Emails are a powerful marketing technique, but you know that already. This ancient technology from the distant dawn of the internet is still alive and kicking—more than ever, in fact.

There’s a reason why all the best marketers devote a huge amount of time and resources to building up their email lists—because emails are still the best way to get recurring customers and build trust.

But that’s only if you do them right, and many marketers don’t. They get their emails horribly wrong, and they see far less benefit from emails than they should.

The secret is to optimize every single message, and here’s the lowdown on how to do this.

Get the Subject Line Right

The first and most important element of writing effective emails is the subject line. The subject line decides whether your email gets opened or not, and it doesn’t matter how good your email content is if no one opens it.

Some tips for a good subject line include:

  • Get the most important words in first. Mobile screens are small, so you want to make sure recipients can see exactly what they need to in the first few words.
  • Use personalization by including the subscriber’s name, location, details of an action they took, an order they made, etc. Anything to suggest that this is not just another mass email.
  • Don’t send your emails directly to the junk mail folder by using words get picked up by the spam checkers. Avoid these words and phrases to improve your deliverability rates.
  • Create intrigue and curiosity by suggesting a solution inside the email. E.g., “This is how you smash your social marketing targets.” The answer to “this” lies inside the email, encouraging more opens. This is sometimes referred to as the “open loop” technique.
  • Don’t make them too long or too short. According to Return Path, the most-read subject lines contain between 61 and 70 characters (though you’ll have to do your own testing first, more on this below).

While we’re on the topic, make sure you use a real name in the “From” section. Ideally, this will be you or someone real at your company. Don’t use “Sales” or something equally vague because you want to make it look like your email is being sent from one person to another.

Provide Value in Every Email

The real secret to email success is to provide genuine value inside every email you send. If your subscribers always find it worthwhile to open your emails, most of the work is already done. Even a truly terrible subject line will still get opened if your subscribers know that you always provide the good stuff.

Why are your subscribers on your list? What do they want? They signed up for a reason, so you should know what this is, and then you can provide them with the content that they want to receive.

Track Your Results and Test Continuously

You can follow all the rules and all the best practices to improve your emails, but you won’t know what’s working for your specific list unless you track your results. Fortunately, emails are easy to track, and by using professional email software you can easily find out your:

  • Open rates
  • Click-through rates
  • Deliverability rates
  • Click-to-open rates
  • Unsubscribe rates

Test everything in your emails to find out what’s working. Send out two versions of the same email with different subject lines in an A/B split test, for example, to find out which subject lines connect most with your subscribers.

You can test dozens of elements, including:

  • The “From” name
  • Time and day of week
  • Text and HTML emails
  • Preheader text
  • Layout of email
  • Images used
  • Personalization

Always test one thing at a time, and as your email marketing matures, you’ll build up a better picture of what’s working.

Maximize Your Emails

Emails can be powerful when you do them right, but many marketers get them wrong. These simple tips can get you a long way and ensure you start sending better emails that get more opens and more clicks, improving your ROI.

Start building your list from the moment you launch, then experiment with your emails. Track, test, and refine them, and turn your list into a powerful sales generator.


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