email marketing

Email marketing is still the preferred form of contact for most consumers. But, are you making the most of your email marketing campaign? Here are my tips for creating a successful email marketing campaign.

Google Tabbed Inbox and Smart Inbox

Getting users to open your emails was always challenging, but email marketing became increasingly challenging when Google introduced its Tabbed Inbox, which automatically segments incoming messages into primary, social, and promotional. While the tabbed inbox (and Google’s new Smart Inbox — and I have invites if you need one) make email more effective for users, most email marketing ends up in a users promotional tab, resulting in plummeting open rates for email marketers. For instance, one client went from a very impressive 30%+ open rate to single digit open rates.

Most recommendations for surviving Google’s Tabbed Inbox revolve around getting readers to move your message into their primary email tab where they’re much more likely to see and open your email. Once a single message is moved into the primary tab, all future similar emails go straight to the primary tab.

Various techniques accomplish this, such as drag and drop to move a message into the primary tab and right-clicking on a message to move it to the primary tab. Many marketers created special email messages containing instructions for readers to ensure they continue getting your messages.

Of course, now your challenge is doubled — you have to get folks to open the instructional email and you have to encourage them to take action to receive future emails in their inbox.

Getting readers to open your email marketing

Of course, just showing up in a readers inbox is only the first of many tasks necessary to achieve ROI from your email marketing campaigns. You still have to get readers to open your message. Several tactics help with this gigantic task:

A value-based subject line

The first key to getting readers to open you email message is creating a powerful subject line. Remember, consumers don’t buy products they buy solutions, so make sure your subject line gives readers some reason for opening your email — tell them what problem you solve.

Content, content, content

Don’t just tease readers with a value-based subject line — deliver on your promise with the content. And, make your email content snackable with images and lots of white space that invites readers to consume your content.


Personalization in your email marketing campaign dramatically improves open rates. And, don’t stop with simply adding readers names, think about segmenting your list and creating custom messages focusing on the unique needs of each segment.

Call to action

Include a call to action (CTA) within your email message — don’t assume readers know what response is appropriate. Making your CTA visual and making it stand out within the body of your message increases clicks — the end-game for your email marketing campaign.


When you send your email impacts open rates — sending messages early or late in the workday increase open rates.

Canspam is a federal law under the control of the Federal Trade Commission and it makes certain restrictions on email marketers — I only wish snail mail marketers faced similar restrictions. If you’re using a leading email marketing company, like Constant Contact, MailChimp, or automation software like Salesforce, they’ll make sure you understand these regulations and ensure you comply — because they face serious fines for your email marketing mistakes.

Here are some things to keep in mind regarding email marketing legislation:

  • Make sure folks on your list requested information from you — called opt-in.
  • Immediately remove members from you list when they request.
  • Include easy options for unsubscribing in your email message.
  • Set a privacy policy that clearly spells out how you protect the privacy of list members.
  • Identify the sender, including their physical address.

In addition, many email clients, like Gmail, Yahoo Mail, etc, monitor email and remove suspected spam before it hits a user’s inbox. Several things increase the likelihood your message will end up in a user’s spam folder, such as using free in the subject line (based on past abuse), buying lists (which likely falls under Canspam laws), and using a reputable email firm.

Measure and test

Always measure the results of your email marketing campaigns because each subscriber list performs differently and no absolute success factors exist.

A corollary to measuring is testing. Tests are specific experiments designed to understand your list and how they respond. This great infographic from our friends at Marketo shows the commonly tested elements leading to successful email marketing.

Many email companies provide tools for testing various elements of you email marketing campaign, so keep an eye out for this factor when deciding on your email provider. In fact, Canspam makes it challenging to change email providers, so this is a very serious decision that deserves serious consideration.