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Follow These Rules to Improve Your Email Marketing Campaigns editorial staff editorial staff

Following some basic email campaign rules can help keep your messages out of spam folders.

  • You should understand the CAN-SPAM Act.
  • The timing of emails is important.
  • Personalization and segmentation can increase your open and click-through rates.

You know what a poor email campaign looks like: dozens of emails sent at odd hours, no personal touch, overly long with poor writing, etc.

If a business wants to use emails to grow a connection with its customers, where is the balance?

As is true with other content streams, if businesses follow a few foolproof steps in crafting their email campaigns, they can create high-quality emails that convert sales. More importantly, following the rules can help you prevent your emails from ending up in the spam folder. Here are 10 tips and tricks you can use to optimize your email marketing campaign.


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1. Understand the CAN-SPAM Act.

In 2003, the U.S. Congress passed a series of sweeping regulations on email commerce known as the CAN-SPAM Act. Those regulations still inform a foundation for what is legal or illegal in email marketing, and businesses must understand these rules.

The law revolves around seven regulations that can result in more than $40,000 in penalties if not followed:

  • Do not use misleading or false information in your headers.
  • Do not be deceptive in your subject lines.
  • Always identify an ad.
  • Provide your location to recipients.
  • Tell recipients clearly how to opt out.
  • Honor those opt-outs in a timely fashion.
  • Monitor whether your hired marketers are following these regulations.

The CAN-SPAM Act should inform the foundation of your email campaign to make sure you are operating legally.

2. Keep your clients in mind.

When you are testing content for your email campaign, it's essential to keep your recipients' tastes, values and needs in mind. So many lousy email campaigns treat their customers as interchangeable pieces. Because of that, emails can come across as dry, robotic or even insulting if the audience isn't considered.

If in doubt, you can A/B test your email content by sending one half of a test group one version of your email and sending the other half a different version. Tested material tends to perform better for your campaign.

3. Keep it short and simple.

"Too long; didn't read" is not just a slang term but a good indication that your emails are far too long and tedious to read. Focus on creating content that hits a fairly standard 200- to 300-word range and gets to the call to action with as little scrolling as possible. You want your email recipients to easily digest your pitch, authority and call to action in as little time as possible.

4. Time it right.

Sending an email at the right time on the right day of the week can help you catch a recipient's eye without getting lost in a pile of emails. Studies show that the best days of the week to send your emails are Tuesday, Thursday and Wednesday, in that order. These are the best times of day to send emails, ranked by performance data:

  • 10 a.m.
  • 8 p.m.
  • 2 p.m.
  • 6 a.m.

Like content, the timing of your emails will benefit from frequent testing. You can even mix and match your A/B testing with different days and times to maximize conversion.

Backlinking emails to your website is a fast way to get more traffic to your page and funnel customers to a possible sale. However, an email loaded with links can easily district recipients from the flow of the content and even undercut your call to action.

To adequately deploy links in your email, use a content management approach that keeps your link structure intact on your emails and website. If an email link goes to your landing page, make sure your landing page includes logical internal links to a product or service. Also, make sure your links indicate what they are leading to and that they are eye-catching enough to encourage clicks.

6. Don't be a robot; address the recipient.

A great email campaign treats customers with respect and values their purchases. As a marketer, you should do the little things to make them feel like you are speaking directly to them.

One easy and obvious step is to title your emails to the person you send them to. With so many emails flooding inboxes, small personal flourishes can keep your customers coming back in droves.

7. Develop the next steps for clients.

The benefit of email campaigns is that they provide a continuing channel of communication between a business and its customers. But maintaining that channel requires feedback from the customers.

Your emails should focus on calling customers to actions with "next-step" features. Traditional calls to action in emails include linking to exclusive offers and encouraging them to enter emails for a newsletter. To drive more interaction with your emails, you should provide a sense of urgency within reason. Some ideas are "sale ends today" and "offer ends soon" clickbait.

8. Always offer an unsubscribe feature.

Not only are opt-out provisions required by federal law, but an option to unsubscribe helps you cull a list of recipients down to those who engage with your emails. 

Offering an unsubscribe feature and honoring it also prevents your emails from ending up in the dreaded spam folder. If you don't allow customers to unsubscribe, you could hamper your email campaign from the start. 

9. Scrub your list.

A long list of email recipients isn't helpful if the recipients don't engage with your business. Removing the recipients that don't open your emails has several advantages.

Advantages include:

  • Reducing the costs of campaigns
  • Fewer spam reports
  • Greater click-through percentages

It's also easier to follow the next step when your email list is limited to those who want to receive them.

10. Segment your list.

According to Mailchimp, segmenting your email list can increase open rates by 19% and click-through rates by 22%. Segmentation allows you to send more personalized emails. Recipients get the information they actually want and need, and don't have to read through information that doesn't apply to them.

Obviously, writing an email for each specific recipient is impossible. However, it is possible to compose an email for new customers, those who visited your site but didn't make a purchase, or a specific profession. These are just a few of the myriad ways you can use segmentation in your email campaigns.

Image Credit: Pinkypills / Getty Images editorial staff editorial staff Member
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