Email marketing is dead. Or is it?

Despite the average inbox filling up with daily marketing emails — all vying for attention — EDM emails still work. And why shouldn’t they?

In emails, you have an audience who has chosen to hear from you. They typed in their email address to subscribe to your list or handed over their well-earned cash to become a paying customer.

In 2019, email marketing still brought in a $42 return on every $1 spent making it the highest ROI of any marketing channel. If your EDM emails aren’t working, don’t blame the system. Take a good hard look at how you’re crafting them instead. Try these top hacks for breathing life back into your email campaigns.

1. Tweak your subject line

In an inbox overflowing with unread messages, subject lines matter. You need to stand out. To add to the complexity, certain words can even trigger email spam filters and choosing the wrong words may unwittingly see you end up in junk. Phrases like “click here” “act now” and “lowest price” are spammy. Also avoid spelling/grammatical errors, exclamation marks, all caps and adding RE: if it isn’t a reply email. Emojis can help draw the eye but less is definitely more. Personalisation in subject lines is great, but only if you’re 100% certain that you’ve got their details right.

When constructing a subject line for your EDM email, take a leaf out of Goldilocks’ book. Don’t make it too short or too long; it needs to be just right (which is apparently around 28-39 characters). Remember that email clients all cap the characters displayed in their subject lines and this will vary depending on whether a person is accessing via a mobile device or computer. So, anything too long will only get cut off with an ellipsis (…) anyway. Think short-ish and sweet.

A great way to see how effective a subject line is going to be is to A/B test it. Take a small sample from your database, split them into two groups and send each group a different subject line to decipher which has the highest click rate. Once you’ve got your answer, send the winning subject line to the rest of your database. The more often you do this, the more familiar you will become with what works best for your unique following.

2. Segment your audience

Gone are the days where you can blast EDM sales emails over and over to your whole database. Email marketing has become so much more sophisticated and your subscribers will only get annoyed if you’re not following suit.

Whether you do it through tracking or by blatantly asking for information, you want to compile as much information as you can on a user. Then segment them accordingly. This will differ depending on what your business offers. You may like to segment by:

Behaviour – how they have engaged with your company

Demographic – their personal circumstances

Geographical – where they are located in the world

Attitudinal – personal interests and values

Then tailor the information to suit the individual, based on what you know about them.

This may sound like a huge amount of work, but it doesn’t have to be. Taking the time to set up a drip marketing campaign (a series of automated emails that drip out to a subscriber without you having to lift a finger) will reduce the leg work on your EDM emails significantly.

3. Apply the 80/20 rule to your EDM emails

Remember the story of the boy who cried wolf? In a nutshell, the boy tricked the town into believing that there was a wolf coming so many times that when the wolf actually came, no one believed him. If you send too much of the same, your audience is going to start ignoring you.

In essence, the problem isn’t sending emails, it’s how many emails you send of the same type. Especially if those emails are all sales EDMs. People don’t necessarily want you to send less emails (although that isn’t a permission slip to hound them!), they just want more variety.

As a general guide, keep your sales emails to 20% of the emails your audience receives from you. The other 80% should be comprised of:

Transactional emails – order updates etc

Nurture emails – content that grows a connection between the user and your brand

Engagement emails – emails that contain blogs or surveys, where the ultimate goal is a click, not a sale


Read more: Words to avoid in marketing: are you making these mistakes?