All you need to know to create and deliver effective email marketing

email marketing

With an ROI of $44 per dollar spent (Wordstream, 2018), email marketing is a critical component of any effective digital marketing strategy.

Email marketing has proven to be an extremely successful tool to:

  • Reach out and nurture prospects, by helping disseminate the content created as part of an overall inbound marketing strategy as well as by advertising promotions and special offers.
  • Increase revenue and support upselling by allowing companies to keep in contact and nurture their existing customers.

Ultimately, when done properly, email marketing helps to create positive brand associations so that when a prospect is ready to buy, your brand is already at the top of their mind.

However, for email marketing to work, there are a few elements that need to be strategically planned; our Email Marketing Cheatsheet will help you design your strategy, and the following tips will help you ensure that your strategy is successful.


Newsletters must be sent out regularly. Marketers must decide what is a reasonable schedule and stick to it. It can be weekly/monthly/ quarterly, as long as it is consistent, because only by being consistent can email marketing create positive brand awareness.

Ad hoc promotional emails, on the other hand, should be sent out in a timely manner for the objective of the campaign they are part of.

However, in any case, companies should avoid sending newsletters too soon before or after another email so as to avoid the recipients feeling ‘spammed’.

In terms of timing, each company needs to find out the day and time their audience is more likely to read their email. While there are general rules, for instance, Tuesday is better than Monday for B2B, but Saturday might be better than Tuesday for B2C (, each company has a very specific audience and the best way to find out when their specific audience is more receptive is to test different times/days and track results.

Target audience 

Email marketing is more effective if the audience is segmented and different content is created and sent to each segment.

Also, content should reflect the different stages of the buyer journey (awareness, cold lead, hot lead, conversion, retention).

Needless to say, buying email lists should be avoided at all cost (GDPR anyone?) and companies should ask permission before adding someone to their database.


Marketers should opt for a clean and professional layout.

A trick to create the ‘perfect’ layout is to:

  • Identify three newsletters that you believe readers would associate with thought leadership, what do they have in common? Replicate where possible.
  • Select an existing template the platform used (Mailchimps, Constant Contacts, etc) and do not alter it excessively, for instance, avoid adding a background if the template doesn’t come with it. Professional designers have created those templates so if they didn’t include a background there is a reason. If however, the template does have a background colour you can change it for instance to reflect the company’s brand colours.
  • Include images but ensure that they are not too heavy.
  • Ensure that the template is mobile friendly.
  • Once the new layout is ready, look back at those three outstanding newsletters. Does yours deliver the same sense of thought leadership and expertise? Is it saying to the reader that your brand is an established, professional firm, a leader in your field? Only if it does, then you know that the layout is ok.


The subject is key, it is what will make people open the email.

Marketers should invite the audience by asking questions related to their pain points, or creating a sense of urgency. However, it is important not to trigger spam alerts (bold titles, use of words like FREE, BUY NOW, etc).

Especially, companies must not disappoint! If an email promises to solve a problem, it must do just that.


The content depends on the objective of the email:

  • Newsletters should be useful and informative. The content should address the audience’s pain points, offer a way to address them, and demonstrate the company’s expertise.
  • Ad hoc emails need to deliver whatever the objective of the email is (register now/buy a book/sign up, etc.)

But in any case, marketers need to include clear CTAs (call to actions).

A few other tips:

  • Do not include text or CTA on the images
  • Add visible buttons to help the reader find what they might be interested in
  • Don’t be too pushy, always strive to add value to the reader
  • Links should be to webpages not to documents. People don’t like to download files (risk of virus and takes time) plus it’s easier to share them
  • Add links to social pages
  • Include unsubscribe option
  • When possible, personalise
  • Customise “From” line

Before sending out

There are at least 3 critical steps that need to be implemented before sending out an email:

  • Test that all links work
  • Send a test email to yourself and at least one other person
  • Open the email from different devices (i.e. laptop and mobile)

Additionally, marketers could consider a/b tests: split the audience in 2, the first 50% is then split in 2 again. Send one newsletter with a certain aspect like a certain title to the first 25%, and another newsletter with a different title to the second 25%. Track which one performs better and then send it to the remaining 50%.

After pressing ‘send’

Track, track, track!

Marketers need to track elements like the number of openings, clicks, shares, bounce backs, unsubscribes. Only in this way they can know what works and what doesn’t. And only in this way can they implement changes to improve the effectiveness of their email marketing strategy.

As a further note, if someone unsubscribes, marketers could follow up by asking why (some systems allow it directly in the unsubscribe page). This might help explain if and what they are doing something wrong.

For more about email marketing download our email marketing cheatsheet here.

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