email marketing best practices include branding at the inboxMy inbox is a busy place, and I’m sure yours is too! Between work email, personal email, newsletters I subscribe to, promotional emails that I don’t, and more, my inbox is rarely static. And all of those emails are competing against each other for my attention, which is limited. That means there is a bit of a brand war going on already, before I even open an email and see the pretty pictures and design.

Because here’s the deal: I don’t have to open your email to form an opinion about your brand.

Your brand is making an impression on me at the inbox, whether you realize it or not, and this is before I ever see a color or a font or even a logo. Because that’s what I’m talking about: what I think about your brand before I ever even open your email and see your design…if I open your email. And this impression you’re making should be part of your email marketing best practices.

Below are five things I notice either consciously or subconsciously when I peruse my inbox, whether on my iPhone or laptop. All of these are instantaneously causing brand impressions to be formed in my mind that not only influence my decision to engage with an email or not, but also influence how I think about a brand overall. They might seem like little things, but they add up in a big way.

  1. Your From name: Do I know you? Do I know your brand? Do I anticipate hearing from you based on a previous relationship, or are you a stranger to me and unexpected? If I don’t know you, I am more likely to be suspicious of you.
  2. How often you email me: Are you emailing me regularly, making your brand familiar to me? That said, are you emailing me to the point of annoyance, so that I see yet another email and think, “Not another email!”? Emailing too often is a great way to make a negative brand impression.
  3. How I got on your list: Did I subscribe, opting in to hear from you? Do I get emails from you because I bought something from you? Or did you get my email address from a third party? Do I even know how I got on your list? The more familiar I am with your brand and how I got on your list, the friendlier I feel towards your brand, and the more receptive I am to your emails.
  4. Your subject line: Is it compelling and interesting? Does it make a good brand impression?
  5. Your preheader text: It’s such a tiny bit of text yet such a critical one, especially when the preheader text is going to determine which emails get opened and which don’t as emails vie for your attention in the inbox.

With the onslaught of holiday email marketing about to begin, now might be a good time to stop and think through the impression your emails are making at the inbox, before they ever even get opened. When you look at each of these five factors, how does your brand stack up against the others in a crowded inbox? Are you making a good brand impression or a bad one?

Published On: November 26th, 2014Categories: Email marketing best practices

About the Author: Sharon

Sharon Ernst from is on a mission to improve the business and marketing writing skills of today’s workforce with her blog, newsletter and online classes. Her newest class on intermediate email copywriting covers 19 tips and techniques non-copywriters can put to use right away for better results. The class has real-life examples and before/after comparisons to make the lessons stick. Find her class at When she’s not busy helping employees, managers and marketers master their writing skills, she and her husband are busy raising pigs, cows, chickens and vegetables on their 20-acre farm.

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