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Email Marketing Tips

Top 10 Email Marketing Tips

Two of my favorite brands have used the vaccination period of COVID-19 to blast out emails two to three times a day. So I wanted to talk about some email marketing tips to help others avoid bad practices. It was annoying at first, and now the three daily emails have grown this incredible hatred towards the two brands that I didn’t even know existed. Like, I don’t even want to see one of their stores when I am out. It’s that bad.

So instead of gaining new purchases from me, they completely turned me off to their brand altogether. Why?

Maybe because when I am worried about mask regulations, what I need to pack for my first flight post-vaccination, changes in flight schedules, a sick puppy, multiple clients, a husband (yes, I include him in this list!), building a house, finding out I need to wear a mask indoors again, worrying about coughing once and possibly having COVID-19 (already had it, so definitely not it!)—

And in the middle of all of this, I am constantly interrupted by three email notifications about how they “love my style” and I should “browse their new collection” just seems plain rude and like these brands are tone-deaf to what is happening around them. 

Surprisingly, brands can be just as tone-deaf when there isn’t a world pandemic. Over-automation is another spot where email automation goes wrong. Due to a lack of “reading the room” and putting their promotion above the needs of their customers, these brands end up having more customers hit the unsubscribe button than enter the email customer relationship lifecycle.

So what should your brand be doing when it comes to email marketing in 2021/22? I can tell you it will look a lot different from what you were doing in 2019 because the world is different from 2019.

Here are some tips to help you wade through the muck and get through to potential and current customers: 


Slow Down


Customers are not living the same lives they were living in 2019, and your emails need to fit perfectly into the life they are living now, or they are useless. If you use automation, slow down your days between emails. I shifted my campaigns from a two-day follow-up to a three-day follow-up. Just that little extra bit of time can make the customer feel less annoyed by you.

Also, realize that conversions will not come as quickly in 2021 for you unless you are in an industry that thrived during the pandemic. People are tired, stressed, and living in the scary unknown. It will take a longer courting game to get them to convert. 

Educate your C-suite, take a deep breath, and take some pressure off of yourself as you begin to accept that the email game just got lengthened by the pandemic. 



I don’t care if you have A/B split test results from 2019/20 that your email marketing strategy lives by. They are irrelevant. It’s time to throw those out and retest your target audience. Some of my favorite, most telling, tests include:

  • Subject line
    • My best practice is to test at least five subject lines on a smaller audience before sending emails to a large audience.
  • Preview text
    • WRITE IT. These two-three extra sentences can make or break your email. Think about a customer on their phone. All they are going to see is the subject line and a bit of preview text. Eyes will go directly from the subject line to the preview text for the customer to decide if they are genuinely interested in the email you are sending. I am always surprised about how many people ignore the preview text. 
    • I also will test 4-5 preview text options on a smaller audience.
    • NOTE: Since the subject line and preview text are testing two separate things, DO NOT combine these tests into one test.
  • CTA Placement
    • Call-to-action placement varies for me depending on the client, so it’s an important thing to test. Do your customers like to know more details before taking action? Or do they take action when the CTA is the first thing they see?
    • I test three versions (top, middle, bottom) of the CTA on a smaller audience before emailing the more extensive list. 


Pay Attention to Image Placement

While it’s easy to think of image placement as a design concept for email marketing, it plays an even more significant role in the user experience. Try not to place an image at the top of the email. While this looks great, if a customer opens that email and the photo doesn’t load, chances are they will not scroll down to read the text. 


Forget Links, Add a Button

Buttons are bright, colorful, straightforward ways to get your customer to take action. In comparison, links have their value; in the time of the pandemic, you want to cater directly to what would be the easiest, most likely way for a customer to take action.

As I mentioned above, a great test to run is CTA placement. I have found that buttons get the most conversions when they are above the middle section of the email. 


State Value Prop in Subject Line

Your subject line is all you have to reel customers in from the cold. It would be best if you had your value proposition displayed in the subject to form a relationship where the customer knows that they are getting something from you that will make their life better, easier, more fun, etc.

Consumer products brands usually have a better time with this as they can offer sales and discounts. Those offering services could also include a discount as their value proposition. For industries that are a bit more specific and less dealy and wheely, it can take some time to figure out how to create an engaging subject line with the WHY. Take the time and use it wisely.


Use Your Experts

I worked for a company with a 50-60% open rate for regular company communications and an 80-90% open rate for emails sent from experts in the company. Customers want to hear from a person, not a brand.

Who are your experts? Are you able to write ghost emails for them that they can sign off on? The more expert emails you can send vs. company emails, the more successful your campaign will be.


Personalize the RIGHT Way

You can already tell that this is one of my biggest pet peeves. I have a name with a different spelling, and I take total offense if someone spells it wrong or calls me “Marge.” Why?

Marji’s my name, and someone did not take the two seconds to look at the email address they are sending the email to (which contains marji.)

Also, Marge comes from Margaret, in my opinion. In some cases, it can stem from a Margery. I am a Marjorie. I am not Margaret. Only my mom gets away with calling me Marge.

Point? Nothing upsets me more than the flood of “Marji J.” emails I get on LinkedIn. Don’t even get me started on all of the “Hey Sherman!” emails I have received. The best have to be the ones with “Hey {INSERT NAME}.”

If you are going to personalize through automation, test your email multiple times before sending it out to a larger audience.

I always recommend that clients personally write their emails to the top 10-20 predicted converters. For example, during a fundraising campaign, I worked with a client to identify the people who gave the most money the year prior.

This strategy works like a charm. While automated emails went to the primary email list, the top previous donors received personalized emails from the head of the nonprofit. In this particular case, those donors were so thrilled with their attention from the nonprofit that they donated even more than the year prior. 

Never underestimate the power of personalization. 


Scrub Your Lists Weekly, At Least Monthly 

I know how tedious this sounds, primarily if you work for a larger corporation, but this will help make your metrics shine. Outdated lists create friction in a ton of ways.

For one, outdated lists lead to a higher bounce and lower deliverability rate. Dirty lists are also an increased risk of getting your emails marked as spam, leading to less of your future emails reaching inboxes. On rare occasions, outdated lists can also send emails to those who already unsubscribed– which is illegal. 

So, clean your lists!


Link Your Domain Directly With Your Email Tool

Adding your domain is a simple yet powerful step that many forget to take. Syncing your domain with your email tool allows for more emails to arrive in the inbox rather than the spam folder. If you do not connect your domain directly, you risk delivering the bulk of your emails to spam boxes.


Follow the Trail

I left this one for the end because it’s one of the hardest email marketing tips, especially within larger corporations. Depending on your industry, your customer might see your email, pick up the phone, and call your company. If you are not tracking metrics online to offline, this conversion will not count towards your email campaign.

I have one client who keeps a call log of how the person knows about the company. Many of those come from emails the customer received. This process is manual but an excellent way for smaller businesses to keep track of the conversions. 

Many software companies help make the connection from emails to calls to in-store visits for more significant conversions. I recommend comparing a few of them and choosing one. They save a ton of headaches and prove the value of your work.


Bonus Tips:

  • Create custom landing pages to go with your automated email campaigns.
  • Search Engine Optimize email copy and landing page copy to give your email marketing a lift.
  • Pay attention less to email design and more to ease of conversion.


Email marketing requires a detail-oriented approach and will not work if you are haphazardly sending emails out or sticking with the same automation strategy you had in 2019. Times have changed, and so has the way customers consume emails. Straight advertisements no longer work. Customers are craving valuable emails that can help them, rather than emails that only benefit the company and interrupt them daily. 

Cut through the noise and tailor your email marketing strategy directly to where your customers are right now in their lives. It’s worth it. 

Marji J. Sherman



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