6 Ways to Tune Up Your Email Marketing

Email Marketing Tips - 6 Ways to Tune Up Your Email Marketing

Email is one of the top ways to reach customers and prospective customers. There are many different ideologies when it comes to the most effective email marketing techniques, but there are some tried and true basics that apply across the board. I’ve tested several strategies over the years managing the email newsletters and lists for multiple sites, and share my favorite email marketing tips below. Remember, the goal is to increase opens and encourage readers to take action.

Email Marketing Tips

Spend Time on Subject Lines

This is the make or break part of your email. People read subject lines and either choose to open or not. Your subject line should be compelling, if nothing else. Your type of business and the service or product offered might largely dictate what you put here. Some brands can afford to be sassier than others. Regardless of personality, however, the subject line should make people want to open the email to get more information.

John Hayes at iContact put together a list of the best words to use in email subject lines which is worth a read. Likewise another great resource on email subject lines was published last year by Digital Marketer, with 101 different types of subjects that get opens.

Segment Your List

Customer segmentation is important because chances are more likely than not that your customer base is interested in different things. For example, if you send out a newsletter and weekly special offers, there are likely people who are only interested in receiving one of those two emails. By looking at analytics and determining what your customer base responds to, you can better cater to their needs and deliver the right message to the right people.  You may segment by product or service type, interest, geography, age or date of last purchase.

Here’s a great guide on list segmentation from the folks at Zapier.

6 Ways to Tune Up Your Email Marketing

Get Personal

If you segmented your email list properly, you have new opportunities to personalize your message to each of those segments. Mass email blasts are a thing of the past; consumers today expect to receive information that is relevant and personalized for them. You may opt to include a first name in the subject line or reference a previous purchase the person has made. Each of these provides a nice touch that makes the person feel valued and more likely to be responsive and take the action called for in the email. This type of personalization requires a decent amount of data, so you may need to invest in more advanced analytics tools.

Be Clear and Direct in Your Call to Action (CTA)

Hopefully your email has a call to action to begin with. It’s too often I receive a misguided email in my inbox that doesn’t call upon me to do anything. This is a big mistake. Emails lacking a CTA are confusing to recipients and not at all beneficial to your business. The only thing worse than no CTA is an unclear CTA. Make sure you proof your email draft and run it past a few people before you send it out. If it takes them longer than 5 seconds to figure out what they need to do based on your CTA, it’s not a good CTA.

Timing is Everything

Figure out the most effective time of day to send your emails. It’s tempting to think that between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. are the best times to achieve optimal open and click through rates. The truth is, this will vary by industry and other variables. Do your research and pay attention to your own metrics to see what the most effective times to send are. Some professionals prefer to check and open email before getting into the office, so between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. is optimal. For others, Sunday night between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. is a designated time to run through the inbox. You also want to be sure that you take time zones into consideration, if necessary. If your email database spans across several time zones, you’ll want to segment send times so recipients in each time zone are receiving your email at the appropriate time for them.

SmallBizTrends covered a study by MailChimp which goes into more detail of best times of day for email sends and open rates.

6 Ways to Tune Up Your Email Marketing

A/B Test

You should be testing constantly. A/B testing is one of the quickest, most effective ways to find out what works best and then scale it. You can do a/b tests with subject lines, email headlines, body copy, CTAs and email creative. One thing to remember is to test one thing at a time and keep other variations in content minor. That way, you can be sure your test results are as accurate as possible and haven’t been impacted by other factors.

Email Marketing TipsDescription
Spend Time on Subject Lines- Craft compelling subject lines that entice recipients to open your emails.
- Tailor your approach to your brand's personality and the product or service you offer.
- Explore resources like John Hayes' word list and Digital Marketer's subject line types for inspiration.
Segment Your List- Segment your email list based on customer interests, preferences, demographics, and behavior.
- Use analytics to understand what resonates with your audience and send targeted messages accordingly.
- Consider segmentation factors like product or service type, geography, age, or purchase history.
Get Personal- Leverage proper list segmentation to personalize your email content for different audience segments.
- Modern consumers expect relevant and personalized information, such as referencing their name or past purchases.
- Invest in advanced analytics tools to gather the data needed for effective personalization.
Be Clear and Direct in Your CTA- Include a clear and concise Call to Action (CTA) in your emails.
- Avoid emails lacking a CTA, as they confuse recipients and offer no direction.
- Test your email drafts with others to ensure the CTA's clarity and effectiveness.
Timing is Everything- Determine the most effective times to send emails by industry and audience research.
- Be mindful of time zones if your audience spans multiple regions.
- Segment send times to reach recipients in each time zone at the most appropriate times.
A/B Test- Continuously conduct A/B testing to identify the most effective email elements.
- Test subject lines, email headlines, body copy, CTAs, and email creative individually for accurate results.
- Keep content variations minor during testing to isolate the impact of the tested element.

Email Deliverability Essentials

Ensuring your emails reach the inbox is as crucial as crafting compelling content. Here are some key email deliverability essentials to consider:

  • Authentication: Implement authentication protocols like SPF, DKIM, and DMARC to verify your email’s legitimacy and protect against spoofing and phishing.
  • List Hygiene: Regularly clean your email list to remove inactive or invalid addresses. High bounce rates can negatively impact deliverability.
  • Opt-In Practices: Use confirmed opt-in (double opt-in) to verify subscribers, ensuring they genuinely want to receive your emails. Avoid buying email lists.
  • Avoid Spam Triggers: Be cautious with spam trigger words, excessive use of capital letters, and too many exclamation marks in your emails.
  • Responsive Design: Ensure your emails are mobile-friendly and render well on various devices. Email opens on mobile devices continue to rise.
  • Engagement Metrics: Monitor engagement metrics like open rates, click-through rates, and spam complaints. ISPs use these signals to determine inbox placement.
  • Reputation Management: Maintain a good sender reputation by consistently sending relevant and engaging content. A poor reputation can lead to emails being filtered as spam.
  • Feedback Loops: Sign up for feedback loops with ISPs like Gmail and Yahoo to receive complaint data and promptly remove complainers from your list.
  • Monitoring and Testing: Regularly monitor your email deliverability and conduct tests to identify and resolve issues promptly.
  • Content Quality: Ensure your email content is valuable, relevant, and well-formatted. Irrelevant or poorly designed emails can trigger spam filters.
Email Deliverability EssentialsDescription
Authentication- Implement authentication protocols like SPF, DKIM, and DMARC to verify email legitimacy and prevent spoofing.
List Hygiene- Regularly clean the email list to remove inactive or invalid addresses, reducing high bounce rates.
Opt-In Practices- Use confirmed opt-in (double opt-in) to verify subscribers genuinely want to receive emails, avoiding purchased lists.
Avoid Spam Triggers- Be cautious with spam-trigger words, excessive capitalization, and excessive exclamation marks in emails.
Responsive Design- Ensure emails are mobile-friendly, optimizing rendering on various devices as mobile opens continue to rise.
Engagement Metrics- Monitor key engagement metrics like open rates, click-through rates, and spam complaints to improve inbox placement.
Reputation Management- Maintain a positive sender reputation by consistently sending relevant and engaging content.
Feedback Loops- Sign up for feedback loops with ISPs (e.g., Gmail, Yahoo) to receive complaint data and remove complainers promptly.
Monitoring and Testing- Regularly monitor email deliverability and conduct tests to identify and resolve issues proactively.
Content Quality- Ensure email content is valuable, relevant, and well-formatted to avoid triggering spam filters.

6 Ways to Tune Up Your Email Marketing

Email Marketing Metrics That Matter

When evaluating the success of your email marketing campaigns, it’s crucial to focus on the right metrics. Here are key email marketing metrics to track and analyze:

  • Open Rate: This percentage shows how many recipients opened your email. It’s a measure of your subject line’s effectiveness and overall engagement.
  • Click-Through Rate (CTR): CTR reveals how many recipients clicked on a link within your email. It measures the effectiveness of your content and call-to-action.
  • Conversion Rate: The conversion rate indicates the percentage of email recipients who completed a desired action, such as making a purchase or signing up. It measures the ultimate goal of your campaign.
  • Bounce Rate: Bounces occur when an email cannot be delivered to the recipient’s inbox. High bounce rates can harm your sender reputation and deliverability.
  • Unsubscribe Rate: This metric represents the percentage of subscribers who opted out of your email list. Monitor it to gauge subscriber satisfaction and content relevance.
  • List Growth Rate: Track how fast your email list is growing. A healthy list growth rate indicates a steady influx of new subscribers.
  • Email Sharing/Forwarding Rate: This metric measures how often your recipients share or forward your emails. It can indicate the virality of your content.
  • Spam Complaint Rate: High spam complaint rates can negatively impact your sender reputation. Keep this metric low by sending relevant and solicited content.
  • Revenue per Email: Calculate the revenue generated per email campaign to assess its financial impact.
  • List Churn Rate: Churn rate measures how many subscribers you lose over time. Managing churn is essential for maintaining a healthy email list.
  • Engagement Over Time: Analyze how recipient engagement changes over the lifecycle of your email subscribers. Are they more engaged in the beginning or after a specific trigger?
  • Device and Email Client Usage: Understand how recipients access your emails (e.g., mobile, desktop, specific email clients) to optimize your email design.
  • Geographic Data: Segment your audience based on location to tailor content and send times for different regions.
  • Forward-to-Open Rate: Calculate the percentage of recipients who forwarded your email after opening it. A high rate can indicate valuable content.

6 Ways to Tune Up Your Email Marketing


Email marketing remains a potent and versatile tool for businesses to connect with their audience, drive engagement, and achieve meaningful results. In this comprehensive guide, we’ve explored various aspects of effective email marketing, from the fundamental principles to advanced strategies. Here’s a recap of the key takeaways:

  1. Email Marketing Fundamentals:
    • Focus on crafting compelling subject lines that entice recipients to open your emails.
    • Segment your email list to deliver tailored content to different audience groups.
    • Personalize your emails based on subscriber data to enhance relevance and engagement.
    • Ensure your calls to action (CTAs) are clear, direct, and easily understood.
  2. Timing and Optimization:
    • Determine the most effective times to send emails by researching industry-specific and audience-related factors.
    • Consider time zones if your audience spans multiple regions.
    • Embrace A/B testing to continually refine and improve your email marketing efforts.
  3. Email Deliverability Essentials:
    • Implement authentication protocols like SPF, DKIM, and DMARC to verify your email’s legitimacy.
    • Maintain a clean email list through regular list hygiene practices.
    • Opt for confirmed opt-in to ensure subscribers genuinely want to receive your emails.
    • Avoid spam triggers and prioritize responsive email design.
  4. Metrics for Success:
    • Focus on email metrics that truly matter, such as open rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates.
    • Monitor bounce rates, unsubscribe rates, and list growth to gauge list health.
    • Analyze engagement over time and segment your audience for better targeting.
    • Keep an eye on device and email client usage as well as geographic data to optimize your campaigns.

Email Photo via Shutterstock

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Loren Baker Loren Baker is the founder of Search Engine Journal, hosts the podcast Search & Deploy on Rainmaker.FM and is a VP at Foundation Digital, a digital marketing agency. A long time digital entrepreneur, Loren has been in digital marketing since 1998 and over the past decade he has built & executed Search & Social strategies for leading companies in car insurance, retail shopping, professional sports and the movie & television industry.