Core Email Marketing Tips for 2021

Email marketing can be extremely effective. Or, it can be downright annoying. It can be well-targeted, or it can be thrown out to the world randomly, hoping that something sticks. It can be a retention/acquisition tool or make new and existing clients run for the hills. 

A mass email was sent out in 1978 by a guy named Gary Thuerk. The mail was intended to bring some attention to his company’s new range of computers. The message was sent out to 400 people, and about a month later, the company was getting back around $13 million in hard sales. Not bad for a day’s work. 

Here’s the thing. 1978 is long gone, and 2021 brings fierce competition for tiny windows of committed audience attention. We’ve all just got a little too much coming at us in so many different ways and on so many different channels. And, as any overworked digital marketer will tell you, striking a chord with an oversaturated audience can be tricky. 

The beautiful thing about the journey ahead is that many marketers’ have done it before you. And, with a pre-existing list of easy-to-follow steps, it’s simpler than ever to get the basics down and put them to effect. Why? Well, as styles, sectors, and software morph from year to year, the fundamentals stay the same. Embody the basics, and the trends fall into place. Let’s briefly run over the lasting core of email marketing.

Be Human

How does one dive into the raging email marketing tornado and come out on top when competing alongside all forms of emails under the sun, from client onboarding & retention, competitions & promotional posts, feature releases, & product launches, policy changes & video snippets, blog blasts & endless tutorials. 

Cue cliche  ➡️ Keep it simple.

Lasting products (and possibly even legacies) are built by teams that take the time to connect with their audiences genuinely. Several companies tend to get this right on their social feeds. Speaking to their audience, instilling trust through charming posts and pictures, only to throw it all out with hyper-aggressive emails that SELL! SELL! SELL!

Market to your community the way that you might like someone to market to you. No one likes to feel as if they are having some product/service or agenda rammed down their throat 24/7. Do away with the exclamation marks and big bold fonts. Lose the “This Just In” Today Only” buzz lines and let the product or service speak for itself. Let your copy run in the sweet spot of over-professional and too casual. 

Gary Vaynerchuck sums up email comms pretty well in his book, “Jab, Jab, Right Hook.” Ease your prospect down the sales funnel gradually and carefully. Give them cause to learn more and, instead of going in for the kill, direct them to a well-constructed landing/home page that puts any lingering doubt to rest. 

  • Keep the core value/information (numbers/offers/figures/facts) in the subject line. 
  • Avoid unnecessary marketing jargon at all costs.  
  • Craft the Call To Action and more of a “Read More” than a “BUY NOW!” 

Self-imposed disclaimer? The above is a guideline. How detailed an email blast is (or isn’t), depends on your audience and how savvy/or new they are to your business model. This brings us to.



A  “one size fits all” email marketing strategy is never a great thing. Dropping a mail to the widest audience and gambling that it will strike a chord with more people than less is a good way to chase off prospects, and worse, lead to brand irrelevancy (and with that, unsubscribes).

Most audiences have come to take personalization as a given. Having given you their details or signed up to any ongoing comms in the past, most (not all) but most prospects will expect to see a message made out to them personally. 

Another aspect of personalizing email comms is sending out emails at the right time. Most marketers widely consider that Tuesday and Thursday are the best times to send out emails. Between 09h00 and 11h00 is considered the time of days when clients are most receptive to marketing comms. As a general rule, any messages straight after or before lunch and/or home time, as well as messages comms send at the beginning or end of a week, tend to get lost in a wave of business. 

Also, keep track of time zones. Sending marketing comms to South Africa on Canada time, or vice versa, will have emails popping up in threads at random (graveyard) hours when no one is near their inbox. 

And then, of course, relevancy is key to personalizing any outgoing mailer. Don’t send product survey’s to a consumer that hasn’t signed up yet. Don’t congratulate a prospect who never participated in a competition. That’s all pretty obvious, but it falls by the wayside when mailers are sent to groups in bulk. This brings us to point 3.

Segment Your Client Base

Relevancy is key, and an email marketing campaign can make major gains when able to group together customers/prospects with similar attributes/onsite journeys. Not only are marketers able to refine their user interface into batches, creating content that serves specific needs, but they are also able to collect and refine data for different groups, using it to maximum effect when rolling out new products and services. 

Depending on the needs of the team, there are near endless ways to do this. Whether it be new or existing customers. Customers who have or haven’t subscribed, or customers who have started vs. already completed their registration process. 

Segmentation has come a long way in the last few years and there are a host of different email marketing platforms that specialize in automating and tracking incoming/outgoing mailers behind the scenes.

Craig Campbell covers segmentation in a little more detail in his Website Ranking Guide 


Marketing automation tools are the best! They’re able to build, batch and send out personalized emails en masse at the best possible time. Designed to make email marketing as painless as possible for teams and individuals, the best ones have the ability to seamlessly integrate and track the effectiveness of all outgoing comms. Some of the top features/core abilities to look out for include: 

  • Sending bulk email messages. 
  • Grouping outgoing emails into specific batches. 
  • Integrating responsive email templates that adapt to a recipient’s device.
  • Adding and removing email subscribers. 
  • Accurately reporting and tracking user engagement. 

Some of the top email marketing platforms on the market today include MailChimp, Zoho Campaigns, OmniSend, and HubSpot Email Marketing.

When it comes to the (call them core principles?) of email marketing, you can’t go wrong implementing the above. But, before I go away, let’s recap the above and throw down a few additions that can take your email marketing campaign from strength to strength.

More Email Marketing Strategies 

A/B Test: Tweak your email campaigns’ wording, font structure, banners, and/or CTA’s from time to time and see which version resonates with your audience more from month to month. This works especially well with the ongoing (themed) mailers like “monthly roundups” as well as client onboarding mailers. Try sub-segmenting an existing email batch. Marginally change one or two elements and see which gets a better response.

Subject lines: Numbers go a long way in making a subject line stand out. Whilst some marketers contest that you shouldn’t give away what’s inside the mail, you can also argue that, if the subject line is too cryptic why would customers care. Find the balance. Boost the anticipation of what’s still to come. Reveal the offer with the intention to explain it in further detail in the body of the mailer itself. If you’re marketing to a busy customer base, chances are they dont have time for guessing games. Let the offer speak for itself and give them the goods from the get-go. 

Signature: Maintain brand identity by reinforcing the fact that the mailer is coming from a reputable source. Sign off with relevant company details, and make sure there is always at least one contact point (be it a number/support desk or personal messenger) that an interested party can reach on. 

Dont send for the sake of sending: It’s thought that regular emails keep a business top of mind. Yes, but this same approach can be detrimental when there isn’t something concrete to say. Any email sent out needs to carry genuine value. Be it an offer or promotion, feature update, or release. The “just checking in” email can result in a whole bunch of unsubscribes

That’s it for now


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