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Email marketing resource round-up: The best tools, insights and advice for 2021

by Kate Lindemann  |  January 27, 2021

6 min. read
Laptop and desktop computer screens on a stylish desk, displaying email marketing resources.

The right tools and advice make every job easier, and email marketing is no exception. Fortunately, there are some truly fantastic email marketing resources out there. So many, in fact, it can be hard to know where to start.

To help narrow things down, I’ve put together a guide to some of my favorites. Whether you want to ignite your creativity, clean up your copywriting or make more data-based decisions, there’s a tool or website on this list for you.

So without further ado, here they are: eight insanely helpful email marketing resources.

1. Really Good Emails

Screenshot of the Really Good Emails homepage.

Really Good Emails lives up to its name. It’s a fantastic collection of marketing emails of all shapes and sizes, and my first stop when I need a bit of email inspiration. Seeing all the clever and beautiful emails other brands are putting out is sure to get your own creative juices flowing and leave you full of ideas.

The emails in the collection are… well, really good. The site also has a few notable features that make it an especially helpful resource.

Loads of filtering options

Really Good Emails’ 7,000 emails (and counting) are a lot to sift through, but their filtering options help narrow things down. You can look at specific types of campaigns – abandoned cart emails, welcome emails, etc. – or filter by industry. You can also sort by company, which is great for studying how leading brands maintain a consistent voice and look across different types of content.

Screenshot showing collection of Starbucks emails in Really Good Emails.

Dive into the weeds

Really Good Emails also offers behind-the-scenes details for each email they highlight. You can see how responsive design looks on different devices, find out which email service provider was used to send it and even how many emails a brand sends per month.

And if you really want to look under the hood, you can sift through each email’s HTML code one line at a time.

Where to find it: Really Good Emails

2. Mailchimp

Screenshot from the Mailchimp website showing email marketing resources.

If anyone knows email, it’s Mailchimp. An industry-leading email service provider, their tools sent over 300 billion emails in 2020. With that much real-life email performance data, Mailchimp can offer insights nobody else can.

They’ve got tons of resources on their website, but three in particular that stand out.

Optimal send times

One great insight to come out of Mailchimp’s data is their analysis of email performance at different times.

Graph from Mailchimp's Optimum Send Time Report showing different peaks for lawyers, bartenders, and nurses.

Sadly, there’s no universally ‘best’ time to send marketing emails. But there is lots of data to narrow things down. Mailchimp lays it all out in a way that’s easy to understand, so you can use their findings to find the right answer for your brand. Plus, helpful graphs and a humorous tone make this guide a joy to read.

Where to find it: Optimum Send Time Report

Industry performance benchmarks

Another set of numbers Mailchimp has crunched are average email performance metrics by industry. Email performance varies a lot from one industry to another. The average email click-through rate in media and publishing is over three times that of the restaurant industry. So this is an especially handy resource.

The most important benchmark for email marketing is your own past performance. However, the Mailchimp averages are still a helpful guide to see how you stack up against other brands in your industry.

Where to find it: Mailchimp industry benchmarks

Case studies

Screenshot of a Mailchimp case study discussing Shapeways' 525% CTR increase.

Some email marketing advice can get pretty vague and theoretical, so real-life case studies about how real businesses use email marketing to get results are a breath of fresh air. Mailchimp’s customer success stories are designed to market Mailchimp’s tools. But they offer plenty of universal lessons about email marketing, making them well worth reading, whether you use Mailchimp or not.

Where to find them: Mailchimp case studies

3. Campaign Monitor’s blog

Screenshot of the Campaign Monitor blog.

Of course, Mailchimp isn’t the only email service provider in the game. Many of their competitors offer email marketing resources too, and Campaign Monitor’s blog stands out in particular.

They offer well-written, thoughtful advice on niche topics.

Ever wondered exactly what to say when you email your customers on their birthdays? How to navigate the precarious waters of COVID-19 emails? Whether color choice affects email conversions? Whatever your question, Campaign Monitor has a blog post for you.

Where to find it: Campaign Monitor’s blog

4. The Canto blog

Screenshot showing email marketing resource articles on the Canto blog.

Enjoying this article? We’ve got lots more just like it. Our blog covers all the basics of email marketing, from strategy to fine-tuning.

Some great topics to start with:

Where to find it: The Canto blog

5. Testsubject

Did you know that 35-50% of email opens (depending on who’s counting) happen on mobile devices? We all know the importance of responsive email design, but how often do you think about mobile-friendly subject lines? If the answer is ‘not very often,’ now’s the time to start.

Long subject line on an iPhone screen cut off at the end.

Fortunately, the digital design company Zurb offers just the right tool for the job. Enter any combination of sender, subject line and preview text, and the Testsubject tool will show you how your email will appear on different mobile devices.

It’s well worth making a quick check in Testsubject part of your email workflow. You’ve put in lots of time and effort crafting high-performing email subject lines. The last thing you want is a narrow mobile screen hiding all your hard work behind an ellipsis.

Where to find it: Zurb’s Testsubject

6. The Hemingway Editor

Screenshot showing sample annotations in the Hemingway app.

Email subject lines aren’t the only part of an email that needs to be short and snappy. People don’t exactly pore over emails. The text needs to be simple and easy to read (or even skim). That means you need short, uncomplicated sentences.

The Hemingway Editor tool is an easy way to check whether your writing is easy to understand. Named after the famously terse author, the tool roots out complicated language and suggests more straightforward alternatives.

The Hemingway editor is pretty ruthless (in a good way). Use it long enough, and you’ll soon find writing short, clear email copy has become second nature.

Where to find it: The Hemingway Editor

7. Your own brand guidelines

Colorful visual branding guide displayed on a laptop screen.

The absolute, number-one, most important resource for your email marketing is one you’ve already read. You may even have written it. That’s right, I’m talking about your organization’s brand guidelines.

With every email, you’re beaming your brand into subscribers’ homes, offices and pockets. Those intimate interactions add up to create a lasting impression, so it’s important to follow your company’s brand guidelines to a tee, so you’re always sending the right message.

If you don’t have a comprehensive brand strategy already, our branding guide can help you get started.

8. Your analytics dashboard

Laptop on a table with email analytics graphs on the screen.

While we’re on the subject of in-house resources you shouldn’t overlook, let’s talk about your email analytics dashboard.

The email marketing resources I’ve outlined all offer great advice about what works for most campaigns, in most industries, most of the time. But every audience is unique, and your own email analytics data is the only resource that can tell you what your audience responds to best.

The insights and inspiration you get from other sources will point you in the right direction. But it’s only when you try that knowledge out on your own list that you know for sure whether it’ll work for you.