Blog | Marketing Madness

6 eCommerce Email Marketing Best Practices


With email marketing, research and testing is key; see what works for your subscribers and always evolve your strategy. Here are a few things to consider:

1. Segmentation

Segmentation is often overlooked because it is time intensive, however it can help you reap serious rewards from your email campaigns. How you segment really depends on what data you have available. It’s useful to take time out to sit down to do this. Have a look at the data you have from your database, orders or CRM and work out how you can group your customers together.

Do you have a way of identifying repeat customers with say 2 or more instances of orders? Group them into a “Repeat Customers” list, and send them an email giving them an offer in return for referring a friend.

Do you have a mens range and a womens range?  Do you know which customers are male and female? Divide them in to groups. Target the women with an email about a sale on women’s shoes, and men with an email about a new collection of mens ties.

Tailored emails are invariably more successful than a throwing a blanket email out to a main list and hoping for the best. Keeping your contacts happy is heavily dependant on your emails being relevant and of high quality.

2. The psychology of language

The words you use can have a huge impact on your open rates (O-R). Really this all boils down to being authentic; be human.

People don’t like to feel conned, so avoid luring your recipients in with unrealistic claims of ‘HUGE SAVINGS’ if really you’re offering them 1% discount on a £5.00 product, it just won’t cut it.

i. What to avoid and what to use

Once upon a time, including the word “Free” within your email subject line was a sure fire way to increase your open rates. “Free” has become a buzzword for spammers en masse. “Free delivery” however has proven to increase open rates, as has “Sale” and “% off”.

Email receivers are becoming incredibly intuitive at switching off to emails that don’t look genuine, so avoid spam buzzwords. Not sure what counts as a spammy word? Download our full list of 400 commonly used spam words and phrases.

Using time limiters and adding a sense of urgency to your email subject line is still a successful way of increasing O-R. Be careful though, phrases like ‘ACT NOW’ could confine your email to the spam folder. Use a phrase such as “until midnight!” to spur a positive response.

3. Using images

How to use images in email marketing is an often debated topic. You need to make sure your email is visually appealing, professional looking and resonates with your consumer. On the other hand you need to keep them small in size and concise in length to be effective.

i. Optimise for all devices

The amount of emails opened on mobile is ever increasing, so it is essential that all of your campaigns are optimised for all device types. If your email is purely image based it could take a mighty long time to load and eat into your consumers data allowance. Not only is that annoying to the receiver but it’s not going to get your message across quick enough. We would suggest a maximum of 30% of your email content should be images.

ii. Calls to action

You should make sure your calls to actions are text based and not graphics. You need to ensure that even if the images aren’t rendered the purpose of your email isn’t lost. It’s critical to provide useful and informative Alt and Title text.

4. Best times to schedule

Knowing what time to schedule your email can be tricky. There are hundreds of articles claiming to know the best times to send. But the truth is… your contact database is unique (or should be!), therefore their optimum opening times will also be unique.

We now live in an age where we take our phones to bed, to work, to parties, to dinner and those flittering moments of boredom see us refresh our emails. Truth is this could be practically any time of the day.

With this I would use your logic until you have enough data to make an informed decision. If you’re already using social media you can look at other platforms such as Facebook insights to see when your consumer base is active online, there is likely to be a pattern in their behaviour.

5. Testing

If you are using one of the popular email marketing tools you should have the function to A/B test within your campaigns. Something to test variations of are:

i. From field

Mix up the from field.  Sending from your brand name might work best for newsletters but if you’re prompting a customer for a review then using a named employee may work better. Try different variations and monitor your Open Rate (O-R).

ii. The subject line

As we’ve mentioned previously in this post, test the language of your subject lines. Language is critical, try different phrases and words and see what works and analyse your O-R for changes.

iii. Calls to action

Change the text in your call to action for example try “Pick your size” instead of “Buy now”. Calls to action should be driving your Click Through Rate (CTR).

iv. Images

Test HTML-based emails with no images against an email with only images. Image use can have affect on CTR, O-R and conversions on your landing pages.


Personalisation is a fine art, you need to ensure that you have top quality data and the names in your list are well formed. The worst thing you can do is personalise an email with an incorrect name. Try different elements of personalisation in the subject line and your content.

6. Why are you sending the email?

And finally it seems obvious but you really need to think about your motivation for sending your email marketing campaign.

  1. What is the purpose?
  2. What is your goal?
  3. Who is it going to?
  4. Is it relevant?

Don’t fall in to the trap of thinking you need to send a campaign purely because you haven’t done one in a while. You should only touch base with a customer with a purpose, don’t clog their inboxes with irrelevant emails.

If you keep evolving your strategy, testing and analysing your data you’re sure to see increasingly successful campaigns.


i. Segmentation takeaways

  1. You can never have too many lists
  2. Take time out to look at your data and group it
  3. Tailor your emails to your individual customer groups

ii. Language takeaways

  1. Be human, be authentic and realistic
  2. Use time limiters to spur a reaction
  3. Check phrases and words aren’t on spam lists

iii. Image takeaways

  1. Make sure it’s device friendly
  2. Try using only a maximum of 30% images
  3. Calls to action should be text not graphics
  4. Include Alt and Title text

iv.Scheduling takeaways

  1. Test thoroughly for all times of the day
  2. Use logic and your own knowledge of your customer bases behaviour
  3. Check other social channels for insight

v. Testing takeaways

You should A/B test:

  1. Try a named employee vs brand name alone in the from field
  2. Try different words and phrases in your subject line
  3. Try different types of persuasive language in your calls to action
  4. Test how using images affects your CTR
  5. Try personalising your emails vs. no personalisation in both subject line and content