The Mother of All Email Marketing Best Practices

Email best practices: They’re why you get out of bed in the morning and they’re why you can’t wait to collapse into bed at night. They’re why, when you finally drift off, even your dreams are CAN-SPAM compliant. No three-headed dream monster enters your nightmares without an unsubscribe link on its tail. The best practices keep you safe and sound.

But do best practices distinguish your emails if they’re the same things that everyone else is doing? Let’s face it: many of these “best practices” are“practices,” at best. What separates the best email from the email that’s merely best-practicing?

The emails spotlighted in our “Best Email Ever!” blog post series all follow email marketing best practices, but they also offer up something else: they have something worthwhile to say, and they do a great job saying it. These emails are purposeful, useful, and memorable. Take a look back at a few of our favorite emails, take a few notes, and start creating the kinds of emails that most people can only dream about. The good kinds of dreams, that is.

Get Interactive! The Litmus Email Design Conference

Spotlighted in May’s edition of Best Email Ever! and in many other “best-of email” lists since, the Litmus announcement for their Email Design Conference is the stuff of legends. Litmus had big news to break, but they didn’t neglect the inventiveness regular subscribers expect from their emails. The live-content-laden email revealed their full announcement only after 500 readers shared the announcement on social media. While the live version of the email now shows the final results, the anticipation leading up to the big reveal felt like email marketing Christmas.

The stunt resulted in a wonderfully memorable email, but it also did what email does best: build relationships with readers. Email is a highly personal, one-on-one mode of messaging, making it ideal for encouraging reader engagement and fostering communication with the audience. When social media threatens to command an increasingly greater share of your audience,  this connection is more important than ever. The best emails build these relationships by providing useful information, inviting engagement, and making a way to keep that conversation going.

Get Personal! Fitbit’s Year-In-Review 

When it comes to fitness, staying motivated is an exercise in and of itself, but Fitbit’s year-in-review email steps up to the task. The email combines clean design with personalized data to give you a good summary of your year in fitness (minus the crying). While many fitness apps send personalized emails, Fitbit stands apart by presenting this information in an encouraging way, which is especially helpful when you need a boost to continue your routine. It’s like having a personal trainer in your pocket.

When done correctly, email personalization is a hit with readers. Fitbit takes it one step further by using personal data to form a broader narrative. Storytelling is a powerful marketing tool, and Fitbit’s is especially potent because it tells the reader’s personal story. Seeing the story of your year encourages you to keep up your fitness journey, which is good for you and good for Fitbit. Build your best emails by incorporating personalization and storytelling, and readers will readily incorporate your emails into their routine. Tear-free.

Get Comfy! Poncho the Weather Cat 

There are a million ways to get weather updates, but none so fun as a tech-savvy cat. The daily Poncho emails snuggled their way into our hearts with useful data, mobile-friendly design, and lively copy from the funniest feline this side of Jim Arbuckle’s lasagna pan. Poncho gives you complete control over email updates: how often to send them, what kind of weather information you want, and even what time you want him to crawl into your inbox. If only your own cat was so considerate.

Like Litmus and Fitbit, Poncho incorporates effective personalization and interaction (every email ends with an invitation to connect elsewhere). What sets Poncho apart is how he gets his message across. Any app can give you numbers, but only Poncho tells you how your hair is going to look. These emails deliver practical weather information coupled with an easygoing tone that makes emails from Poncho feel like emails from an old friend. Those are the best kinds of emails to receive.

Get Moving! The 1st & 10 

You’ve got engaging content, you’ve got personalized data, you’ve even got a fun mascot to deliver it for you. But when you’re bringing that much to the table, it’s important to make sure you’re not leaving anybody out.  The NFL’s email newsletter, the 1st & 10 does a great job of informing readers on any device. This email serves up timely updates and live content that will keep any football fan in the know, even when it’s painful (sorry, Falcons fans).

Still, while the news may hurt your heart, its design ensures it will never hurt your eyes. The email adapts to smaller spaces, hiding secondary information to provide the best mobile experience. When you’ve taken the time to craft informative emails, it’s important to make sure the message isn’t lost on mobile users. Delivering quality content is important, but it’s only half of the game. Delivering a great experience is equally important. If you can’t commit to both halves, and run to victory, you’ll end up second-best (sorry again, Falcons fans).

Get out there and start sending great emails! 

These emails are among some of the best that have crossed our inboxes, but what makes them even better is that they aren’t one-off successes. Audiences know to expect great emails from these senders, and the senders don’t disappoint. With these great emails in mind, take a hard look at your own email program and get into the habit of sending great email. After all, best practice makes best perfect.

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Editor, PostUp PlayBook