The Blueprint to A Successful Modern Day Email Marketing Strategy

Email Marketing Strategy

Bonus: Click Here to get the free Email Remarketing guide

An updated version of this post can be found here: Email Marketing Strategy: The Definitive guide.

More than 100 billion promotional emails are sent daily

And this figure is expected to reach 132 billion emails by 2017.

Email marketing has changed over the years. What worked five years ago, now no longer works.

You need a structured approach to email marketing strategy and if you want to stand out from the crowd, you need to change the way you communicate with your customers.

To do this, you need to follow these five success tactics for a successful modern day email marketing strategy.

These five success tactics are;

  • Personalization
  • Segmentation
  • Mobile
  • Testing
  • Trigger emails

And by focusing on these five success tactics, your email marketing ROI will skyrocket!

Let’s get started

But first, how do send email marketing campaigns today?

Do you still send one email to all? Or do you still write “Dear valued customer”?

In the past, email marketing was a painful task:

  • Create email template
  • Send a test
  • Get approval
  • Click “send to all”

Does it look familiar? (It’s exactly how I used to send emails!)

That’s old news!

You now need to treat each customer individually.

For the very best online marketers’ email marketing is their go-to promotional channel. It brings in the results and delivers the best marketing ROI.

Email Marketing ROI

That’s right. Email outperforms SEO, PPC, content marketing and social.

And they are not alone. As on average, for every $1 you spend on email marketing, you can expect a return of $48!

Not bad, right?

This post will show you the five things you need to focus on you achieve extraordinary results through email marketing. And when you follow the specific tips, it will become your most important channel too.

1. Personalization

When we say personalized email marketing, we don’t mean that you send an individual email to every single subscriber. Personalization means that you use customer data to create a personalized message.

Let’s take a look at two examples of email campaigns I received recently – One of them is personalized and one of them is not;


On the left, we have a non-personalized email sent from Topman. The email is not addressing me by name and I’m pretty sure that all email subscribers received this email.

On the right, we have a personalized email from Amazon (of course I was going to include an Amazon reference here!). Not only do they address me by name but, they suggest related books by the same author and books within the same genre by a different author.

Of the two emails; which do you think I am more likely to take action on?

If you guessed the email from Amazon, then you guessed correctly.

To Amazon, email marketing is not just another marketing channel.

You see, Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s CEO is an email mastermind. Jeff Bezos understands the value of emails and has been known to read through customer complaints. It’s also why more than 35% of all product sales come from recommendations (both via email and on screen).

And research by Experian has found that personalized emails deliver 6x higher transaction rates.

Let’s break this down into numbers we can all understand;

On average email marketing generates $0.11 in revenue per email.

If you send 100,000 emails, you can expect $11,000 in revenue. Or, if you personalize your emails, you can expect six times that. Can you say “opportunity” when you see one?

And guess what?

70% brands do not use personalization within their email marketing strategy.

The simplest form of personalization is to address the reader by name. Most email service providers (ESP) offer this within their functionality and this tactic alone will improve your campaign performance.

For example, email subject lines that are personalized with a recipient’s first name receive higher open rates.

Open rates with personalization

Considering that one-third of all emails are opened because of subject line alone, that’s a sure fire way to get more eyeballs on your email.

Outside of using the customer’s name, here are a few more tips to help you get started with personalization:

  • Ask for the right information upfront: Great personalization starts way before you hit the ‘send’ button. It all starts with your sign up form. Without data such as name, company and location, you will be very limited with your personalized communication.
  • Use a real reply-to email address: When you use, it takes away the authenticity from the messaging. You want your readers to engage and respond to your campaigns. Use a real reply address will improve credibility and appear more personal.
  • Use your real email signature: Just like using a real reply-to email address, you want to use real contact information within the email and the best way to do that is to include your contact details in the email signature. Giving your readers the opportunity to contact you or connect with you online is a great way to be personal and build a relationship with them.

2. Segmentation

According to email marketers’, segmentation is number two on the top initiatives in 2014.

Top email marketing initiatives

Do you know why it is so high?

Because when you segment your database, your email campaigns become more targeted to the audience.

Let’s take a look at example;

You’re hosting a local “Women’s day” event in a small town outside the city. How can you expect to get the best turn out for your event?


And using the above example, the best way to get women to turn up to your event would be to create a list of women who live within 5-10 miles of your event and then send out your email campaign.

Compare this to sending one email to your entire database, with subscribers spread across the country. I mean, how annoying would it be to receive an email that promotes an event that is located on other side of the country?

Before you start segmenting your database, let’s take a look at how valuable it can be.

A study by HubSpot found that all key email marketing KPIs perform better when you segment your email list.

Results from email list segmentation

(Source: HubSpot)

If you segment your lists, you get better open rates, revenue, leads, transactions and more customers.

I’d say it’s pretty valuable, wouldn’t you?

Here’s a few more easy ways you can segment your database;

  • Segment by industry: Do you offer services and products to B2B or B2C? Knowing the industry of your subscribers is a great way to segment your email campaigns. For example, a business that sells car parts would engage at a much higher rate if they receive information on car products, compared to a business that sells software.
  • Segment by company size: Segmenting email campaigns by company size or annual revenue is a great way to boost response rates. A small business that employs 5 people is not likely ready for the biggest industry conference of the year whereas a business that employs 700 will be a better fit.
  • Segment by sales cycle: Early stage buyers will not be ready for an aggressive sales pitch or one to one demo but, they will be more appreciative to receive an industry research white paper. On the other end of the cycle, buyers who are ready are looking for product webinars or free trial offers.

3. Mobile

In 2012, 38% of all marketing emails were opened on a mobile device.

By 2013, that number jumped up to 50%.

And now, it’s as high as 65%!

These are huge numbers!

And what do you do as soon as you wake up in the morning?

If you’re like me, I’m guessing you have your phone next to your bed and as soon as you wake up you immediately check your phone for calls, messages and emails.

Don’t worry; you’re not the only one. 62% of us do this.

So why are so few brands integrating mobile with their email marketing strategy?


Email marketing mobile strategy

When you send an email to someone who reads an email on their mobile but the email is not optimized for that device, what do you think they do with?

Mostly, they will unsubscribe or delete it.

And it’s easy to see why. I mean, which of the following emails from my own inbox are you likely to engage with?

Optimized email campaigns for mobile


But how does compare to emails that are optimized for mobile?

When email campaigns optimized for mobile, they generate a lot of revenue!

55% of smartphone users have made at least one purchase after receiving a mobile promotional email.

In fact, email revenue from mobile is just behind direct traffic in terms of eCommerce sales, according to the 2013 share of eCommerce revenue by channel and device report.

eCommerce revenue share report

Looking at that chart, you probably want to optimize your campaigns for mobile devices, don’t you?

Don’t worry; here are some tips on how to do that.

  • Keep the subject line and pre-header short: The subject line is crucial. Keep it short so the reader knows exactly what the email topic is about. And the pre-header text (also known as snippet text), don’t let it go to waste by using “To view this email in your browser…”. Instead, summarize the email or include a call to action (i.e., Use “FREESHIP” to get free shipping).
  • Make the CTA big and obvious: Mobile device vary in size. While a text link may work on a tablet or larger screen, you might be alienating your readers who have a smaller screen if your call to action is too small. Make the call to action, big, bold and simple to click.
  • Implement responsive email design (RED): Creating n responsive email design means that the user experience is optimized regardless of the device or screen they use and while it is a new term, most email service providers (ESP) now offer this within their email functionality.

4. Testing

Whether it’s A/B testing your landing pages, shopping cart checkout or PPC campaigns, testing provides us with the data to make practical decisions that will improve performance.

And email marketing is no different.

Sure, you’ve probably tested subject lines before; it’s 2014, I mean who hasn’t?

More than 70% of marketer’s have A/B tested subject lines. And no doubt, testing a subject line boosted the campaigns overall performance.

A/B testing email campaigns

I mean, even the President of the United States has A/B tested subject lines….

Think I’m kidding?

Just take a look at the image below from NY Mag, which shows the number of ways that the Obama campaign tested different subject lines between 2011 and 2012.

Obama presendential email campaign test

And A/B testing played a crucial part in Obama’s 2008 campaign. The testing of email campaigns, landing pages and call to action buttons helped raise more than $60 million.

So why stop at just subject line testing?

Here are some ideas for what you can test in your email campaigns:

  • From address: The name that appears in the “from” field has a huge impact on whether the reader opens your email. In fact, the sender name is the main reason why people open your email. Test your from address by sending your campaigns from a person’s name, person + company or from your CEO.
  • Plain text vs HTML campaigns: Like most marketers’, I’m sure you are already sending a plain text version of your email. However, have you thought of testing an email campaign that is plain text only? And when personalized, plain text emails appear to be written just for the reader.
  • Long vs short emails: You can keep your emails short and sweet or, you can create long detailed emails. Long form emails can include more detailed copy whereas shorter emails will send the reader directly to a targeted landing page. The best way to see what works best? Test it.

When VWO hosted their eCommerce conversion tactics webinar, they split tested the length of their emails and tested an image vs text link with the call to action.

VWO A/B test email campaign

Can you guess which version won?

The shorter version with the text link outperformed the longer version by 50% CTR, which resulted in more than 750 webinar signups!

5.Trigger emails

Trigger mails are emails that are sent out automatically based on user behavior.

The most common forms of trigger emails are ‘welcome’ emails, ‘thank you’ emails and ‘transactional’ emails, such as order confirmation and receipts).


And yet, the data shows us that trigger email performs better than traditional email. MUCH BETTER!

Here are a few stats to get you started before you read on:

  • Open rates for trigger emails are as high as 49%, which is 95% higher than traditional email open rates
  • The average click-through rate (CTR) for trigger emails is more than double the rate compared to traditional email click-through rates
  • The best converting websites in the world (sites like Schwan’s, ProFlowers, Amazon, etc), sites that convert as much as 40% of their traffic – use trigger emails.

Does this sound too good to be true?

Marketers have been slow to adopt trigger emails (only 25% of marketers use them) and they make up a low percentage of overall email volume, at around 2.6%. However, they can be responsible for as much as 20% of your email marketing revenue!

Trigger mails perform really well; as they hit the email marketing sweet spot.

What does the email marketing sweet spot look like, you ask?

It looks like this; Email marketing sweet spot
And the reason why they perform so well is because of context.

Consider this scenario; you visit an eCommerce store, browse the product line and add items to your shopping cart but, you begin to have doubts and decide to leave before completing a purchase.

Sound familiar?

This happens to every single eCommerce store, every single day.

But what if one hour later, you receive an email that includes the exact product you were shopping for? And what if this email included not only a quick-link back to your shopping cart but, a free shipping code or 10% discount?

You’re now more likely to complete your purchase, aren’t you?

That’s the power of trigger emails.

Here are some examples of trigger mails you can send;

  • Activation: A new user creates an account but, they don’t buy anything. Create a trigger email that sends an automated email offering a discount or free shipping code to new accounts with 0 purchases after six months of the account being created.
  • Win-back: A customer who has bought from you in the past is going through a drought and, there have been no new purchases within the last 12 months. Customers don’t leave your brand because of price – They leave because they think you don’t care about them. Create a trigger email that explains the benefits of shopping with you and provide an incentive to get them to buy again.
  • Surprise: Customer loyalty is the key to success. And you can reward your loyal customers by giving them something for free every now and then. Create a trigger email that offers a free gift to every customer who makes more than 25 purchases with your business and watch them share their happiness with their friends and family. It’s a small cost for your business but, the reward is huge!


Email marketing is exciting, it’s fun and you can do a lot better than you’re doing right now.

If there’s one common theme here; it’s the data. Use your data to become an email marketing expert and implement these five tactics into your email marketing strategy.

To recap;


  • 70% of businesses do not personalize their email campaigns [Click to Tweet]
  • Personalization within email generates 6x higher transaction rates [Click to Tweet]


  • 89% of businesses do not segment their email campaigns [Click to Tweet]
  • Segmenting email lists drives engagement and higher revenue [Click to Tweet]

Mobile marketing;


Trigger mails;

It’s there for the taking. If you want to grow your business, please your customers and increase marketing ROI, follow the steps listed in this post.

Personalize your campaigns, segment your lists; test your email copy, optimize for mobile devices and use contextually based trigger emails to engage with your customers.

If you do these things, I can promise you that your email campaigns will perform better.

Bonus: Free Email Marketing Guide

Shopping cart abandonment rates are as high as 68%. But, did you know you can save as much as 25% of these lost sales through email marketing?

I want you to save those sales and so I’ve created an 18 page guide that focuses on shopping cart abandonment emails (also known as email remarketing).

The guide includes:

    • What is email remarketing and why is it important?
    • 3 case studies on the value of cart abandonment emails
    • 5 tips for effective email campaigns

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