3 Tips to Improve Your Email Marketing Effectiveness


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Here are two email stats which reinforce the role of high value email as part of your mix; people who buy products via email spend 138% more than those who didn’t receive email offers, and 44% of email recipients made at least one purchase last year based on a promotional email.

Based on this good news, here are 3 strategies for improving the performance of your email;

1. Use Consumer Behaviors to Personalize Email

According to Listrack, “If significant attention is given to email content development, companies can begin to see better results”:

  • 90% of online shoppers find it helpful to be alerted when frequently purchased items go on sale.
  • 72% are willing to receive more emails if they feature weekly sales, top sellers and new products.
  • 84% of online consumers who signed up to receive promotional emails want emails to contain products relevant to their purchasing history.
  • 69% are willing to share personal preference data in order to receive emails more relevant to them.

This is in line with ERDM VoC research findings contained in our ebook ”5 Ways to Use Human Data to Drive Deep Engagement”, in which we noted that:

  • Truly personalized communications motivate customers to provide increasingly deeper levels of information and increases their willingness to engage in interactions.
  • If a consumer feels as though a company is making no effort to understand them, or is only using their information to sell them something, they perceive their marketing as being “value-less” and not worthy of their time.

2. Increase Open Rates with Compelling Subject Lines

A recent analysis of five million emails by the email management service Baydin found that a typical email user gets 147 messages a day and deletes 71 of them (48%). So, finding ways to grab attention is essential.

Marketing company Influitive used creative email subject line to develop an emotional tie to a new product launch for a B-to-B campaign that took big risks and netted big rewards. The company decided to take the risk of an attention grabbing subject line because it fit in with the analogy they were making about building relationships. According to Jim Williams, Vice President of Marketing,“ If you can relate some arcane B2B pitch to some personal thing,…then I think you’ve done a good job as a marketer.” The quirky campaign, used the subject line “So I’ll pick you up at 7?” And, had a headline stating, “Don’t make referrals awkward.” It then discussed Influitive’s recently launched referral automation solution product.

The company received 10 times the number of normal replies. Results of this email campaign include: 25% open rate (Influitive’s highest) and 2.3% click through rate.

3. Use Email To Engage With Relevancy

According to the DMA’s National Client Email Survey 2014, a 760 percent increase in email revenue came from segmented emails. The trend is now for marketers to move away from generic messaging and meet consumer demands for relevancy by engaging in more targeted and personalized communications.

Jewlery company Alex & Ani engages with customers throughout their journey, from email to onsite, from social to in-store, and beyond. Through the use of abandoned cart emails the company saw a 73% lift in monthly email revenue and 36% lift in monthly revenue. They sent an initial email message and then followed up a few days later with another email, starting to integrate recommended products based on the customer’s known interests or products that other customers recently purchased. The company serves messaging to individual consumers based on increased degrees of interest on specific products, leading to increased conversion rates.

Recommendations for Enhancing Email Value

  • Develop highly targeted, engaging and relevant messaging that presents recipients with a reason to open and act.
  • Use time sensitive offers. They create urgency to act.
  • Integrate your email with other media touch points and events.
  • Develop email messaging around consumer history, preferences, and purchases. When recipients get emails that truly “speak to them” engagement soars.

Consumers — both BtoC and BtoB — are email weary and wary. To drive engagement, emails must contain value and relevance. Use purchase, behavior and interaction data to craft email messaging that is welcomed.

Ernan Roman
Ernan Roman (@ernanroman) is president of ERDM Corp. and author of Voice of the Customer Marketing. He was inducted into the DMA Marketing Hall of Fame due to the results his VoC research-based CX strategies achieve for clients such as IBM, Microsoft, QVC, Gilt and HP. ERDM conducts deep qualitative research to help companies understand how customers articulate their feelings and expectations for high value CX and personalization. Named one of the Top 40 Digital Luminaries and one of the 100 Most Influential People in Business Marketing.


  1. A website, TechDirt, informs me that email celebrated its 40th birthday on October 17, 2011 (https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20111011/17472916311/email-is-40-years-old.shtml). In technological time, we’re improving at a glacial pace. A quick online search uncovered this recommendation from a 2009 email “best practices” document:

    “Drill down into their click-through statistics to segment their market by demographics or areas of interest.”

    So even six years ago, the industry recognized the need to target more intelligently. Based on your recommendation to ‘develop highly targeted, engaging, and relevant messaging,’ we don’t seem to be there, even though the same basic message was espoused in 2009, and probably earlier.

    Your recommendation seems so fundamental, and technology supports it. And pre-ecommerce, direct marketers espoused the importance of segmenting markets and tailoring messages through print and direct mail. Today, companies have sufficient, readily accessible data to support user profiling that can spawn targeted messaging. Given the fact that your recommendation is so similar to one that was made in ’09, why do you think the adoption rate is so slow?

  2. We focus so much on mobile, cloud, and omni-channel wizardry that we sometimes take email for granted…sort of like a land line telephone! Yet, your research reminds us that it is still a very important digital channel if properly managed!

  3. All of these recommendations are extremely sound. The one which resonates most with me, however, is the time-sensitive offer. We don’t see a great deal of time sensitivity in promotions these days, but it is a well-proven approach for driving action. For example, The Franklin Mint pretty much existed on limited-edition and time-sensitive product availability programming; and we can see the legacy of limited time offers with the on-air sales approaches of HSN and QVC (founded by the founder of The Franklin Mint). Certainly, as long as the offer is attractive, relevant and personalized, this could be a more frequently applied email promotional ploy.

  4. Great point Andrew.
    Unfortunately email has these seductive but lethal characteristics; fast, cheap and easy.
    This has encouraged companies to engage in unprecedented binges of “spray and pray”.

    Many companies have been shortsighted and unwilling to realize that the barrages of unwanted emails hurt the brand.

    Only when companies realize that infinitesimally small response rates and soaring opt-out rates are red flags, will they begin to engage in serious targeting and personalization.

  5. Chip, you are right on target.

    Email is a wonderful medium with incredible possibilities for engagement, visual delight and links to additional sources of rich information.

    All we have to do is respect the medium and respect the recipient so that we send the right content to the right person at the right time.

    People have been saying this for the last 60 years. Now we have to start practicing this discipline.

  6. Thanks for sharing these tips.
    I have just started Email Marketing for my business using MailGet and missing the compelling subject lines in my campaigns. But now, I will surely follow these tips that you explained above. Hope, this will improve my email performance.


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