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The Best Email Marketing Strategies for 2021

UPDATED March 12, 2021

Email has been around for decades and, while it might have taken the backseat with the advent of other marketing platforms (Hello, Facebook!), it has proven time and again that it’s still the most effective way to reach your audience.

Because of this, millions of businesses have opted to use email to propel their marketing efforts and, as such, it’s gotten harder and harder to stand out among a sea of promotional emails. In fact, email marketing best practices are evolving constantly. This means that any strategies or tactics you might have been using in the early 2000s may no longer be effective!

To keep your email marketing efforts profitable, it’s important to stay on top of email marketing trends and develop a solid and sustainable marketing strategy. In this article, we’ll be going through all the ways you can step up your email marketing game and get ahead of your competitors this 2020!


While we’ve all been taught never to judge a book by its cover, we can’t help but judge an email by its subject line.

It may seem like such a minor part of your entire email marketing strategy, but the subject line is actually considered the most important part of your entire email solely because it’s what gets people to open!

To better understand what makes a good subject line, you need to know what makes a bad subject line first. Here are some examples of boring subject lines that will undoubtedly get ignored:

  • “Happy Thanksgiving! Shop Black Friday Online Now!”
  • “Black Friday starts NOW! Let the shopping begin!”
  • “BLACK FRIDAY IS ON! Shop online now!”

As you can see, they’re all pretty much the same. These subject lines don’t spark interest or spur you into action. Nothing about them stands out and, thus, people aren’t compelled to open them.

If you’re having trouble getting through to your audience via email, then it could be a problem with how you’re phrasing your subject lines. Here are a few quick tips on creating a more enticing and compelling subject line:

Be Specific

While being vague and mysterious in your subject line may have its merits, nothing grabs attention more than a clear, concise message. Your subject line needs to be as informative as possible, allowing your audience to assess its value or importance without having to open it.

Avoid generic and vague phrases such as “Sale starts now!” Instead, get into the specifics of your offer through your subject line. Here are a couple of examples:

  • “BLACK FRIDAY WEEKEND! Get Extra 20% OFF all items!”
  • “15% OFF Everything!”

In the first example, you know how much of a discount you’re getting AND you know how long the sale will last. The second one may not be as specific, but at least you know what the offer is just by looking at the subject line.

By letting your audience know what they’re in for, you’re allowing them to evaluate the importance of your email rather than have them ignore it altogether.

Use Numbers

In relation to the first point, if you can add numbers to your subject line, do it! Numbers set your subject lines apart from the rest, especially when they display an obvious benefit to your subscribers.

However, avoid vague phrases such as “BIG SALE!” or “SKY-HIGH DISCOUNTS!”

While they may seem enticing, they can also be very misleading. People won’t know what products you’re having on sale and what you mean by “sky-high discounts”. Some people might expect a huge 70% discount and be disappointed to see only a 20% discount offered.

When you make your offer clear right from the start, it helps set expectations so your subscribers don’t end up feeling cheated.

Keep it Short

While there has been much debate on the right subject line length, the long and short of it is… keep it short.

With 70% of all emails being viewed from a smartphone or tablet, it’s best to keep subject lines 25 to 30 characters long or about 7 words only. You get a little more legroom on desktop, though, where you can have subject lines as long as 60 characters.

Such limitations make it all the more crucial to get your message across in nine words or less so that your email stands a better chance of getting opened.

Ditch the ALL CAPS Approach

While an all caps approach might seem like a foolproof way of getting your subscribers’ attention, there’s a fair chance that they’ll ignore it and keep scrolling. Subject lines in all caps look spammy and suspicious and the anti-spam filter will probably block them.

Try mixing it up by using all caps for key phrases and leaving the rest in lowercase. A great example for this is the same example we used above:

“BLACK FRIDAY WEEKEND! Get Extra 20% OFF all items!”

It strikes just the right balance between using all caps and lowercase without looking like you’re yelling at your subscribers.

Emojis are Your Best Friend

Businesses have been leveraging on the rising popularity of emojis, incorporating them into subject lines to grab attention. These bright symbols allow your subject line to stand out in a long list of plain, boring ones.

To prove this point, check out the screenshot below:

Screenshot of inbox

Which subject lines caught your attention first? Use sparingly, though! Make sure that your emojis are on-brand and align with your message.


With its muted color and unbolded typeface, the preview text may seem like an unimportant part of your email, but if you think people ignore the preview text, think again.

The subject line and preview text often go hand in hand when it comes to enticing your subscribers. As a rule, the preview text should be able to tell your subscribers more about what’s inside your email. With that said, you should be putting as much thought into your preview text as the subject line.

So, how do you craft a preview text as enticing as the subject line?

Give them more information

If you’re offering a discount, use the preview text to let them know which items are discounted or how long the discount will be available. By giving them more information, you’re allowing them to further assess the value of your email.

Dish Out Your Secondary Offer

If you have a secondary offer on top of the one you’re headlining in your subject line, then have that in your preview text, too! Remember, it’s all about bringing out the big guns and showing all you have to offer to your subscribers.

Here’s an example:



Let Them Know About Other Benefits/Advantages

In the event that you don’t have anything in particular to offer them, write about any of your benefits or advantages. For example: fast, free shipping!

If you do it right and they think your email deserves a quick read, then you just got yourself an opened email!


When it comes to creating a winning email, there are countless nuances that come into play. You should have a very clear structure in place, otherwise you run the risk of your subscriber become disinterested in what you have to offer.

Most promotional emails should have the following 3 elements:

Feature – Let them know what makes your product/service unique from your competitors. Make sure you’re phrasing it in a way that caters to your audience’s needs, too.

Benefit – What problem is your product/service able to solve? Always tie in your feature to a benefit that has an emotional connection to your audience in one way or another. This is key to making a sale – people buy with emotions and justify with logic.

Call-to-action – Once you’ve laid out everything you have to offer, end it with a clear, actionable CTA that speaks to your audience. Avoid bland phrases like “Subscribe Now” and try to spice things up. For example:

  • Give Us A Try – free 30 day supply”
  • “Click to Say Goodbye to Bad Hair Days!”

Aside from having these three elements in your email, it helps to keep the following best practices in mind:

Less is More – Remember, people are looking for immediate gratification so make sure you get your message across in as few words as possible. If you’re pushing a promo code or a special discount, make it clear from the first line in your email.

Personalize by Writing in the Second Person – Personalization is still the trend this year so the next time you’re addressing your subscriber, use the second person along with their name. Always make it about them!

Plus, here’s another strategy that worked for our clients back in 2019. We wrote the emails like they were coming from an actual person, and not the store itself. So it came across as more personal. 

Use actionable words – You should be sprinkling actionable words all over your copy and not just in the CTA. The entire goal of your email is to spur your subscriber into action so make sure you’re giving them a hefty serving of actionable words.


Refine customer experience by making sure your emails are more accessible. Here are some quick facts about today’s consumers:

  • Everyone’s always on mobile, with 47% of customers across different demographics using mobile apps when opening emails. 
  • Voice assistants are on the rise in order to help visually impaired people not miss out on their emails.
  • The average attention spans of readers is about 13.4 seconds. That’s just enough time to digest around 50 words.

Taking these into consideration, here’s what you can do to improve accessibility.

  • Think about how your email and copy designs will look on the mobile screen.  This means more vertical designs, and placing CTA buttons right in the middle.
  • Remove jargon and complex words so your content is easier to both read and listen to. 
  • Avoid blocks of pure text. Mix photos and text for an optimized and pleasant email experience.
The mind-blowing part is that all that is just the tip of the email marketing iceberg! If you’re interested in taking your email marketing to the next level, check out our Online Retailer’s Blueprint to Succeed with eCommerce Email Marketing. This whitepaper is a compilation of case studies detailing the advanced email strategies we used to to help our clients reach 8-figure levels of revenue generation and brand growth. So grab it now—it’s completely free!

Although the ultimate goal of your email is to drum up sales, keep in mind that it shouldn’t be about YOU. Every email you send should have the intent of providing value to the recipient.

Want to know how to maximize the value your emails both give to your customers and return to your business? Just schedule a free strategy call with our email marketing experts and get us to optimize your emails for maximum ROI!

Ready to get started?

We’ve put together a handy-dandy eCommerce marketing calendar to help you forecast all the sale dates you’ll need to watch out for! It’s chock-full of major and minor holidays, perfect for your eCommerce brand!
Book a call

Ready to get started?

We’ve put together a handy-dandy eCommerce marketing calendar to help you forecast all the sale dates you’ll need to watch out for! It’s chock-full of major and minor holidays, perfect for your eCommerce brand!
Book a call