5 years ago in Email  13 min read

The 9 Keys of Effective Email Marketing

Discover the 9 crucial components that help you secure conversions on your email marketing campaigns and make the most of its power to connect with your audience.

Email Marketing

Even with the vast network of digital marketing channels available nowadays, from social media and paid advertising to SEO optimisation, email marketing remains a ubiquitous option. Virtually everyone has an email address (or five if you're after free NowTV trials), and each represents an opportunity for brands to spread their message and secure more business.

Due to this universal nature, practically every type of business can capitalise on email marketing, and do it in their own unique style for a variety of reasons. But, even with the diverse motivations and templates available, there are numerous core competencies that any successful email marketer has in their arsenal that produce consistent, lasting results.

Here, we breakdown nine of the most valuable attributes effective marketing campaigns have in common, so you can understand the components that go into making the most of this potentially very profitable channel.

1. They get their audience’s permission

First and foremost, the days of buying lists of unsolicited emails are long gone and aren’t coming back anytime soon. Instead, it is crucial to get people to deliberately sign up to receive emails from you, as this ensures your audience is keenly interested in what you have to offer.

In order to maximise this approach, ensure there are numerous gateways for your audience to submit their email address to hear back from you. For example:

  • Allow them to subscribe to your regular email newsletter on your homepage
  • Offer a demo of your product for those that sign up with their email
  • Present a contact form for people to submit their email address
  • Display a sign-up sheet at the next conference you attend

Having several touchpoints helps ensure a consistent, organic stream of subscribers to grow your email list. However, remember these three key details:

  1. Don’t ask for too much detail from a potential subscriber from the outset – be grateful they’re willing to share their email address with you!
  2. Make it straightforward to unsubscribe – not doing this means people might label your email as spam to avoid it, leading to problems down the road.
  3. Deliver what you promised to get their email – whether it’s a free demo, an engaging newsletter or early access to a product or service, make sure you deliver on what they were promised.

2. They know the purpose of their campaign

Every email sent out as part of a successful campaign has a clear, thought-out objective behind it, and the aim is to get recipients to convert on that goal. There are numerous objectives available, such as:

  • Persuading recipients to purchase from your website
  • Asking your audience for their thoughts/opinions on something
  • Linking recipients to a blog post or webpage
  • Sharing a resource for your audience to download
  • Encouraging people to donate to a cause

Therefore you need to include a firm, well-defined call-to-action on each email, rather than dilute it with multiple messages. Of course, across the lifetime of a campaign different emails might link to different resources, but for each individual email, focus on getting the recipient to respond on that CTA.

3. They segment and personalise accordingly

Customers want to feel special, like they are being spoken to by a friend rather than a salesperson. This places a priority on segmenting your subscriber lists to determine the right audience for your email campaign, so each can be personalised to everyone’s background, location and interests.

Every successful email marketer takes steps to compile and segment their list of subscribers under various categories, be it gender, age, location, behaviour, or other factors. Getting a deeper understanding of your subscribers takes time, but it ensures your campaigns are tailored to the right audience, making them feel a deeper connection and more likely to take the action you’ve intended.

Once you’re clear on what segment a campaign is aimed at, you can use this information to craft the copy, design and layout to speak to them. Other little details like including the recipient’s name in the subject line can also make a noticeable difference. Just be wary to not be overfamiliar – you want the recipient to feel like your email speaks directly to them, not feel like they’re being stalked.

4. They have irresistible subject lines

The subject line is often the difference maker between an email that’s opened and absorbed and one that’s destined for deletion. Successful campaigns ensure their subject lines are creative, stand out in crowded inboxes and speak directly to the recipient.

Research suggests that up to 47% of email recipients open these based on subject line alone, placing incredible importance on getting this first impression correct. Here are a few tips to give you a guide for your next attention-grabbing campaign:

  • Tell the recipient what they’ll get from the email
  • Consider character counts
  • Use emojis appropriately
  • Personalise the subject line by including the recipient’s name
  • Use concise, action-oriented language
  • Don’t overdue capital letters or exclamation points (spam)

Finally, don’t forget to test different subject lines on sample groups of your subscribers to see which leads to the best open rate. This will inform which will be the most effective when you send the campaign further afield and reassure your results.

5. They offer valuable, well-designed content

Once you’ve secured that all-important open, it’s vital the content within the email is valuable, digestible and relevant to the reader. Sending something that looks stodgy and content-heavy, or lacking in any weight or substance, is asking for a one-way ticket to the spam folder.

Instead, settle on a style that is on-brand and presents rewarding information to your readers. Keep the following in mind:

  • Use short paragraphs and sentences to keep your audience engaged, with keywords highlighted and bullet points throughout to help them skim
  • Make sure it is designed with your brand and relevant images are used, but don’t go overboard – white space is also highly effective
  • Settle on a tone of voice that is personal and engaging – you want the email to read like it’s coming from a friend, not a cold sell
  • Be humorous or quirky when the opportunity calls for it, but ensure the tone is consistent and appropriate to the subject matter

6. They know how frequently to reach their audience

Determining how frequently to send emails out so they keep your audience regularly engaged but not overloaded is a tough balancing act, but one top email marketers need to master.

Of course, there’s no universal answer to this – some brands are fine emailing multiple times a day, others send campaigns on a weekly or monthly basis. It’s your job to find the frequency that’s right for you by tracking the analytics and feedback.

Usually, on this front, no news is good news. So if you don’t have any complaints from people and your subscriber count continues to grow, you could potentially up your frequency. On the other hand, if you’re packing people’s inboxes too quickly and it’s affecting your numbers, it’s time to ease up.

7. They steer clear of spam filters

Staying away from spam folders is one of the core concerns of any email marketer.

Not only does this mean that email has failed to capture the imagination of a recipient, but too many frequent catches by the spam filter can also lead to long-term negative associations between your outgoing email address and email providers, stunting the reach of future campaigns.

To avoid spam sabotaging your email campaigns, ensure your emails follow anti-spam regulations, as well as respect the following best practices:

  • Don’t use excessive capital letters or punctuation in your subject line or within your content
  • Ensure the content is relevant to the reader and familiar for your brand
  • Avoid words like prize, offer and discount in your subject line
  • Don’t have excessively long emails, as these will likely bore and irritate readers

8. They ensure their emails are mobile-friendly

Around half of all emails are opened on mobile phones, a proportion which will likely only grow as the years go on. Successful email marketers are aware of this trend and are taking strides to work within it, by producing email templates that are functional and engaging across mobile, tablets and desktops.

Here are a few steps to help you prioritise mobile in your email marketing:

  • Put the key message in your email above the fold, so readers understand the purpose of it straight away
  • Reduce the amount of text in each section to minimise scrolling - instead focus on design and imagery
  • Isolate your CTA buttons so it’s easy for mobile users to click and get the intended result, whether it’s a downloadable PDF, link to a website or straight to a shopping cart

9. They test, analyse and adapt their campaigns

Finally, the most successful email marketing campaigns typically aren’t a one-off result or based on intuition. They have been rigorously tested, had their results analysed, and taught lessons that will further optimise future campaigns.

Every element of your email should be tested, first internally to ensure there are no errors in its delivery or quality of content, then through a sample of your audience to see which subject lines and layouts encourage the most opens and conversions.

When tests are complete and you hit the send button on your campaign, it’s crucial to track and record the results consistently. Are your open rates as good as you expected? Do readers drop off at any point before they make a conversion? Your performance data will answer these questions and highlight that changes are required.

You probably won’t find your formula in the first few sends, but by tracking the results and adapting your structure accordingly, you’re on the road to sustainable, successful outcomes from your email marketing efforts.

Master Email Marketing

Now you know nine of the core components behind a successful email marketing campaign, it’s time to work with a team that put this into practice. At Storm, these skills are our second nature, and we work closely with clients to determine the right approach, messaging and audience to maximise the results of their email marketing.

With our completely in-house team covering the strategy, content, design, delivery and analysis of your campaigns, we help you achieve the results you’re after and improve engagement across this and your other digital marketing channels as part of our inclusive Digital Landscape service.

Contact us today to get the conversation started – call 01702 719595, email [email protected], or pop into our office in Leigh-on-Sea for a chat.