The 10 Best Email Marketing Strategies That Actually Work

February 3rd, 2020

According to a survey performed by Adobe, consumers spend an average of 5 hours a day checking both work and personal email. Respondents to the survey also said that they would rather receive marketing via email than by direct mail or other channels. If you have a list of contacts and quality content, email marketing can seem as simple as clicking ‘send’. If you want to generate more click-throughs, however, here are some tips that can increase engagement.

1. Get Personal

There is more to personalization than using someone’s name in an email subject line. Target their interests by considering where they live, who they work for, and their buying history. 

A great way to get details about a customer is to ask the right questions in your signup form. Be sure to get their name, address, company, and any other information you may wish to use to generate custom recommendations. People are typically more interested in buying products they’ve already shown an interest in than products featured at random. 

Another personal touch that can make customers feel important is signing the email with a real signature and name. A signature and friendly language make an email seem as if it were coming directly from the sender. In fact, including a real reply-to address may increase customer engagement with your brand and make the customer feel heard.

2. Avoid Spam Filters

Spam filters assign points to your company’s email based on how similar it is to the typical spam email. Once your email reaches a certain number of points, it gets flagged as spam and may skip your customer’s inbox. There are several ways to avoid spam points:

  • Avoid words that trigger spam filters. You may be able to get away with using one or two of them, but using too many will cause the message to be marked as spam.
  • Don’t add RE: to subject lines if it’s not a reply.
  • Use sentence case when typing your subject line. Do not use all caps.
  • Double-check your spelling and grammar to make the email look professional.
  • Keep your subject lines brief, but not too brief. Aim for 17-24 characters.
  • Don’t use video/Flash/JavaScript in the email. 
  • Avoid putting exclamation points in the subject line. 
  • Never embed forms in emails.

Some users may still create email rules or manually flag an email, but when it comes to automatic filters, the above tips can ensure that your message is delivered to the inbox.

3. Time Your Emails Carefully

The peak email traffic times are during business hours on weekdays. Your email will be competing with hundreds to thousands of other emails received by your customers. According to research, the best time to schedule emails to send is at night, from 8:00pm to 12:00 midnight, but any time after 5:00pm is an improvement. Subscribers are also more likely to open emails sent over the weekend than throughout the week. 

When deciding when to send out an email, you should also consider how frequently to do so. Sending a customer too many emails in a short time frame will likely get them flagged as spam. Sending out too few may cause people to forget who you are. 

4. Keep Email Content Mobile-Friendly

More and more consumers are choosing to access their email messages via mobile device. Sending a message that is not mobile-friendly can lead to fewer clickthroughs and opens. You can’t afford to lose sales because your email doesn’t appear correctly on a smartphone. Here are a few tips and tricks that will improve your customers’ experience:

  • Implement a responsive email design. A responsive design will ensure that the email content scales with the size of the screen. All of the content should fit comfortably in view. 
  • Use a shorter subject line rather than a longer one. According to research, the sweet spot is 10 characters long or less.
  • Keep the email text to one column.
  • Make buttons at least 44 pixels wide by 44 pixels tall as recommended by Apple.
  • Keep buttons and links in the middle of the screen so that they can be easily located and tapped.
  • Make the call to action big, bold, and tappable.

Always preview the email on a smartphone before sending it off to consumers. This precaution can help ensure that people see your message displayed exactly how you want them to see it.

5. Give Away Useful Freebies

Consumers love to get something for free, no matter how small. They may ask themselves “What is the benefit of opting in?” The key is to provide something rewarding and useful to the loyal consumer in a “surprise” email. 

Blue Wire Media performed a marketing experiment to see which email content got clicked the most. The top free products customers clicked on were useful templates, free tools, and ebooks. Other popular content includes coupon codes, gift cards, and free subscriptions. Less popular were exclusive interviews and blog features. 

When offering a free download, remember that the customer has already opted-in to your mailing list. Consider making the product an instant download instead of requiring the user to log in.

6. Use Behavioral Segmentation to Target Different Types of Customers

Behavioral Segmentation is a type of customer segmentation that is based on customer behavior as they interact with a company. This practice lets businesses split customers into segments according to the way they use a product, service or brand. 

An example of behavioral segmentation based on shopping practices could include the following segments: 

  • The ‘frugal buyer’ who is always searching for a bargain
  • The ‘researcher’ who wants to understand every aspect of a product before committing
  • The ‘safe buyer’ is a careful shopper who won’t commit to a purchase without a return policy
  • The ‘skeptic’ is a shopper who needs peer reviews and referrals to make a decision
  • The ‘procrastinator’ is a buyer who is not in a big hurry to make a purchase
  • The ‘persuadable’ buyer is highly susceptible to cross-sell offers and makes purchases impulsively

Each of these potential customers will respond to different marketing approaches. Segmentation allows you to send emails targeting each type of buyer based on how they shop. You can also perform behavioral segmentation based on customer loyalty levels, proficiency with the service, occasion, and more.

7. Take Advantage of User-Generated Content (UGC)

User-Generated Content is any type of content that has been created by unpaid contributors. It can include photos, videos, testimonials, social media posts, and more. With user-generated content, users promote the brand instead of the brand promoting itself. Modern consumers are more likely to investigate a product if they see that a real person has recommended it. 

User-generated content puts customers front and center, allowing them to interact with the brand. Customers are more likely to trust other customers than ads and sharing experiences can create a community around a product. Finally user-generated content can be a more cost-effective way to advertise than traditional methods. 

Request and share real-world examples of consumers using your company’s products through your email campaign. Many people like a chance to see themselves and their work in the spotlight.

8. Write Like a Pro

Keep your emails looking professional and authentic. Many spammers don’t bother to focus on the nuances of professional writing. It is often easy to spot spam and phishing emails because the subject lines are misspelled and badly phrased. Keep the following tips in mind when composing a marketing email and you could see your opens increase: 

  • Spelling: There are a million browser extensions and word processors (Grammarly, ProWritingAid, Hemingway) that check spelling for you, but nothing beats an actual read through. After you run spell check, make sure to thoroughly examine the document yourself. 
  • Grammar: Nothing screams ‘spam’ louder than terrible grammar. If you are sending out emails in a certain language, be sure that your sentences sound natural to a native speaker. 
  • Keep it concise. Avoid run-on sentences, going off on tangents, and including too many topics. People have a limited amount of time dedicated to reading email and you don’t want your readers to skip the really important parts.
  • AVOID YELLING! People generally interpret writing in all caps as a form of shouting. This can be seen as rude or abrupt to many readers. Keep your writing in sentence case whenever possible.
  • Bold the action items at the bottom of the email. Ensure that the reader’s eyes easily locate the next steps that they should take. 
  • Make sure your message is complete. You don’t want to miss any key points related to your topic, only to have to go back and send another email out later. Imagine what questions the reader may have and answer them the first time.

9. Combine Email Marketing With Social Media

Having a social media presence can boost your brand’s reputation. There are several ways to make your email marketing campaign more social. First, use your marketing emails to remind subscribers that your brand has an active social community. Including social media links in your emails makes it easy for readers to share news about your brand with their friends and family. 

You can also create a custom audience from your email subscriber list and target them on social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. This will help you put a name and a face to your subscribers. You can also use successful email subject lines and images in your social media posts and vice-versa. This type of testing will give you a better idea of what is successful and what isn’t, allowing you to make a greater impact on both platforms. 

Another way to make your email campaign work with social media is to use a tracking product such as a Facebook pixel. A Facebook pixel is a tracking link you can add to your email. When someone opens your email and clicks on the link, the Facebook pixel reports the action. You can use these reports to see who is interacting with your email and track conversions. You can then reach these customers using the custom audience feature.

10. Test Which Email Formats Work Best

A/B testing (also known as split testing or bucket testing) is a method of comparing two versions of a marketing experience to determine which one performs better. You can use A/B testing to determine which version of an email ad is more effective. Simply send both versions of the email to the same users and determine which email variation performs better. 

A/B testing can be simple or more complex. You can start by testing different subject lines against each other, or you can test entirely different email templates. But small changes can make a huge difference. Even a slight improvement in opens can translate to dozens of new leads. 

According to litmus.com, 43% of email teams don’t bother testing their emails each time. This means these teams are risking delivering a poor customer experience to their subscribers. A great email experience demonstrates consistency and professionalism in your brand. Once you start testing, you’ll have an advantage over your competitors who don’t put in the extra effort.

Want to Learn More?

Looking for an email marketing solution and want to figure out which software would fit your campaign best? Our email marketing and marketing automation category pages include a more detailed description of the types of tools available as well as hundreds of reviews. Our Buyer’s Guide to Marketing Automation Software also takes an in-depth look at 7 popular marketing automation products.