Best Tips for Email Marketing to Start Using Today

Best Tips for Email Marketing to Start Using Today
25 December, 2021 • ... • 2616 views
Julia Zakharova
by Julia Zakharova

Email marketing continues to be an effective instrument giving tangible results amid fierce competition with other digital marketing tools. It has been about 50 years since Ray Tomilson sent his first email which marked the new era of digital communication.

However, email marketing has never been about just sending ads chaotically: it is a complex and changing digital industry, and there’s always something new to learn and improve. We’ve analyzed and collected the most important email marketing tips that will help you stay current, get good returns, and create really clicking emails.

So let the journey begin!

What is email marketing

Email marketing is one of the oldest digital communication channels and yet very popular due to a number of unique features. The past ten years saw a dramatic development in social media, content production, influence marketing and data analysis. However, emails continue to be the most cost-effective form of direct marketing that generates the highest ROI for marketers. Check it out: according to DMA, email marketing produced $32 for every $1 spent in 2020.

a diagram with email marketing costs
А diagram with email marketing costs and returns. Source: Data & Marketing Association UK

Most businesses promote themselves both by email marketing and social media. The latter is also engaging and powerful in terms of marketing campaigns, but its main drawback is in the limited reach. The performance is limited to social media users, and even particular platforms, to be precise. According to Statista, roughly 4.1 billion people send emails across the world, while the most popular platforms Instagram and Facebook have 1 billion and 2.91 billion monthly active users, respectively.

A chart with common mobile phone activities
Some 8 out of 10 (83%) respondents say they use their phone for email. Source: Marketing charts

Apparently, email marketing secures very important business objectives, such as:

  • increasing brand awareness and building community
  • driving engagement
  • boosting sales and revenue.

Email marketing tips and tricks for a successful campaign in 2022

Email campaigns can be compared to a spacecraft launching: it demands a lot of initial effort and testing, while all the actions of the team should be well coordinated. If you are determined to succeed in your email marketing strategy, check out these insights and expert opinions.

Personalization is a must

Personalization in email marketing is widely seen as addressing a subscriber by name or sending congratulations on occasional holidays. However, data analysis allows you to treat your customers with emails as if they were handwritten and delivered at the right moment.

Advanced personalized content includes a customer’s interests, shopping behavior, location, etc. For instance, it helps to get a customer back on track and complete the order. Just look: Epsilon research indicates that roughly 80% of customers would make a purchase following a personalized email.

an email about a user’s tracked activity
Аn email about a user’s tracked activity on the website and an invitation to come back. Source: Really Good Emails
Phil Woodford
Phil Woodford

marketing & comms professional

Email specialist and author Kath Pay has described a non-personalized approach as ‘blanket batch-and-blast messaging’. Why use a tool which is easy to personalize and then not take advantage of it? If you want to create engagement though, you need to go beyond simply referencing someone’s name. Show them what you know about their aspirations, motivations and previous purchases.

Investment in personalization results in:

  • increased open and click-through rates
  • engaged audience
  • satisfied with personal attention subscribers

At the same time, please be careful with handling personal information, otherwise too familiar messages can simply freak people out.

Segment for the best results

Personalization goes hand in hand with other tools, such as email segmentation. As the name suggests, segmentation means separating your contact list into groups based on different criteria, e.g. location, interests, demographic data and many others. All the stereotypes about inefficient email marketing are related to irrelevant spam letters, with one and only being sent to the whole contact list. Certainly, it doesn’t work that way. According to the latest Hubspot research, segmented campaigns result in a tremendous 760% increase in revenue.

a screenshot of Selzy’s segmentation tool
Selzy’s segmentation tool with over 70 parameters

Both personalization and segmentation require a big scope of customer data. However, they differ in the depth of the knowledge, target metrics and chosen content strategy. Audience segmentation fosters an increase in all campaign metrics including unique open rates and clicks while reducing unsubs. Note that the broader your identified group is, the less relevant the content will be. At the same time, one campaign may involve several groups at once. There is no ideal formula, just try to get to know your audience better, and it will definitely result in a long-term and mutually beneficial relationship.

Try automation

As opposed to an email campaign, an automated email is sent when a subscriber meets a particular trigger. It may refer to a welcome email or similar product recommendations, as well as unique customized features based on a customer’s data analysis.

A variant of a welcome email
An automated welcome email. Source: Really good emails

Automation has indisputable benefits both for the brand performance, as it increases customer loyalty. But it also benefits the team: automation exempts from routine work and allows to focus on more complex issues.

Use a cliffhanger in your subject line

Sometimes, we all need a bit of drama. Why not add it right in the subject line? The notion of a cliffhanger originates from fiction as a plot device in which an ending element of a story remains unfinished or even suspended in an intriguing way, compelling the audience to strive for continuation.


The cliffhanger technique in your subject line captivates the audience and motivates them to open the letter.

a cliffhanger example
An example of an email with a cliffhanger in the subject line. You really want to know what kind of junk they are talking about, so… you go straight to opening it!. Source: Really Good Emails

Test your email copy frequently

A/B testing is generally a process of setting up two content variations of your emails sent to a subset of your subscribers. The aim is to find out which variation works better with your email list.

Phil Woodford
Phil Woodford

marketing & comms professional

A/B split testing will give you a good sense of what works and what doesn’t and can be used to measure everything from subject lines to offers and calls to action.

There are at least three reasons to start A/B testing email campaigns:

  • You will learn which type of CTA buttons, subject lines and layouts are bringing more clicks.
  • It helps to define the content that has higher open rates.
  • It helps to boost conversion without increasing the acquisition costs.

Pay attention to preheader

A preheader is a text following the subject line when an email is previewed. Sometimes marketers neglect the importance of this feature, while mistakes in the preview text may significantly undermine customer experience. Note that one and the same subject line and preheader may be previewed differently on user devices.

An example of incorrect preheader preview
Incohesive text in the preheader following the subject line

Among the things that ruin any chances of opening your email are simply grammar mistakes or unsupported characters and emojis that won’t be displayed on a particular device. Quite often the placeholder text is mistakenly sent out. Remember that a tiny and correct preheader allows you to bypass the spam filter and increase deliverability.

A preheader example
A nice example of how a preheader can make a subject line even hotter.

Optimize your emails for different devices

According to a recent research by Litmus, mobile clients amount to 41.6% of email opens, followed by webmail opens at 40,6% and desktop opens at 16,2%.

optimized vs non-optimized email
Compare these two emails: it is highly unlikely that someone will read the first huge and ill-structured email on the smartphone. Source: Really good emails

Obviously, your email marketing campaigns should be mobile-friendly. Remember to keep your subject line and preheader short, though eye-catching and compelling. Make it cohesive with the email content. It is preferably to fit in 40-50 characters (8-10 words).  Avoid large and vague paragraphs: save your customer’s time with simple and clean-cut messages.

Note, that over 70% of consumers delete poorly optimized emails or even go further and unsubscribe, according to Adestra study.

Make Your CTA Buttons Contextual

Obviously, it is not enough to make a CTA button in a high-contrast color: you should ignite curiosity instead of asking to ‘click here’ or any other vague phrases.

CTA button variation example
Instead of simply “buy now”, this CTA button calls for contributing to a charity project, which guarantees more clicks Source: Really Good Emails

Engagement is always a priority

Engagement rate is an important and meaningful piece of data about your subscriber’s interactions with your emails. It allows ranking activity, subscription time, which is helpful in segmentation. E.g., on the basis of this information, you may diversify your content and launch different campaigns for your active and passive customers with various company’s special offers.

Moreover, the recent iOS has changed the game: users may now choose to “Protect Mail Activity”, making it impossible for you to track which emails really got opened.  Hence, the open rate metric, which has been widely used as a primary performance indicator, fades in comparison to the engagement rate.

Read our analysis into the recent iOS update and its impact on email marketing.

There are also other points that are important in the context of the engagement rate:

Phil Woodford
Phil Woodford

marketing & comms professional

Frequency is a big part of this, I feel. There is evidence that people who feel bombarded with communications are likely to become disengaged and may unsubscribe. At the same time, you want enough contact that you maintain awareness and brand loyalty. A difficult balancing act. In terms of the actual communications, different techniques may be applicable in different contexts. In B2B, usefulness and knowledge sharing is key. In consumer markets, humor and the use of incentives tend to play a much bigger role.

Maintain and manage your email lists

The effectiveness of your email marketing campaigns directly depends on the accuracy and relevance of your email lists. Managing the lists ensures you’re not wasting time and resources on the ‘dead’ subscribers. Otherwise, you won’t be able to assess your performance – an outdated subscribers list will never result in a high engagement rate, no matter how creative, say, your subject lines and CTA buttons are.

So, managing your email list comprises a number of elements:

  • Clean your email list regularly and reactivate dormant subscribers by using various tactics – more on this in our article about win-back campaigns;
  • Abandon the idea of buying or downloading a random subscribers database – this will be either irrelevant for the people who didn’t choose to receive your emails, or simply marked as spam. Rather, focus on growing a list of quality contact. We have compiled the tips on building a quality email list in the article;
  • Mind the tone: welcome your new subscribers, make people feel comfortable by addressing them by name, offering a welcome gift, providing next-step instructions or inviting them to follow your social networks. Stay friendly and sweet rather than being too salesy and pushy;
  • Use email marketing software that helps target the right audience and provide management solutions based on data analysis.
  • Respect your customers’ choice and make it easy to unsubscribe

How to execute these email marketing campaign tips

Identify your goal for the campaign

Unless you set up a clear goal for an email campaign, you won’t be able to measure performance, track progress, clearly plan your content and work out next steps.

To make it easier, you may start with SMART goals, meaning they are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound. It may refer to increasing engagement rate by, say, 15% during the next three months – this is a SMART goal.

Do not forget to ask yourself direct questions about the goal for the upcoming campaign – it will help you to choose the right strategy and adjust it, if necessary.

Understand your email list

This may seem obvious, but if you fail to get to know your audience, no strategy will succeed. For that purpose, all the email marketing tools may be helpful.

So let the data come first: by capturing zero party data, i.e. the information that a user provides freely upon subscription, you will definitely understand the focus area for the content.

shopping preferences form
Nike asks you to share your age and shopping preferences upon subscription to send you more relevant content

Think of it carefully to collect relevant and helpful info.

a questionnaire example
An example of a questionnaire to get to know the subscriber, where people are invited to tell more about their preferences to receive more relevant content. Source: Really good emails

Also, use the analytics to find out what content is particularly interesting for your audience, what time of the day they prefer to check their inbox, what content inspires them to interact.

When you have primary information about your customer, you may go further: opinion polls are also helpful in creating a customer portrait. Do not get people scared by the amount of questions in the subject line, but a few stirring ones may result in a good engagement rate. At the same time, you may flirt with your subscribers by letting them influence your product, e.g. asking them to choose the design.

an example of an engaging opinion poll
CTA buttons gently ask to interact. Source: Really Good Emails

Plan your emails and follow-ups

When it comes to launching an email campaign, planning is essential. Depending on the sphere and scale, it is a good idea to have your email content plan per week/month/year. Your emails should be not only engaging but logically connected, in order to let a subscriber feel cared for, not just being pushed to buy something.

More than that, this is important for your business team, since the production cycle of email campaigns usually engages a number of specialists, including a copywriter, a designer and a SEO manager, and they need time for brainstorming.

Follow-up emails contribute to the idea of being selected and cared for, if you don’t bombard your clients’ inbox, of course. Certain trigger events, particular actions, as well as data-based information should be the basis for follow-ups. It is unacceptable to plan your content only in accordance with a calendar. And all the follow-up emails should convey a certain message, starting from a subject line, and contain a call to action.

an example of a follow up email
The email was sent as a follow-up to the recent purchase. Source: Really good emails

Always provide a way to opt out

An option to unsubscribe is both an obligatory legal requirement and a matter of digital etiquette.

  • Make sure it is clear and easy for your customers to unsubscribe;
  • Allow your subscribers to edit the email preferences, such as frequency, interests, etc.
  • Investigate the reasons for unsubscription and invite to stay in touch via social networks;
an unsubscribe link example
The unsubscribe button is usually put in the email footer. Source: Really good emails

If you deal with any subscription services, you may also launch reactivation campaigns to win back your suspended users.

an example of reactivation campaign
Hulu reengaging a subscriber. Source: Really Good Emails

Monitor your performance

There are dozens of email marketing metrics, but it doesn’t mean that you need to blindly apply all of them. At the very beginning of an email campaign it is highly recommended to define the proper KPIs for your product or business. Email marketing software will help you to track chosen metrics, while you should work out an evaluation plan to process the data adequately. For example, you may check out open rate daily, while CTR or conversion – weekly, and mobile or desktop usage even more rarely. Draw conclusions, amend your content strategies and you will have success.

Wrapping things up

Email marketing campaigns aren’t easy, but it doesn’t mean that you need to dive into all the aspects and implement everything at once, while getting closer to a nervous breakdown. First of all, you need to define the most important and applicable features for your business and evaluate your resources. Just keep in mind the following tips:

  • Data is everything. It allows you to see what works and what doesn’t in your strategy. The more data you collect, the more you understand your subscribers and the more relevant content you can send to them;
  • Personalized content is a must;
  • Don’t ignore A/B testing: start with general concepts and then go deeper.;
  • Segment your email lists for better results;
  • Remember to optimize your emails for mobile devices, since the percentage of mobile users is growing.
  • Use a cliffhanger in the subject line to win your customers’ attention;
  • Engagement is more important than open rate;
  • Monitor performance and get to know your subscribers. They are not some abstract consumers, but just normal people like you who want to receive the content that resonates with them.
25 December, 2021
Article by
Julia Zakharova
Editor, digital & printed media contributor
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