28 Ways to Make the Most of Email Marketing

Edited and Curated by Mike Lewis

Email Marketing has proven itself as a top-performing method for engaging customers, nurturing leads, and driving sales. With only so many hours in a day, how do we make the most of our Email Marketing efforts?

At the same time, running at effective email marketing campaign is not as easy as simply opening up a Constant Contact account.

I reached out to some industry experts to give insight on how to ensure we can get the most from our Email Marketing Campaigns.

1) Utilize Content Marketing and Tracking Results

The ability to distribute content and influence recipients is crucial for successful Email Marketing. You can establish authority in your field while encouraging brand loyalty by sharing useful blog posts/videos that align with your brand. Remember — discounts are the main reason why consumers subscribe to newsletters, so combine them with trust-building content to keep them interested and satisfied.

You can chart how effective your content and promotions are performing by utilizing campaign tracking. For example, some promotions may generate more clicks and sales than others. You can use Google Analytics to track campaigns, gather data, and analyze findings to maximize your results.

Michele Gray, Chief Operating Officer, Active Web Group

2) Email Marketing Is Like Dating

Always add value, and never rush the relationship. Spend the first few weeks learning about your audience. Do quizzes, send more personalized notes, communicate more often, and build trust. Make them feel like “friends” and share your most interesting content (but no pitching). Also encourage them to take action that will genuinely help them regardless if it helps your business. Then present credibility & authority so you earn the audience’s respect. You’ll never have to sell because there will be so much respect & trust built, they will come to you asking for help.

Lexi Montgomery, owner of Darling Web Design

3) Get Familiar With Your Own Inbox

As an email marketer, you are your own best resource. Take a look at your own emails over an extended period of time and see what other email marketers are doing well and what is not working for you. When you find yourself clicking “unsubscribe,” evaluate why you no longer want correspondence with that brand/product — Do they send emails too frequently? Is the content they do send irrelevant? Alternatively, look at the emails that you do interact with — whether that’s clicking through to their website or downloading the coupon included in the email. Why are you converting? Allow yourself to wear the hat of the consumer and get inspired by the dos and don’ts that are working for you. Learn from others’ mistakes and use their successful tactics as motivation to succeed in the email marketing world in your own unique way.

Regan Morton — Digital Marketing Specialist, FiG Advertising + Marketing

4) Get to the Point

Emails should never be too long, as mobile is everything in the digital age. The less scrolling, the better! This means you should focus on crafting messaging that is both concise and straight to the point in terms of your call to action, so that you don’t lose your audience by over saturating them with too much content.

Nina Pfister, Founder & Principal of Mooring Advisory Group

5) Don’t Badger Uninterested Parties

“Following the Canadian Anti-spam legislation, specifically article 13, we ensure all of the recipients on our email marketing list have properly given consent to receive our emails and for us to keep digital records of their consent. We have an opt-out option at the bottom of each email we send as well. If we continue to send emails to uninterested parties, then that damages our brand. Although we want our audience to be aware of new and exciting products, our email campaigns are only targeted to interested parties. We use other marketing tactics to reach out to parties not yet in the awareness or consideration phase.”

Tonya Bruin, CEO of To Do-Done

6) Leverage the latest trends
“With digital, there’s an increasingly smaller window between ‘bleeding edge’ and ‘everybody’s doing it.’ 
For example, customers already expect emails to be more personalized, segmented, and easy to read than they were, say, a year ago. And now we’re starting to see more interactive content, videos, and user-generated content showing up; that will likely be common place in a just a few months, so we’re evolving our campaigns to reflect that.
 
“If you don’t keep up,you get left behind: it’s that simple.”

Monica Eaton-Cardone, COO, Chargebacks911

7) Sending Emails Without Trying to Sell, Sell, Sell

Every Monday, we send an email called “10 Things” featuring 10 recent discoveries. The goal of this newsletter property — which has developed a cult following — is not to sell product but rather to engage the audience and to establish Of a Kind and the women behind it as trusted resources and voices. It’s become a calling card of the business, and it leads to customers spreading word about the email to their friends, which generates organic sign-ups and growth and fuels customer acquisition on the whole.

Claire Mazur and Erica Cerulo, founders, Of a Kind

8) Use NPS (Net Promoter Score) to segment your subscribers

Using NPS can help segment subscribers so that Detractors, Promoters and Passives can receive messaging aligned with feedback.

Chris Byrne of Sensorpro.net

9) Be Authentic in Your Communications

When you write a piece of copy for an email campaign, imagine that you’re writing to a classmate or business colleague that you know and are friendly and professional with. This way you don’t end up starting emails with something like “I hope you are well”. Instead, you might start the email with their name and a clear statement about your product, what you’re doing, and why you’re contacting them.

Also, don’t waste too much of your copy introducing yourself. This can feel like the right first step — it only feels natural to introduce yourself to someone you’ve just met. But your prospects don’t care about who you are, they want to know what you can do for them. Your copy is too precious to be spent on this, so don’t be afraid to jump right into value propositions. Remember, your contact information is already in your signature!

Steven Benson, Founder and CEO of Badger Maps

10) Create Value, Segment, and Think Mobile

1. Segmenting your email list to be able to target the right message to the right person at the right time. This presupposes that you know who you’re sending to, know what message strategies they find value in, and know when they are most likely to open and interact with your emails. If you don’t know that info, you should, and you can run A/B tests to segment your list to find out what is compelling for them. A correctly segment email list is worth $38 per $1 spent, according to Venturebeat.

Takeaway — know your customer, segment your email list and serve them with relevant content.

2. Don’t send content that is only self-serving, send something that the recipient finds value in, and they’re more likely to open your next message. Only sending emails that benefit your organization will result in rapid unsubscribes.

Takeaway — Give the people what they want.

3. Make sure your emails are mobile friendly. More than 50 percent of emails are opened on mobile devices. Small text on an image will be illegible on mobile.

Takeaway — It’s 2017

Megan Simoes, Director of Web Strategy and Development, The James Agency

11) Set Your Goals, Create a Strategy Accordingly, and Stick to It

Strategy is everything. Without it, you’ll never reach your goals! When creating your email marketing plan for your brand, sit down and determine what your goals are first, and make sure they’re SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely). This will keep you from sending emails aimlessly, which is what causes many subscribers to opt-out. Ensure sure each email has a purpose — maybe it’s to build brand awareness, let your audience know about a new product, or to drive traffic back to your site.

Once you’ve determined your goals and created a strategy accordingly, it’s important to stick with it. Consistency is key when it comes to email marketing, and if your subscribers grow to love your emails, they’ll start to expect them. By being consistent, you can increase brand loyalty. If your emails actually provide your audience with something, they’ll look forward to receiving them!

The Bloguettes

12) Employ Smart Personalization and Include the Customer

Email is probably the easiest channel to personalize and test. ELOQUII personalizes and tests subject lines, content modules, regional and merchandise preferences, etc all in the vein of trying to increase inbox relevancy for each customer and generate incremental revenue and/or LTV. Time and time again though, we learn the same lesson — by and large, good content is more universal than we might like to think and that the top 20 items on our site at any given point in time are generally the top 20 for all regions and many different types of customers. With this ongoing lesson, we try to employ smart personalization and segmentation — i.e. where and when does it really matter for ROI or to learn?

The other lesson we’ve learned is that our customer’s propensity to scroll has increased and hence our emails have become longer — rather than just focusing on either content, merchandise or a promotion in an email, we will now generally focus on all three in every email. We sometimes see that the module at the very bottom of an email has the highest CTOR.

The third lesson with regards to email includes putting our customer front and center in as much of our content as possible. Our customer and her style evolution is often our source of fashion inspiration and the more we can surface her style to our other customers, the greater the customer to customer inspiration feedback loop.

Mariah Chase, CEO of ELOQUII

13) Use Plain Text, and Speak like a Human

People want to do business with other people. Using heavy templates, colors, images, coupled with using robotic language, is a big turn off.

Also, ever noticed the “Promotions” tab in Gmail? That’s where emails go to die (or not be opened, at least…) With the majority of email being read within the Gmail client, it’s important that your emails are delivered to the Primary tab. You can help achieve that by using plain text formatting.

From there, it’s just about using conversational language to convey you’re not a robot. You can do that by, well, not speaking like a robot.

A good rule of thumb with email marketing is this: write as though you’re writing to a single person, not an audience of thousands. It humanizes your email.

Simon Thompson, CEO and Founder of Growth Assembly

14) Perfect Your Subject Line

“Subject lines are the lifeblood of email marketing. Your subject line has to be the perfect length — not short enough to be spammy, but not so long that it’s cut off on mobile email. We’ve found 50 characters to be the sweet spot. Our most successful subject lines also include a number, such as “6 tips” or “5 essentials.”

Consumers appreciate the certainty of what’s included in the email. Finally, asking a question in the subject line also draws in readers. When you offer an intriguing question, consumers open the email to learn the answer. Also, be wary of spam filters: Certain words and phrases tend to trigger spam filters, such as “free,” “buy now” and “50% off!” So they should be strictly eliminated from email subject lines. Spam filters usually catch emails with subject lines in all capital letters, so that practice should be eradicated as well. Plus, using all capital letters creates the appearance of yelling, and no one likes being yelled at!”

Simon Slade, CEO and Co-founder of SaleHoo

15) Tell a Story, That’s what Humans have Always Done

Hardly anyone cares about your product but they do care about your story. Since the dawn of time humans have used stories and parables to portray messages to the world. Once done by firelight and now via email, the medium might have changed but the process has not.

Our best performing emails after 10 years of sending to over 1 million people, and a total following including social media of nearly 5 million, says that personal stories always get the best engagement. The only caveat he says is just don’t do it all the time. Less is more but don’t do it and you’ll run the risk of ostracizing and alienating your audience. Share your struggles, your wins, your discoveries, your trials, your tribulations in a way that can empower your audience to engage and be ready to take the next step of their journey with you, whatever that might be.

For his audience sharing the success of him helping heal his father from chronic illness has inspired thousands to watch his films, join their streaming TV channel and take their health into their own hands. Be vulnerable he says, people love when they can relate with the true reality of your life story.

James Colquhoun, founder of Food Matters and FMTV

16) Walk Before you Run, Keep it Simple, Follow a Structure and Communicate.

Our number one tip is to keep it keep it simple, create an easy to follow structure / framework and communicate with the people you work with to understand the needs of the business.

Rhys Jenkins of Traffic Jam Media.

17) Email doesn’t work like — nor as well as — it once did. Stack the deck

E-mail marketing is now less effective. The rules that applied 10 or even 5 years ago no longer apply because there are 100X more e-mails in people’s inboxes. E-mails are being buried and you are competing against bosses, customers and more important people for attention. Use other mechanisms aside from e-mail to capture attention. LinkedIn messenger or even video campaigns — cool, funny, short to grab their attention. Then offer a “give” — for example Free Product/Consultation valued at $XXX.

Limit your e-mails. Make sure your timing is in accordance with the rules of drip campaigns or campaigns that have proven to be effective. Your subject line will do the selling. The tendency is to delete unless the recipient sees something or someone in the sender or subject that is going to make them stop/think and open. Usually that is the name of a familiar person or company — possibly even a competitor or a customer. Get one of those into the subject and open rates will be higher. Cognitive computing technologies like IBM’s Lucy can help message creation ONLY if you know your persona.

Leila Modarres, Vice President, Marketing, Infostretch

18) ENGAGE your Audience (through valuable content)

We stress the importance of using email marketing to do more than just generate revenue.

“People are tired of being sold to over and over again. We use our email marketing as a means to connect with our customers and offer them something of value, other than just promotions. We switch it up and humanize our brand with customer and employee spotlights, solve customer problems with everything from styling tips to cleaning techniques, and tap into trending topics to show how our brand is tuned into what’s going on in real time. It’s a delicate balance, and we’ve noticed a huge spike in click through rates and conversion rates since we started focusing more on content.”

Laura and Michael Dweck, founders of Basic Outfitters

19) Automation all the Way!

Email automation is a great way to go to communicate with customers who have recently expressed an interest in your company’s products as a way to upsell or complete a sale if unfinished. It’s easier to retain and upsell to existing customers than to find new ones, so taking advantage of that captive audience by using some of the great features available through popular email services is a great way to see more results from your email marketing. The automated emails sent out after a certain action by the customer helps to keep engagement rates at their highest. Most email marketing services offer this as a free service to your subscription. So why not take some time to set up your automation campaigns and let your email marketing service do the talking for you.

Cody Holmes, Marketing at Sterling Marking Products

20) Reactivate and Increase Inbox Deliverability

Many companies overlook the opportunity for an email reactivation campaign. Some of the biggest challenges in email marketing are inactive users, deliverability and ensuring messages go to inboxes rather than spam or junk folders. A reactivation campaign helps re-engage customers or users already acquired while improving email marketing performance and cleaning up user lists. A great reactivation campaign consists of four touch points over a 12-month period including messages like “we miss you!” and some sort of offer or incentive for the customer to re-engage. At the end of the 12-month campaign, users who have still not opened an email can go into a separate list to be emailed once every other month (separate from the general email marketing list).

This type of campaign helps reactivate customers who have been inactive and automatically cleans up truly inactive users, which improves email performance, increases deliverability and helps get emails into user inboxes. All of which help contribute to the email campaign achieving the desired business goals.

Justin Spring, co-founder of Adept Marketing

21) Use the Star, Story, Solution Script — The Secret to Selling Anything on Email

The Star, Story, Solution script is a high drama journey that captivates your audience while selling your products. With traditional email sequences, open rates drop as time goes on. The opposite happens with Star, Story, Solution. The star of the story is the character your audience bonds with. Take your star on a journey towards the one thing they want most.

Through a series of emails, weave the elements of conflict to bring the star towards the solution. The solution is the product you’re selling. By the time your audience gets to the solution email, they’ve bonded to the star and feel excited about the solution because it’s the solution they need. This script is powerful and transforms the way your audience feels about your products, and converts them to raving fans and customers.

Russell Brunson, founder of Clickfunnels

22) What Does Great Mobile Email Look Like?

It doesn’t look like just more of the same. Great email is no longer about ‘campaigns’ but is instead interactive, dynamic 1–2–1 communication — just as it is between human beings. And if that sounds far fetched, I can tell you now that mobile leaders are doing this today. To go into more detail, great mobile email:

  • Is personalized both in terms of personal detail and relevant content
  • Is sent to an individual at the time that the organization knows they are most likely to read and respond
  • Is usually triggered by a specific individual behavior (in any channel — not just web activity but also ‘real world’ and mobile app) rather than the fact that the user has been put into a ‘bucket’ by someone or other.

In other words, email is no longer about large-scale marketing ‘campaigns’ and more about highly personal, relevant and helpful messages, sent to individuals not groups, and sent at a time that suits that individual. Taking this approach will deliver real benefits when it comes to making email effective and keeping email relevant to your business.

Unfortunately, sometimes it feels like there’s a whole marketing infrastructure and way of thinking that stops us making that mental leap. It is our duty as communicator to reject that old model and embrace the mobile opportunity.

Tom Farrell, VP of Marketing at Swrve

23) Tracking your Campaign Performance in Real-time

Smart email marketers are always looking for ways to optimize their ROI. One of the best ways to do this is by tracking your campaign performance in real-time. In other words, how effectively did your email message resonate with customers and inspire them to follow through with the action you were hoping to achieve?

By monitoring real-time conversion rates and then tying that to your website analytics, you can validate how well your emails achieved the desired outcomes. Perhaps more importantly, you’ll gain insight into how well the website supported your email campaigns in driving these results and optimizing your ROI.

Rachel Collins, GM for Aurea Email Marketing

24) Speak and Relate to your Demographic

When it comes to understanding our target audience for email marketing (which is largely, the “mom” demographic), it has naturally been easier for us since WE are essentially part of the same target demographic ourselves. For us, we often use relatable parenting humor and share that same feeling of ‘just trying to make it through the day.’

Being moms, it is a relief to know that other parents are going through the same daily grinds of parenthood right along side us. Parents are always looking and open to new innovative ways to conquer the daily struggles we share, so we find a fun anecdote or common ground is always great to include in our email communication. We always strive to bring it bring everything back to our products, and share how Hawk + Sloane has helped in all of our everyday parenting mishaps.

Candice Romo and Hollie Siglin, founders of Hawk + Sloane

25) Laugh a Little

We have always tried to use humor in our email marketing. We find that a well-placed joke or pun is a great boost to open rates and engagement. Luckily for us, this is on-brand since Tipsy Elves is known for our outlandish holiday gear, but even on a more corporate level, the ability to make an appropriate joke can go a long way with the audience. The casual tone reminds the reader that this is something they can, and should, take personal interest in, and will keep them reading longer.

Evan Mendelsohn, co-founder of Tipsy Elves

26) It’s all about that Data

Collecting data is the most useful tool in email marketing. With Taste, every sign-up is segmented by home city, so we pull that data, in addition to geolocational data from Facebook, in order to target consumers via email. With the amount of data we’re able to pull, we can tailor our emails to be specific to a person or an entire market. We’ve found that honing in on specific details in someone’s hometown really creates a personalized email that in turn creates a better engagement with our users. It’s vital to grab that data and use it to communicate.

Andy Seavers, founder of Taste

27) Get Creative

“We recently implemented a new creative campaign to give our email marketing a facelift. Keeping brand and creative consistent across channels is important and email marketing is one of the best channels to engage customers. Reaching out to them as a group and in segments, we push fresh, relevant and timely content and encourage a variety of actions to avoid going stale. We strategically place photos and gifs throughout our emails to break up the text and segment information. Creative assets are designed to fit into a variety of our email templates, which cuts down on time and helps to avoid inconsistencies. Making your emails visually interesting helps draw the reader in and keeps them engaged and staying within the lines of your email templates and branding keeps them looking professional.

Josh Cohen, Vice President of Business Development, Intelligent Blends

28) Less is More

As you begin to watch your newsletter and customer list grow, it’s tempting to send marketing or sales emails more frequently; however, it can backfire. While it is important to keep your customers engaged, try only sending emails (or push notifications) when there is truly news so as not to overwhelm your customers inboxes. That dovetails nicely into my second point which is partnerships. Newsletters that have the highest open rates, for us, tend to be those that have something new or interesting to offer that isn’t always about the brand. Try and bring some liveliness to your customers.

Nina Ojeda, founder and CEO of PRÊTE