If you’re doubting the effectiveness of email marketing for your business, think again. According to Optinmonster, “No matter what age group you are targeting or where they are located, email remains a great way to reach your audience.” In fact, study after study shows that consumers consistently rank email at the top.

But even on the consumer’s preferred platform, it takes a great deal of strategy and planning to reach your desired audience. After sending six billion emails on behalf of our clients, we’ve learned a lot about what does and doesn’t work in the email marketing world. Here are the five key elements to a successful email marketing campaign:

1. Think of Email Marketing as a Two-Way Conversation

Do you enjoy chatting with the person at the mixer who just goes on and on about how great his business is going without asking anything about you? Or would you prefer hanging with someone who asks about you and shares valuable and interesting information based on your responses?

Email marketing follows the same principle. It’s not a place to brag about your business; instead, it’s an opportunity to provide useful, compelling content to your prospects and clients based on their interests. Think of it as a value exchange where you give readers important and interesting tips, stories and special offers in exchange for their time.

It’s also a place to show your personality. Be conversational with your reader instead of speaking in “marketing-ese” or in a dry “press release” tone. Send new opt-ins a welcome email that asks them to whitelist your email address, thanks them for subscribing, and explains what they can expect to get from you in the future. Your emails should be written with openness and a friendly tone while remaining professional and aligned with your brand voice.

Being in dialogue with your reader also boosts your deliverability rates. When you send engagingly written, valuable emails, your subscribers will be more likely to open and read them, which boosts your deliverability for the future.

2. Use Authentic and Transparent Subject Lines

Respect your readers’ intelligence; Don’t try to trick them with deceptive subject lines. Click-baited opens will make your readers lose faith in you and will eventually lead them to stop opening your emails altogether, making your messages more likely to end up in the spam folder.

This doesn’t mean you should be boring. Tantalize the reader – but do it with clever copy.

CopyBlogger recommends using the Four U rules for subject lines. To paraphrase:

  1. Be Useful – Show the reader how they will benefit from reading this email.
  2. Be Urgent – Make the reader feel as if they need to open this email ASAP, rather than letting it languish in the inbox.
  3. Be Unique – Intrigue the reader with unique language or a unique value proposition.
  4. Do the above in an Ultra-specific way.


  • Use numbers (i.e., 5 tips to fill your seminar).
  • Encourage action with a clear CTA (RSVP now for the seminar!).
  • Include the occasional emoji.


  • Sale
  • Free
  • Advertisement
  • $$$$$
  • Excessive punctuation
  • Too many emojis
  • Inappropriate emojis

3. Test, Test, Test

There’s always room to improve your email campaigns, and one of the best ways to do that is through continuous split testing – pitting two or more versions of your email message against each other to see which performs better.

This gives you valuable insight into their performance while allowing you to increase engagement, opt-ins, and conversions by improving the quality of your final product. It all comes down to learning what your market wants to see in their inbox and adapting.

Split test everything: send dates and times, subject lines and preheaders, email templates, design and body copy. Learn more about split testing in this use case.

4. Segment Emails Based on Client Data

Your list is one of your most valuable assets, as it contains everything your contacts have told you about themselves since day one. Between behavioral and demographic information gained in your CRM, you’ve got your finger on the pulse of each contact’s engagement with your business. Use the data to segment your list and send tailored content to each group.

By separating your list into groups based on their interests, you open up the opportunity to personalize your email marketing and, in turn, significantly improve your email marketing results. In fact, Optinmonster says, “Automated emails which include personalization have a 75% higher open rate than those that don’t.”

Here are a few types of segmented emails you might send to your list:

  • Send an email about a sale at your brick-and-mortar store to locals only.
  • Send your top customers VIP sale offers and customer appreciation messages.
  • Send cart abandoners and other hot leads special incentives to start shopping with you.

5. Optimize Your Thank You Page

Take advantage of every opportunity to set the stage for future engagement with a new email subscriber. Here are some ways to optimize your thank you page and increase the value of your opt-in process:

  • Use a merge field to personalize your thank you message.
  • Tell them how excited you are that they’ve joined your list and that you’re grateful they took the time to sign up.
  • Give them a preview of the awesome content they’ll be receiving from you and the frequency with which they’ll receive it.
  • Include social sharing buttons.
  • Ask them to whitelist your sender address.

Now that you’ve gotten a hold of these five email marketing tips, you’re sure to foster existing customer relationships and snag more customers. Incorporate these for email marketing success and watch your email marketing ROI soar.

About Lindsay Kent
Lindsay is a graduate of California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, and holds a degree in Journalism with a concentration in Public Relations and minors in Spanish and Integrated Marketing Communications. After working with several small businesses, Lindsay moved to sunny Santa Barbara to become Ontraport’s Content Manager.