Nine Email Marketing Best Practices for 2022

Adele Streissguth
Shelly Gable
Published: Dec 23, 2021
Last Updated:
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Email marketing has only increased in both popularity and effectiveness in recent years. The total number of email users worldwide is now over 4 billion. The pandemic was a particularly influential factor in getting individuals to become more digitally oriented. As a result, marketers must now adapt to new customer expectations and trends. Fortunately, email marketing offers you the ability to increase sales and traffic while providing value to your audience. With this guide, you will learn email marketing best practices to use for 2022.

laptop with email logo presented on it

There are several best email practices, all of which can increase your open rate and conversions. Keep the following tips in mind and you too can find success with your next campaign.

1. First Things First: Segment Your Email List

While sending general announcements and similar email content to your entire email list can work, it's not as effective as segmenting your email subscribers. Segmentation is the process of dividing your entire list into specific consumer categories, which allows you to create relevant content for your subscribers. Marketers have reported an astounding 760% rise in email revenue when creating a segmented email message.

But what are the best segments to categorize your email list by? Some of the most widely-used by email marketers include:

  • Demographics: These include age, gender preference, level of employment, level of education, location, or income.
  • Shopping habits: Habits can encompass past buying behavior, including preferred products and product categories as well as the number of purchases.
  • Customer history: Categories commonly consist of new customers, returning customers, or long-time, loyal customers.
  • Inactivity: Inactive consumers are those who haven't visited your website or made any purchases for a certain period.
  • Engagement: These are individuals who consistently engage, rarely, or never engage with your emails.

After segmenting your list of subscribers, create marketing emails or email campaigns that are relevant for each category of consumer. You can create dynamic content and much more effective email campaigns for your segmented audience.

2. Enhance the Layout

The layout of your emails is just as significant as the content itself. Your goal is to make each email as readable as possible and accessible to all audiences. More businesses are ensuring the contents of their email campaigns are perceivable for visually- and hearing-impaired individuals. An enhanced layout should consist of easy-to-read fonts, contrasting colors, headers and titles, short sentences, and bullet-points or numbered lists. Limit white space and insert visuals or animations to liven up the message. However, make sure the visuals don't clutter or distract from the landing page.

Starbucks has mastered the ideal layout with its email campaigns. It informs reward customers of how to order drinks ahead of time and demonstrates the top elements of an optimized layout:

Starbucks rewards tip
The beginning of Starbucks' email pops with a visually-appealing image and headline.

Their email campaign starts with a clear and large headline. Just below that, the company has inserted a distinct picture and a quick description of what the email is about. On the first page of the email, there is a large CTA button — "order ahead now" — followed by more in-depth explanations should the reader want to find out more.

starbucks drawings for email campaigns
Adding simple drawings or designs helps keep your email interesting as users scroll.

Next to the explanations are simple yet intriguing graphics to add a visual to the content. Starbucks also benefits from using a simple white background with black text, not causing any stress on the viewer's eyes. The email layout is easy to read and see and offers additional information if required — the perfect blend for an email template.

3. Zone in on Personalization

Similar to segmentation, personalization is one of the most effective email marketing tips in meeting contemporary customer demand. One Business2Community study found that 92% of email marketers believe customers want a personalized experience, including via email. Incorporating personalization helps make a consumer feel valued.

Personalizing aspects of your email makes it feel like you're speaking as a person, not a corporation. Using a realistic email address, such as with someone's name and giving your emails personality is a great way to connect with your audience.

The two most common personalization techniques are using an individual's name in both the subject headline and greeting of the email. Using a name makes an email less generic than oft-used phrases like "Hello" or "Greetings." You can take this practice a step further by placing an individual's name on a visual or graphic inside the email.

Additionally, you can personalize the content of the email itself. With this step, knowing the individual's habits on your website comes in handy. For example, if you run an e-commerce site, you can send personalized emails that suggest products an individual may like based on their prior purchases. Alternatively, you can send birthday promotion emails to customers with a unique code enabling them to revise a discount on a product of their choice.

4. Make Use of AI

Artificial intelligence, or AI, continues to develop rapidly. AI has transformed much of people's everyday lives, both personally and professionally. Individuals encounter AI when they use facial recognition to open their phones or ask for help from Alexa or Siri. AI also makes your work as an email marketer much easier, quicker, and more efficient. Specifically, email marketers use AI to aid with email automation tasks that emphasize personalization.

Some AI capabilities you can implement in your email marketing strategies include:

  1. Automated subject lines: Subject lines can make the difference between a user's click or skim of an email. To assist you in creating a compelling subject line, AI analyzes the success of past email campaigns to generate subject lines that are more likely to be opened.
  2. Automated email copy: Copy is arguably the most important part of any email campaign. AI can cut down the time and resources needed to craft copy by automating the content itself. AI can incorporate pre-written copy, images, graphics, and important links into the email, only requiring you to do a once-over before hitting send.
  3. Automated scheduling: You can have a powerful subject line and captivating copy, but if you don't send your email at the right time, users can easily miss it. Moreover, knowing how often to send out emails is an important factor of email etiquette tips. As such, AI can analyze prior campaign data to both determine the optimal time to send out emails and schedule the emails to be sent without you needing to do so yourself.

With these abilities, AI can not only save you on time but strengthen your personalization and segmentation strategies overall.

5. Optimize for Mobile

Mobile phones now make up over half of all web traffic. If your email marketing is not optimized for mobile use in 2022, you could miss out on reaching a large audience. An optimized email gives mobile users the same experience they would have accessing the email on their computer. Take a look at the difference between an email that is not optimized for mobile (on the left) and one that is (on the right).

Smart Insights email campaign
This email comparison from Smart Insights gives a visual example of what to incorporate in an optimized mobile email.

The un-optimized email looks cluttered, is hard-to-read, and requires users to zoom in, which could further cut off text or images. By contrast, the optimized email has easy-to-read text and a consistent design. Users can easily click the "Find out more" CTA button and see every image.

6. Provide Valuable Information  

Providing valuable information is one of the email marketing best practices to avoid spam filters. After all, people receive emails from many other businesses throughout the day. Many don't include information with any weight. Email newsletters offer an excellent way to send informative, valuable, and engaging content for your email list.

Consider the following newsletter ideas:

  • Company newsletters: Newsletters that contain company information can help give your business a humanistic touch. You can describe your company's history, introduce big players in your company, or announce any milestones reached by your business. In doing so, you increase customer engagement.
  • Product newsletters: If you sell products, aim to incorporate helpful tips and tricks. For example, you can write up how-to guides, give insight into how the product is made, or offer pictures or videos of the product in action.
  • Announcement newsletters: Simple announcement newsletters make subscribers aware of new and big updates. You can showcase new products or services, changes in your business, upcoming events, or even have spotlights on new hires.
  • Creative content: Interactive content is a great way to get subscribers engaged with your email marketing campaigns. Some popular examples include surveys, polls, ratings, or even interactive animations that change and move when individuals hover over or click on them.

Don't forget that AI can aid you in developing these content ideas.

7. Go For the Discount

About 44% of consumers actively look for emails with discounts. The days of mail-in coupon codes are now over, with digital coupons offering an easier alternative going into 2022. Discounts are an especially helpful tactic to use with personalization techniques. You can send emails with discounts to show appreciation to loyal customers or those who often interact with your website. Alternatively, you can send discounts to customers during certain periods, such as their birthdays or during the holidays. And you can offer a discount to help draw in customers who may have become inactive.

8. Incorporate User-Generated Content

Social media has come a long way since its inception in the late '90s. Nowadays, there are countless social media platforms and ways to engage with your audience. As social media channels continue to transform, there's no doubt that 2022 will bring new opportunities for companies and individuals alike.

As for the potential of social media tools and your email marketing campaigns, there is no current better option than user-generated content or UGC. UGC involves content posted by users on social media platforms, such as Instagram, Facebook, or TikTok, to name a few of the most popular examples. The content can include images, videos, or text. Your business can incorporate UGC into your email campaigns to build credibility, show appreciation, and open discussion of your products or services.

man in black shirt taking photo
User-generated content is especially useful for fashion brands who'd like to show how their products look to customers.

There are several UGC methods you can try out in your next email marketing campaign. One effective idea is to run a hashtag email campaign. You can ask users to post content on social media with a hashtag of your choosing related to your business. Following this, you can track the hashtag on social media channels, pick some of the best posts, and feature them in your next email newsletter. By following this email marketing strategy, you have the opportunity to showcase your brand in action while social media users get a shout-out.

As an alternative, you can use user-submitted reviews in promotional email marketing campaigns. To do so, collect some memorable lines from reviews submitted to you either on your site or social media channels. You can then incorporate these lines directly into the content of your next promotional email campaign or use them as an attention-grabbing email subject.

9. Gather Data and Analytics

Finally, optimize your email marketing campaigns with the right email clients and tools. Online tools like Google Analytics give you valuable data on your email marketing tactics. The tool provides information on your click-through rate, conversion rate, and bounce rate. You can even learn what time of day is best to send emails to your subscriber list. Analyze this data to discover what types of emails work best for your readers. Once you perform your analysis, alter your goals, plans, and campaign strategies.

Other Valuable Email Marketing Best Practices to Implement

Creating the best type of email for your customers requires a lot of work. You don't have to implement all these practices, but consider them for your mailing lists.

  • Track Email Frequency: It's difficult to determine how often you should send emails to your customers. There's no definite rule. Some email campaigns work once a week, others are better once a month. Ask your customers, analyze open rates, and evaluate how often you should email your customers.
  • Use Effective Calls to Action: If you have a product or service to promote, really use powerful calls to action to bring the point home. Use buying words in your headers and content, such as free or new to get the attention of your audience.
  • Improve your Email Design: Email marketing design is an often overlooked aspect of an email campaign strategy. Evaluate the design of your emails from the visuals to how easy it is to read the email body.

Email Marketing Best Practices and the Future

Nailing email marketing is imperative in succeeding with your overall digital marketing strategy today. However, for businesses large and small, email marketing is also often a case of trial-and-error. As customer interests change, so does the marketing they are seeking. Keep up with the latest email marketing trends and practices and implement new ideas. Take in the feedback and data you receive and refine your strategies based on what works. As you do so, you will sharpen your email best practices and make for a more engaged and happy audience.


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