Email marketing may not be new, but it is still an effective way to engage with customers.

So how can you create a successful email marketing campaign?

An effective email has to be useful, concise, interesting and relevant for its recipients and there are many examples that can help us understand what makes a great email, both for the marketers and the users.

1. Offer value

Every email should provide value for users, being useful and interesting. There needs to be a reason for every email that is sent and the goal should be clear and direct.

Domino’s wanted to promote its deal (and its app) and so it created an appealing email, adding value in the most direct way. There’s no need to add more options, or to confuse the recipients, and that’s what makes an effective email campaign.

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Graze is already popular for its successful email marketing campaigns, as it manages to engage both with new and existing customers in the most appropriate way.

This is another case on how it picks a theme for each email, in order to be specific and clear with its goals.

Graze - email marketing

2. Test the subject line

According to Convince&Convert, 33% of email recipients open an email based on subject line alone.

This signifies the importance of having an effective subject line, one that is not either very general or very specific and promotional.

It is also important to consider your audience before testing the subject lines, as there are different expectations from a sports brand and a business publication.

A subject line will also indicate whether your email will end up in spam mail, so keep in mind when creating your next email campaign. Think like your audience and decide what’s the best way to be appealing.

Is personalisation always a good idea? Apparently sometimes it (Read more...) not.

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ASOS  on the other hand decided to create an intriguing subject line, in order to apologise for the site’s issues, rewarding its customers with a limited discount. From a customer’s perspective, I was curious enough from the subject line to open the email, which I wouldn’t normally do for every email I’m receiving, so this should be considered a success for its open rate.

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According to ReturnPath and its survey on the Art and Science of Effective Subject Lines, subject lines of 61 – 70 characters long had the highest read rate (17%), while the trigger of urgency is also effective, with words such as “still time” having an increased open rate of +15.54%.

Urgency - subject line

3. Timing / frequency

It is always important to consider both the timing and the frequency of your emails, in order to ensure that the open rate is affected by the relevance and the context.

According to GetResponse, email marketers send an average of 5 emails per month, with sending frequency highest in the finance, banking and insurance sector (12.2) and lowest in the online advertising network (1.4) and consumer goods (1.5) industries.

Except for the frequency, relevance may also increase the effectiveness of an email, and 8Ball is an example of how ecommerce may embrace a TV moment to increase its sales.

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Email campaigns are frequently affected by holidays and big events, with IWOOT promoting a sale for Father’s Day, also triggering the sense of urgency to encourage purchases.

IWOOT - email marketing

4. Clarity, simplicity

A concise email campaign is focusing on delivering the message in a simple and clear way, in order to avoid confusion or even attention span.

By the time an email campaign achieves the desired open rate, there’s the challenge of actually converting it into sales.

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In the time of visual abundance, it is sometimes appreciated to be minimal and Uber’s email seems to be a great example.

Uber - email marketing

5. Make customers feel special

An email campaign that makes customers feel included has more chances of success, whether it’s about bringing traffic back to the site, click rates, or even sales.

PicJumbo wanted to announce its presence on ProductHunt, so it decided to encourage its subscribers to join them and vote them. There’s certainly a difference between sending an email announcing the presence on ProductHunt and the one they actually created.

Product Hunt email marketing

A discount code, like the one ASOS provided, may be the right reward for loyal customers, especially if it’s an exclusive deal for the email subscribers. This way they will also keep an eye on future mails, which increases the chances of future effective email campaigns.

ASOS - email marketing

Starbucks has its own loyal audience, but this is not always enough to maintain the engagement. Thus, rewards and previews are appreciated, like the recent email which allowed Starbucks members to try out the new iced teas a week before their actual availability for the other customers.

This is a great move to strengthen the bonds between members and the brand and it proves that even the slightest reward may bring multiple benefits.

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6. Be helpful

An effective email is structured in a way that it is guiding customers on the next steps. There’s no need to let them wonder what the next step should be, especially if the message requires further explanation.

Waitrose wanted to promote the free international money transfers for its members, but it also wanted to ensure that they are not confused and that’s why it sent a very clear and helpful email, also mentioning at the bottom how easy the process is.

Even if a customer was not aware of this service from Waitrose, the detailed email may help turn around the interest, which is the ultimate goal for the shop.

Waitrose - email marketing

7. Personalisation

It has been widely suggested that a personalised email leads to more successful results. And it may be true, but this does not occur in every case of personalisation.

For example, the automatic use of the recipient’s mail does not seem to be very effective, as it may end up alienate the customer, rather than create a bond.

According to a study led by Assistant Professor of Management Information Systems (MIS) Sunil Wattal and the analysis of 10 million marketing emails sent to 600,000 customers, 95% of customers responded negatively when an email greeted them by name.

ReturnPath‘s survey indicated that subject lines with personal pronouns do not increase the open rate, which leads to the realisation that personalisation is not necessarily leading to familiarity, just because a personal pronoun, or a name is used.

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8. Be different, be creative

An email campaign shouldn’t be boring and that’s why creativity is important.

Groupon for example created an email campaign by focusing on the element of surprise, at least on its discount code, hoping to bring a layer of excitement to its campaign.

Groupon - email marketing

Apple blended its popular minimalism along with creativity to promote Beats headphones and the result is certainly very appealing.

Apple - email marketing


There are many parameters that affect the results of your email campaign, but this doesn’t mean that you should stop experimenting.

Learn your audience, be creative, be relevant, be useful and start tracking the results of your next campaign.

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