Marketing

49 Email Marketing Tips From Top Digital Marketers

Deliverability, opens, clicks, subscriber growth — oh my! Improve your email marketing effectiveness with tips from these experienced email marketing experts.

Kevin Kononenko on January 31, 2018 • 36 minute read

If you think that email is an oversaturated and far too competitive channel, you probably haven’t discovered a few of these key tactics yet.

Even in 2018, email is still one of the best ways to grab the attention of potential customers. In fact, a survey from the Direct Marketers Association found that email still has a 122% median ROI, far greater than any other channel.

But, email volume is also expected to grow by 4.4% annually, according to the Radicati Group. The competition for customer and prospect attention is only increasing.

We surveyed our community of digital marketers to learn what tactics worked well in 2017, and what they expect to do in 2018 to stay top of mind. They shared all sorts of ideas, from better segmenting your list to personalizing the send time of each email to re-sending the same email again. Here is what they had to say.


Email Marketing Tactics


Personalize Send Times

It’s 2018, and marketers still seem to fall for generic, bad send-time advice, like “Tuesday morning is the best time to send marketing emails.” Instead, these marketers are sending emails at customized times to each member of their list. It ensures that their emails reach recipients at a convenient time for each individual.

Damien Elsing
CLCK Digital

My Top Tip: We’ve been using a third party email tool called Seventh Sense. This tool integrates with HubSpot and sends marketing emails in a window of time that you choose, rather than all at once. Then in that window, it sends each email to a contact based on their previous interactions with your emails or website. So if a person usually opens emails from you at 6am on a Thursday, it will send their email at that time, so it’s more likely to be opened and clicked.

After using Seventh Sense for more than a year now, we’ve found this type of advanced personalization is improving our clients’ open and click rates significantly.

 

Greg Moore
Pro Athlete Inc | JustBats.com

My Top Tip: At the start of 2017, we reinvented how we saw email marketing. Instead of huge blasts sent to everyone at 7 am, we analyzed everything. That led to us excluding people who didn’t engage with our emails, making our segmented lists smarter, and employing SeventhSense.

SeventhSense allowed us to deliver emails to people at the optimized time for them. So, instead of everyone receiving our emails at 7am, a person who was more apt to open their email at 6:30pm now received their JustBats.com email at that time.

What we saw was extraordinary. For 2017, despite sending 44% less emails year-over-year, we grew our email marketing revenue by 11%. Additionally, our open rates and click rates doubled.

With better exclude lists and SeventhSense, we stopped guessing at times and engagement and, instead, let our customers dictate a lot more.

 

Doug Davidoff
Imagine Business Development

My Top Tip: Send fewer emails! A recipient’s engagement tells you a lot about their mindset. Automating your email cadence using a tool like Seventh Sense enables you to stay in alignment with leads/prospects, avoid email fatigue, improve engagement and gain insights that support your sales strategy.

 

Beth Foulk
Axcet HR Solutions

My Top Tip: We use Seventh Sense to optimize email delivery times. By reaching our prospects when they have historically opened emails, we are re-engaging dormant prospects and minimizing unsubscribers. Additionally, we are seeing engagement patterns across the entire prospect database that we didn’t previously realize and are adjusting our email timing accordingly.

 

Segment Your List

This was the most popular suggestion. If you use a marketing automation system like HubSpot, Marketo or Active Campaign properly, you have plenty of hints about each individual contact’s interests. If you use “smart” lists, you can automatically segment your database, and create variations of each email to appeal to different customer profiles or personas.

Stephen Plotkin
Indigo Inbound

My Top Tip: Set-up a regular schedule of emails and decide who of your personas should get what message – DO NOT send everything to everyone.

 
Dennis Dayman
Return Path
My Top Tip: The biggest thing you can do is proper list management.

Now, sure list management comes down to removing those that unsubscribe, those that complaint, or those that hard bounce because bad email address, but the type of list management I’m talking about is how you segment your list and use behavioral triggers to better pair up your offers to consumers.

Email segmentation is one of the best tactics to send personalized emails to your subscribers and is overlooked. Email segmentation allows you to send personalized emails to each individual. It classifies every lead into distinct groups based on the common interests such as customer personas, user demographics, onsite behavior, etc.

We’ve said for decades that you must send targeted and relevant emails to ensure quality over quantity when it comes to list management AND to ensure relevancy to the user base. You can take that a step further and use automated behavioral triggers in your email campaigns. Starting an email and then the conversation to the website, you might track every user interaction in real time on your site. After collecting the data, you can create richer profiles of your leads that enable you to send automated emails you know your customers will engage with.

 
Akshay Hallur
GoBloggingTips
My Top Tip: Proper segmentation. Too many people offer the same freebie throughout the entire site. Make a list of most popular posts on your site. And create 3-4 lead magnets and include them in relevant posts in your blog/site. Right lead magnets attract right people. Make lead magnets helpful for people who already bought something, so that they likely open up their wallet in the future too after subscribing. In short, only get qualified, buying leads, that needs less nurturing to shell out money. By this, you get an audience that is really targeted, qualified, and segmented.

 

Joachim Koch
Books Tell You Why, Inc.

My Top Tip: Don’t send emails to non-engaged contacts. Leaving them off your sends, improves your deliverability and gets you in the Gmail inbox (rather than promotion tab) more often.

 

Kelley Wrede
Revenue River

My Top Tip: The biggest success we’ve seen in email marketing efforts for clients has been focusing less on general email blasts (newsletters, etc.) that go out to the whole database. Instead, we focus more on highly targeted and specific behavior-based emails that go out to smaller, more segmented lists.

By focusing on targeting messaging and promoting pieces of content or conversion points that make the most sense based on that recipient’s previous actions, we are seeing much higher click rates and ultimately users are taking the desired actions, nurturing them further down the funnel. This has been key in getting more sales-ready leads for our clients.

Additionally, we’ve coupled highly targeted messaging and list segmentation with AI for intelligent sends using SeventhSense, which has increased our open rates and email performance dramatically. Now we have the winning formula for getting emails in the recipients’ inbox at the most optimal time so they’ll open and engage with the email while also having the right content in the email to get them to convert.

 

MaryAnn Pfeiffer
108 Degrees, LLC

My Top Tip: List segmentation is vital to program success.

Segmenting your list by interest area, demographics, and most importantly BEHAVIORAL DATA is one of the best tactics to increase your response rates. We work regularly with clients to improve open and click performance through segmentation, and consistently we see improvements that surprise them and often us!

Most people are utterly inundated with email today (marketers worst of all!), so if something isn’t completely relevant to the reader, it is quickly deleted, or worse… unsubscribed from!

You can best avoid this by working regularly to segment your list based on your readers’ interests. Some of this data is easily determined by where your subscribers come from (or list source), but go beyond that. Think about what appeals, both visually and contextually to their demographic profile and offer a presentation and content offering that will keep them intrigued.

Even better, go a step further and examine their behavior with your website and past email campaigns to figure out what really piques their interest. If they regularly click on articles or links of a topic area, feature that in the subject line and preheader text to make sure they open your next email. If they have purchased items from you in the past, offer them information to support that purchase, or complimentary items that are of interest to buyers of that product.

If you want your email to be read, make it RELEVANT to your reader. Take the time to create thoughtful list segments and you’ll have outstanding results.

 

Julie Ewald
Impressa Solutions

My Top Tip: Segmentation is key! We’ve had several clients who’ve felt that their email marketing wasn’t worth it because they were getting low traction and no ROI. However, these same clients were “blasting” out information to their entire lists, regardless of whether the information was relevant or not. Of course, leads weren’t going to bite on upsell offers, and people working in HR weren’t going to want to read accounts payable productivity tips! By thoroughly segmenting lists by things like lead/customer lifecycle stage, persona, vertical, previous actions, join dates, and locations, we’re able to put out more targeted emails that feel more personal, have more relevance, drive more action and yield better returns.

 

Shannon Gayton
Safety Marketing Services

My Top Tip: No one wants to have their inbox flooded with unwanted emails and offers. Make sure you’re providing the recipient with value. Don’t forget that their idea of value may look much different than what you deem valuable.

That’s why it’s important to spend time with segmentation. Get to know your customers and send them emails that are helpful to them.

Once you understand what matters to your customers, you can connect with them. And, that’s when relationships begin.

 

Chad Lauterbach
Be Structured Technology Group

My Top Tip: Being an IT services company in LA–we are focused on small and medium businesses. With that in mind, we don’t have a huge email list or even tons of web traffic. So we were always under the impression that email marketing was too big for us.

That really changed when we started using a more data-driven approach to sending emails. We performed a ton of persona research, and identified who we want to reach, and why we want to reach them. The persona process unlocked incredible insights for our team, and it allowed us to change the way we think about marketing as a whole, but specifically, email marketing. We’ve now taken our relatively small database, but are sending them more targeted emails with messaging that is specific to their needs and challenges.

 

Deepa Venkataraman
Vajra Global Consulting Services LLP

My Top Tip: Personalisation is the key to success when it comes to Email Marketing. There are several emails that flood your inbox. However, only a few get opened and clicked. Our objective is to offer a customized experience to our leads and customers to make them feel more connected to our brand.

Being a certified Hubspot partner, we employ smart and intuitive techniques to build powerful stories through our email campaigns. “How are you?” is definitely not as effective as “Hey John, how are you?” That’s our strategy to capture the attention of our audience and keep them connected with us for a longer period of time.

 

Frank Isca
Weidert Group

My Top Tip: Pair list segmentation with contextual targeting.

A good example of thoughtful list segmentation is for a business’s existing clients, which we’ll segment based on which services they’re currently using. So for their clients who are only taking advantage of their Employee Benefits brokerage/services, we can target them with specific content and messaging to encourage them to also buy HR services.

 

Todd Laire
Laire Group Marketing

My Top Tip: With our clients, we’re using tools like Ontraport, Active Campaigns and HubSpot to automate our emails. With segmented lists integrated with our website content and forms, we can send personalized information to our contact lists. Did your contact fill out a form from a specific service page? Automate an email response that includes messaging around that service. Do you have your contacts identify themselves as one of your personas? Use that to your advantage by giving them the most helpful content based on their job role, industry and more. We use HubSpot’s Sequences for ourselves and many clients to make sure the content we deliver to prospect’s inboxes is the most relevant to their interests.

 

Jonathan Matz
Penguin Strategies

My Top Tip: Better list segmentation. We had a client who was sending everyone the same messages and it was eroding their engagement rates and the performance of their emails.

We helped better segment list and choose appropriate senders [VP Marketing, CEO, etc.] so that the right person received the right email and it helped improve their email marketing.

 

Alison Leishman
Spitfire Inbound

My Top Tip: We have successfully used lead scoring to understand how we should segment the list of prospects to receive the monthly special offer email from a client.

In the past, they were mailing all their Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs) the same offer, but by using segmentation we were able to personalize the call to action to the segment. This personalization allowed us to expand who we wend the offer to leads and Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) with a higher lead score. This resulted in shortening the time that it took for people to move from lead or MQL straight to customer.

Although they were still researching a variety of products, by receiving a mail with special offers that were time sensitive in their research phase, they made the choice to buy faster.

Stats:

  • Open rate of the special offer mail has improved 37%
  • CTR has improved by 385%
  • 7% of all contacts who have received this personalized special mail have converted to customers.

 

Use A/B Testing

Every industry and customer profile has different preferences. Don’t try and come up with the perfect marketing message on the first try! Instead, test multiple subject lines and email formats to get definitive data within a couple days or weeks.

Adam Wiggins
Palmer Ad Agency

My Top Tip: We saw a significant return on investment from our email marketing initiatives when we made the time to begin A/B testing email copy. Testing multiple versions of copy revealed the key messaging that resonates with our audience and drives conversion.

 

Mark Innes
Fifth Ring

My Top Tip: Always be testing. We grew a client’s behaviour based email click-throughs by 25% over a period of 6 months last year by adopting a testing mindset to the email.

By using A/B tests on every email sent we were able to incrementally improve our client’s results and most importantly, find out exactly what wasn’t working!

Instead of relying on opinions or debating details endlessly, regular testing will often reveal the right headlines choices, image positions and calls to action.

After we get client and team buy-in for experimentation, we choose one thing to A/B test per email, like the call to action button colour, for example.  Being able to identify through testing which parts of an email campaign are not performing allows a quick change of direction and helps avoid a lot of debate.

By around the 5th variation test you should have the perfect color for your client’s industry. Think of all those extra clicks!

 

Alisa Nemova
Eastside Co

My Top Tip: Here’s one single email marketing tip that would improve your open rate by an additional 7%-20%…

Try re-sending your campaigns to those who haven’t opened the initial one. How to do it right:

1. Send original campaign
2. Duplicate it
3. Amend your subject line
4. Send it to those people who haven’t opened the original campaign within the next 24 hours.

Additional tips: choose a different time for your second campaign; keep an eye on your unsubscribes and adjust accordingly.

Voila!

 

Athena Bond
Evo Strategies

My Top Tip: Track and test email performance results to continually boost ROI. Testing subject lines, calls to action, headlines, offers, design, and so on is the only way to know for sure what works and what doesn’t work for your target audience.

Nail Your Subject Lines

If your recipients don’t like the subject line, they won’t read the email. Take the time to test different subject lines. Here’s some hard-won lessons you can include in your tests.

 

Tammy Duggan-Herd
Campaign Creators

My Top Tip: Cute, flowery, or vague email subject lines don’t get your emails opened. Short and straight to the point wins every time. We have witnessed this across B2B, B2C and eCommerce clients. After 3 months of testing, our eCommerce client VitaCup improved their average open rate from 11.75% to 25.9 resulting in a 242% increase in email revenue. For example, in one A/B test the subject line, “30% Off Clearance” garnered a significantly higher open rate than “:coffee: This Coffee Gets You Ready for Action :clapper:.” In the B2B space, our own email open rate has been significantly better when we include the exact offer we are promoting in brackets along with a very short description of the content.

For example, the subject line “Lead Generation [Guide]” outperformed, “Ready to fill that funnel with leads?” A few more examples of subject lines that garner high open rates for us are: Email Testing [Workshop], State of Marketing [Report], and Campaign Optimization [Webinar]. Our average email open rate on 79,836 emails we have sent in the last year is 30.54% – that’s 12.73% higher than the industry average.

 

Jennifer Rae Schulman
Fortune Web Marketing

My Top Tip: We like to place interactive content inside our emails and let our readers know upfront, especially in the subject line. For example, if our emails contain a video or an infographic, we will use {Video} or {Infographic} in the subject line. We have seen our open rates and click-throughs increase by 30-35%.

 

Luke Severn
Kaufer DMC

My Top Tip: A/B test email subject headlines. And I don’t mean employ two different headlines for a singular email. Go for four different headlines based on the content that you’re pushing out. This strategy will not only provide you with insights into what headlines make people open your emails, it will provide you with more content ideas. For instance, one of my clients is a recruiting company. I can see from testing different headlines that people love resume and interview tips, so we’ve tried to increase the amount of content we put out that focuses on those topics.

 

Optimize the Email Body

Most of your contacts have seen THOUSANDS of marketing emails over the course of their lives. Most people do not batch up the new emails in their inbox and carefully inspect them over the course of a half hour. Instead, they are looking at your email while riding public transit or entering/leaving a meeting. It is up to you to make the content memorable and easy to digest.

Phil Wiseman
Analytics That Profit

My Top Tip: Defined Purpose and Defined Audience. Well, maybe those are 2 tips. The purpose of the email must be completely understood by the recipient. Preview text is a must! Tell them why you sent the email and what they should do about it. If you don’t have a compelling Call To Action in the email, don’t send it.

On the Technical side:

  • Remember to provide a plain-text version of the email.
  • Use smart sending to match time zones.
  • Run a spelling and grammar test!
  • Send the email to yourself and read it aloud.
  • Once you are completely satisfied that you have created a brilliant email send a test email to someone else and find out if you really do have a clear message.

 

Stuart Arsenault
Smile.io

My Top Tip: Our merchants layer loyalty/referral data into existing email campaigns and build entirely new ones around this theme.

Optimizing a post-purchase email with a customer’s unique referral URL drives the right action (advocacy), at the right time (when the customer is happiest).

Similarly, reminding a lapsed customer of an unused points balance is often drives dramatic (50%+) increases in Customer Lifetime Value (CLV). Merchants use our out of the box integrations with major Email Service Providers (ESPs) like Klaviyo, MailChimp & HubSpot (among others).

 

Adam Rowles
Inbound Marketing Agency

My Top Tip: Ask questions. Most e marketing emails are pushing information about their product/service or a pitch. It seems people have forgotten emails are a two-way communication.

Hang on a moment, before we send an email we should know their problems or desires. By asking a simple question such as “what’s your biggest challenge” we can uncover their needs. Once you know their needs, you’ll be able to nurture them down the sales journey more effectively.

For example, when a prospect downloads a whitepaper, most marketers send an email with more educational content. However, most marketers don’t get a response because it didn’t have a call to action the recipient was ready to take. Instead, I send a simple email the day after asking them, “Why did you download our whitepaper – any particular marketing challenge you wanted to solve?  I schedule many more prospect meetings now that I do this.

 

Kristen May
Invoq Marketing Company

My Top Tip: The components of an email that most impact whether or not people will open your email are the subject line, sender name, and preview text. What makes them want to read and interact with it are:

  • Short paragraphs
  • Bullet points
  • At least one image
  • Appropriate and actionable call-to-action (CTA)
  • At least one clickable element above the fold (image, link, CTA)
  • Social sharing links

A high-performing email has all of these components.

 

Andy Hoek
Invalshoek

My Top Tip: At least in B2B email marketing, you should limit the amount of content and provide clear call-to-actions. Many businesses tend to overload their newsletters with content, but the result is a lack of focus. The poor person that receives the mail doesn’t know what’s important and what isn’t by just scanning the mail. So (s)he decides that nothing in the mail is important, doesn’t click on any of the links and maybe even unsubscribes.

Even worse is when mail doesn’t have a clear call-to-action. Many newsletters I see still hyperlink part of a sentence instead of adding a big nice button with some good microcopy as a call-to-action. It should be clear what gets clicked more often!

So if you want to be more successful with B2B email marketing focus the content of your newsletters and provide clear call-to-action.

 

 

Consider Plain Text Email

You can also approach email from a more conversational angle. Contacts are accustomed to HTML emails with a few images and call-to-actions. Even when you send a message to a specific segment of your audience, it still may feel impersonal. Plain-text email feels like a personal message from a colleague.

Drew Cohen
SmartBug Media

My Top Tip: While personalization is very common in emails–i.e. “”Hi [insert first name here]””–it’s more important than ever to not overdo it.

Less is usually more–both in terms of content and personalization. A subtle, natural-sounding personalization token can grab the reader’s attention and really make it feel like a company has gone the extra mile to reach out to them or their specific persona. I’ve also noticed with several of my clients that a simple, plain text email can really boost engagement. If you put your consumer hat on, you probably receive tons of marketing emails each and every week. With that said, an email that is lightweight, text-only, and gets to the point will probably grab your attention.

 

Chris Handy
ConnectEngine

My Top Tip: We stopped trying to make email an epic task. When we started writing email from a human perspective – remembering that there is another person on the other end of the send button – we started to get better results. We stopped relying on fancy templates and started making things shorter and easier to read. Most email from colleagues should be digestible at a glance, without a whole lot of scrolling. This is why so many corporate interoffice subject lines end in “eom” (end of message) signaling you don’t even need to open it. If you can think about why someone needs to read your email, it makes it easier to write it concisely, and in only a paragraph or two.

 

Tim Watson
Zettasphere

My Top Tip: Here is a recent example from B2B and B2C clients.

We switched B2B email from graphical format to plain white business email style with well written conversational, personalized and engaging copy increased response by 400%.

 

Use Workflows To Customize Content

Your database is full of contacts with different personas and levels of awareness about your available solutions. Rather than trying to send an email that only fits one persona/awareness/use case, you can set up workflows that move each persona along the path to awareness of the solution right for them. Yes, you may need to develop more content to use this strategy, but you will be able to connect with many more subscribers.

Ian Evenstar
UNINCORPORATED

My Top Tip: One tip we’ve employed successfully to increase the ROI from email marketing is converting our client’s graduate application process into a series of email nurtures.

One thing we’ve found across higher education is the lack of sales and marketing alignment. Two reasons this occurs: one, the lack of integration between the university’s application platform and marketing automation tools, and two, the office of admission not being used to working with an agency.

To circumvent these obstacles, we converted the application process into a stepwise email nurture. Once a prospective student has prequalified for the program through a web form and expressed their interest in applying, we enroll them in an email marketing campaign. Each email in the campaign has a clear Call to action (CTA) and desired outcome.

The email campaign includes: an application timeline, a step-by-step process for requesting your transcripts (often the biggest contributor to late applications), a step-by-step process for requesting letters of recommendations, how to tailor your resume, how to write a statement of intent, instructions for paying for and submitting the application, and financial assistance information.

Through our effort of digitizing and automating the application process, we’ve observed an increased conversion rate from prequalified prospects to submitted applications.

We like this process because it allows us to track where our prospects are within the application cycle and target them with the right message at the right time.

 

Ian Brodie

My Top Tip: It’s nowhere near a sexy a topic as listbuilding, subject lines or copywriting, but one reliable way of significantly increasing the ROI from your email marketing is simply to make sure your emails get through to more inboxes.

For example: according to email delivery expert Chris Lang you can get an immediate increase of 8-10% in opens and clicks to your emails simply by making sure they get to the primary inbox rather than the promotions tab in Gmail. That’s the equivalent of growing your email list 10% overnight.

So how do you do it? The first step is to check where you have problems with inbox placement using a tool like G-Lock Apps. It’ll tell you which services you’re struggling to get into the inbox for and show some of the potential reasons why.

To get into the primary inbox you’ll want to practice good email hygiene (reducing the number of emails you send to people who don’t open or click – or potentially stopping sending to them completely).

You’ll want to have a welcome email that asks people to whitelist your email address and gives them clear instruction on how to do it. And every now and then you’ll want to email your Gmail subscribers and ask them to drag your emails out of the promotions tab and into the primary inbox to make sure they keep getting them. Sounds simple, but it can have a big and immediate impact.

 

Michael Rand
Market Veep

My Top Tip: Build email workflows for all of your segmented lists or marketing personas. Automated emails, in general, have had a huge impact on our ROI. We always recommend them to our clients.

For a while, we were only sending out a regular newsletter with links to our blog and eBook content. We did this manually. Sure, the newsletter got opens and clicks, but not as many conversions as we wanted.

We decided to create email workflows for each of our target personas. Contacts were enrolled automatically based on lead segmentation and how they responded in our forms. We filled each email with exclusive content that couldn’t be found on our website. The last email in the workflow contains an opportunity for a free consultation.

It worked! All of our workflow emails have healthy open and click-rates.

With workflows, we gain qualified prospects, too. Email workflows are great for converting and qualifying leads.

They also represent a powerful service we can provide for our clients. They really help us demonstrate our ROI.

We still send out the regular newsletter, of course.

 

Darrell Evans
Yokel Local Internet Marketing, Inc.

My Top Tip: Done properly, email is a powerful tool that allows both marketing and sales team to be patient until a prospect is ready to buy.

Consumers are bombarded with sales calls from solicitors and have more power to block out sales messages than ever before. This requires us to think about the power and scalability of using email to increase ROI. You’ve paid the price of generating the content or running the ads to get them into your funnel, right?

Once they’ve subscribed, they’ve now raised their hand (digitally) and given you their name and email address (at the very least). But we can’t assume they are not ready to buy and are ready to jump on a sales call with you. They might simply be at the awareness or consideration stage of the purchase process.

Let’s say, as an example, you are a Bankruptcy attorney. You know that no one wakes up one day and just decides to file bankruptcy. Typically, it’s the last thing someone ever wants to do. It’s emotional. It makes people feel like failures. Let’s say you’ve created a guide titled: “7 Things You Should Know About Bankruptcy That Most People Don’t.” It’s a free report. Your lead downloads it. What next?

Well, we know they might be considering filing bankruptcy. If we’ve done our buyer persona work properly and understand what’s going on in their mind, we’ll know a few things:

  1. They are afraid
  2. They are embarrassed
  3. They don’t know how much it costs
  4. They wonder if there are other options
  5. They want to know if they should hire you if they decide to file.

Emails should answer the mental objections they have yet to voice to you yet.  If they feel embarrassed, we should write an “empathy-based” email that lets them know they are not the only ones to have ever been in their situation. If they are scared, we should write an “assurance-based” email that reassures them that everything is going to be okay. If your market is crowded with professionals, then you may want to add in a “proof” email showing how many people you’ve help solve their financial problems. Any objection or concern they may have can be addressed in email that will help them see you as the authority in the field all before they pick up the phone to call for a consultation.

A properly sequenced campaign will address their concerns and conclude with a gentle call to action to take the next step. When taking this approach, we’ll have “decision stage” buyers who are you ready to do business with zero objections.

 

Kayla Lewkowicz
Privy

My Top Tip: The best advice I can give about email marketing is to make it relevant and contextual for the user. To do that, you really have to know what your audience cares about and what they want to see.

For us, we know there’s a lot of demand for education—many of our customers and prospects are just beginning their e-commerce journey. For Black Friday, we put together an email-based course called Black Friday Bootcamp. We had a specific sign up for the course and anyone who signed up received a conversational, “plain text” style email from one of us with the tip and blog post for that week of the bootcamp. Doing a specific campaign addressing a big need for our audience—crushing Black Friday—drove a ton of traffic to our site and a lot of new sign-ups, too, because we were speaking to a select group of our audience that really cared about what we had to say on the topic.

 

Roman Kniahynyckyj
LyntonWeb

My Top Tip: Shorten the time between lead nurturing emails. Many times when we build out lead nurturing campaigns for clients, they think they automatically have to wait 5 or 7 days between emails. This seems to be an ingrained standard that may not be right for the type of lead, type of sale or type of industry. Experiment with different time frames – 1 day instead of 5, 3 days instead of 7 or trigger emails immediately if a bottom of the funnel lead visits your site again. For sales cycles ranging from 3-6 weeks, we’ve seen better open and click rates for emails that are 3 or less days apart over emails that are 7 days apart.

 

Melissa Breau
Click and Repeat

My Top Tip: In my experience, it pays to remember that a subscriber is never more engaged than when they first sign up.

There are a few ways to use that to your advantage. The first is by asking them to engage MORE right off the bat — so in that first email you can include other things that might be useful based on where they signed up for your list (for example, if someone signed up for my list after reading this tip, it would make sense to send them my top 5 articles on email marketing).

Another option is to ask them a question in your autoresponder, and tell them if they email you back with their answer that you promise to read every response. I’ve seen this tactic earn clients thousands of dollars — asking what problem they’re struggling with *right now* or what they were looking for when they found your site gives you insight into the problems your target audience faces in their own words…and gives you information you (or your sales team) can follow up. It’s also great for blog post ideas!

Finally, remember to think about that moment after they sign up as a golden opportunity to delight them just a little more… so one tactic I recommend is to redirect them to thank you page with a video, from the person whose site it is, sharing something useful (and saying thanks).

The big takeaway here is to try and find a way to reward your subscribers immediately after signing up in a way that is personalized or makes them feel special, while also offering up another way they can engage with you.

Personalize Your Messages

Everybody loves hearing their name. So, use names and other personalization tokens to create a personal connection with your recipients.

David Freund
Junto

My Top Tip: Write for humans, not conversions.

In today’s metric-driven world, it’s easy for marketers to forget the human on the other side of the screen. If the list data is there, marketers should be using it to further personalize their content for their audience. From something as simple as using their first name to sending “happy birthday” emails on their special day. We should be using every and any opportunity to speak more genuinely to our audience, treating them less like conversions and more like humans.

 
Ryan Phelan
Adestra
My Top Tip: First-Person Marketing and moving the needle from a one-to-many to a one-to-one relevant and personalized messaging strategy.

It’s not easy. Generally, it means more work up front, more thought in the process and message, and more integrations of systems that may or may not talk to each other. But by using data in the right way and letting First-Person Marketing be your guiding light, the results can be phenomenal.

Our client NakedWines.com did just that and their results were outstanding. By bringing in lookalike modeling and rich data across their entire customer base, to give their customers highly relevant and personalized wine recommendations, the company achieved an increase of 8% in profit per customer and an astounding 40% conversion rate.

 
Ross Sibbald
Striata
My Top Tip: The value lies in your data. Implement data-driven, specifically targeted and highly personalized email marketing campaigns to rapidly improve ROI

One of our clients was a prominent financial services provider.

Email was the channel of choice for the client’s campaign – which was aimed to help its customers manage their debt – because email enables highly personalized, targeted communications utilizing the rich customer data the client has on hand. The database was segmented according to this rich data by their risk category.

Each customer was addressed individually, while the subject line, tone of the message and the actual outstanding and installment values were all personalized and customized per customer. The personalized, responsive landing page and form offered the opportunity for immediate take up of the customized offer through the use of a strong call to action message. The trackability, individual level reporting and data available, following an email campaign, made email a great channel choice.

Customers could take up offers and give consent through the campaign, while the valuable data gathered based on these actions was secured and passed to the client for evaluation.

It was a success! There was a substantial drop (approx 50%) in the number of accounts defaulting in the 6 months following the campaign, which converted into a 6000% ROI – drop in defaulting accounts vs the cost of the campaign.

 

Molly Rigatti
Laire Group Marketing

My Top Tip: If you gather and input detailed client and lead information, personalization tokens will transform your email marketing. We’ve seen clients use the [FIRST NAME] token but you probably have more information than that stored in your CRM. We use tokens like [COMPANY NAME], [CITY] and more to hyper-personalize our and our clients’ emails and subject lines so recipients automatically identify with your message. Imagine opening an email that says, Hi Joe! Here are 5 tips you can use to make sure potential clients in [YOUR CITY] see more of [YOUR COMPANY NAME]’s content on your website. How local, personal and actually helpful is that?!

Always Be Building Your List

Anyone who has been doing email marketing for awhile, knows that lists decay. Research from MarketingSherpa shows that lists decay at a rate of 2.1% per month. To avoid diminishing returns, you need to keep growing your list…

Damian Leonard
Roland Dransfield

My Top Tip: This may seem glaringly obvious, but it’s something that marketing professionals seem to frequently omit from their email marketing – updating their database with relevant, interested parties.

We utilize email marketing for both our clients and our own purposes, so we’re frequently trying to update our database to ensure maximum ROI. Regardless of whether you receive someone’s email address from a business card at a networking event or from them filling in a form to get your latest eBook, you must add them into your database. They’re interested in what you have to offer them, otherwise they wouldn’t be engaging with you, so ensure they get all relevant collateral that comes with future email marketing campaigns.

No matter how good your email marketing campaign is, it won’t matter if it’s not going to anyone who may want it.

Isabel Delmas
Ondho

My Top Tip: A successful Email Marketing strategy depends greatly on the type of company, area and the specific needs of the company. What is common to every company and should be implemented from the very beginning is:

  1. To establish a primary objective of increasing the database of subscribers and leads. This could be achieved by offering a discount when subscribing, prioritizing member get member actions, etc.
  2. It is vital to have that database well segmented (with demographics, behavior,…) and completed with the purchase info of every lead. Knowing the clients will allow us to send them content that best suits their interests.
  3. We must have the entire strategy planned and scheduled.
  4. And, finally, we must analyze the results obtained according to the conversion objectives that we have set.

Email Marketing is Getting Harder, But Still Worth the Effort

We asked all of the marketers above about the top challenges they envision for 2018. Here is what they had to say.

The top three responses- deliverability, lower engagement rates and dormant subscribers- are all timeless email marketing issues I’ve written about at length.

To maximize the ROI of your email marketing efforts, use your email service or marketing automation provider to employ all the tips above. Most of our contributors above are “for-hire” if you want to tap them for more of their wisdom. And if you use HubSpot or Marketo, consider the advice from many of the experts above and use SeventhSense to automatically adjust the frequency and send-time of emails based on past engagement history.

Also, don’t forget to track the impact of your email marketing on your top-line; monitor your email marketing’s effect on your website traffic, leads and sales. If you use HubSpot, they track all that for you. You can use the dashboard below to monitor it in real-time on any device. If you use MailChimp, use a Google Analytics email dashboard too to get a full picture.

+ Get The MailChimp Dashboard

+ Get The HubSpot Email Campaigns Dashboard

What are you doing to improve your email marketing effectiveness? Got a tip? Submit it here or leave it in the comments.

About the author
Kevin Kononenko Growth Marketer @ Databox. Making it easy for marketers to tell the story of their success. Everton FC supporter. Startup guy.
  • Mary Smith

    Great tips! Thank for the interesting article.

  • GreyShone

    AI helps a lot in managing email campaigns. We use remail.io and totally enjoy it’s functionalities.

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