Marketing / Email Marketing

Stay in the inbox: email compliance best practices

Lyle Lamb

Updated: Mar 11, 2020 · 4 min read

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As a small business, it can be a real challenge to stay up with all things related to email marketing. Whether you are just getting started with email marketing or are an experienced marketer with a dedicated team that does your email marketing for you, there are email marketing best practices that apply to all. Understanding and following best practices when emailing is extremely important because those that don’t use best practices will see an adverse impact on their ability to deliver email to customer and prospects’ inboxes. And an email that isn’t delivered to the inbox is an email that is unlikely to be read.

My primary job at Keap, which helps small businesses deliver powerful communication to clients, is handling email compliance issues as a member of the email operations team and I routinely see examples of email best practices that are followed or ignored. Each month I work with a large number of customers to help them resolve email compliance issues that they have including excessive spam complaints, high bounce rates, and sending to and hitting spam traps—just to list a few. A common part of the resolution process for the customer is helping them review email marketing best practices and implement any that they are not already doing.

What are best practices for lead generation?

It is imperative that you receive explicit permission to market to your contacts. At the point of opt-in make sure to set the who, the what, and the when for your marketing. When I work with customers this tends to be a common question or point of confusion. Did they get permission to send email marketing to a contact and is permission granted for all the marketing they wish to send? In most cases, customers who are having email compliance issues assume they are good to go, but in reality, they do not have permission to send out most of the marketing they want to send. Here is how to ensure you have the right permission to send out all of your marketing.

First things first

Make sure that all of your opt-in forms include a checkbox (unchecked by default) with wording similar to “Yes I would like to receive email about your business”. This is the best way to get confirmation that they want to receive your marketing.


Ensure that the person giving you their email address knows who they are giving their information to. This is really important when it comes time to send out an email. If they don’t know who it is coming from then there is a good chance the email generates an opt-out, or worse, a spam complaint. For example, if they sign up to receive an email from and then begin receiving emails from, it is possible that they will delete, ignore, or complain about the email because they don’t recognize the sender.


Now that they know who you are, what are they signing up for? Be very clear as to what content they will be receiving. This includes all content that might be delivered such as newsletters, product offer emails, or promotions. If your business is about animals make sure they know they are signing up for newsletters, promotions, etc. on animals. If they are on your site but want information on dogs, in specific, make sure they know they are signing up for info about dogs only. This will help you deliver content that they are interested in and also prevents them from signing up for something they did not want.


Now that they know what they signed up for and who it will come from, the final piece is—when will they receive it? This is very important to explain when they opt-in. Set proper expectation on when they will receive your emails whether it be daily, weekly, monthly, from time to time, etc. Once you have set that expectation for communication frequency, stick to it. If they’re expecting to hear from you monthly, people tend to get annoyed when they hear from you daily or weekly, for example.

Time to send your marketing

Now that you have collected a person’s information and set the who, what, and when, it is time to send out your marketing following the expectations you set in the opt-in process.

In summary

Send all marketing emails using a “from” email address that includes your business’ domain name. Keep your branding consistent to prevent any confusion as to who you and your business are. If they don’t recognize you then the odds are that they will either opt-out or consider the email as spam. The content should be exactly what they signed up for. Nothing else should be sent or you risk opt-outs or spam complaints. Finally, pay attention to frequency. If they signed up for a weekly newsletter then send it weekly. Don’t miss an expected send date. Not sending to them can lead to them becoming unengaged. Don’t send more than they are expecting. Sending too frequently and/or sending more information than they signed up for can drive them away. Consistency is the key.

Please tune in next time for another installment on email marketing best practices where we will discuss keeping this list active, engaged, and clean.

Lyle Lamb is the email marketing administrator at Keap.

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