Now that we’ve covered choosing an ESP and sending transactional mail, it’s time to tackle marketing emails. If transactional emails are administrative and straightforward, think of marketing emails as the space to get a little creative with your brand.

Email marketing is a great tool for startups to grow customer engagement and brand awareness. Keep reading for our top email marketing advice and best practices.

Say no to spam

We’ve all been on the receiving end of an unwanted email and thought, “How did this get here?” As an email marketer, your job is to send content your contacts love and want—which means no spam.

There are legal definitions of spam, but remember that your subscribers might have a different idea of what counts as spam. Always double check that you are CAN-SPAM compliant, and include opt-in and unsubscribe options in your email marketing plan.

I want you to want me

So what exactly is an “opt-in” option? An opt-in means your contact filled out a form using their email address, giving you permission to send them email. Why are opt-ins an essential email marketing best practice?

  • Transparency – Asking contacts to opt-in promotes trust in your brand, and being a polite sender goes a long way.
  • Effectiveness – Sending to contacts who actually want your email will improve engagement within your campaigns.
  • Reputation – Opt-ins keep your mail in the right inboxes and builds your reputation as a reliable email marketer.

Along with opt-ins, having an unsubscribe option is part of being a good email marketer. It’s great when someone opts-in to receive your email, but it’s also important to give them the option to bow out. Where exactly the unsubscribe button should go in your marketing email is up for discussion, but as long as it’s functional, you’re doing your job.

If a contact chooses to unsubscribe from your list, don’t take it personally. Check out our awesome blog post, chock full of pop culture references, on common reasons why recipients unsubscribe. Use it to learn from your mistakes, and make adjustments to your campaign.

No double dipping

Once you’re sending both transactional and marketing emails, list segmentation becomes even more important. If a subscriber has opted-in to receiving promotional coupons, don’t start sending them your weekly newsletter. Chances are, if they’re engaging with your brand and product, they’ll sign up to receive more email from you.

Watch out for over sending or sending unrequested content.

Less is more, especially when your email marketing campaign is just beginning.

Read up on our tips for how to stay relevant and wanted in your recipient’s inbox.

Don’t be a stranger

If you’ve followed our advice and have implemented an opt-in for your emails, your subscribers are familiar with your brand and product. Your messages should be coming from a familiar persona, not a bot. Why?

  • There’s no bigger eyesore in an inbox than an email from a no-reply address.
  • Not only does it feel impersonal, but a no-reply you’ll have a much harder time keeping track of engagement.


Marketing email campaigns are a great, creative way to drive engagement with your brand and product. It’s important not to get overzealous and start over sending–especially in your first few campaigns. Building your reputation as a polite sender will help maintain longevity in your email marketing campaigns, and help your startup grow a loyal following.

Looking for more inspiration? Keep your eye out for our next post with even more marketing ideas that go beyond your standard newsletter. In the meantime, start exploring Marketing Campaigns and enjoy these free email marketing templates for your first campaign!

Are you a startup looking for email help? Check out SendGrid Accelerate, our program specially designed to help startups get their email infrastructure up-and-running.

Lauren Alworth
As a summer intern on the Content Marketing team at SendGrid, Lauren is slowly but surely getting her feet wet in the email marketing world. She studies Public Relations and English at Boston University. In her free time she can be found hiking, horseback riding, reading historical biographies, and using the Oxford comma.