Short Guide to a Successful Email Marketing Campaign

Despite the increasing popularity of social media and social ads, email marketing remains the most effective in terms of customer acquisition. According to researches, 81 percent of professional marketers prefer email marketing over any other marketing strategies.

Why is email marketing so effective

Email marketing works better than other strategies because it is based on permission. People in your email list have already had contact with your brand, which means that there is an interest to begin with.

When you promote your products on social media (except for Quora), your ads will be displayed to many people that might have never heard of your brand. While this is excellent for increasing brand awareness, it doesn’t work quite the same for conversions.

On the other hand, people in your email list have already declared their interest for your products and many of them are probably old clients who had already purchased your products in your past, so there is already a certain level of trust.

Another factor that makes email marketing so effective is the popularity of mobile devices. Over 47 percent of promotional email subscribers are opening their emails on a smartphone or tablet. Actually, email is the no. 1 activity for smartphone users all over the world.

Mobile purchases are getting more and more traction, with over 50 percent of the visits and 39 percent of purchases on Black Friday 2016 coming from mobile devices. Therefore, you should always use a responsive template for your promotional emails.

Write an awesome subject line

Out of all the emails that have successfully landed in an inbox, you should be really happy if 30% are actually getting opened. However, an open rate that is too low (under 10%) can show that there’s something wrong with your subject line.

Studies have found that subject lines with fewer than 50 characters have a better open rate while those with over 70 characters are driving more engagement. However, if you want to play it safe, don’t stop in the 60-70 characters limits, as this is known as “the dead zone of subject length” – the worst for both open and conversion rates.

Your subject line should be cleverly designed to arouse interest. Some of the most famous subject lines, known for their great effectiveness have been either simple words, such as Hey or intriguing commands like “Do not open this email!”.

A personal subject line will definitely get you a higher open rate. That’s why it might be a good idea to add your recipients’ name or location (town). Also, set automations like post-purchase follow-up and birthday deals. Your customers will definitely appreciate it.

Here are some recipes that should help you formulate an interesting subject line:

  1. Ask a question about the recipient’s goals: “Want to learn how to write a successful subject line?
  2. Offer help about the issue but formulate it as a question: “Know this about email marketing?
  3. Offer a benefit for the customer’s business: “New marketing idea for” / “Best email strategy for YourBusiness Inc.”  
  4. List of tips for the service you are offering: “6 Tips for a successful email marketing campaign

Write an awesome copy

A good copy should be A.R.P.B. V. C.: aligned (with the subject), relevant, personal, (describe clear) benefits, and (always include a) call to action.

Aligned. The copy of your email should always be aligned with the subject. In other words, it should deliver exactly what the subject line promises.

Relevant. Just as your subject line, the copy needs to be short and only contain relevant information. Keep it short and on-point. If the text is too long most people will dismiss it from the beginning. A great promotional email should be read in less than 30 seconds.

Personal. It should also have a personal feeling, which is why you should add some information about the customer – anything from their location to information about past purchases. Keep the personal tone throughout the whole email by writing in the second person.

Benefits. Talk about the benefits of your offer and not about the features. This is the only way to make it clear in the mind of your reader that it’s in their best interest to profit from your products or services.

Visuals. Yes, it’s a cliché, everybody has heard that “A picture is worth a thousand words”, but that’s because it’s true. Use visual elements in your emails to complete your message. Each time one of my Twitter posts gets retwitted by more people I receive an email from buffer with a GIF showing one of their team members’ high-fiving me. I must say it always makes my day.

CTA.  A Call to Action should never miss from your email. Always make sure to use actionable language and create a sense of urgency. Use inducements such as “Enter Now”; “Shop Now”; “Download Now” “Join Free Now” etc.

Get the time right  

Email frequency is maybe the most debated subject in the world of digital marketing and the primary reason of unsubscribes. Experts failed to reach consensus regarding this issue so everybody has their own way of doing things.  A single thing seems to resonate with all email marketing professionals: for email campaigns, more is less.

In consequence, most professional marketers recommend sending one email per week or even less. You can also let customers decide how often they wish to receive promotions by sending out a survey. The latter is also a good loss-cutting strategy for unsubscribers. Allowing people to receive less frequent emails might prevent them from unsubscribing.  

When it comes to deployment times, experts are also in a continuous disagreement. While some say that the best time for sending out your email is during work hours, others claim that the interval between 8 pm and midnight drives better results.

Research has shown that emails sent in this time spawn performed better for both open rate (OR) and click-through rate (CTR). One of the reasons is that it avoids inbox crowding, which happens when all other marketers have about the same deployment times, from 9 am to 6 pm.

For similar reasons, emails sent during the weekend are performing better than their weekday counterparts.

However, industries work differently and each business is unique. Therefore, I recommend you to use A/B testing and figure out the frequency and deployment times that work better for your business.

Measure the success of your campaign

Finally, for a marketing campaign to be completed, you always need to analyze the data. Luckily, email marketing offers some of the most measurable metrics of all:

Delivery Rate (DR)

The DR shows you the total number of emails that have successfully landed in an inbox. That’s because not all the emails you send will be successfully delivered due to different reasons (unsubscribes; invalid email addressed; soft failure etc.) so the DR is actually showing the health of your email list.

Open Rate (OR)

Just as simple as the DR, the OR shows the total number of opened emails. It can be measured either by dividing the total number of open emails out of the total number of emails sent or out of the total number of emails delivered (DR).

Click-through Rate (CTR)

This is where the things get a bit complicated. That’s because it is not clear if the CTR is measured by dividing the number of clicked emails out of the total number of emails sent; delivered or opened. This is why the CTOR has been invented.

Click-to-open Rate (CTOR)

CTOR is calculated by dividing the number of clicked emails out of the number of opened emails.


Why is the distinction so important? Because by measuring the total clicks out of the emails sent or delivered we might get a false success result. Let’s take an example:

We are sending email A and email B to 115 persons. Let’s say they are both successfully delivered to 100 persons. Email A is opened by 20 people and 5 people click on a link. Email B is opened by 30 people and clicked by 10 people.


Email A has a CTR of 5% and email B has a CTR of 10%. So you would say that email B is more successful.

However, email A has a CTOR of 4% while email B has a CTOR of 3%. This means that, in terms of CTOR, email A is more successful.

In conclusion, we can’t say which of the two is better because they represent different things. However, this is exactly the reason why you shouldn’t decide the success of an email solely based on CTR, as so many marketers do. Of course, you shouldn’t exclude it either, since the CTR is showing the overall performance of your email, while the CTOR is showing the performance of the email’s content.

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Alice Calin
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1 thought on “Short Guide to a Successful Email Marketing Campaign”

  1. Cool article , very insightful, thanks for posting

    Amazing to me how many marketers are either not employing email marketing as a strategy, or are not doing right – even some of the most experienced.

    The Direct Marketing Association reports that email marketing has an ROI of 4300% whereas SEO and Social Media survey 74% and 275% respectively


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