7 Core Principles Of Proper Email Marketing Etiquette

Email marketing should be about establishing a genuine relationship with your audience. You want to build a rapport based on trust and respect. What you don’t want to do is inundate their mailbox with glorified ads, or even end up breaking the law by invading their privacy. This is why you need to understand some core principles of what constitutes respectful and lawful email marketing, and what doesn’t. Let’s take a look at some of the tenets of email marketing etiquette everyone should follow.

Always Have Permission

This is probably the single most important thing you have to look out for when starting any email marketing efforts. Not getting permission is not only bad email marketing etiquette, but it is actually illegal. So, you have to make sure that everyone in your database has opted in. If you want to be extra sure, you can also use a double opt-in.

Also, don’t make the mistakes of taking contacts that agreed to one specific type of communication and adding them to another list. For instance, if someone has agreed to be notified about new blog posts, don’t send them promotional offers or emails about product launches.

Have A Professional Looking Email Address

If you’re going to be doing some email marketing, you want your email address to inspire confidence when people see it in their inbox. This means going with your own domain, making sure that the email address somewhat works with the nature of the list, and being careful when using capitalizations.

You might be asking, are emails case sensitive? The answer is generally no. But if you go too wild with the upper and lower case letters, your readers may have difficulty deciphering them. You should also reconsider using capitalization at all as some older programs may have difficulty processing them.

Don’t Buy Contacts

While it is perfectly legal to buy email contacts, this doesn’t mean that this is something that is recommended. For one, while these contacts might be completely valid, they didn’t explicitly agree to get messages from you. They may end up being confused, which will result in many of them unsubscribing. If you’re absolutely going to be buying contacts, make sure that they’re from a reputable source, and that they’re closely aligned with whatever you’re selling.

Don’t Make It Overly Promotional

While the ultimate goal of email marketing is to promote, only a small portion of your messages should be promotional in nature. You want to build an organic relationship with your list first and foremost and work as a resource. There is no set ratio of informational/promotional messages, but some advise going with at least seven non-promotional emails for every promotional one. At the end of the day, you have to test on your own, but we don’t recommend going over this.

Make It Easy To Unsubscribe

Don’t try to hold your subscribers hostage by making it almost impossible to unsubscribe. If they can’t unsubscribe and you continue sending messages to them, your messages might end up getting flagged, which could hurt your subsequent efforts. If you want to be compliant with CAN-SPAM laws, every one of your messages has to provide subscribers with an option to opt-out. 

If you want to retain subscribers, there are other things that you can do. For instance, you could offer them the possibility to subscribe to another of your lists, like your newsletter instead of product updates. 

Prune Your List

Always try to prune your list and look for signs of invalid contacts. Hard bounces are one example. The difference between a hard bounce and a soft bounce is that a soft bounce is when there’s a temporary deliverability issue with the recipient. Hard bounces, on the other hand, are when the issue is permanent, such as an invalid email address. If you have any of those on your list, you should remove them immediately.

Re-Activate Inactive Subscribers

In some cases, you might notice that some of your subscribers aren’t responsive anymore. This could be due to a variety of reasons. Maybe they simply forgot about you but didn’t care to unsubscribe. Or their interests might have changed. 

In any case, it would be wise to get back to them with a re-awake email. You could contact them and ask them if they wish to remain subscribed, or if they’d like to subscribe to another list. This will show that you pay attention to them while making sure that they don’t mark your messages as spam because they didn’t want to make the effort of unsubscribing.


These are some of the most important principles that you’ll have to follow if you want to stay on good terms with people on your list and stay within the law. Make sure that you always have their interest in mind first, and do everything you can to run more effective, and respectful, campaigns.