Email Best Practices

How to define a successful email marketing strategy

Find out the steps you need to take to define a successful email marketing strategy. Learn from email experts how to create beautiful email campaigns.

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Whether you’re just starting with email marketing, or you are rethinking your strategy, it may seem like the list of things you need to think about is never ending. Where do you start? We feel you. At Mailjet, we know very well how difficult it is to define an email marketing strategy, and the amount of hard work that it requires to stick to it.

No need to panic, we are here for you! And we’ll guide you through the steps you need to undertake to ensure your email marketing strategy will be successful. Ready to kick-start your email marketing strategy? Let’s go!

Email Marketing strategy: a step-by-step guide

1. Build and grow your contact list

The first step you need to take to start defining your email marketing strategy, is building and growing a contact list. Needless to say, you need people to send emails to, otherwise your strategy will be completely pointless. There are many ways to do this, and you may want to try different approaches. The important thing is that you grow your customer base organically.

Your website should be the first place to start when building a contact list. Customers visiting your website and blog already have an interest in what you offer, so enticing them to sign up might be easier here than anywhere else. You can then integrate your social platforms and face-to-face contacts to tell followers and customers about the benefits of joining your mailing list . Ultimately, you can also decide to use incentives in order to drive sign-ups, although you need to be careful doing this as some subscribers may sign up only for the offer. Make sure you’re consistently adding value to your contacts.

One of customers, Product Hunt, started their whole company with an email newsletter. Their widget on the home page shows the image and subject of the latest newsletter and succinctly summarizes the value you’ll receive by signing up.

2. Define your email marketing goals

Like any other marketing tool, email is nothing without a clear strategy. Before you start designing and sending an email campaign, define why you’re sending it. Always ask yourself “What do I want to achieve with this email?”, and then find the most appropriate way to assess if you’ve achieved your goals.

Remember, that email is the marketing channel that drives the highest ROI. A/B testing and comparing campaign performance are powerful instruments in defining the success of your strategy. These results will give you a clear indication of your ROI and whether you’re doing all that you can to boost it. While planning your campaigns, always remember that success will have a different meaning in each of your emails.

3. Plan your campaigns

Now that you have defined your goals and have a list of high quality engaged contacts to send your emails to, your next step is to plan your campaigns. But what do you need to include in the emails you send out? Although some of the content is highly customizable and depends on your goals, there are a number of elements that always need to be present in the emails you send out.

The elements that you MUST include in every email are:


The subject line should make your email stand out in the inbox. Although it is important to keep the tone and voice true to your brand, you may want to try different approaches that can help draw attention to your email, such as catchy phrases or emojis.


You wouldn’t want your contacts to think that they just got a random email, that will end up in the trash folder quicker than you can count to three, would you? So always make sure you let your contacts know who’s emailing them. To ensure your from name is recognisable, use your brand name or, if you want to be creative, find something that can still be linked back to you and keep it consistent.


The power of the preheader is often underestimated. It is extremely effective way to summarize the content of an email, especially on mobile devices. It should complement your subject line and draw attention to your campaign.


CTAs are strongly interconnected with the objectives of your campaign. When creating them, consider what you want your subscribers to do after reading your email. Create responsive CTAs that are easy to navigate on desktop and mobile. Also, keep it simple. Emails with a single CTA can increase clicks 371% and sales 1617%.

This is a great example of a creative and catchy CTA.

Keep in mind, that these elements can make the difference between someone opening your message or moving it to trash. The great thing about email, is that you can gain real-time, in-depth insights into your audience and use this to adapt your marketing strategy. Starting from your first campaign, pay close attention to your metrics to understand if they successfully meet your goals or not. This will be an excellent learning experience, and it will allow you to change and adapt your strategy.

4. Designing engaging, responsive emails

In today’s highly technological world, there is a number of things you need to consider when designing your campaigns. There is high demand for diverse, engaging and mobile-responsive visual material. A bit overwhelming, eh? It’s a lot to think about, true. But here at Mailjet we try to make your life easier when it comes to emailing. So here are a few ways to create amazing emails:


55% of email is now opened on a mobile device, so you need to ensure that your design is mobile-responsive. If a message is visually unappealing or is difficult to read, subscribers will become frustrated and won’t even bother reading through. This will also be reflected in your ROI. At Mailjet, we make designing responsive emails an easy task. With our drag and drop email editor Passport and our open source markup language MJML, you can create emails that will look great on all devices.

Example of responsive email created with Passport.


The size of your email can have a huge impact on deliverability. Emails that are too large take a long time to load and will be chopped by some email clients. Knowing the appropriate size for images and finding the right balance between images and text is key to ensure your contacts see the message just as you intended them to. This will also ensure that your email will not end up in SPAM.


Arrange items in your email according to the order you want them to be read. This will guide the reader to the actionable content and it will make their experience smoother. Keep in mind that for those whose native language is read from left to right, the top left corner of the email tends to be the initial focus. Use this in your favour, by using this area to make your identity and purpose immediately clear.

Always place your actionable content above the fold (ATF). As most email clients allow around 300-500 pixels of space for email previews, you need to make the most of it. Lastly, the colors you choose will influence your customer’s feelings about your email and brand in general. So, make sure your color scheme doesn’t impact the visibility of the text and that it complements your brand. You can also take it to the next level by making sure the colors you are using are suited to your specific context and segmented demographic.


For a unified user experience, and to make your brand identity identifiable, present a unified, seamless experience across both marketing and transactional emails. This way, your contacts will easily recognise you, and build brand awareness and loyalty. Remember, transaction emails are opened up to 8x more often than marketing emails. This is an important place to reinforce your value and your brand.


The last step when designing your email is to test it before sending. This is extremely useful to ensure your images are all optimized, your links are working, there are no typos, and your CTAs are clear and responsive.

5. Making email relevant

Nowadays, we all receive tons of emails. But how many of those are actually relevant? To ensure your email marketing strategy is a success, you need to create unique messages that really address your customers’ needs, and send them the email at the right time. Segmentation, personalization and automation are all amazing tools we have to make emails relevant.

6. Get some feedback

The last step in setting your email marketing strategy is finding out how successful your campaigns have been, and learning from past experiences. To do this, you can simply collect customer feedback to find out exactly what they like about your brand and where there is room for improvement. Or you can use some tools that allow you to analyze ‘hard’ data, like A/B testing and campaign performance comparison.

And now you are ready to start sending your email campaigns and work towards a successful marketing strategy. You’ve come so, far and grown so much.

This post is a shortened version of Mailjet’s “Getting Started With Email: The Ultimate Guide To Define Your Email Strategy”. For more details on how to create your email marketing strategy, make the guide yours now for free!

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