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  • Writer's pictureSarah Turnbull

Top Tips for Making the Most of Email Marketing

Looking over a laptop users' shoulder at their email inbox

Amidst the multitude of marketing channels that businesses have at their disposal, email marketing continues to stand out as one of the most effective and cost-efficient methods of reaching and engaging with customers.

In figures supplied by the Direct Marketing Association (‘DMA’) in April 2023, email has an average return on investment (‘ROI’) of 42:1 in the UK. They report that businesses can anticipate an average return of £42 for every £1 spent on email marketing.

With this remarkable ROI and the ability to cultivate customer loyalty, email marketing is an often- overlooked, but essential tool for businesses across industries.

One of the key reasons why email marketing is highly effective is its cost-effectiveness. Compared to other marketing channels like print, TV, or radio, email marketing incurs significantly lower costs. With no printing or postage expenses, email campaigns can be executed at a fraction of the cost, making it accessible to businesses of all sizes.

"Studies have consistently shown that it’s more cost-effective to retain existing customers than acquire new ones."

By maintaining regular contact through email campaigns, businesses can nurture and deepen relationships with their audience, increasing the likelihood of repeat purchases and long-term loyalty. Email marketing offers a direct line of communication, allowing businesses to engage with customers at various stages of the buyer's journey.

Which is better, email marketing or social media marketing?

In my opinion, email marketing offers several advantages over social media marketing. While social media platforms clearly have their own merits and should definitely not be ignored, email marketing provides a unique set of benefits that can greatly impact a business's marketing efforts.

One significant advantage is the inherent nature of email as a personal and direct communication channel. Unlike social media, where users often scroll past ads or content without giving them much attention, emails land directly in the recipient's inbox and stay there until action is taken by the user.

This gives email marketing a higher chance of being noticed and engaged with by the intended audience. Emails also have a longer lifespan compared to social media posts, which can get buried in a user's feed. Emails can be saved, re-read, and easily referenced when the recipient is ready to act, providing a lasting impact on their decision-making process.

A/B Testing

Email marketing also provides the opportunity to refine and optimise campaigns through A/B testing.

This testing method involves comparing two or more versions of an email to determine which one performs better. By analysing metrics such as open rates, click-through rates and conversions, businesses can gain valuable insights into customer preferences and behaviours.

A/B testing enables marketers to experiment with different subject lines, colours, email designs, call-to-action buttons and content variations to identify the most effective combinations. This data-driven approach helps businesses to make informed decisions, tailor their messaging and increase the effectiveness of their email marketing campaigns.

My Top Tips for a Successful Email Marketing Campaign:

Here are some of my top tips for maximising the impact of an email marketing campaign:

Woman sitting on a sofa smiling

Define Clear Objectives:

Clearly outline your campaign objectives, whether it's driving sales, promoting brand awareness or nurturing customer relationships. This will help you align your messaging and call-to-action with your goals. Make sure you know your customers - what their 'problems' are, what their desires or fear are. The more you know, the better able you are to define clear objectives and produce content that meets those objectives.

Segment and Personalise:

Divide your email list into segments based on demographics, purchase history or engagement levels. Tailor your content and offers to each segment, increasing relevance and engagement.

By dividing an email list into specific segments based on various criteria, businesses can deliver personalised and more targeted content to different groups of recipients. This tailored approach allows for greater relevance and engagement, leading to higher open rates, click-through rates and conversions.

For example, an e-commerce company can segment its email list based on past purchase behaviour, creating separate segments for frequent shoppers, first-time buyers and dormant customers.

This enables them to send customised product recommendations, exclusive offers or re-engagement campaigns to each segment, increasing the likelihood of generating repeat purchases or potentially reactivating inactive customers.

Another example may be a business that caters to both trade and consumer markets and how they can segment their email list based on customer type - B2B or B2C.

B2B segments can be refined based on industry, company size or job role. This enables the delivery of tailored content such as industry-specific insights, case studies or solutions that address specific pain points faced by businesses.

On the other hand, B2C segments can be categorised based on demographic factors, interests or purchasing behaviour. This allows for customised promotions, product recommendations or special offers.

This level of segmentation ensures that the right message reaches the right audience. It’s more time-consuming, yes, but much more effective and will result in higher engagement, improved conversion rates and stronger customer relationships.

Craft Engaging Subject Lines:

Critical for capturing your recipients' attention, compelling subject lines will evoke curiosity, urgency or value. You can experiment with different approaches through A/B testing to identify the most effective subject lines for your audience.

The headline in email marketing plays a pivotal role in capturing the attention of recipients and determining the success of an email campaign. It’s the first impression that recipients have of the email and can make or break their decision to open and engage with it.

A compelling headline should be concise, intriguing and relevant to the content of the email. It should entice the reader to click and discover more. It should contain either a benefit or play to the target audience’s desires or fears.

Emails with poorly thought out or rushed titles will be scrolled past and no matter how good the content, if the email title doesn’t grab the attention, you’ll have lost the majority of your audience.

"Think of your title as the headline. 80% of readers ONLY read the headline. If yours isn’t compelling, you’ve lost them. Spend time on it, it’s the most important part of your email!"

Hands on a laptop keyboard

Using email snippet lines, also known as preheader text or preview text, is also crucial. These are the brief lines of text that appear below or beside the subject line in an email client's inbox. They provide a preview of the email's content and can further persuade recipients to open the email.

By crafting attention-grabbing headlines and leveraging engaging email snippet lines, businesses can significantly increase open rates and drive the success of their email marketing campaigns.

Design for Mobile:

With a significant portion of emails being opened on mobile devices, it’s critical your email design is mobile-friendly. Optimise your email marketing for readability, concise content and clear calls-to-action.

With a significant portion of email recipients accessing their emails on smartphones and tablets, failing to optimise for mobile can lead to a disastrous campaign. Imagine a well-known retail brand that launched an email campaign with a design that was not responsive or mobile-friendly. As a result, their email would display poorly, images would be distorted, there’d be unclickable links and illegible text.

This would lead to a frustrating user experience, potentially resulting in a high rate of unsubscribes and probably zero engagement!

Whilst this is only a hypothetical example, it highlights the importance of optimising email campaigns for mobile devices.

Provide Valuable Content:

This should really go without saying, but you MUST focus on delivering valuable and relevant content that resonates with your audience!

Creating valuable content is paramount is the foundation for building trust, establishing credibility and engaging recipients. It goes way beyond just hammering promotional messages and focuses on providing meaningful information, insights and solutions that address the needs and interests of the audience. It can include educational resources, industry trends, how-to guides, video, tips and tricks, exclusive content or personalised recommendations.

By offering valuable content, businesses position themselves as reliable sources of expertise and valuable resources for their recipients. They can become an ‘authority figure’ to their audience and become the ‘go to’ business for answers.

This approach fosters a sense of reciprocity, where recipients are more likely to open, read and act on emails.

To do this, you must know your audience. Without knowing them and what makes them tick, you’re dead in the water!

Optimise Your Call-to-Action (CTA):

Clearly define your desired action and make it easy for recipients to take that action. Use prominent, clickable CTAs that stand out and guide readers to the next step.

“Tell them what you want them to do…and make it easy for them to do it.”

Take your audience on a (short) journey, leading them to the point where you want them to be convinced they’re ready to take action, then give them a simple, clear and effective way for them to take the action.

Don’t confuse your audience with multiple CTAs, and always start CTAs with a verb.

Monitor and Analyse:

Regularly track key metrics such as open rates, click-through rates, conversions and unsubscribe rates. Use this data to refine your email campaigns and iterate on what works best for your audience.

I spoke about A/B testing earlier, but analysis shouldn’t end there. Keep a track on what’s happening with your email marketing.

Test, Test and Test Again:

Before you send your email out, test it. Then test it again. Refine, Improve. Go away and leave it for awhile then test it again! You'll pick up tiny things you missed before because your brain reads what it wants to rather than what it might see on screen. Send it to a colleague or a friend and get them to check it over with completely fresh eyes.

Check Deliverability:

I also recommend using tools like Unspam's email delivery checker. It provides a detailed report and anticipated success score on your email deliverability after checking elements like your subject line, HTML best practices, IP blacklists, broken links etc. Easy to use, it lets you check your email by sending it to a testing address and is free for the first 10 emails each month.

In summary, email marketing continues to prove its worth as one of the most effective and cost-efficient forms of marketing. Its ability to retain customers, nurture relationships and provide measurable results makes it an invaluable tool in the digital marketer's arsenal.

By embracing email marketing along with A/B testing and optimisation techniques, businesses can unlock the full potential of email and benefit from some of that impressive ROI!

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Like to know more about email marketing and how it can help your business? Get in touch, let's chat!



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