This is especially true when it comes to email marketing. Read one blog post on the topic and you’ll be convinced that email marketing is dead. Read another and you’ll expect to generate a massive 4,200% ROI after you send your first message. Both assumptions are false.
The truth is, email marketing can still be incredibly effective. But you have to learn how to do it right if you want to experience a positive return.
For this article, we talked to 29 email marketing experts to learn which email strategies are working right now. You won’t find outdated tactics here. Just really good advice from the people who are in the email marketing trenches on a daily basis. Enjoy!
“It’s better to be consistent than brilliant. At the end of the day, your email marketing campaign is a touchpoint for brand recognition. Even if engagement is the goal, your audience is more likely to remember and react to a name they’ve seen once a month than they have once in a blue moon.” – Maria Waida, Owner of SaaSy Copywriting
“When someone signs up to your marketing list, your first priority is to get into their primary inbox. As a Gmail user, many marketing emails land in my ‘Promotions’ tab, where I rarely see them…and there they remain, rotting away for all eternity.
“The solution is to use your confirmation email to compel the recipient to take you out of the promotions tab. I’ve seen brands use some variation of, ‘Please reply to this message to let your email provider know we’re cool!,’ which is a clever way to encourage engagement, but I think this confirmation email from The Quota is an even better approach. The email provides clear instructions on how to get future messages into your primary inbox, whether you use Gmail, Apple Mail, or something else. And now your recipients can actually get the emails they signed up for.” – Ben Goldstein, VP of Marketing at Nutshell
“Focus on building relationships: It’s easy to get caught up in your number of subscribers. Sure, a big list reaches out to more people, but what you should ask is how many of those subscribers are truly engaged with you. A large list of people who rarely open your emails is worse than a smaller list of people who interact with you. You might wonder how you can build relationships via email. Some things I do are:
“Make your emails shorter. What I noticed is that emails with longer content usually go to spam. By making your emails short, recipients are more likely to read them, consider them to be regular messages, and NOT report them. I suggest using only 100 to 120 words maximum.” – Stefanie Siclot, SEO Supervisor at Growth Rocket
“Never buy, rent, trade or borrow lists. You should never do this. Period. There is no reason to do this. Not only do these activities harm your brand, they also reduce your email deliverability and your messages might get flagged as spam. Honeypot emails are a real thing. I don’t recommend harvesting or scraping email addresses either. Scraping emails from the web or guessing them and auto-opting people into your list is illegal. Good email address lists aren’t for sale, they’re earned.” – Carsten Pleiser, Co-Founder of Paperless.io
“The key to getting your email open rates up is to start with an emoji, followed by the recipient’s first name in the subject line of your email. In my experience, this leads to open rates of over 50% on opt-in email lists! Since writing an email subject line is a test to see what catches the recipient’s attention, emojis in a subject line can help with that.
“A clever emoticon or emoji can express personality and set off a light-hearted mood. In other words, it may come across as more relatable to someone who doesn’t know you personally. When you reach someone on an emotional level, there’s a better chance they’ll want to get to know you better. From that point forward, this person becomes much more willing to read your message and even respond back.” – Sam Campbell, Founder of Reddiquette
“Design is important when it comes to email marketing. I’ve lost count of the number of emails I’ve opened on my mobile phone that aren’t optimized for mobile. This just doesn’t cut it. 81% of people read emails on their mobile.
“Keep fonts large enough that they can be read on a mobile device. Don’t include too many images or videos in your emails. Compress all media. And more importantly, make sure your call-to-action buttons stand out. Doing this will help you on your way to successful email marketing campaigns.” – Ravi Davda, CEO of Rockstar Marketing
“Set up a new email account and subscribe to the email lists of all the competitors and companies that you respect. Over time, you’ll be sent emails from those company’s automated flows as well as their email blasts. You can use their subject lines for inspiration for your own emails and by looking at when and how they space their emails, start to determine what the optimal email send strategy is for your business.” – Mark Chen, Founder and CEO of BillSmart
“Your audience is changing every day. Even if your approach seems successful, what works today won’t necessarily work tomorrow. For this reason, you should never stop testing. Make subtle changes to your headline copy, the call-to-action you use, and even the design of the email. Then, compare the performance of the versions you use to establish what works best and discard what doesn’t.
“The great thing about email marketing is just how much you can learn from a single campaign. Brand new insights can be put to use immediately, which keeps your approach evolving and constantly getting better.” – Gregory Yong, Chief Experience Officer at Convincely
“To excel at email marketing, personalization and segmentation are key. Consumers get hundreds upon hundreds of emails every single day, making it increasingly difficult to break through the clutter. If you want your message to get read, you have to make sure it is relevant to the person you’re sending it to.
“One of the best ways to better personalize your emails is to utilize a preference center. With a custom preference center, you can let your subscribers decide the frequency with which they want to receive emails and also the topics, products, etc. that are of the most interest to them.
“By collecting this information, you are putting your subscribers in control while also creating a mechanism for you to better segment your lists and create more personalized content. It’s a win-win for you and your subscribers.” – Alicia Blessing, Marketing Automation Manager at FreeWill
“Take advantage of drip sequences and automation. This helps businesses save time and energy while generating sales on autopilot. Drip sequences are automated email series that are sent out at specific times and dates.
“I suggest offering a lead magnet (a free resource) to increase subscriber rate and kick off the automation. The next emails should be spread over a week, offering more content to build trust and then promoting your products or services every third email.” – Carmine Mastropierro, Co-Founder of WiseMedia
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“The average email recipient scans their messages rather than reading them. This is why it’s critical to have a clear call-to-action (CTA) button that even the fastest email scanners can see. If you don’t include a CTA button, you won’t be encouraging your recipients to take any action that will help them or your company’s growth.
“Make sure your CTA is prominently displayed and in a location where it makes sense for someone to click on it, and exhaustively test different copy to make sure you’re maximizing your conversions. Words like ‘now’ and ‘today’ create urgency for the reader.” – Taylor Ryan, CEO of Klint Marketing
“Only send emails when you have something of VALUE to say. The fastest way to sink your open rates, hurt your deliverability, and reduce your chances for conversion is to send an email for the sake of sending an email (i.e. sticking to a schedule.) Emails are precious. They get us directly connected to our audience so use them wisely in order to KEEP them in your audience.
“We all hate spam so don’t spam your list by emailing them over and over when there is nothing new or noteworthy to share, just because you think you should be emailing them more or emailing them on a given day.” – D. Channing Muller, Principal, DCM Communications
“One of the most valuable strategies is using preheaders, which allow you to stretch the length of your subject line. Keep it between 40 and 130 characters long, so that it can be seen on both mobile and desktop. Keep all the important points in the beginning of the preheader so that your subscribers will still be able to understand what you mean if the line gets cut off.” – Maulik Patel, Founder and Director of Clickmatix
“Emails don’t really sell your product. They sell you on the next step, which is a click. You want to intrigue your audience enough so they click to the next step. That next step is often your sales page which is where the bulk of your selling should happen. Emails, whether long or short, only need to get your audience to do the next step.
“When you remember the point of emails it becomes much easier to write them. Because you don’t have to do ALL your convincing in one condensed format. Get your readers interested enough to keep them moving along your planned customer journey.” – Bobbie Maloy, Founder of Conversion Hacker
“One underestimated email marketing strategy is re-engagement in online email campaigns. If a newsletter is sent out, create a separate email with an updated subject line and send it out to clients who do not open the original newsletter within 48 hours. This method gently re-engages subscribers without pestering them with emails. This also ensures you don’t overexpose frequent readers to content, since it will not be sent to them. Some essential steps to successful newsletter resending are:
“Resending a newsletter should feel like a nudge, not a shove. Remember your customers probably get hundreds of emails a day. You don’t want to be one they immediately delete.” – Jordan Figueredo, Senior Content Strategist for Online Optimism
“Personalization is not the ultimate key as it has always been. It’s still important, but personalization needs to be complemented with other hacks. In our case, seeking consent to market to our customers, before engaging them in email marketing has really helped our conversions.” – Alina Clark, Co-Founder and Marketing Director at CocoDoc
“I cannot tell you how many times over my career I have seen emails go out with typos, improperly formatted graphics, addressed incorrectly, or with dead links. Every time this happens it brings down the professionalism of the company. Make sure to send one, two, or even three test emails out, before sending the email to your entire customer base. You’ll thank yourself later!” – Eric Thomas, CEO & Chief Solar Officer at Simple Solar Living
“The most important thing to understand about email marketing is that you have a grand total of six seconds to capture your audience’s interest. If you fail to do this, then all the important information you’ve put into your email will be lost to the email marketing abyss.” – Robyn Hughes, Marketing Manager at Leatherback Media
“Keep an eye on stats like how many emails you sent were undeliverable, how many were not opened, and what time of day they did open your message. Your data can reveal a great deal about the success of your campaign by looking at minor details.
“If you’re already using Google Analytics, you have even more information at your fingertips. You might want to try adding tracking to your emails so you can see how they are driving traffic to your landing pages and how people behave once they get there. If you use this information, you will tailor your messages perfectly for those who want them.” – Tristan Harris, Senior Manager of Demand Generation at Thrive Agency
“It’s vital to make your emails as relevant to your audience as possible and ensure they sound 100% authentic. If the language is too artificial or sales-heavy, the reader is going to assume it’s spam. Think about adding as much value and personalization into your emails as possible—whether it’s insights, statistics, promotions, trending articles, or something else of importance to your recipients. Get creative and keep testing new ways of ensuring your email stands out in their inbox.” – Nargis Jafferali, Co-Founder of Blazon
“Don’t be afraid to sell! So many people spend years building up an engaged email list, yet never sell to it. I can understand that there’s a fear of annoying your audience and shrinking your list as a result. But the thing is, if your email marketing campaigns are genuinely adding value, there should be no issue in you selling products via email from time to time.” – Mark Webster, Co-Founder of Authority Hacker
“One of the best ways to grow your email list is to launch a referral program. A referral program incentivizes subscribers to promote your newsletters through rewards like discounts, rewards, and freebies.” – Alicja Olko, Outreach & Partnerships for Right Inbox and Norbert
“My number one tip for email marketers, regardless of the size of their brand, is to utilize automation. Thirty-two percent of all email marketing orders come from automated emails, yet they make up less than 3% of the total number of sends. For brands looking to accelerate sales, automation matters.
“But not all automation is created equal. It’s important to choose the right automation. Welcome, cart abandonment, and product/browse abandonment messages make up 26% of all orders and 82% of all automated orders. If you’re looking for the easiest way to increase your email marketing sales without increasing your workload, look no further.” – Gregory Zakowicz Senior Email Marketing Expert at Omnisend
“Marketers who use segmented campaigns increase revenue up to 760%. Divide an email list according to different parameters—customers vs. prospects; interests; taken actions; etc. This will help tailor the conversation to each person’s needs. The contacts on your list are all different, so it’s likely they will respond to different forms of marketing.
“In essence, email segmentation allows you to send personalized content (such as targeted emails) to your contacts in order to make them more relevant and engaging.” – Maria Vasserman, Marketing Communications Specialist at Maropost
“Emails with videos have 52% higher CTR than their image-only counterparts. Also, including video on product pages can increase conversion rates by up to 80%. Don’t miss out on this great opportunity!” – Michael Hamelburger, CEO of Sales Therapy
“Treat your unsubscribe rates as your holy grail—sometimes it’s the first thing I look at. If there’s a slight change in the numbers you’re used to seeing, immediately try to figure out the reason for this premature exodus.” – Ron Gordon, Head of Marketing at Storemaven
“Start with the end goal and work your way backwards to the starting point. It’s important to understand the purpose of a given email campaign. Do you want the subscriber to view a case study? Maybe start a trial? Maybe activate your product? Maybe complete an online purchase? Whatever it is, start there.
“Once you have the end goal established, you need to map out the journey, just like with any other content marketing campaign, that the subscriber will need to take to get to that end goal. What content do they need to consume? What frequency will they receive emails? What event-based triggers will be used to expedite that journey based on behavioral patterns? A lot of this information can be gained through speaking with sales, customer success, and even existing customers.” – Robbie Richards, Founder of RobbieRichards.com
“If/when we send lead magnets or resources to our own clients en masse during our weekly Friday newsletter, we ask them to reply ‘yes’ if they want it, vs. just attaching it or linking to it. That netted around 12 replies against 45 tracked opens last week, much higher than usual.” – Nancy Dabu, Principal and Talent Optimization Architect at The Thrive Collective
Email marketing is (still!) alive and well. But to find success with this communication channel, you have to develop a winning strategy and stay relevant with different types of marketing emails. After reading the advice from the experts above, you now have the knowledge you need to do just that.
Can we give you one more email marketing tip? Invest in quality email marketing software. Nutshell Campaigns is really easy to use and super powerful. Complete with professionally designed templates, laser-focused segmentation abilities, and automation, Nutshell is the only tool you need to win at email marketing. Try it for free today!
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