September 12th, 2017

Email Marketing: The Dos and Don’ts in 2017

by Katelynn Watkins

Email marketing, though sometimes banished to the backseat in favor of flashy social media channels, is far from irrelevant.


The truth is, even in 2017 there are some who have not yet mastered the art of constructing an informative, yet engaging email message for their present and potential clients. With so many options for consumer messaging, it’s no wonder that one or two formats often get swept aside, but luckily, the most common mistakes in email marketing are often easily rectified. And when that’s done, email can help promote your business and ideas just as well as a finely-tuned tweet or catchy Facebook post.

Lists and Segmentation

So you want to send out an email to a long list of recipients in the hopes of reeling in new clients while you keep your current ones on board with company news and products? The one tip that is universally accepted these days is not to give in to purchased lists.

But if they’re available, why wouldn’t it just be general practice to use those lists instead of building your own from the ground up? The problem lies within permissions; the email addresses on that list belong to people that didn’t necessarily sign up with the forethought that they might suddenly receive email updates from companies they’ve never even heard of before that first message.

Instead of taking the pre-arranged route, create your list based on the goals and objectives of your email. Who needs to see your message? Who will appreciate its contents the most? Who might engage with the email, not just open it and glance over the copy?

From there, the task is simple, if not sometimes a little arduous. Start with regular customers, inviting them to join your mailing list if that’s the route you want to go. In that case, tools like Constant Contact, MailChimp, and iContact can help you manage your lists and craft periodic newsletters for your recipients. If a newsletter format is not for you, use your email provider to maintain contacts and add them to your own lists; you might even consider having several for different purposes. Either way, make sure everyone you add to your lists is a willing participant, not a random contact you found in a compiled database. Nothing says “spam” faster than an unrelated, unwanted email.


Sometimes, there’s nothing you can change about your message that will entice a recipient to stay on your email updates. Sometimes, it’s all about how you presented it.

When you design an email, the white space speaks just as loudly as your words. Do you frequently find your newsletters sporting large blank spots? Insert a picture, or find a new topic to include. Blank space indicates a lack of subject matter, which could put off some of your recipients from subscribing in the future.

On the other hand, you’ll want to achieve balance with your copy and graphics. Too many photos and not much accompanying copy can be just as detrimental to the health of your messaging as the reverse situation. Instead, make sure any graphics compliment your email content and there should be no complaints.

Another thing to note: not all web browsers or email providers will present the formatted email in the same way. To cover all your bases, you’ll want to use features allowing for adequate captions and alternate text if the photos or graphics you use don’t show up as they should in everyone’s inbox. The procedure for this will vary from platform to platform, but to give you an idea, HubSpot has several recommendations for its users.

Why Are My Contacts Unsubscribing or Bouncing?

Inevitably, some of your contacts will unsubscribe and some will bounce. This data is called contact churn metrics, but what you really need to know is how to prevent it from the start and how to recover when it happens.

While you were sure not to recruit any random email addresses to your list, some of the contacts you added still might not be keen on getting your emails; that’s ok. It might be that your content isn’t relevant to them, or that their inboxes are already so busy that they simply don’t want anything else coming in at this time. Either way, respect your recipient’s wishes, even if those include not getting your email updates anymore.

With bounces, there are generally two causes; either the email address was not entered correctly, or it doesn’t (and sometimes never has) exist. People often change their email address or take on new ones for business purposes, so don’t worry if this happens. Double check your spelling when you include new contacts, and you can be sure that you aren’t at fault. Just know that if you notice a spike in bounces that it could be an indication of too much or too ambiguous content, at which point you would need to revise your message strategy.

Rather than dwell on the lost contacts, focus on your successes. By losing a few recipients, you can now use your current contacts and tailor your messaging to better suit them and others with their same concerns. If nothing else, you can always slowly add back in any non-responders later on, but we recommend using that tactic with caution so as not to irritate potential clients.

We hope this information gives you a good jumping-off point for your email marketing and answers a few questions you might have had at first. If not, Sage Island is happy to help at just a phone call away!

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