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Email marketing: the dos, the don'ts and the dodo

More than 132 billion emails were forecast to be sent daily by the end of 2017. That figure is expected to grow to almost 320 billion daily emails in 2021 – so your business is under pressure to grab attention quickly with them.

But how do you ensure your business’s emails stand out?

As the GDPR storm has now seemed to have calmed down, we’ve identified the dos and the don’ts for you when it comes to email marketing. And you’ll find out what the dodo is all about!


Email is said to be 20 times more cost-effective than traditional media.

But to boost it even further, are you considering some of the basics when it comes to effective email marketing?

  • DO have a clear vision of why you’re sending an email. Whether it’s a product promotion, new video or an invitation to an event, identify the reason and purpose for emailing. With each email, think about the recipient. Why should they open your email? What’s in it for them if they do? Finally, set a goal that you wish to achieve with this email. Don’t stress if you don’t succeed – just think about what you can improve with your next one.
  • DO test, test, test. It’s imperative to keep testing your emails to see what works best for your target audience. Think about the following:

- Subject line: ideally as an A/B test, you could try short vs long copy; adding in personalisation vs no personalisation; or posing a question vs making a statement.

- Sender name: are more people likely to read your email if sent from a recognised name vs your company’s name?

- Timing: try sending on different days of the week, different times of the day, and see if there is a time when your audience engages with your email more

- Email length: does an email with less content work better than a long email that goes below the viewing window?

- Layout: whether it’s use of imagery, copy or how many links you have on your email, consider changing the layout to see what works best.

  • DO segment your audience. By segmenting your audience and/or creating personas, you can tailor and personalise your message to suit the people you wish to talk to – ultimately improving results.
  • DO add email to your content calendar. Although email isn’t strictly ‘social media’, if you’ve got a great piece of content why not showcase it by sending it via email? By keeping email in mind when setting out your content calendar, you can utilise it as a channel to get your message out to your intended audience.
  • DO keep an eye out for competitors’ emails. If you can sign up to receive your competitors’ emails, then do so! This way you can see what they’re talking about and how they’re using email to communicate with their (but potentially your) customers.


Given its cost-effectiveness and scalability, don’t let your email marketing efforts go to waste.

Here are some considerations of what to make sure you don’t do when it comes to email.

  • DON’T send an email without a clear call to action. If you’re not clear about the purpose of the email, then how are your customers going to know what they need to do next? Whether it’s visiting your website, phoning a contact number or clicking on a “read more” link to your new blog, make sure you have a very obvious call to action.
  • DON’T sit and rely on old data. It’s good practice to cleanse and regularly update your data to ensure you’re targeting the relevant people with your marketing. This is likely to be helped out by GDPR, but keeping your data up to date means you're time and resource aren't wasted.
  • DON’T put a timeframe on your newsletters. If you already send out (or are planning to begin) an ongoing newsletter or bulletin to customers, don’t include 'monthly' or 'weekly' in its title unless you’re absolutely sure that time and resource will be allocated to undertake this. Using the vaguer term “regular” instead reduces pressure on you – especially if you’ve got other more important marketing activity to attend to.
  • DON’T panic too much about ‘unsubscribes’. An ‘unsubscribe’ isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It usually just means the unsubscriber is not interested in what you’re sending them. So unless you’re seeing a drastic spike in unsubscribes (which could be a sign that you’re sending too many emails and clogging their inbox), it’s an easy way for your data to be cleansed. It also means that your emails will only be sent to those that are interested – quality over quantity!
  • DON’T send an email without a prior test send. The likelihood of your email being correct first time round is slim. So before you release an email make sure you send yourself several test copies to certify that images are all correct, copy doesn’t have any spelling or grammar mistakes, and that links go to the right place.
  • And one final don’t – DON’T take anyone’s guidance on email as gospel, even ours.

If you do take one thing from this blog, it’s that the most important consideration is that emails need to be tailored to your audience. Work with your email provider to develop your own best practices based on your audience’s behaviour.

If you keep this in mind, you’re onto a winner!



Why the dodo?



Because it’s alliterative and helped to create a stand-out title – which is what your subject heading needs to do too, in the right way.

Using the right language isn’t just important to avoid your email ending up in the dreaded spam or junk folders. It also helps your email get read.

Before you send your email, why not test your subject line using this tool which predicts the likely open, click and bounce rates.

It’s fair to say that emails are unlikely to become extinct (like the dodo) any time soon. So with people receiving hundreds of emails a day, you need to make sure your content stands out in a time where people are constantly digesting information and marketing messages.

Adam Roberts


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