20 Best Ways to Kill Your Boring Email Campaigns – And Bring Them Back To Life

20 best tips and tricks to kill your boring email campaigns and create effective emails
Remember when everyone was shouting “Email is dead! RIP, Email!”
Well, I’m still waiting to see the obituary. Because email marketing is still one of the most effective ways to reach your target audience. Consider these statistics, rounded up by the CRM experts over at Salesforce:

  • 44% of email recipients made at least one purchase last year based on a promotional email. (Convinceandconvert.com)
  • Roughly half of an email list will be active – either opening or clicking on emails. (Epsilon)
  • For every $1 spent, $44.25 is the average return on email marketing investment. (Experian)
  • 82% of consumers open emails from companies. (Litmus)

Pretty sweet. But there’s a catch:

[Tweet “It’s an email-eat-email world out there. Your email campaign can either kill, or be killed.”]

The above statistics are only meaningful if you create killer emails. The kind that force people to open them, read them, and take action. 
If your emails aren’t slashing their way through your audience’s inbox, they’re better off dead. So how can you ensure your audience doesn’t filter out your emails?
Here are our favorite tips and tricks from email marketing masters on how to create powerful email campaigns:

Create a Stronger Hook for Subscription

1. “The word NEWSLETTER. … It’s ugly, offensive, lazy, useless, trite and downright irresponsible of any business owner who’s using it to compel people to opt-in. Because if you, as a business owner, tell me, as a potential customer, that I can have the luxury of receiving your oh-so-titillating newsletter if I give you my email address, you’re playing me for a fool. … You wouldn’t put a book up for sale with no title, no description, and no way for them to know what it was about–and then expect people to buy it. And you can’t do that when you’re selling a relationship with you, either. Because at the heart of it, that’s what an opt-in is truly selling: A relationship with you. Not a newsletter.” – Ash Ambirge, The Middle Finger Project
2. “In analyzing the websites and techniques of some of these awesome email list builders, a certain formula started to emerge. If I could boil down the process of building a massive email list to just the most basic parts, I think it would look like this: Amazing blog content + crystal clear calls-to-action = massive email list.” – Kevan Lee, Buffer
3. “Whether you personally love it or hate it, the truth is, sticking a big ole pop-up in their face can be one of the most effective ways to jolt their attention and grab their email for a return visit. Why? It’s related to a persuasion technique known as the “pattern interrupt,” which is basically when something unexpected happens after the brain has become lulled into a rhythm. In the context of email and content marketing though, it’s particularly effective when the “interruption” proposes to solve the problem that the the reader has been tuned into, or programmed to expect given the nature of the service.” – Ott Niggulis, ConversionXL
4. “Got something valuable? Give it away. Your potential subscribers—even if they differ across demographics and industries and target audience—are still human. They’ll like free stuff. Attaching something valuable to your email signup form is a surefire way to pique interest. Basically, give something away for free, for the price of an email address (which we all know is worth way more than free to the site that gets it).” – Kevan Lee, Buffer
5. “At first I was afraid of asking for people’s emails because I thought it would annoy them.  Then I realized getting my posts via email were people’s favorite way of hearing from me! Once someone joins my email list, I use Aweber to automatically send a series of epically valuable emails over the next couple of weeks. This helps transform a new subscriber into a hardcore, engaged fan.” – Neville Medhora, Neville’s Financial Blog, via ProBlogger 

Write Better Email Subject Lines & Content

6. “Create an inbox swipe file. This is the first and most important thing you can do to improve your own email marketing. First, setup a label (in Gmail) or folder in your inbox and title it “Swipe File.” Anytime you see a great subject line, a good offer, a beautiful design or great copy, just add the message to your swipe file. Pretty soon, you’ll have a repository of inspiration that you can tap into when you are working on your own campaigns.” – Jimmy Daly, Vero
7. “Why would I want to click on an email titled, “June Newsletter?” I have no idea what the topic of the newsletter is, what content I’ll find inside, or why I should even care. … Instead, try adding value before the email is even opened with killer, specific, personalized subject line. If you want to keep something standard for consistency like “June Newsletter,” make sure you also add a topic edition such as “The Donut Edition” or “The Photography Issue” so people know what they’re getting before clicking through.” – Brittany Leaning, Hubspot
8. “Keep it simple and focused. Especially if you’re sending a marketing email, Kipp Bodnar, a VP at marketing software platform HubSpot, says it should be focused on one action, which should be communicated in the subject line. Offer one takeaway, indicate how the reader can make use of it, and specify how you will deliver it.” – Jenna Goudreau, Business Insider 
9. “An email autoresponder course is a true workhorse for your blog. It helps establish your expertise, it creates trust, and frankly, it’s a fantastic exchange between you and your readers. Both of you get what you want. … An email autoresponder easily makes use of the blog content you’ve already created. Most readers haven’t read everything you’ve written, nor have they read it in sequential order. Your email autoresponder groups related topics together and packages it neatly for the convenience of your readers, delivering it right to them. You don’t have to create new content in order to make this happen. You can use what you’vealready written for your blog.” –  Julie Neidlinger, CoSchedule
10. “Emails with subject lines of 6-10 words have the highest open rates, yet most emails sent by marketers have subject lines of 11-15 words, according to a recent report from Retention Science.” – Ayaz Nanji, MarketingProfs

Show Your Design Some Love

11. “One of the most important aspects of email design is an effective call-to-action, as it needs to inspire recipients into engaging further with your brand. … A good CTA needs to stand out from the rest of the email and grab the user’s attention. This can be a tricky task when marketers have to take into account existing brand colour schemes and templates, but there’s more than one way to catch a person’s eye. For example, if you’re opting for a button rather than a text link, make sure there’s plenty of space around the CTA and don’t position it in the middle of a load of text.” – David Moth, EConsultancy
12. “Focus on typography first. The type is the one thing that is consistently rendered across different email clients. Most email clients block images from first-time senders by default, so your subscribers will almost always see the text of your email before they see anything else. Your message should still come across without images.” – MailChimp Email Marketing Field Guide
13. “Keep in mind that your email’s layout should stay right around 600 pixels in width. Many email clients provide a preview window that’s rather narrow, and this helps to ensure your entire design will be visible. Even with the limit of 600 pixels, there are plenty of ways for you to lay out your content to create a clean-looking design for viewing in standard email clients or on mobile devices.” – MailChimp Email Marketing Field Guide

Make It Personal

14. “Email personalization matters. We love personalized service. It doesn’t matter what type of business you run, personalization can make a difference. For instance, by personalizing the service they offer, waiters can fetch 23% higher tips. And in business, personalization can yield 2% increased revenue. (source: Monetate) The same applies to email marketing. A report by Experian Marketing Services reveals that including personalized product recommendations into transactional emails can generate a 20% increase in revenues.” – George Mathew, CrazyEgg
15. “In a multichannel environment don’t assume positive engagement across channels. Just because a customer enjoys visiting your store does not mean they will regularly visit your website. In the same way that your store manager is that friendly face that gives the customer a reason to go into store, you should welcome recipients to your email channel and inform them of the benefits of engaging with you. … Begin by talking to your recipient in a language that recognizes their level of engagement with your brand. If they are engaged, then refer to that and encourage them to share your brand. If they are not engaged then choose language which reflects this and encourages engagement.” – Lucy Wilsdon, Econsultancy
16. “The number two reason U.S. email users unsubscribe from a business or non-profit email subscription is that the content that is no longer relevant, yet more than 80% of email marketers send the same content to all subscribers. Segmenting your email list can actually make or break the success of your email newsletter. … If I have a cat, but never play or watch sports, I would much rather be put on a list for cat-only people instead of a catch-all newsletter meant for everyone (cat and sports lovers alike).” – Brittany Leaning, HubSpot

Test & Measure

17. “Focus on moving one metric at a time. This simplifies every single decision you make and helps prioritize which actions to take. … Instead of trying to increase on-page time, improve SEO, get guest bloggers, grow social media followers, and get more YouTube followers … I focused solely on email subscribers. For most of us, it’s too easy to set 5 or 6 goals and then when we don’t reach them, we have an excuse: “Well, we were trying to reach all of these other goals and we got distracted.” Instead, you should commit to just one goal for a 30-day period and track it daily. You’ll be much more likely to achieve what you want.” –  Andrew Chen, HubSpot
18. “Are you making objective (data-driven) or subjective (opinion-based) decisions? Most marketers are relying on their gut to make changes to their email program. The majority are doing no testing whatsoever. Stop gambling with your email program profitability. Test, test, test, to get smart on what works and what doesn’t– and remember, you are never completely “done.” How basic or advanced is your use of the email channel for testing and market research? Do you include a control and run A/B split tests in every email campaign? …Testers achieve significantly higher open and click-through rates, and most importantly, higher conversion rates.” – Barry Stamos, iMedia Connection
19. “A/B testing allows you to get a sense of what your customers respond to by dividing your email campaigns randomly into two or more groups. You send one email to one group, and another email with only a single specific change to the second group. By looking at the results of your opens, clicks or conversions, you can tell which style, content or timing had the better results or, if there wasn’t any difference at all.” -Eli Menaker, Vertical Response

Remember: It All Starts With Permission

20. “Permission marketing is the privilege (not the right) of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them. It recognizes the new power of the best consumers to ignore marketing. It realizes that treating people with respect is the best way to earn their attention.
“Pay attention is a key phrase here, because permission marketers understand that when someone chooses to pay attention they are actually paying you with something precious. And there’s no way they can get their attention back if they change their mind. Attention becomes an important asset, something to be valued, not wasted.” – Seth Godin
Want more email marketing tips and best practices? We have a Pinterest board for that.

Comments are closed for this post.
  • A must read! If you aren’t getting clicks, you’re wasting your time. If you’re still sending mass emails without updating your strategies, you’d noticed that results are disappointing, despite your efforts in updating your mailing lists and creating emails. Thanks for sharing, great post!

    Brooke Harper @Tenfold - April 10, 2017 at 10:29 am

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