9 email marketing tips for beginners

Whether you’re at the very start of your email marketing journey or you want to mix up your strategy and optimise your campaigns, you’re in the right place. We’re here to help with nine email marketing tips for beginners – from personalisation to segmentation.

Image depicts an email notification icon on iPhone.

1) Try out memorable subject lines

You could write the world’s best email about the world’s best product. But, if your subject line doesn’t stand out in a busy inbox or entice your audience to open the email and read more, they’re never going to see that content.

Email marketing gives you a unique opportunity to grab the attention of your audience, from right inside their pockets. Make it count by trying different subject lines to see what interests them. You might want to use a quirky subject line to grab their attention or personalise using their name (more on that below).

One of our highest performing emails was sent for a retail client for Father’s Day with a subject line that cut through the Christmas noise and intrigued the audience to read more:

When socks suck 

2) Don’t forget the pre-header!

Subject lines are important, but don’t forget about your other best friend when it comes to improving email open rates – the pre-header, or preview text. Whatever you want to call it, it’s an opportunity to add some context to your short subject line and tell the recipient what they can expect from your email.

In mobile email clients in particular, the end of your subject line might be cropped out while the preview text displays in full. So make sure your subject line is supported by a preview that’s equally eye-catching and informative – and tempts them to find out more.

3) Include a strong call to action

Emails are a useful way of encouraging your audience to take action – whether it’s to sign up to an event, download a brochure or click through to your website. These days, most of us are using mobile phones to open and read emails, so it’s good practice to keep your content short and sweet to encourage users to click through to a landing page or blog on your site.

An eye-catching image or GIF, a couple of sentences of copy and a strong CTA are often all you need to drive traffic to the right place and encourage your customers to convert.

4) Personalise your emails

More and more marketers are using personalisation to offer a very targeted message to their audience. When we’re scrolling through lots of generic, catch-all emails, we might miss even the most exciting topics. But, addressing an email directly to a customer can help to build a connection with them and encourage them to engage with your brand.

Whether you’re using Mailchimp, Hubspot, Dot Digital, or another email platform, you’ll have the option to include a first name or company name from your contact list if you have that data. But remember that less is more – try using personalisation in your subject line or the first line in your email and don’t overdo it.

This brings us to our next point…

5) Keep your contact list up to date

A general best practice tip for your email database is to keep customer data up to date and follow GDPR when it comes to opting in for marketing communications. You should also regularly cleanse your contact list to remove spam accounts and resolve any issues with misspelled email addresses to avoid emails bouncing back.

Review your sign-up process to make sure you’re following regulations and using the opportunity to gather (relevant!) data about your audience. It can be tempting to include lots of questions in your sign-up forms but try to limit them to a few pieces of info that will be useful. A good starting point would be:

  • First name (for personalisation)
  • Company name (if you’re creating B2B campaigns)
  • Interests (to gauge what topics your audience wants to hear about)

The healthier your database, the better your emails will perform, and the more opportunities you’ll have to use personalisation and customer insights to offer a better experience.

6) Segment your audience

Creating audience segments allows for more targeted email messaging, and it will reap rewards of higher open rates and better engagement. As we’ve said above, add relevant fields to your email sign-up form to help understand what topics your audience wants to hear about.

For example, if you’re planning email campaigns for a new property development, you might want to gather insights from each customer to determine whether they want to hear about properties to rent, buy, or buy-to-let. You can then put these contacts into different pots to send them relevant campaigns.

If you’ve been gathering info on your audience since day one, great! You can start segmenting straight away or set up automated pathways to put your contacts in the right pots as soon as they join your database.

If you have an existing list of contacts but haven’t been gathering this information, don’t worry! You can also create segments based on email engagement – if a contact regularly opens emails on a certain topic, you can try segmenting them into the relevant pot.

Contacts can live happily in multiple segments if they’ve shown interest in a range of topics – just make sure you coordinate your calendar to avoid over-emailing contacts in multiple lists!

7) Test, test and test again!

As with most marketing channels, we can share our email best practice tips, but what matters most is what resonates with your audience. Depending on your products, services, branding, customer profiles, and a host of other factors, you may want to approach your emails differently. The most useful thing you can do with emails is test, test and then test again!

A/B testing is a great feature that comes with most email platform subscriptions. It’s the best way to try out different subject lines, calls to action, personalisation, and loads more email content to find out what really gets your audience excited and convinces them to engage with your brand. Some platforms even allow dynamic content that changes depending on your set criteria – so the sky really is the limit!

Start small and A/B test your subject lines to understand what tones and messages give you a better open rate. Then you can start introducing content tweaks and different CTAs to improve your conversions. Just remember not to change too much all at once – so you can tell what it was that improved your results each time.

8) Okay, just one more test…

Don’t forget to send test emails to yourself and your colleagues to test how your email appears in each email client or on different devices.

If you’ve used personalisation, double and triple check your merge fields are pulling through properly and that you have a fallback option for contacts who haven’t given their information.

Make sure all buttons and links are working and direct traffic to the right pages – you don’t want to waste those clicks or frustrate customers who are ready to convert. Once you’re happy, you’re ready to send!

9) Learn from your results

If you’re starting out with a new audience or if you’re new to email marketing, we’d recommend using a ‘test and learn’ approach with your campaigns.

Most email platforms offer in-depth reports after each campaign. Even the most basic subscriptions should offer reporting on email open rates and clicks so you can learn what appeals to your audience most. It’s worth taking the time to test different campaigns and content over time until you find what works best.

So, now you have our top email marketing tips for beginners – it’s time to go forth and start sending those emails!


Still feeling a little lost? Drop us a message – we’ll be happy to steer you in the right direction or manage the process for you.