobile opens increase by 30%

You need templates that will be automatically optimized for both desktop and mobile devices. This means you know it will look just as great on an iPhone as it does in Outlook or Gmail or the hundreds of other devices and clients your subscribers may be using.

69% of mobile users delete emails that are not optimized for mobile. So don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s not relevant for you. While mobile optimization may seem like a no-brainer, only 19% of marketers report always using a responsive design. This year, one of your top email marketing priorities should be to commit to always use mobile-friendly email templates and optimize for mobile devices.

All the pre-designed templates that Campaign Monitor offers are already mobile-friendly, so you can hit the ground running.

4. Include promotions

If one of your goals is to increase engagement and revenue, using incentives in your subject lines can really help. Some great examples include the following:

• Birchbox: Beginner’s Luck: Take 20% Off
• Topshop: In with the new! Plus, up to 50% off
• Rip Curl: Winter Sample Sale
• Legacybox: Too good to end. Now extended 40% off.


Legacy box New Year campaign

People love a good offer, and you can grow your business by informing subscribers of promotions.

5. Automate your campaigns

Newsletters and one-off campaigns will most likely always be part of your email marketing strategy, but it’s also important to note that email marketing is evolving automation is playing a larger role.

These days the name of the game is automated email campaigns that trigger off of a user’s website actions. Email automation is both personalized and highly relevant, which leads to higher conversion rates. Simply put, automation allows you to send smarter by targeting the right person at the right time with the right message.

For more information about how to hit the ground running with automation, check out our free Guide to Email Marketing Automation.

Wrap up

The new year is the perfect time to get back to basics and even try some new ways to improve your email marketing. The tips in this post should help you not just try, but succeed.

  • Thomas James

    Which pre-designed template is Rip-curl using to get the social sharing buttons in the header instead of the normal footer?

  • Finge

    My guess would be that they are using a custom template ;-)

  • Thomas James

    That is what I have thought but the article reads wrong in my head – “or use a pre-designed template from Campaign Monitor like the example below from Rip Curl”

    That reads to me that Rip Curl are using a CM template. Am I reading it wrong?

  • Finge

    I guess not. But knowing the templates I don’t think it is from one of the pre-designed ;-)

  • Thomas James

    Shame really, maybe a new 2016 feature CM *Hint Hint*

  • Kim

    Finge is correct, Rip Curl is indeed using a custom template. I will ensure the article is updated to reflect that. Apologies for any confusion that may have caused!

    Cheers and thanks,

  • Maaike

    Very interesting article. ‘Keep your call to action front and center’ introducing the virgin template with the CTA right at the top seems clear. But both Rip-curl and O’neill don’t seem to have a clear CTA or button in their design. Is that beacuse the picture in those e-mail say enough to click? Or how do you decide when a picture is enough to get clicks as opposed to a CTA like Virgin has?

  • Theo

    Great post! Optimization for mobile is a must. I use pre-designed templates in my GetResponse. Great for non-coders.

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