Do's and Don'ts of E-mail Marketing


Written by Urvi Shah

In this third post in the “Quick Results Marketing” series, we discuss and provide some pointers to be successful with email marketing. A recent article in McKinsey Insights shows that e-mail remains a significantly more effective way to acquire customers than social media – nearly 40 times that of Facebook and Twitter combined.

chart showing email marketing is growing faster than Facebook and Twitter

The DO’s of E-mail Marketing

So first off, DO create an email marketing campaign! It can have a big impact on return visits and growing your user base.  Here are the steps to get started. 

Step 1: Build Your List

All raring to go? You can’t do any e-mail marketing without a list of relevant e-mail IDs. So if you are just starting out with your e-commerce business, put some effort into building your list. You need to develop, grow and maintain your e-mail database and make sure that it is yours and yours alone. Some of the ways you can build your list are:

  • Invite site visitors to register with you for your newsletter or your blog
  • Allow visitors who make purchases to become registered customers for your online store, by incentivizing them with loyalty programs or to receive special offers
  • Collect e-mail IDs of your customers, even customers at your physical stores (if you have any)
  • Pull out your old visiting card stacks and create a customer list with all the email addresses

Step 2: Choose an Email Marketing Application

Once you have your email list, do not send mails just from your regular email client by putting addresses in BCC field. You should use an email marketing application like one of these: Free options:



Affordable options:


Professional options:


Office AutoPilot

The advantage of using these tools is that it is easy to set up mail blasts, handle responses, and analyse the results, such as Bounces, Opens, Clicks, Unsubscribes, and Actions. This will help you progressively improve the effectiveness and efficiency of your email marketing activities.

Step 3: Create Your Campaign

Now that you have an e-mail marketing tool, it’s time to put it to use. Here are some best practices to improve the results from your marketing e-mails.

  • DO write quality content – provide information that is relevant and valuable to your customers
    • Be clear and concise
    • Include a clear call to action with a link, or better yet, a big button
    • Create a sense of urgency
    • Keep the design clean and uncluttered
    • Ensure the most relevant messages are at the top above the “fold line”
  • DO segment your e-mail list – address the needs of different customers differently. At the very least be sensitive to gender, age, and nature of your relationship. Address a new customer differently than you would an old one.
  • DO consider the “From” line:
    • Use a name the recipient will recognize
    • Include your company name or brand
    • Or your own name, if it is well known
    • Shorter is better
    • Be consistent
  • DO keep the “Subject” line  short and simple:
    • 30 – 40 characters (5 – 8 words)
    • Be interesting! People are bombarded with emails - give them a reason to read yours.
    • Incorporate a specific benefit
    • Capitalise and punctuate carefully
  • DO carefully consider the first sentence. Most email clients like Gmail and Outlook have preview mode and/or alerts that often show the first line of text only.
  • DO personalise it by using the recipient’s name. Be sure to also have a fallback for those customers whose first name you don’t know, such as “Hi there”.
  • DO design your e-mail and landing page for mobile – nearly 45% of all marketing mails are opened on a mobile device.
  • DO experiment! Try different versions of your emails. Send one version to half your customers and another version to the other half.  See which gets better stats, especially conversions.  Many of the email marketing applications like MailChimp have a built-in A/B testing option so you can easily run these tests.

The DON’Ts of E-mail Marketing

And now for what NOT to do.

  • DON'T buy e-mail lists. Earn them the legitimate way.
  • DON'T use words like “free”, “guarantee”, “spam”, or “credit card” in the “From” field or “Subject” line. This will definitely end you up in the spam folder.
  • DON'T send mails at odd hours. This will negatively affect your “open” rate.
  • DON'T send e-mails out before testing them
  • DON'T bother too much about click-through rates, instead focus on conversions
  • DON'T forget to welcome a new subscriber
  • DON'T spam! Even if you are in another country, adhere to the US guidelines, ie CAN-SPAM act.

Now go and put it to the test! You may be surprised at how effective email marketing can be!

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