An Ultimate Guide To Email Marketing Optimization

An Ultimate Guide To Email Marketing Optimization
15 December, 2023 • ... • 112 views
Sara Kurczyńska
by Sara Kurczyńska

A year ago, Molly heard about the efficiency of email marketing, so she implemented emails to promote her products and services. However, the opens and click rates remained low, no matter what — let alone conversions to sales! Should Molly stop using emails for promotion then? 

Luckily, she doesn’t need to — and situations like this are totally avoidable. You just need to look into effective email marketing optimization techniques. If you don’t know what that’s about, you came to the right place. Below, you’ll find the ultimate guide to email marketing optimization. Keep reading to learn what it is and how it helps you create outstanding email campaigns.

What is email marketing optimization?

Email marketing optimization is the process of fine-tuning email campaigns to improve their performance and effectiveness. It involves assessing and adjusting various elements of your emails. These typically include email subject lines, calls-to-action, and graphic design, among other things.

For example, Molly noticed how open rates have been decreasing for the past 6 months. To improve the metric, she tested several variants of email subjects, started paying attention to preheaders and tested different versions too. That way, she managed to drastically increase both opens and clicks. However, Molly doesn’t plan on stopping here. Email marketing optimization is an ongoing process, so her next destination is improving CTA buttons for more conversions.

The importance of email campaign optimization

Optimizing email marketing campaigns is crucial for several reasons. 

Firstly, it helps you stand out in a crowded inbox. With millions of emails sent every day, capturing potential customers’ attention is more important than ever. 

Secondly, it helps you build better relationships with potential and existing customers. By sending relevant and personalized content, you increase the likelihood of them engaging with your brand and increasing your sales numbers.

Lastly, email optimization pays off significantly. As businesses test and refine different strategies, they can identify what works best. For instance, Adorama, a camera and electronics retailer, achieved a 25% increase in average order value. 

They did so by optimizing their email campaigns by personalizing content based on past customer behavior. They used data on previous purchases to customize the banners in their emails, showcasing products from brands the customers had already shown interest in. This made their emails more relevant to potential customers, leading to increased engagement and sales.

Tips and best practices on how to optimize email marketing campaigns

Now, let’s take a closer look at the key strategies for optimizing email marketing campaigns and increasing sales. Once you read through it, you will be better equipped to craft compelling email content that drives tangible results.

Come up with eye-catching subject lines

The subject line is the first thing recipients see. A well-crafted subject can significantly increase your email open rate and other metrics. That’s why it’s important to make sure that it’s intriguing, clear, and relevant. 

However, there’s no such thing as a foolproof email subject formula. Different things resonate with different audiences. So, try experimenting with different formats. It’s the simplest way to get the best results possible. Here are some effective subject line format ideas if you’re feeling stuck:

  • Question-based subject lines. A question-based subject line is a powerful tool in email marketing. It engages the reader’s curiosity right from the start, prompting them to open your email in search of answers. It’s particularly effective when the question resonates with their interests or challenges.

Are you making these 7 marketing mistakes?

  • Humorous subject lines. Humorous subject lines can add a dash of fun and personality to your email campaign. In a sea of standard emails, a witty or amusing subject line can be a breath of fresh air for recipients. For that reason, it increases the likelihood of your email being opened.

Warning! Our deals may cause extreme cart-fill syndrome!

  • Urgency-creating subject lines. Creating a sense of urgency in your subject line is a time-tested strategy to prompt immediate action. It taps into the reader’s fear of missing out, which can boost your open rates. It’s best used for a special offer or an event reminder.

Hurry! Our sale ends in three hours!

Pay attention to the opening line

An email’s opening line often ends up being the deciding factor when it comes to how your message is received. It can connect with the reader and encourage them to check out the entire message — but also get your message promptly closed and deleted. So, how can you ensure that your opening line aids you in your optimization efforts?

  • Focus on the main idea. A good opening line directly and succinctly conveys the purpose or benefit of your email.
  • Make the reader curious. It doesn’t matter if it’s a surprising fact, a thought-provoking question, or a bold statement. The ultimate goal here is to grab the reader’s attention. They will be motivated to read on, seeking answers or insights that you have promised to provide.

Consistent opening lines can also become your brand’s trademark. For example, Cards Against Humanity always start their emails with “Dear horrible friends”, which sets the tone of the message and expresses the company’s sarcastic and edgy ToV.

Black Friday email from Cards Against Humanity that introduces a new social media created by the brand and starts with the opening line “Dear horrible friends”
Source: Milled

Take advantage of personalization

Crafting emails that speak directly to the individual can boost your engagement metrics. However, simply addressing recipients by name is not enough. In fact, according to GetResponse, subject lines with first names yield lower email open rates

If you want your campaign truly optimized for success, you need to go a step further. You can analyze your subscribers’ interaction patterns, purchase history, and even the times they’re most active. Then, tailor your communications accordingly. This kind of hyper-targeted messaging nourishes a feeling of exclusivity in your audience. As a result, it prompts higher click-through and conversion rates. 

While it might seem unnecessary, it can really help you achieve business success. According to McKinsey, faster-expanding businesses generate a 40% higher revenue from personalized offerings compared to those with slower growth.

A great starting point for personalizing your emails is list segmentation. It’s not full-scale personalization yet but this data-driven email marketing technique still helps make the email content more relevant for certain subscriber groups. It’s based on dividing your email list into distinct groups based on various demographic and behavioral characteristics from location to email activity. This email marketing optimization strategy is a surefire way to start providing your target audience with tailor-made content. 

For example, imagine that you’re selling clothing. Someone has just purchased something from your online store. You could send them a message encouraging them to make another purchase.

American Eagle did just that. What’s more, they compliment the recipient on their taste. It makes their offer sound more friendly.

A message from American Eagle with a model posing and personalized pieces of clothing and a campaign tagline “More to love.”
Source: Really Good Emails

Include high-quality images

Remember to incorporate high-resolution images into your emails. Ideally, go with ones that will complement your emails and reinforce your brand’s image. For instance, they might feature the color scheme that your business has been using on its website. It might seem insignificant, but it can aid in building a consistent brand image.

In the case of Popsmith, their brand is commonly associated with beige and a darker shade of yellow. Consequently, the photographs in their newsletter feature these very same colors.

An email from Popsmith with an image featuring their brand colors and a tagline “Your secret to perfect popcorn every time.”
Source: Really Good Emails

Just remember to keep the load times of these images in mind. Your images should be of high-quality, yes, but they shouldn’t take ages to load. Striking a balance between a reasonable load time and a satisfactory image quality is key to properly optimizing your emails for success. For example, Selzy only allows users to upload images and GIFs that are not larger than 1MB, ensuring that your emails download quickly.

If you’re selling physical products, make sure to showcase the said products when they’re actively being used. Here, Masienda showcased their ceramics collection using several aesthetically pleasing photographs.

An email from Masienda about a discount featuring high-quality pictures and a tagline “20% off our ceramics collection.”
Source: Really Good Emails

Offer genuine value

What makes an email truly effective is its ability to deliver real value to its readers. It might take the form of useful insights, tips related to the recipient’s industry, or a narrative that captivates and entertains. Long story short, your subscribers should perceive your emails as something that makes their day or speaks to their interests. If they do, they’ll be more eager to engage with your email marketing campaigns and contribute to your sales numbers. In the message below, the value in question is a very attractive discount.

An email from Codecademy about an attractive discount with a campaign tagline “50% off exclusive courses and more.”
Source: Really Good Emails

Okay, everybody loves discounts but what about other types of content, especially non-salesy? Here’s how to make your emails more valuable:

  • Use dynamic content. For example, you can suggest tailored recommendations based on website behavior, email engagement, and other subscriber data.
  • Run a survey. This is a no-brainer — for feedback or market research, you can always run a survey to find out what makes your emails especially enticing (or boring) to your subscribers.
  • Testing, testing, testing. Marketing depends on trial and error more than you think. Keep trying out different types of content and its presentation — that’s how you figure out what works for your audience.

Create a sense of urgency

Instilling a sense of urgency in your emails compels recipients to act swiftly. Expressions like limited time offer or while supplies last are potent motivators that can produce a significant uptick in click-through rates. That’s why this tactic is often used by business owners and marketers to optimize their campaigns. 

However, keep in mind that it requires authenticity to work. Manufactured scarcity or false deadlines can damage trust. If you’d like to maintain brand integrity, tie your calls-to-action to opportunities or deadlines that are actually genuine.

A message from SURI about an electric toothbrush sale that’s about to end and a tagline that reads “Don’t forget.” Source: Really Good Emails

In the example above, a toothbrush brand called SURI reminds the recipient about their sale. The offer is about to expire, so they want the recipient to feel like they are missing out on something great by not taking advantage of it. They do so by using phrases like last opportunity and don’t miss out, both of which effectively create a sense of urgency.

Use a strong and clear call-to-action

A well-defined call-to-action is something that you definitely need to pay attention to while optimizing your emails for success. It provides a clear direction and simplifies the users’ journey through the marketing funnel. It shows them exactly where they need to go, as well as what services or products they should check out. As a result, it enhances the likelihood of conversion.

Additionally, using clear calls-to-action throughout your email marketing campaigns ensures that your messaging is focused and goal-oriented. It’s crucial in preventing readers from merely glancing over the content without meaningful engagement. That’s why your CTAs must be written in clear language and properly tested. Here’s a good example in action (pun intended).

A personalized message from Spotify with a personalized selection of playlists and a tagline that reads “Playlists for you.”
Source: Really Good Emails

The call-to-action in a message from Spotify is listen now. It’s short and to the point. It’s also written in capitalized letters, located in a green button that stands out against the black background, and repeated three times throughout the message. It’s really hard to miss, which makes it very effective.

Keep mobile devices in mind

Did you know that most emails are opened on mobile devices? Nearly 55% of global website traffic is generated from mobile devices. With that in mind, you should invest in responsive email design. It adjusts the layout, font size, and visuals of your email to fit the screen it’s being viewed on. This means you get to communicate effectively, regardless of whether your message is being read on a desktop, a tablet, or a mobile phone.

An example of a responsive email that adjusts the layout depending on the screen size and looks great on desktop devices, tablets, and smartphones
Source: Relationship One

Furthermore, responsive design can significantly improve your email’s click-through rate. With emails that are easy to read and navigate on a mobile screen, users are more likely to engage with their content. This adaptability is crucial when it comes to email marketing optimization.

If you’re new to responsive design, we’re here to help! Selzy, our email marketing tool, comes with a number of different email templates. Each one is automatically optimized for mobile devices. So, with Selzy, you get to cater to the needs of your mobile users with genuine ease.

Make use of email analytics

Analytics are crucial in refining and optimizing email marketing strategies. They enable marketers to make data-driven decisions, leading to more effective and successful email campaigns. They do so by providing valuable insights into how recipients interact with your emails. 

By analyzing metrics like open rates, click-through rates, bounce rates, and conversion rates, marketers can gauge the effectiveness of their email campaigns. This data reveals which aspects of the email resonate with the audience and which parts might need improvement. For example, a low open rate might indicate a less compelling subject line.

The best part is, you don’t have to analyze and calculate all this stuff manually. Email automation tools like Selzy offer automated A/B tests — the only thing you have to do is set them up and wait.

Include various shareable links

Including social media sharing buttons and links helps you reach beyond a single mailing list. When recipients share your emails on social platforms, your message gets a wider audience. This can lead to more subscribers and increased brand awareness.

Social shares also offer valuable insights for optimizing your email marketing strategy. Tracking which content gets shared the most helps understand what interests your audience. This knowledge can guide your future email content, making it more engaging and relevant.

The section at the bottom of the Atlas Obscura newsletter featuring small yet easy-to-spot social media icons.
Source: Really Good Emails

Here’s an example from Atlas Obscura. In their company newsletter, social media icons are located at the bottom of the message. Each of these icons is easy to spot and click on. What’s more, they don’t stick out like a sore thumb. Instead, they are small enough to blend in just fine.

Include an unsubscribe link

Including an unsubscribe link in email communications is not only a legal requirement in many jurisdictions, but also a vital aspect of email optimization. First, providing this option promotes transparency and trust. Second, it helps you maintain a clean mailing list. Third, it’s a great opportunity to crack a joke. It can add a bit of flair and personality to your brand, making it more memorable.

The unsubscribe section from an icons8 email, “We’ve had a great time, but if you’d like to stay friends, we’ll understand.”
Source: Really Good Emails

Final thoughts

To sum up, email marketing optimization is an ongoing process of refinement and adaptation. While it might seem complicated, it doesn’t have to be. You just need to keep our tips and best practices in mind. Once you do that, you should be able to make your email campaigns drive more opportunities for favorable business outcomes. In the meantime, make sure to keep the following bullet points in mind!

  • Personalization and segmentation are crucial for engaging an audience effectively.
  • High-value content, along with a clear and compelling call-to-action, drives better engagement and conversion rates.
  • Continuous testing and adaptation to new trends and feedback are essential for the long-term success of any email marketing campaign.
  • An unsubscribe link at the bottom of your emails promotes trust and allows you to express the brand personality just a little more.
15 December, 2023
Article by
Sara Kurczyńska
Sara Kurczyńska is an experienced content writer from Poznań, Poland. She enjoys writing about digital marketing, as well as playing video games and petting her fancy rats. In her spare time, you can find her birdwatching and taking long walks around the local parks and forests.
Visit Sara's

Latest Articles

Selzy Selzy Selzy Selzy