Top Email Marketing Tips

There are loads of email marketing tips available if you’re looking online.  I thought I’d spare you the usual “make sure you include a call to action stuff” and tell you some of the things that I pay extra attention to when considering email marketing campaigns at Aduro Labs.

Email Marketing Tip 1: Test how your email displays in different mail clients and don’t rely on images to display your content.

This is a really important one.  I get sooooo many emails from people that have clearly never tested their email.  You might have made yourself a really great email template with loads of cool pictures but this is no good if the end recipient can’t see them.

A lot of email platforms disable pictures by default and the user has to specifically request that the images in an email be displayed.  If someone receives a poorly displayed email which doesn't pique their interest they are really unlikely to make the effort to display the images in your email.

Furthermore, if you put the majority of your content in a picture based format, it is perfectly possible that the recipient will never see it.

So how do you tackle this?  You have to make sure that as much of the information in your email as possible is in a non-image based format.  Use images to enhance your email but don’t use them to carry important information.  You need to also make sure you use proper alt tags for any images you do use.  That way when an image doesn’t display, you can still deliver some information.  A prime example here is when you have an image that displays a company logo at the top of an email.  Make sure that the alt tag is the company name, NOT something stupid like “logo image”.  That way, if the images aren't displayed properly but the recipient likes your brand, then they will know the email is from you and potentially keep reading.

Here are some examples of real emails I've received where people haven’t really thought about this.  I’ve shown what the email looks like when I receive it (images turned off) and after I've asked my mail client to display the content.  I have hidden the brand/company that has sent the emails out of courtesy.

The other thing to consider here is that my screen is at a fairly high resolution so for most people, the only part of the email visible above the fold would be a blank box where an image would sit.

Email Marketing Tips Email Marketing Tips

Email Marketing Tips Email Marketing Tips

Email Marketing Tip 2: Make the most of your email subject.

The subject of your email is one of the most important considerations of your email campaign.  Remember, most people get hundreds of emails a day.  A lot of the time the only information a recipient can see before opening an email is the name of the sender (or their email address) and the subject.

This means these pieces of information are often what makes the difference between someone bothering to open your email or not.

This means if you've to do your best to leverage them where possible.  For example, if you've got a great offer in your email, don’t assume that someone will open your email to find it, try and fit it in to your subject without making it look too spammy.

If you don’t have an offer, try and think how you can hook someone’s interest in your content by thinking about the type of person receiving the email.

Let’s take an example:

A sports car dealership wants to tell customers about their new model.  A common email subject might be.

“Lotus Exige voted Evo’s Car of The Year 2012”


“Nissan GTR sets unofficial lap record at the Nurburgring”

Whilst these sound good, experience tells me that you would get a higher click through rate by thinking about the type of person who is receiving the email.

My thought process might go something like:

A sports car dealership is likely to mainly get interest from car enthusiasts. ->

Car enthusiasts generally know quite a lot about cars. ->

People who know a lot about something often enjoy being considered an expert. ->

Therefore, I would suggest changing the email subject to something that would question the recipients’ knowledge to capture their interest.

For example:

“Which British sports car beat other European manufacturers to win Evo’s car of the year?”


“Do you know who just smashed the Nurburgring lap record in 7min 21?”

Contrastingly, lets take the example of a family car dealership.  Although it might seem like a similar concept, I would still try and think about the type of person receiving the email rather than solely concentrating on the product itself.  The average customer probably doesn't care what the Nurburgring is, let alone who’s driven round it the fastest.

I would suggest the thought process to consider would be something along the lines of:

Someone looking for a family car most likely has children to carry around. ->

Most people will do anything to protect their children. ->

They are therefore quite likely to rank safety features very highly in their decision making criteria. ->

In light of this I would adopt a subject along the lines of:

“Find Out Why The Volvo V40 is The Safest Car Your Child Can Travel In”

Whilst this might seem somewhat obvious.  My point is that you should give your email subject proper consideration.  It’s the single thing most likely to influence whether or not your email is even opened.

Email Marketing Tip 3: Make sure that there is consistently something of value in your emails

This is the difficult one.  If you want people to keep opening your emails, then you need to incentivise them to do so.  The two easiest ways to provide something of value are either to offer information or promotions.

a) Information can be a cost effective option for you but then again you may also have to put a lot of time into producing something good enough for people to perceive it as valuable.

b) Offer exclusive promotional codes.  Provide promotional codes in your emails that offer real value to the recipients.  Make these only available to your email subscribers so they know they need to continue to receive the emails in order to get them.

It is much better to delay an email and improve the quality of the content then to feel you must get something sent out and produce  something of inferior quality.

Every time you send out an email that is not perceived as having value then you stand the risk of having people unsubscribe.

Email Marketing Tip 4: Split test your emails

Split test everything.  It’s the best way to improve what you’re doing and it’s simple to do.  Split testing your email campaigns will help you learn more about what presses your customers buttons.  I often hear marketing “experts” telling me things like “people will always click an image more frequently than a text link”.  Be wary of this kind of ridiculous statement and split test it for yourself.  Even at a really simple level you can split test the email subject that you use as talked about in point 2.

You can also split test what kind of promotions are perceived most favourably.  Send half your emails with a coupon code for a "percentage off" promotion (e.g. 20% off), send the other half with a "set amount off" (e.g. £10 off) promotion and see which has the highest uptake.  The limits of what you can split test are pretty much endless.  Not only does it help you improve your marketing, it's also surprisingly interesting!

Email Marketing Tip 5: Evaluate what makes you open an email yourself.

I've learned a lot about email marketing from simply observing how other people screw it up.  If people just tested their emails a bit better or made better use of images and alt tags (tip 1) then I’m sure their campaigns would improve.

I started to keep a mental record of all the emails that I was getting.  I started to look at which ones I was opening and which ones I was deleting without even looking at.  Over a period of time I started to note which ones I was giving the most attention to and trying to pattern what it was about them that appealed.

Leave us a comment below if you found these tips useful.

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November 21, 2012
Matthew Weeks


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