Date published

Jan 16, 2015

Email marketing is a great way for any business to market their products or services quickly and for a small price. You don't have to be a tech expert to create and run a successful email marketing campaign with tools such as Mailchimp and DotMailer at hand, making the building of these campaigns as easy as anything. The issue with email marketing comes once you have created your emails and have sent them out. How can you guarantee that your customers are going to respond to your email in the way you want them to? The short answer is there is no guarantee - sorry! However, there are a number of measures you can take to give your emails the best chance of being opened, read and help you to achieve your email marketing goals.

1) Don't get lost in spam filters

Email providers often filter out emails into spam folders that contain too many 'spammy' keywords in their emails. Some of these words include, 'Will not believe your eyes', 'Why pay more?' and 'Order now'. That isn't to say you can't incorporate these words into your emails, it is however advised that these should be used sparingly. There are around 200 keywords that should be avoided where possible, some of them may surprise you!

2) Segmentation

Sending generic emails to your entire email list can seem like the obvious option when you're considering sending out an email campaign, especially if you have an email list of tens of thousands of recipients. However, it is more often the case that segmenting your list and sending out smaller campaigns that speak directly to a specific group of individuals, can have a greater open rate and subsequently click through rate to your website. According to Hubspot,

39% of email marketers that practice list segmentation see better open rates; 28% see lower opt-out and unsubscribe rates; and 24% see better email deliverability, increased sales leads, and greater revenue.

For example, the first image below shows the data from a generic Christmas email sent to a client's entire mailing list.

However, the next image shows the results from a more refined email campaign that targeted a group of customers who had previously purchased a specific product from the client's website. While 22.5% of 2,778 will be a far lower number of website visits compared to 7% of 40,759 as in the previous image, the comparable number of clicks in the second image demonstrates a higher level of interest than in the first. By sending an email to a selection of your email list, you are increasing the likelihood that the content of the email will be of interest to those people, which can decrease the number of people who unsubscribe and improve brand loyalty.

3) Create personalised content

Once you have some segmented lists, you can begin to create content that will speak directly to these groups of individuals. Consider why these groups signed up to your mailing list in the first place – what do they want to get out of it? Once you can begin answering these questions, your content can be created around the answers and you can start forming highly personalised emails that your customers want to open and interact with.

4) Make sure your recipients know who the email is from

This may seem like an obvious point to make, however the 'From:' section of your email is probably one of the most important to get right when sending out an email. This will be the first point of contact with your recipients and so it must be a recognisable brand name or else they could see your email as spam and quickly delete it. If you imagine someone's inbox which is receiving tens, possibly hundreds of emails per day, you want to ensure that your brand name is clearly visible and recognisable amongst the rest. Failing to do so can significantly reduce your open rate.

5) Test, test and test some more

Split testing is vital in email marketing. Every business is different and are sending emails out for different reasons. Therefore it is important to find what works for you and find what your customers best respond to. Test EVERYTHING, from subject line, to image placemen, text placement; everything and anything can be tested and thorough testing can lead to significant improvements in your overall email marketing success.

6) The subject line

This is arguably one of the most important aspects of your email campaign. This is the text that is going to entice people to open your email and sum up the content of the email. This needs to be to the point and also needs to give people a reason to open the email up. Put yourself in the recipient's shoes when writing your subject line and ask yourself whether what you have written would interest you enough to open the email. If the answer is no then it's likely it will be met with the same response from your mailing list. As noted in point #5, this is something that should be tested and re-tested many times in order to gage what subject lines work with your whole email list and/or the segmented lists you may have created.

There are certain words that should be avoided as much as possible within the subject line. Not only to prevent your email being marked as spam, but also because there are certain words that have proven to lead to lower opening rates. Mailchimp lists the words 'Help', 'Reminder' and 'Percent Off' as words to avoid in your subject lines.

Try to not be too generic in your email subject line. The more personal it is to the recipient, the higher the likelihood will be that they will click through to your email (this is where segmentation could come in highly useful!)

For more advice and tips about constructing a great subject line, check out this great Infographic from

7) Optimising for Mobile

According to research, 54% of all emails were opened on a mobile device in 2014. This is not something to be ignored, It is essential that your email is readable on all mobile devices as your customers aren't going to respond well to a poorly crafted email that's all over the place on their mobile device. They won't be able to click the unsubscribe button fast enough!

8) Consider timing

When sending out an email to a list of recipients, it is important to consider what time of day and even day of the week you send the email out. This is largely industry dependant so it is essential that you find what works best for you (yes, more testing!). Industry experts suggest avoiding sending out emails on a Monday, mainly due to the increased risk that your email could get lost under the pile of the recipients emails that they have received over the weekend, and people aren't going to have time to give your email a second glance. Weekends are also to be avoided, people tend to check their emails more during work hours and not on the weekends when they're out and about.

According to data collected from Mailchimp, the best days to send out emails are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and the best time is around 2 p.m. (source Wordstream). However, this may not work for your business, and your email list demographics will play a large part in determining when is best to send out your emails.

To sum up, there really is no one fool proof way to guarantee your email campaign is going to be a success, even when employing a digital agency - unfortunately! All you can do is continually work on and develop your email marketing campaigns so that they work for you and your business; following these tips should help you on your way towards achieving some of your email marketing goals. If you have any comments or other email marketing tips, we would love to hear them in the comments below!