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Email Marketing: Top Five Rules To Play By

Email Marketing: Top Five Rules To Play By

Email marketing is challenging. With so many rules and regulations, it can be daunting building an effective campaign. But the rules of email marketing are just like the rules at elementary school recess. Luckily, we’ve put together the following tips and tricks to help you stand out on the email marketing playground.

1. Always be politeMY0105D20067_B05

Remember the kid on the playground who loved throwing the football at unsuspecting people? Think of your emails as a football: only throw when your recipient is ready to catch. Being polite in email marketing means asking your contacts if they want to be apart of receiving your content, and only sending an appropriate amount of mail. We don’t want to be sending recipients content they can’t relate to, so the last thing we want is to be sending spam. The best way to avoid the issue of sending spam is to implement the opt-in.

What does it mean to “opt-in”?

Opt-in means your recipient filled out a form using their email address and have given you permission to send them mail. Not only does the opt-in approach promote trust in your brand, sending to subscribers who actually want your emails will improve engagement. Once you have all your subscribers don’t make the mistake of over sending or sending unrequested content. It’s important to build trust and a good reputation than to send all types of emails to a subscriber just because you have their address available.

Even if your contact list isn’t the most extensive on the email marketing playground, manners and courtesy goes a  long way. It’s better to start small and build up your playground cred as a good sender than to be the kid throwing footballs everywhere.

2. Don’t take things that aren’t yours

Imagine you’re outside at recess and your fellow classmate left a bag of your favorite candy near the swingset. You consider taking it, then you start thinking: Where did this candy actually come from? Is it safe?

As email marketers sending to a contact list that we didn’t source can be tempting. It’s certainly more convenient to buy a list than to grow your own. But, just like abandoned bags of candy, using a list that is purchased can give way to a short lived sugar high that will end up leading to a giant headache down the road.

Acquired Vs. Homegrown Lists

A new email campaign can mean starting from scratch and growing a new contact list. It may sound daunting, but cultivating an authentic list is your best bet for the longevity of your campaign. Senders usually run into a lot of trouble when sending to addresses that they either purchased, used in previous businesses, crawled from social media, or have acquired from a partner, affiliate, or associate.

These practices can wreak havoc on your infrastructure because the people on those lists haven’t opted in to your new email program, and they may find your email unwanted and intrusive. Your email is a guest in your recipients inboxes. With that in mind, if you’re sending an email to people who don’t want it or expect it, they will mark it as spam and impact your reputation in a negative way. The best thing to do is grow an email list from the ground up, and never eat from a strange bag of candy.

3. Flush

One of the most important lessons you learned in grade school is to flush the toilet behind you. It’s one of the first things we’re taught as kids, and it’s a lesson that sticks with us forever. We do it so often it eventually becomes second nature. Think about your contact list. You probably have lots of old invalid email addresses hanging around. These stale contacts might seem harmless lingering around, but lists containing lots of stale addresses typically lead to spam complaints unsubscribes, and high bounce rates.

Flush your contact list

If you have stale contacts who haven’t engaged with your messages for six months or more, we encourage you to flush them as soon as possible. Here are a few tips to help determine whether or not your contacts should be flushed.

  • Most email service providers will automatically suppress addresses that have resulted in a hard bounce. Think of it as a safety net that’s already in place for you
  • Delete addresses that have unsubscribed. Keeping them around won’t make them want to come back.
  • Comb through your lists for any typos, repeats, spam traps, and dead domains to remove weird addresses that will never be engaged.

    Learn how to deal with old addresses to keep your lists clean and eventually, regularly flushing your contact lists will be as second nature as the other type of flushing.

4. Say Sorry (Sometimes)

Growing up, if you got caught doing something, you had to apologize. As adults in the email marketing world, not much has changed, we do try to avoid saying sorry unless we get caught. As an email marketer, you will make mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes, and when it happens don’t panic. Now that we’re older, we get to decide whether or not our mistake warrants an apology.

The Apology Email

Know when to address your mistake and when to let it slide. Just because you noticed a type, doesn’t mean anyone else did. Don’t sweat the small stuff, like any spelling or grammatical errors in the copy of your email, just try to catch them in the future.

When should you send an apology?

  • An apology email should only be sent after you’ve exhausted all other options.
  • Apologize for mistakes regarding missing links or calls-to-action, and misleading offers and promotions.
  • You should absolutely send an apology anytime data is compromised.

If you do decide that an apology is necessary, keep it short, sweet, and to the point. Remember that the more sincere the apology the better. Apologize when necessary and mean it.

5. Clean up your own mess

At recess, kids are constantly running from one activity to the next. There’s usually a trail of abandoned toys and sidewalk chalk left behind. But at the end of recess, before everyone goes inside, the playground needs to be cleaned up and put back in order.

Pre-send Checklist

Missing elements of an email are not always as easy to spot as a kickball left outside after recess, so we’ve created pre-send checklists to help you remember all the important bits and pieces. Each list serves a specific purpose to help further your campaign

Use the email component checklist to ensure the meat of your email is consistent throughout your campaign. Your contacts are the backbone of your whole campaign, so use our recipient checklist to remind yourself to keep your lists accurate, up to date, and compliant with all rules and regulations. Finally, tie up all loose ends with our before you send checklist.


Email Components
  • Subject line
  • Pre-header text
  • Headline/greeting
  • Addresses
    • From
    • Reply to
  • Substitution tags
  • Image formatting
    • Alt text
  • A/B testing opportunities
  • Link parameters/UTM tags
  • Plain text version
Recipient List
  • CAN-SPAM/CASL compliant
  • Unsubscribe/suppression group
  • Stale contacts
  • List criteria/filters
  • A/B testing segmentation
Before you press send…
  • Experience testing
  • Responsiveness
  • Internal communication
  • Final copy approval from content team
  • Scheduling
  • Link verification
  • Final review of design and appearance

These checklists are a great tool to help you prevent email marketing mistakes. Use them as a starting point for your own list, and be sure to include any company-specific points.

At Biznet, we are experts at email marketing. Our writers, designers and marketing technologists know just what it takes to make a campaign effective, both creatively and technically. Contact us to learn more.