Skip to content

Email Marketing Do’s and Don’ts

The first do of email marketing is…do email marketing!

Email marketing generates $38 for every $1 spent. 

So…what’s the catch?

With everyone doing email marketing, it’s harder than ever to break through the noise.

So we’re here to make it easy for you. We’re big advocates of email marketing, and over the years we’ve picked up some tricks. 

Here are some do’s and don’ts from Cognism’s email marketing maestros: James Sutton and Liam Bartholomew.

Scroll down and enjoy! 👇


A/B test everything

Not just subject lines. Test every aspect of the email and see what works best. The key to data driven marketing is a willingness to get things wrong. It’s far easier to fix a problem before it’s been sent to your entire database!

Use text-only emails

The more personalised an email looks, the better. Image and link heavy emails look automated. So stay away!

With that being said, make sure your email signature isn't in plain text. Design and create one that has a photo, includes key contact information, and even has CTAs. It'll add a personal touch to your emails and will do wonders for your B2B marketing approach. 

Use field merges for personalisation

But don’t go crazy. These can help a cold email template be more personalised, which is always a good thing. If you use too many, there’s a chance of getting something wrong - which is a serious buzz-kill.

Create a running theme in your emails

Make it fun! Your outbound marketing email should be something recipients want to read. It also makes it a bit more enjoyable for you. 😉

Use GIFs and memes

They’re another way to brighten up the message. Again, don’t go overboard. You’re creating a fun email. Not an invite to your slumber party.

Write as if you’re speaking to a human

Because…you are! Have a think about your ICP. What’s their level of knowledge? How would they like to be communicated with? Write a personal email to the individual you picture.

Provide exit routes in nurture programs for the unengaged

If it’s not working, change it up. Unengaged recipients are either seeing the wrong content, or they’re not very active on email. Either way, it’s worth changing up your strategy. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result.

Separate unengaged and engaged contacts

The goal has moved. Have an email campaign running for engagement, and a subsequent one running for meetings booked (or another marketing metric you measure).

Segment your audience

Personalise and make campaigns more relevant. Complex email campaigns can have multiple branches and follow several storylines. Here are some examples of email campaigns that worked for us.

Provide value

Always. The emails you send have to service the recipient. As soon as they stop seeing value, it’s unsubscribe time. A great email campaign is mutually beneficial.

Use humour

Make the emails fun where possible. This can help to mitigate any negative sentiment when you land in an inbox unannounced. It also helps build your brand identity. 

Respond to non-opens

Especially if you’re contacting senior B2B leads. You might’ve caught them on a busy day, and they’ll receive a lot of emails. Not opened doesn’t mean not interested.

Experiment with CTAs

Some people prefer buttons, others prefer pictures. It’s even worth trying a text-link. See what works best with your total addressable market before you commit.

Establish your relevance

State your reason for reaching out. If they downloaded content or attended an event, reference that as the reason why you’re emailing.


Lead with a sales pitch

Or pay service to a problem before leaping into the pitch. If you’re taking the liberty of entering someone's inbox, make it worthwhile for them. An inbox isn’t a doorstep for you to sell on.

Overuse exclamation marks and spammy words

This! Doesn’t Excite! The! Recipient! It’s annoying!!!! It will also get you flagged as spam. Which is bad news indeed.

Stop testing

If something doesn’t work, don’t put it straight in the bin. Bubble wrap was initially invented as a funky type of wallpaper. Great invention, terrible use case. Keep testing your content and images in another context, even if you don’t get great results the first time.

Spray and pray

General, unpersonalised and irrelevant emails are dangerous. You won’t get great results, and you’re risking a ticket to the spam folder.

Send too many emails

This is another way to get yourself flagged as spam. Carefully manage the number of emails you’re sending.

Trap prospects in never-ending nurture campaigns

There should always be an end in sight. If there’s not, ask yourself why you’re reaching out. That’s your demand generation end goal.

Make unsubscribing hard

 If the prospect doesn’t want to see your content, that’s fine! Chances are they’re not a good fit client for you anyway. Make it easy for them to unsubscribe and save both parties some time.

Send repetitive emails

Or even the same emails. Every now and then this happens by accident, and the results can be brutal. Your subscribers will drop like flies. Make sure you’re sending fresh content every time you reach out.

Send repetitive emails

Or even the same emails. Every now and then this happens by accident, and the results can be brutal. Annoying, right? 😉 If you’re advertising a particular event, focus on a different aspect of it each time.

Use email as your only channel

Not everyone is an email person. Not everyone is a LinkedIn person or a phone person. Maximise your chances of landing in the right place by adopting a multi-channel approach. Email, LinkedIn, cold calling.

Use entirely formal language

It’s not an English Literature exam. There’s a real person on the other end! Use your natural friendly tone. It makes your email far more interesting to read.

Write large blocks of text

The majority of readers will only scan your emails. There’s nothing wrong with this. They just want the information as quickly as possible. Make their lives easier, and give it to them. More information in fewer words.

Get more email marketing tips!

Many thanks to James and Liam for lending their expertise. We hope you enjoyed it!

If you’re after more email marketing tips, check out our new eBook - The No Fluff Guide to Inbound Marketing. It has an entire section on email marketing, which is sure to freshen up your outreach. 

In this guide, you’ll find:

  • What is inbound marketing?
  • How to plan your email marketing campaigns with Liam Bartholomew, Cognism’s Head of Demand Generation - including a free campaign planning template!
  • An introduction to drip email marketing.
  • 3 marketing campaign examples from James Sutton, Cognism’s Campaign Manager.
  • Lead nurturing advice from Christelle Fraysse, CMO at Workbooks.
  • Tips for improving email deliverability from EmailChecker.

Click the link below to download your free guide.

The No Fluff Guide to Inbound Marketing

Read similar stories

Demand Generation

Demand Generation Examples: 8 Tactics That Actually Work
Demand Generation Examples: 8 Tactics That Actually Work
Create demand for your product or service with 8 demand generation tactics that actually work. This blog post includes examples of each tactic.
The Easy Mode Framework_Resource card
Content Strategy: The Easy Mode Framework
Restricted by content formats, producing weekly blogs and struggling for what to say? Revolutionise your content strategy with the Easy Mode framework.
Performance marketing strategy blog_Resource card-2
Performance Marketing: All You Need to Know to Reach the Modern Buyer
Performance marketing is constantly evolving, meaning marketers need to be testing new tactics! Here's some insider tips for how to reach the modern buyer.

Experience the Diamond difference.

See how our phone verified contact data can increase your connect rate by 7x. Book a demo today.

Skyrocket your sales

Cognism gives you access to a global database and a wealth of data points with numbers that result in a live conversation.

Find customers ready to buy

Cognism intent data helps you identify accounts actively searching for your product or service – and target key decision makers when they’re ready to buy.