Email may not be a new marketing tactic (the first marketing email was reportedly sent in 1978 and resulted in $13 million in sales), but it remains one of the most highly used and effective marketing channels to date.

But with great results comes increased competition: individuals receive approximately 121 emails each day. This is creating a battle among brands to get campaigns opened and to win the attention of subscribers. Eighty-seven percent of businesses plan to invest more resources in email marketing in 2019 and 97% of businesses use email to try and convert email recipients into buyers.

As we head into 2019, marketers need to audit their email marketing to make sure their campaigns are optimized to continue achieving great results in the new year.

1. Getting Started: Understand Top Types of Emails

There are three different types of campaigns that make up a successful email marketing strategy. When creating a new campaign, decide which type of messaging you are going to use. These types include:

  • Direct/Promotional: A broadcast campaign that involves sending an email solely to communicate a promotional message like a special offer.
  • Transactional: Emails triggered based on a customer’s action with a company. Transactional emails generate 8 times more opens and clicks and 6 times more revenue than promotional messages, so it’s a good idea to set up automated campaigns to maintain this type of touchpoint.
  • Relational: These campaigns fulfill a commitment that a business has made to a customer. For example, a relational email is one that provides a piece of content or a free gift that the recipient signed up to receive.

2. Set Measurable Goals

Calendar for goals

Set Measurable Goals

Always start with an understanding of the business priorities for your brand’s entire email marketing strategy. From there, break down those objectives into individual campaigns. For each campaign, think about the specific goal you want to accomplish. Email marketing is most successful at fulfilling goals like increasing traffic, increasing revenue, building brand awareness and re-engaging lapsed customers.

Once you know what you want to achieve, determine a set of measurable metrics that align with your goal. For example, if your campaign objective is to increase traffic to your website, your key performance indicator will be click-through rate (the percentage of people who click on the email after opening it).

3. Find Your Target Audience

Find Your Target Audience

Find Your Target Audience

The key with each email campaign is to send your message to an audience of subscribers that will find it timely, relevant and valuable. While it can be tempting to broadcast your message to your entire list, this can lead to unsubscribes or spam complaints and will ultimately hurt your ability to drive results.

A target audience is a segment of your list that you identify as the most likely to take your desired action. By creating a message that is targeted to a specific part of your email list (for example, subscribers who have opened the last 5 campaigns sent), marketers are more likely to serve content that is relevant. This tactic has been proven to work: Marketers have reported a 760% increase in revenue from segmented campaigns.

Segmenting your list is a great way to incorporate personalization into your email marketing. Open rates for personalized emails average 18.8% compared to 13.1% without personalization


Here are a few ways to segment your email list:

  • Demographics: Age, gender
  • Survey Results: If you’ve ever surveyed your audience, use the results to create interest and needs groups
  • Sending Frequency: Ask subscribers how often they want to hear from you
  • Purchase cycle & history: Create groups based on what subscribers have purchased from you and when the last time they made a purchase was
  • Email activity: Break out your list based on how subscribers engage with your emails

4. Write Your Subject Line, Copy and Call-to-Action

With your goals and audiences defined, it’s time to write your email copy. Consider the message you most want to convey in your campaign.

How Subject Lines Effect Open Rates

How Subject Lines Affect Open Rates

Tips for Subject Lines:

  • Aim for 41-50 characters
  • Avoid spammy words like ‘percent off’
  • Include highly clickable words such as NEW
  • Use emojis
  • Check out this list of great subject lines

Tips for Email Copy:

  • Use casual language that reflects how people actually speak
  • Use short, snackable pieces of content. Think of crafting email copy in the same way you’d write for social media channels.


Tips for Call-to-Actions:

  • Your CTA should be clear, concise and action oriented
  • Make sure the CTA relates to your campaign goal
  • Use a single CTA. Emails with a single call-to-action increased clicks 371%
  • Consider placement and color
  • Make sure the landing page experience aligns with your CTA

5. Design Email Creative:

Good design is one of the best strategies to keep your subscribers engaged in your email content. Design helps to communicate your message and drives your audience to take action. When developing the creative for your email campaign, it’s important to address the following challenges:

  • Mobile vs. Desktop: 3 in 5 consumers check their email on mobile, but approximately 50% of opens still happen on a desktop. When setting up your email template, make sure to set mobile styles and preview your message on both platforms.
  • Accessibility: For email, this means making sure that your message can be understood, despite the use of any assistive devices or disabilities the reader may have. To learn more about how to design an email for accessibility, check out this guide.
  • Email client differences: Email is not a static medium. Your message will look different depending on whether your reader receives it in Gmail, Apple Mail, Outlook or other popular clients. Consider using a preview tool to understand how your email will be delivered.
  • Load time: 51% of recipients will delete your email within 2 seconds of opening it. To ensure subscribers are actually seeing your email, compress images and videos and aim to keep your email size under 80 KB.
  • Images vs. Text: Many readers disable images or don’t have their email system set up to download images right away. It’s best practice to use a combination of words and images, so even if the reader can’t see your image, they can still understand the message.

If you’re looking for more tips on designing great email creative, check out this post: Design Principles for Email Marketing that Converts

6. Setup A/B Tests

Nearly 39% of brands rarely A/B test their broadcast and segmented emails, so this tactic is a great way to stand out from the competition, fine-tune your email campaigns, and set yourself up for maximum results.

To execute an effective A/B test, begin with a specific hypothesis, don’t just make random changes. For example, if your goal is to increase conversions, set up two designs that have the call-to-action button placed in a different location. For each test, change only a single variant, so you can accurately assess the results.

A/B Tests to Try:

  • The name you send from
  • Subject Line and Preheader Text
  • Day of the week
  • Time of day
  • Length of email
  • Campaign creative
  • Campaign messaging
  • Call to Action
  • Landing Pages

7. Schedule Your Campaign for an Ideal Time

coschedule-best-day-to-sendThe longer an email sits unread in an inbox, the less likely a subscriber is to read it. So don’t just send out your campaign as soon as it’s ready. Here are some general guidelines for email scheduling:

  • The best days to send are Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays
  • The best times to send are late morning around 10 AM and in the evening
  • About 25% of emails are opened in the first hour. After that, the chance of a subscriber reading an email an hour after receiving it falls to just 50%.

While these guidelines are a good starting point, it’s important to review the behaviors of your email subscribers and adjust your scheduling strategy accordingly.

8. Track & Monitor Results

Track Results

After each campaign, revisit your goals and the metrics you identified to track. Create a log of all of the emails that go out, including open rates, click-through rates, list growth, total revenue and any other metrics you are tracking. (It’s also a good idea to monitor unsubscribes and spam reports to understand when you may need to adjust your target audience or sending frequency).

Key Metrics to Track:

  • Click-through rate: The percentage of email recipients who clicked on one or more links contained in the email campaign.
  • Conversion rate: The rate at which subscribers clicked on an email and then took the desired action (purchase, download, etc.) This can be easily tracked by using tagged links (from or google analytics).
  • Overall ROI: The total revenue from an email campaign, divided by total spend
  • List growth rate: The rate at which you grow your email list.
  • Bounce rate: The number of emails that couldn’t be delivered to recipients. If your bounce rate is high, that’s a good indicator you have some list clean up to do.litmus-70_percent_of_brands_can_not_measure_email_marketing_roi_well


While email marketing has a higher ROI than any other marketing channel (median of 122%), there is a lot of competition for attention in the inbox. For those looking to invest further in email marketing in 2019, it will be important for marketers to improve upon current practices and set each campaign up for success. What tactics will you use in 2019 to improve your email marketing?

Other resources to check out:

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