9 Email Marketing Rules You Have to Implement Today

Posted by Courtney Wiley on July 25th, 2014 at 4:36 pm

As a modern marketer, email is at the heart of your online marketing efforts . . . so it's important to take the time to make sure that every aspect of your strategy is optimized. That's why I've developed a list of nine rules over the years that have proven themselves worthy across entrepreneurial startups, SMBs, and global enterprise organizations. (Just be sure to test these guidelines to determine which work best for your target audience.)

1. ALWAYS take into account local time when sending emails. The best times to send are 9:00 a.m., 3:00 p.m., and 4:00 p.m.

2. NEVER be verbose in email body copy. Keep your text to 145 words or less.

3. ALWAYS use the "curve" method when writing an email subject line: Play on curiosity, urgency, relevance, value, and emotion.

4. ALWAYS keep your email subject lines to 50 characters or less.

5. NEVER send more than one email to your recipients per day.

6. ALWAYS use a good aesthetic mix of images and text in your design. A good rule of thumb is one image for every 15 lines of copy.

7. NEVER cheat and use "FW:" to imply that the email has come from a trusted source.

8. NEVER put the unsubscribe button or link at the top of an email.

9. NEVER send an email without proofreading or testing.

What rule would you add as number 10?

11 Responses to “9 Email Marketing Rules You Have to Implement Today”

  1. David says:

    Nice list. My number 10 would certainly be: Always provide useful information to the reader.

    • Courtney Wiley says:

      Couldn't agree more, David. And also in a consumable format based on where the recipient is within the buyer's journey. ;)

      Good comment, appreciate you taking time to post,

  2. Susan Suehr says:

    I would add as No.10, Show your passion with what you are sending out.

  3. Kent McGovern says:

    I have an issue with rule number 8.

    8. NEVER put the unsubscribe button or link at the top of an email.

    If a sender is having complaint issues moving the unsubscribe link to the top of the email can help reduce those numbers by giving the recipient a clear view of the unsubscribe link, they don't have to go searching for it at the bottom of the email. You would much rather have the recipient unsubscribe than mark the email as spam.

    • Courtney Wiley says:

      Thanks for taking the time to comment, Kent.

      I would agree that the unsub link could take up residence in different positions, but only if it's a "spray and pray" campaign. If your campaign involves segmented lists, however--based on either explicit or implicit data--you are much less concerned about receiving complaints.

      Appreciate the feedback, cheers!

    • Kent,
      I agree-- Simply keeping people on your list should not be a goal because it isn’t necessarily going to drive your bottom-line business (and could actually hurt via spam complaints, as you point out).

      If instead you are focused on building one-to-one relationships with your customers, they will actually enjoy hearing from you and actively want to stay subscribed to your list (and you will be in a better position to achieve your larger business objectives, too).

  4. Ray says:

    Many of these rules seem to be for the beginner to email marketing but #8 is misleading. Since Gmail is making their "native" unsubscribe functionality much more prominent by placing their “unsubscribe” link right after the “from” name; many other email marketers are recommending the same.

    I think this "rule" and the use of the word NEVER gives a beginner or moderately experienced email marketer the wrong impression. Some of the other rules make sense but others would not be on my list.

    • Courtney Wiley says:

      'Tis true that some personal email providers are continuing to change their algorithms. But if you give it a minute--much like the learnings from Yahoo! mail--we'll see that this is more of a boomerang trend. Regardless of expertise level, I would still advise marketers to place the unsub link at the bottom of a segmented email send. Good comment, appreciate you sharing your thoughts!

  5. Even if you've tested and optimized great email content, your success could be negatively impacted if you're not coordinating your communication to each person across push, web, etc. That's what I would add to the list-- coordinate and frequency cap your emails with all your other channels.

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