10 Effective Email Marketing Techniques

10 Effective Email Marketing Techniques

Email marketing is one of the most effective ways to reach customers today.

Consider the following statistics:

  • Email is the #1 activity on the internet – even over using a search engine. It’s also the #1 activity on mobile devices.
  • The average office worker checks their email 30 times an hour.
  • The total number of worldwide email accounts is expected to increase to over 5.2 billion accounts by 2018 – a growth of more than 26%.
  • 72% of consumers say that email is their favored conduit of communication with companies they do business with. 61% say they like to receive promotional emails weekly, and 28% want them even more frequently.
  • Email marketing has been cited as the most effective digital channel for customer retention.
  • When asked which medium consumers would like to receive updates, 90% preferred an email newsletter.

But email marketing reach over the years has declined. Why? For many reasons including:

  • the sheer volume of messages that people receive
  • spam filters
  • Gmail’s promotions tab

So without an effective email marketing strategy, businesses will face challenges in actually reaching and engaging subscribers.

Disappointed with the results of your email marketing campaigns? Consider fine-tuning your strategy by using effective email marketing techniques backed by data. If you aren’t getting clicks, then you are wasting your time.

1. Personalize your email without using their name

Personalizing emails with the recipient’s name may work against you according to research. Given the number of phishing, identity theft, credit card fraud, etc. many people are wary of emails with personal greetings.

While relationships need to be built via personalization, it needs to be conducted in a meaningful manner. For example, emails that refer to a recipient’s past purchase patterns and suggest associated or related products have been shown to trigger positive responses in 98% of recipients.

How can you create effective email marketing campaigns that are personalized to recipients?

  • Track email campaigns and create records for each
  • Track and keep records on customer purchases and needs
  • Use the data and information to personalize emails based on the data and needs

2. Work on your subject lines

Subject lines with 60 to 70 characters shows no increase in email open rate or clickthroughs. Subject lines with less than ten characters had open rates of 58%.

Consider for example, President Barack Obama’s election campaign emails. They were known for using email subject lines like Hey or Wow, which worked very well. The vast majority of the $690 million raised online, came from fundraising emails.

How do you create subject lines that work well for you?

  • Develop a hypothesis to test
  • Prepare to A/B test subject lines
  • Track data on all email campaigns
  • Beware that what works for a while might wear off over time as the novelty factor wears off. Adjust your subject lines if need be.

3. Consider send times

What is the best time to send emails? There is no one rule that fits all audiences. However, data may help provide a guideline for creating a hypothesis which could then be tested out. Experian marketing services found that the best open rate was between 8 pm to midnight. It also performed best for click-throughs and sales.

The same study also found that email campaigns during weekends outperformed those sent during weekdays.

There may be many factors that impact the engagement levels with your emails assuming that they are well crafted. For example, the times of other email campaigns, state of inboxes, etc. So testing is the only way to determine the best times and days of the week to deploy effective email marketing campaigns.

4. Give away something

Why does it work? Because giving something away for free reduces the friction involved in initiating engagement your audience.

A popular way of increasing email leads and increasing email opens is to use contests or giveaways. Incentivibe, for example, increased their email subscriptions by 200% by doing so.

How do you do this?

  • Create landing pages specifically for each of your special offers.
  • Test different offers to find what gains the most opens and subscriptions.
  • Develop a series of emails based around your audience’s product of interest.

5. Ensure it is optimized for mobile

Mobile opens accounted for 53% of all email opens in Q3 of 2014. This is an indication of the need for email marketing campaigns to be responsive.

Consider what responsive email designs can do for engagement.

Crocs tested responsive layouts for their emails. They found that responsive designs resulted in a 7.06% increase in CTOR and an 8.82% lift in engagement.

The images below show the email before and after a responsive design was applied.



How can you implement a responsive design?

  • Convert your email to a one column template for an easy mobile fix.
  • Increase the font size for improved readability on mobile devices.
  • Make the call-to-action 44px obvious and easy to tap.
  • Consider ergonomics. Many users tap and scroll with their thumb, so keep important tappable elements in the middle of the screen.
  • Optimize the design for retina devices.
  • Limit the subject lines to 30 characters or less.

6. Leverage social media

Social media networks get less engagement. But, they can be powerful ways to build your email list and to continue to engage your audience. Nearly 85% of people who use the web, use email as opposed to 62% who use social media networks.

How can you leverage social media networks to increase your email list and be more effective email marketing?

  • Create a landing page on social media networks like Facebook.
  • Share premium content on social channels.
  • Share an incentive for subscribing to your email list.
  • Host webinars to increase effective email marketing.
  • Consider holding contests, sweepstakes or giveaways.
  • Consider testing ads on social media networks.

 7. Address inactive subscribers

Research shows that on average 63% of an email list is inactive. In other words, these people are less likely to follow up with your follow up emails. So how can you re-engage these subscribers? Re-engagement campaigns are a good place to start.

How do you re-engage inactive subscribers? Identify the inactive subscribers on your list. Re-ignite interest in your inactive subscribers by sending them an email. Let them know they’re missed, and you want them back with a subject line that says just that. Consider giving them a special offer or discount.

Move those who respond to the active list.  Let those who don’t respond know that they will be removed from your list if they don’t respond within a specified time frame. Remove the non-responders from your list.

Consider using the following steps:

  • Be sure your subject lines are clear and communicate what your email is really about.
  • Regularly offer incentives, discounts, contests and coupons to motivate people to open your emails.
  • Determine the best email sending frequency for your subscribers.
  • If e-newsletters are part of your email marketing strategy, be sure to limit the amount of promotional content.
  • Find out why people are no longer interested by asking them when they unsubscribe. Then use the information you obtain to modify your email promotions.
  • Provide a convenient change of address link on your email correspondence.
  • Consider having an annual subscription renewal process where subscribers must renew their subscription to continue receiving your emails. This will help keep only those people who are interested in getting your communications.
  • Testing is an important tool for finding out which email strategies work and don’t work.

8. Add visuals

65% of users prefer emails that contain mostly images vs. 35% who prefer text mostly.

With some industry specific exceptions — emails with three or fewer images and approximately 20 lines of text result in the highest click-through rates.

Shoemint used an animated gif in their email marketing campaign which suits their style and captures the attention of readers.

How can you make the most of visuals in your email marketing campaigns? Consider the following tips:

  • Make use of sightlines. When you are looking at a photograph of a person, how often do you feel yourself consciously following the eyes of the photographed person?
  • Use small images that speed up loading of the email.
  • Do not use irrelevant images and images that do not contribute to the message you want to get across.
  • Show off your personality through visuals
  • Look to Pinterest for inspiration.

 9. Optimize CTA’s

Why use calls to action (CTA) in your emails?

CTAs that offer high value at low cost to the recipient get more clicks. Using CTA that is button based increases click through rates as compared to link based CTA’s by 28%.

How to create optimized CTA’s:

  • Use specific copy
  • Focus on the benefits
  • Avoid words that can increase friction
  • Use button designs that are sized appropriately and stands out on the email
  • Make use of whitespace in the email
  • Test your CTA placement in the email

10. Test, test, test (A/B tests)

Don’t send any emails without testing to make sure it works.

Also, consider how you can collect data from campaigns so you can test elements and find out how you can better future campaigns by noting what works well and what not so well.

A/B testing also plays a key part in testing. Consider running tests around subject lines, calls to action, and content to see what works best for engaging with your audience.

As with most marketing efforts, being able to create effective email marketing campaigns is a process. It requires a combination of good strategy, planning and analyzing data to make improvements to your campaigns.

The only way to learn and improve is to start emailing!


(article adapted from Mailmunch)