In spite of all the new social networks, instant messaging tools, and mobile apps, email continues to grow in influence as a sales channel. Consider the following:

However, in spite of email’s effectiveness many marketers continue to overlook ways to take full advantage of the opportunity email marketing presents. For example, 83% of marketers aren’t tracking and measuring campaigns, and only 17% are driving email list growth.

There’s no sign that email is going to stop being effective, but marketers need to upgrade the way they execute their campaigns if they want to take full advantage of the opportunity email marketing offers. Here’s how:

Get the basics right

Testing is a vital component to keeping your email marketing strategy ahead of changing consumer behavior. Subject line testing is a simple way to glean insights into open rates and learn what language resonates with your customers, and small tweaks can often lead to big results. MarketingExperiments did a test with subject lines. They found just by changing and testing words they were able to get a 125.9% higher click through rate.

A comprehensive study on subject lines by Retention Science, looking at 267 emails across 543 campaigns during a 6 month period, uncovered a lot of useful actionable tips for marketing and e-commerce professionals.

  • Keep it short. Most emails (52%) have subject lines in the 11-15 word range. The most successful are in the 6 to 10 word range, with a 21% higher open rate.
  • Make it personal. Including a customer first name gets their attention. It also produced a 2.6% higher click through rate, according to the same survey.
  • Not Every Week Needs a Sale. Most flash sales (think Groupon) emails fair pretty badly. It might be due to the long subject lines (20 words) or high frequency (4 – 8 times weekly, compared to 2 – 4 at most for other brands); but either way, constantly bombarding customers with “Sales!” doesn’t increase conversion rates.

Pay attention to deliverability

Too often we overlook the most obvious opportunities. Turns out lots of brands with big lists are leaving large sums of money on the table due to deliverability issues. A study by Return Path found that 12% of emails go missing and 7% end in spam folders.

That’s nearly twenty percent of your emails. Cutting that number in half will give your email campaigns a 10% boost. There are numerous solutions to these issues, such as purging lists after the first hard bounce, after several soft bounces, after emails go unopened for a while, or using a double opt-in (also known as “confirmed opt-in”), rather than a single opt-in, as ISP’s give these email lists priority. These are just a few of the ways you can use to ensure emails are delivered consistently – there are dozens of others.

Design for mobile

Since Q1 in 2011, the number of email opens on mobile devices has increased 180%. Yet, at the start of 2014 only 22% of marketers surveyed worldwide were using mobile-optimized templates. Hosting provider, BlueHornet, found that 70% of consumers delete emails that don’t render well on a phone, and even if the email does render then 61% will give up on trying to buy an item if a mobile store can’t be accessed on their phone. Even worse, according to the Google Mobile Ad Blog, 40% will go to a competitor to buy a similar item.

Mobile email optimization tactics range in complexity based on your marketing goals, but even basic tweaks such as reducing text length, increasing font size, and narrowing templates can make an impact. For example, Silverpop performed an A/B test for a client using mobile-optimized versus non optimized email which resulted in a 64% higher CTR on the version that was optimized for font size and template width and touch.

Email marketing is well worth investing in. Keeping track of returned emails or those which go into spam is also a lot more achievable than crossing your fingers hoping that Facebook won’t change its algorithms. Make your subject lines so enticing that customers have to open, then make the content interesting enough to click through. Once you’ve got them this far then its all down to the products, images, copy and design of your ecommerce store.


  • James Brown

    Sound advice. Email marketing is definitely one of the more cost effective ways of directly communicating to your audience.
    E-Mail Marketing Services

  • Gary Rodgers

    I’m glad that I found this article! I’m using GetResponse platform and now I want to use these useful tips in my email marketing campaign 🙂