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Email marketing is one of the strongest ways to send marketing messages to your customers—and it makes money. For every $1 you spend on email marketing, you can expect an average return of $38. Grow your brand using this medium and you'll soon see measurable impact... that is, if your email campaign is designed effectively.

Related: How to make a newsletter in 9 steps

To make sure your marketing messages don't go straight into the garbage, we've compiled a list of 11 things to consider before your next email campaign.

Refreshing simplicity

Simplicity and straightforwardness are two key elements of an effective email marketing campaign. Emails shouldn't be overly cluttered with design elements, but they also shouldn't be so sparse that they fail to grab attention. Go for a healthy balance between the two and create a comfortable design that pleases the eye. As for the copy, remember that you are talking directly to the reader through this email, so make it conversational but stay professional.

Killer subject lines

According to research, 33% of people open an email based on the subject line. Even if readers signed up for your email newsletter through your website, they won't open the email without a strong, alluring subject line that compels them to peek inside.

In a way, a catchy subject line works like a miniature call-to-action. Refrain from using buzz words like "You earned" or "Congratulations," because their overuse leads users to think it might be spam. Be truthful about what you are offering, and let the subject line shine to reveal the real value behind your message.

Powerful analytics

We're in the era of data-driven marketing. You must measure and record the data generated by your email campaigns—not just to see how well you did, but to uncover insights on how to do better. Overall, there are four major elements you should be tracking in an email campaign: opening rate, click-through rate (CTR), bounce rate and response rate. With this data in hand, you can start to measure trends, tweak your strategy, and gain key insights about the reach of your newsletter and how it's perceived by your audience.

Compelling calls-to-action

The purpose of an email marketing campaign is to attract people to your brand and raise conversions. Therefore, you must place strong call-to-action (CTA) buttons in the newsletter that urge readers to take a particular action as a result of reading. These buttons should stand out from the rest of the newsletter. Choose a color (on-brand, of course) which contrasts with the other colors in your template, then size the button so it's both visible and appealing.

There should be an element of urgency in your CTA, and you can use the button to convey it. Consider using specific, action-based phrases like "Call now" or "Get this look" to make your offer more compelling.

Gorgeous images

Images are a surefire way to make your newsletter more appealing to an audience. The human brain processes visual info much faster than text, and those few extra seconds can make or break the difference between an email that gets read and one that gets deleted. So, choose your images wisely.

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Custom graphics in particular offer an opportunity for memorable branding. Follow your style guide to match colors, icons and photography styles. Pay attention to the tone and voice your images convey as well. Stock photos are a fine shortcut, but only if they reinforce the look and feel of your brand. If you're worried about spending too much time on your images, use a tool like Lucidpress to set up editable templates, then switch out the text and graphics as needed.

Animated content

Animated content is popular with readers, but many brands still haven't mastered how to use it. If photos are more expressive than text, then videos and GIFs are even more swift at relaying the message. GIFs are also a great way to provide a snippet of a larger video.

You can make the tone of your newsletter lighter by adding GIFs in the body section. Initially, GIFs were almost always used to add humor to content. Nowadays, you can use them in many ways, such as showing how your product or service works. However, there are some drawbacks for animation enthusiasts who are planning to use GIFs in their next email:

  • Several versions of Outlook do not support animated content. (Oh, Microsoft.)
  • GIFs have larger file sizes, which might slow down the loading speed of your newsletter on older devices.
  • If used incorrectly, your brand can come across as insensitive or insincere. Consider asking a few people to read your email before you send it, to make sure your tone comes across as intended.

Perfect timing?

It's been estimated that most emails are read by people in the evening, the time when they are most free. It may seem counter-intuitive, but sending email later in the day could result in a higher conversion rate, because readers have more time to follow your message.

Since most marketers work during the day, you can use a scheduling tool to do it for you. According to Accelq: "Automation should be integrated into the overall lifecycle, and not a 'test automation' silo." The more you can automate, the less you have to babysit.

Mobile optimization

Are your emails optimized for mobile devices? According to a study, 63% of US consumers will delete emails from their inbox if they don't open on mobile. That's a huge chunk of people sending the same message. You must make your email newsletter responsive because 8 out of 10 users are browsing the web through a mobile device. But, it's not just the email itself. Make sure any outbound links or downloads are accessible via mobile, too. Responsive design will help you reach readers on any browser or device, so your marketing doesn't go to waste.

Testing: 1, 2

Any kind of marketing strategy that aims to increase conversion rate should be tested. A/B testing is the easiest (and cheapest) way to check the effectiveness of your strategies.

Testing will help you develop a clear idea of how a campaign is going and how you can improve it in the future. Email marketing campaigns can be hugely successful when you start testing and tweaking any flaws in the interface. You can also validate your hypotheses for things like CTA buttons, images, time of delivery, and landing pages. Here is a comprehensive starters' guide for A/B testing your emails.

Audience segmentation

It's an unfortunate reality: most people who sign up for your newsletter are not going to open it. How do you encourage them to open the email and convince them to convert? Sometimes, you need qualitative data to find out. That's right: send them an email to find out why they are not opening your emails.

Sound futile? It doesn't have to be. You can offer incentives and promo codes to lure them in. With the results, you can set up audience segmentation to ensure that various user personas are targeted differently through your email marketing campaign.

If an email survey doesn't sound like your bag, you can also collect this data via phone calls or personal interactions with your customers. Regardless of how you do it, you need to create targeted, personalized emails for your readers. "One size fits all" doesn't work anymore. [Click to tweet Tweet this]

Relationship building

When someone subscribes to your newsletter, they're agreeing to an ongoing relationship with you. You need to show that you value them, that you care about their problems and choices. This applies to every part of your email: the graphics, the copy, the offer, the tone. Use your findings to consistently improve your email campaigns and serve your customers better than before. Build a relationship that makes them proud to be your brand's loyal customer.

Build a better campaign now

Emails are a great way to nurture your audience and increase conversions. It's not just about marketing your brand, it's about building a solid relationship that provides dividends over time. Ready to get started?

Kickstart your next email marketing campaign with our free newsletter templates.

Free email newsletter templates

Author Bio

Kamil Riaz Kara is a writer and inbound marketer. He received his masters in Administrative Science from the University of Karachi. He writes about marketing, management, technology and health. Currently, he's working on development with the airG team. You can follow him on LinkedIn & Twitter