When it comes to strategies for email marketing, there is no shortage of ideas out there. The trick is to separate the wheat from the chaff and make sure you’re using the best possible email marketing strategies for you and your company, and that you’re getting the best possible ROI and lead conversion.
Luckily, email marketing natively boasts one of the best ROIs of any marketing channel, and so just by using it in the first place you’re in a position to reap dividends on your investment. The trick is to optimize your approach and ensure the best bang for your buck.
Let’s take a look at tips for email marketing that will ensure that you’re getting the best return on your investment.
13 Great Email Marketing Strategy Ideas to Optimize Your Email Marketing Campaigns
Avoid The Temptation To Purchase Contact Lists
It seems like a no-brainer: lay out a little cash and get a ready-made list of names for your marketing emails. What could be better?
The problem with this approach is that a good email marketing campaign lives and dies on its open rate – and when you’re sending unsolicited emails, that open rate is not going to be good. People don’t like spam emails, and even if they make it past the spam filters, all they’re likely to do is stain the reputation of your company. What’s more, under the European GDPR, you can’t email people without their consent – meaning this approach will land you in hot water there.
Getting people to sign up for mailing lists takes much more time and effort, but ultimately you’ll be emailing people who want to be emailed – which is much better for all parties.
Regularly Prune Your Mailing Lists
One of the best tips for email marketing is also one of the simplest – keep your mailing lists up to date and get rid of dead email addresses.
The reason for this is email deliverability – the more dead addresses you have on your list, the lower your open rate. You’ll also have people who will unsubscribe, and people who simply aren’t interested anymore but either can’t be bothered to unsubscribe, or don’t know how.
It might seem like this doesn’t matter too much – who cares if you’re sending to inactive email addresses, or if not everybody opens your mass mails? That’s the nature of mass mails, right? But the fact is that by pruning your lists, you’re left with a higher-quality list at the end of the day. Your open and bounce rates will be higher and lower, respectfully, and you’re less likely to be marked as spam. That leads to both a better reputation and a higher delivery rate – both of which are great for your business in the long run.
Carefully Design Your Mass Mails
Every good email marketing strategy has a solidly designed email as its linchpin. Plaintext emails are visually unappealing, uninspired, and much less likely to have a customer clicking on that CTA link.
When thinking about the design of your email, there are several factors to take into account – the subject line, header, footer, images, links, color scheme and even the font used are all important factors, and they should all be used with one goal in mind – getting customers to positively respond to your CTA.
It’s also critical that you don’t overdesign your emails. Garishly designed emails with loud colors and ornate fonts might get opened, but they’ll just as quickly get disregarded. Make sure they’re bold and catch the eye, but don’t overdo it.
Fortunately, there are a great many marketing automation platforms out there (such as HubSpot) that offer intuitive yet highly customizable email templates, which you can use to fine-tune every aspect of your email without needing to be a graphic designer.
Don’t Use “No-Reply” In The Sending Address
A surefire way of getting your email marked as spam is to have “No-Reply” as part of the sending address. Not only does it immediately turn the recipient off (even if it makes it past the spam filters, which it may not), but it’s also against the USA’s CAN-SPAM legislation, which prohibits sending emails that can’t be responded to or opted out of.
Instead, make sure that your emails are sent from an address that uses an actual person’s name. Research has shown that people are much more likely to open emails if they’re using a person’s name, as opposed to a company’s – or the dreaded “no-reply”.
Consistently Provide Value
At the center of all strategies to optimize email marketing campaigns should be to provide maximum value. A high-value email speaks for itself – it provides valuable information, consistently helps with customer satisfaction, has a high open rate, and – if done well – can have subscribers actually looking forward to such emails landing in their inbox.
But what is actually meant by a “high-value” email? At the simplest level, it’s simply an email that contains useful information. If you sell PC parts, it might be a top-ten list of new graphics cards for the current year, containing benchmarking information and other useful specs. If you sell vacation packages, it might be updates to visa requirements or information on reaching various popular destinations. Above all, it should not be naked marketing – consumers are sensitive to such attempts to manipulate them, and they’ll switch off accordingly.
This is not to say that marketing material doesn’t have its place, of course – and, ultimately, even your high-value emails are marketing material – but it must be tempered with providing useful information to your subscribers.
Include A Memorable Signature
A pithy, catchy email signature does a lot of heavy lifting. It promotes brand awareness, gives potential customers an insight into the ethos and personality of your business, and can build a sense of reliability and trust.
Try to keep it relatively simple, however. An overly long and clunky email signature can quickly turn subscribers off. It should also be consistent with your other branding in order to build awareness, and should link to all necessary email addresses, social media accounts, and websites.
Don’t Have More Than 3 Fonts
It’s hard to avoid the temptation to get extravagant with mass mails at times, but it’s important that you do so anyway – lest you inadvertently churn out eyesores that cause subscribers to switch off.
A further consideration is that not everybody is going to be reading your email on a desktop display. Some people will be on tablets or mobiles, and it’s easy for multiple fonts not to display properly or cause loading issues. Less is more when it comes to email marketing typefaces.
Ensure You Have Well-Optimized Calls To Action
In a way, all marketing emails are about that CTA. It’s your CTA that determines your CTR (click-through rate), which is hugely important to email marketing campaigns and, basically, the whole point of sending those emails in the first place. An anemic CTA means a low CTR and, thus, a low conversion rate. It’s worth, then, spending a little time on making sure your CTA lands.
Make sure to use strong and commanding language. Verbs like “download”, “shop” or “go”, combined with evoking a sense of immediacy, can really help with ensuring that subscribers click through. Making subscribers feel like they might be missing out on something (for instance, with limited-time offers or limited stock) can also compel them to click through where they otherwise wouldn’t.
It’s important that your CTA stands out, too. Make sure it’s obvious and bold, so that it cannot be possibly missed. If it’s a plaintext line at the bottom of your email, then it will be very easy for potential customers to gloss over it – even if they might be otherwise interested.
Segment Your Emails According To Audience
As with many marketing strategies, also email marketing requires segmentation of your target audience. Subscribers are not some monolithic entity with the same needs and wants, and your emails should reflect this. Sub-divide your mailing list into smaller lists based on purchase history, mail opening habits, previous sales funnels, and demographic data, and send tailored emails to each group in order to maximize your open and click-through rate.
You might, for instance, want to send out a special promotion designed to lure wavering subscribers back in. Does that really need to be sent to die-hard loyal customers that will stick with you anyway? Probably not. That’s why segmented lists are important; a single email is not a magic key to the kingdom, and it’s important to adopt different approaches for different types of subscribers.
Optimize Your Preview Text
By definition, the preview text that follows an email’s subject line is whatever is at the top of the email. Sometimes this works, but often, it doesn’t – how many times have you seen “email not displaying correctly?” in the preview line?
In order to avoid this and to increase your open rate, you need to make sure that preview line catches the eye and makes customers want to open the email. Always write this preview yourself, rather than relying on the template you’re using (if you’re using a template).
The best preview lines are those that pique the viewer’s interest, and prompt them to open the email. If you’re sending a list of the best 10 graphics cards of 2023, to return to our previous example, you might want to lead with “Nvidia is finally and dramatically toppled from its top spot by a contender we never saw coming…” This subject line will have the viewer asking themselves “what contender?” and then opening the email to find out.
If you can nail the preview text of your marketing emails, then you’ll dramatically increase your open rate – and nobody ever clicked through on an email they didn’t open.
Make Use Of UGC (User-Generated Content)
No form of advertising is quite as effective as word-of-mouth advertising. Why? Because, like all great marketing, it doesn’t seem like it’s marketing. The less a customer thinks they’re being sold to, the more likely they are to buy.
You can’t incorporate word-of-mouth marketing into your emails exactly, but you can include UGC. By sharing stories, photos and other media from satisfied customers, you not only demonstrate that you have satisfied customers, but you create a broader sense of community and inclusiveness. Mass mails that incorporate UGC have a high click-through rate than ones that don’t, so it’s a really great way of boosting your emails’ effectiveness.
Personalize Your Content
As email marketing strategies go, the importance of this one cannot be overstated. As we touched upon earlier with the “no-reply” sender address, nothing turns off subscribers more quickly than a feeling of impersonality. It’s therefore crucial that you personalize your emails as much as possible.
This can be as simple as addressing the email to each recipient by name – something that is very easily done with most automated marketing platforms. You can also use list segmentation to send emails appropriate to the type of customer, e.g. segmented by demographic or for that customer’s stage in the marketing lifecycle (e.g. welcome emails or ‘sorry to hear you’re leaving us’ emails). You can also send out seasonal emails, and even emails for individual customer’s birthdays.
This sounds like a lot of busywork and upkeep, but the fact is that automated e-mail marketing services like HubSpot make this sort of thing very simple – and translate to much better open and click-through rates.
Make Sure The Body Text And CTA Fall Above The Fold
The ‘fold’ refers to the portion of an email that’s visible to recipients before they scroll down – and it’s easily the most important part of any mass mail. It’s the part that recipients see first, and it’s often the only part that they see (as many people don’t bother scrolling down).
This means that you need your most important information to be above that fold. This usually means the main text, and it always means the CTA, since this is the most important part of your email.
A study by Nilsen-Norman Group, that has used eye-tracking technology to document consumer habits, has shown that people spend about 57% of their time looking at content above the fold. Ease of scrolling on touchscreens has lowered this number (it was about 80% in 2010), but the fact remains that people will prioritize that above-the-fold content. That means that you need to, too.
Sample Email Marketing Strategies
The above is an example of email marketing done right. This email, sent by streaming giant Netflix, shows several email marketing strategies in action. It is personalized (it’s sent based on the recipient’s viewing history), it’s simple and eye-catching, and its CTA is striking and clearly visible. It also follows Netflix’s bold red and black color scheme, keeping it consistent with Netflix’s other content, increasing and maintaining brand awareness, and making the recipient feel as if they’re browsing within Netflix itself.
The text included in the mass mail is short, simple and to the point – the title of the recommended TV show, some brief expository information (year, rating, number of episodes), and a short synopsis of the show. It’s bold, visually arresting, and marketing that’s confident enough in itself to let these minimalist elements carry it.
Another example of less being more, eBay’s mass mail is very simple. It features only a header image, the eBay logo, minimal text and a simple CTA. It’s also consistent with eBay’s branding and color scheme, making for a striking, simple yet effective mass mail.
More than simply personalizing emails for different customers, clothing retailer Loft takes things to the next level by inviting customers to personalize their own emails. This simple email asks customers to manage their inbox and help Loft to send them information that’s relevant and interesting to them, and their CTA is a simple call to manage their preferences. It promotes engagement in a way that not many marketing emails do, and it’s not overbearing.
Loft also includes a few more elements in their mass mail; at the top are some unobtrusive categories that do not particularly stand out but, due to the composition of the email, put customers in mind of the Loft website itself, increasing brand awareness and potentially driving click-through rates. Note, however, that these are incidental to the ostensible purpose of the email (helping customers to manage their preferences) rather than the point of it. There’s also a ‘style tip’ that helps to further distance the email from boilerplate marketing emails.
All of these elements come together in a package that very much dodges the bullet of being blunt, in-your-face marketing – while still marketing.
We’ve only really scratched the surface of strategies for email marketing, and indeed there are a great many more out there to discover. That said, we hope that we’ve touched upon the most important and effective email marketing strategies, and we hope that we’ve demonstrated that a little inventiveness and creativity can go a long way. That said, it doesn’t hurt to learn from the masters of the craft – and as we’ve seen from the sample email marketing strategies used by the likes of Netflix, eBay and Loft, it’s possible to approach email marketing from very different angles and come up with striking and effective campaigns that lead to high open and click-through rates – and, one would hope, high conversion rates.
Also check out our guide on current email marketing best practices.