Email is still the highest rated digital channel among marketers when it comes to return on investment, with high-level ROI from email marketing standing at just over £35 for every £1 spent.

Beyond that, however, email lets businesses express their brand identity and engage with customers in meaningful ways, especially with the capabilities offered by segmentation and personalisation.

This Email Marketing Best Practice Guide, an update on the 2017 edition, has been created to support marketers with the knowledge they need to either review existing email strategy or create a comprehensive strategy from scratch. It covers the following:

  • How to measure email performance, including guidance on which KPIs to set and how to align KPIs with broader business goals
  • Segmentation and personalisation techniques to ensure emails are relevant to the targeted audience, including how to gauge customer preferences and attitudes, and how to monitor these over time
  • How to develop a newsletter communications strategy that considers the organisation’s goals and audience, borrowing from editorial best practice
  • Best practice rules for copywriting, including how to excite the reader’s emotions while communicating the proposition and staying on-brand
  • Technical considerations for maximising email success, including how to ensure deliverability and list quality, as well as different methods of testing to optimise the company’s email strategy.

Why email still matters

In Econsultancy’s 2019 Email Marketing Industry Census, marketers rated email as the number one digital channel for return on investment, with 73% of respondents rating email as ‘excellent’ or ‘good’.

These results bear testament to the continued effectiveness of email marketing in comparison to a range of other tactics. They also suggest many marketers feel they have mastered the fundamentals and can drive significant returns on their investment in email. In fact, a high-level ROI from email marketing stands at just over £35 for every £1 spent.

Here is why email continues to matter:

  • Everyone online has an email address. Globally, there are about 5.59 billion active email accounts, with an average 1.75 accounts per person.
  • Nobody owns email. It is not subject to the whims or commercial pressures of a single brand or platform owner.
  • It is a low-barrier point of entry. Anyone can start an email programme, and even sophisticated sending services are available at low or no cost.
  • It is easy for users to understand and works for beginners or experts.
  • It is fast. Messages usually take just a few seconds to send.
  • It is flexible. The marketer can send many different types of information.
  • It has a huge installed infrastructure. It will take something 10 times better to get that replaced.
  • Brands can still make a return for poorly executed emails – although they make much more money when they do it well and invest in it.
  • GDPR – the European Union’s General Data and Protection Regulation – did not kill it after it went into effect in 2018, despite many dire predictions.


Email does present some challenges. These will be addressed throughout this report. A primary reason that regulations like GDPR have not eliminated email as a communications channel is because marketers are becoming more strategic in how they use it.

Econsultancy’s 2019 Email Marketing Industry Census revealed another encouraging development for email marketers with an eye on their department budgets. For the third year in a row, annual spending has increased, from a four-year low of £49,000 in 2017 to £62,000 in 2019; a 26% increase.

Marketers also spent more time in areas that are important to email quality. The number of marketers who spend two to eight hours a day planning campaign strategy rose 12.5% from 2018 to 2019.

One of the down sides of email’s high ROI is that it can also mean companies do not feel compelled to invest time or money in it. They can achieve great results from just mediocre efforts. Email is winning, but it can achieve even greater heights when marketers study, test and implement the best practices outlined in this guide.