August 8, 2018

12 Elements of a Successful Email Marketing Campaign

Reading time about 9 min

Every successful email marketing campaign has the same core elements that make it successful. Make sure you don’t forget them the next time you’re getting ready to send a marketing email!

How are your email marketing campaigns doing? Could engagement be better? Is the conversion rate lackluster?

Do you ever feel a nagging sense that your strategy is lacking something? Do you wonder if you’re just spinning your wheels using the same tactics over and over? Are you having a hard time justifying your investment in email?

No matter how your email marketing is performing right now, there’s always room for improvement! If you make sure to include the following 12 elements, you will be able to create a successful email marketing campaign capable of achieving your business goals the next time you click send!

1. Opt-in

Never send emails to people who didn’t sign up for them. This is rule number one in email marketing, and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

Buying email lists or sending to non-opt-in contacts is not only unethical but in some instances, it can also be against the law. Always get permission before sending emails! This is the only way to achieve sustainable list growth for your email marketing.

To be extra cautious, you can utilize a double opt-in approach to verify that subscribers truly want to receive your emails. This strategy ensures that subscribers did, indeed, sign themselves up and still want to hear from you.

Subscribers that fail to confirm their subscription may have accidentally signed up — or maybe they’re simply having second thoughts about adding more volume to their inboxes. Give them an immediate way out by requiring that they verify their email addresses before receiving emails. You don’t want disinterested contacts in your list anyways.

2. Mobile-Friendly Design

It’s estimated that about half of email opens are on mobile devices, which means that your emails need to render properly across various devices and screens. Using a responsive email template is the best way to ensure mobile-friendliness.

However, simply using the right template isn’t enough. Your content also needs to be optimized for the mobile experience. This means thinking about how people consume email differently on phones and tablets compared to laptops and desktop computers. Some strategies to consider include:

  • Putting the most important content above the fold to ensure that it will be seen. Users want to know immediately what the purpose of your email is — don’t make them scroll to find it.
  • Limiting text in favor of using more visual elements. Reading text on a smaller device can be strenuous for some people. Images and concise copy are much more user-friendly.
  • Being careful with whitespace and call to action (CTA) placement. Emails with too much text or numerous CTAs can quickly appear cluttered and turn recipients off.
  • Optimize your emails for “tapability” by isolating CTAs and making links and buttons large enough for wide fingers to easily click on them.

The goal of your email is to communicate something important to your readers, so you want to make sure that they can get the message in the easiest way.

3. Follow through

Fulfilling any promises that you made to subscribers at the time of sign-up is essential. Whether you bill your emails as a weekly roundup of the industry’s best articles, daily inspiration, monthly professional tips, or something else, you need to send emails consistently and in accordance with that original promise.

Don’t email subscribers more or less frequently than you initially promised, and don’t push other types of content without getting their buy-in first.

Stay true to your brand identity with every email to ensure consistency across touchpoints. This further familiarizes your subscribers with your brand and gives them an idea of what to expect.

4. Clear objective

Every email campaign should be sent to achieve a specific objective or action that you want your reader to complete. Examples might include:

  • Reading an article from your blog
  • Making a purchase on your website
  • Signing up for more email lists
  • Sharing or downloading a resource
  • Donating to a cause

It’s best to try sticking to one strong call-to-action (CTA) per email – buy, read, download, sign up, donate, provide feedback, etc. Using too many CTAs can cause your email to become busy and confusing, leaving recipients without a clear idea of what they should do next.

Simplifying the process that you want readers to complete increases the success or engagement rate with this action because the experience is much more targeted. Including multiple CTAs gives the reader too many options, ultimately diluting the engagement of your campaign.

If you find yourself using multiple CTAs throughout the email to achieve your objectives, you’ll likely benefit from breaking the email up into additional emails and spacing them out.

5. List segmentation

List segmentation is absolutely necessary if you want to send targeted emails that actually convert.

Filter your overall email list into smaller lists to properly align audiences with your email campaign goals. For instance, it doesn’t make sense to ask for purchase feedback from subscribers who haven’t read your previous 10 newsletters or contacts who haven’t made a purchase from you yet.

Segmenting users by demographic characteristics like gender preference, age, location, or parental status can provide a basis for focusing the offers of your marketing campaigns. If you have a clothing store, your subscribers who identify as men probably won’t be interested in a sale on the latest women’s exercise clothing items.

Other characteristics, like purchase history or previous email engagement, can inform your follow-up marketing strategy. For instance, while a subscriber in the pacific northwest may have different outdoor clothing needs than a subscriber in the south, a subscriber who has purchased an insulated jacket will almost certainly have a greater desire to receive an email with complimentary outdoor winter products like hats and gloves than a subscriber who hasn’t made a similar purchase.

6. Personalization

Many people hear personalization and assume that means inserting a subscriber’s name or rewards number into an email. While this is certainly a nice touch, personalization has become even more sophisticated and critical for email marketing.

The most successful personalization these days involves customizing emails to appeal to recipients in a meaningful way based on what you know about them. This means carefully integrating subscribers’ preferences, purchases, and engagements into a completely custom communication. This is usually done through a combination of advanced list segmentation to create targeted audiences and high-quality email editorial content to appeal to the specific needs of each audience.

Streaming music companies are masters of this approach because they collect data on the types of music individual users listen to, what time of the day they listen, and how long a typical listening session lasts to pitch new artists, curated playlists, or premium services to account holders.

7. Error-free content

Mistakes happen – it’s a fact of life. But, doing your best to minimize mistakes in your emails is very important for creating successful email campaigns and maintaining a positive brand image. Using an email marketing checklist to do a once-over before hitting send is a good way to ensure that you’re not forgetting anything.

Check your spelling and grammar, but don’t stop there. Ensure all fields are filled in (even ones that are easy to miss like the email preheader field) to provide a better subscriber experience.

Also, don’t forget to include an unsubscribe link to give recipients a way to opt-out of emails if they’ve changed their mind. Paying attention to these small details will make your company look more professional, improving the overall perception that contacts have of your brand.

8. Value

Every email you send should be able to pass the “So what?” test. For those of you who are unfamiliar, the “So what?” test is when you ask yourself why readers should care about your email. What value are you providing, and what’s in it for your contact if they read it. If you can’t answer this question clearly, it’s probably time to go back to the drawing board.

Providing value to subscribers is the main function of emails, but that doesn’t mean you need to be overly salesy and promotional at the expense of your readers’ time. Your emails can also provide value in the form of exclusive content, early access, or tips and advice. Focusing on value first and foremost will boost engagement metrics sustainably.

9. Shareability

Encouraging sharing in the form of an email forward or a social media mention can expand the reach of your email campaign and brand recognition organically by leveraging your readers’ influence in their network. Simply reminding subscribers that they can forward the email to friends and family is often the easiest and most effective way to achieve this. You can even provide a reward to readers who refer people to your business by creating a referral marketing program.

Including social buttons has also become an essential element to give subscribers an easy way to follow the brand on the social platforms that matter most to them.

10. Pre-send tests

With email marketing, you should always test your emails in your own inbox before you send them out. This is another last-minute check that can help make sure that you haven’t made any mistakes in your campaign, such as putting the wrong url for one of your links or formatting your text in a way that doesn’t look good once your email is delivered.

All you need to do is send yourself a test email and check to make sure everything looks and behaves the way you want it to. You can also check the responsive design by viewing the test email on your phone or tablet. This will help you be sure that you’re sending your best possible campaign.

11. Good deliverability

There are many things that you can do to improve your email deliverability, but the most basic action you should take is to ensure that your content passes the spam filter litmus tests.

Avoid spammy words when writing your email subject lines like “free” and “act now” to keep your emails from being immediately relegated to your subscribers’ spam folders. Similarly, you should use capitals and punctuation responsibly. There’s a big difference between “ONE DAY SALE!!! LIMITED INVENTORY!!!!” and “One Day Sale – Limited Inventory.” Inbox providers are very sensitive to any content that is perceived as spammy, but if you’re being genuine and respectful to your subscribers in your content, you should be okay.

12. Follow-up analysis

Once you hit send, your job is really just beginning. Email campaigns should always be monitored after they’re sent to enable continued improvements.

Use the performance data from your campaigns to compare with your other campaigns and benchmarks to develop a better understanding of what works for your readers, and what doesn’t work. Analyzing these email marketing KPIs will provide an indication of where there are the biggest opportunities for improvement.

By covering all of these elements in your email campaign, you’re guaranteed to see increased engagement and stronger relationships with your email contacts.

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