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How to get better results with email marketing

Email marketing continues to be one of the most effective ways to engage with your audience. Here are our top tips for using it to your best advantage.
Melanie Hurst

Melanie Hurst

3 minute read
April 13, 2023
Email marketing continues to be one of the most effective ways to engage with your audience. Here are our top tips for using it to your best advantage.
How to get better results with email marketing Image

Requirements to ‘opt-in’ and properly manage data means that emails are no longer a ‘press send and hope for the best’ exercise. This part of your audience is interested in what you have to say. It’s likely that they have already engaged with you before, through a newsletter sign-up or enquiry - so how do we use email to nurture those relationships and keep them on board?



Set Goals

It may seem obvious, but it’s important to ask yourself ‘why’ your sending emails in the first place. Whether it’s sharing industry news, inviting people to your website or raising awareness about an event, understanding what your short and long term goals are will help guide your decisions about who, what and when.

Here’s some helpful questions to consider when setting your email marketing goals:

  • What actions do you want people to take once they’ve read your email?
  • How does this fit into your wider marketing strategy?
  • How will you measure the success of your email marketing?

Define and segment your audience

According to research by HubSpot, the most effective strategies for email marketing campaigns are subscriber segmentation (78%) and message personalisation (72%).

Emails need to be relevant for us to take notice. For effective email marketing, it’s essential to understand who you’re talking to and what they’re interested in.

You can do this by assessing your own data about the people that already engage with your organisation or institution. This may be a broad definition of your target audience, but a more detailed look at the different kinds of people you want to reach will allow you to tailor your messaging for greater impact. For example, a university may have different audience personas for undergraduate, post-graduate, staff recruitment and alumni communications.

You can request more information when building your mailing lists through newsletter sign-ups or lead magnets, such as job role, gender, or interests. Additional audience research may also help build a more general picture about your audience’s values, goals, barriers and challenges.


Test and tailor your content

Now you’ve identified valuable segments of your audience, you can tailor the content to suit their needs and interests - and deliver value to your audience at each stage of their journey. We can do this through different subject lines, preview text, body content and calls-to-action.

Your email content shouldn’t exist in a vacuum, make sure you’re making the most out of call-to-action buttons and links back to your website. Linking back to relevant pages creates a seamless journey for the reader and improves your overall engagement.

Additionally, regardless of audience, be sure to include alt text for all images in your email. Not only is this key for accessible communications but it also benefits your deliverability too. Some devices and email software have images ‘turned off’ as a default, and not including alt text can have a negative impact on your messaging.

If you’re still unsure about what will work, A/B testing is a great way to try different approaches and seeing what resonates with your audience the most. Email marketing services, like Mailchimp or HubSpot, allow you to set up an A/B test using the same email and audience. Be sure not to change too much between A and B - simply test different elements (subject line, preview text, etc.) each time so you have an accurate idea of what is and isn’t working.

The hero (first bit of content) and just above the footer (last bit of content) are prime real estate in email because of the way we scroll when viewing emails on our phones. Try switching up key messages in these areas to see if you can improve click rate.

You can also test different days and times to send your emails and help yield better results.


Get personal

A really effortless way to improve email marketing results is through personalisation. Using people’s name in the subject line or preview text gives people a sense of being spoken to directly and it’s a sure fire way to improve open rates.

Including a personalised sign-off at the end of your email, or changing the ‘From’ field to a relevant staff member, such as the company’s CEO, the contact’s account manager, or a specialist in your team, can also make your messaging feel more personal and direct. Even if your email is being sent to a long list of people, it doesn’t have to feel like a generic, impersonal email blast.

We even did our very own A/B test to see if using people’s first name in the subject line of our very own Eleven at 11 newsletter impacted our open rate. The personalised version not only received more opens, but the click rate improved too.

Make sure when you add new people to your mailing list that you’re getting essential information, such as first name, surname and company name, to make sure your personalised emails don’t fall flat.


Spring clean your data

Now’s a perfect time to give your mailing list a good tidy. Make a point to keep on top of your marketing contacts and clear out any unengaged contacts, old clients or bounce-backs.

To keep IP address healthy, avoid emailing your entire database every time. Focus on regular communications with engaged contacts and take a more considered approach for those who aren’t opening your emails. Include these audiences when you know you have really compelling message, offer or announcement help with your deliverability.

It’s good to get a clear idea of who’s engaging with your content and who isn’t - and assessing why. Here’s a few questions to get you started:

  • Are there some segments of your audience that need re-engaging?
  • Do you need to encourage more sign-ups from certain industries or sectors?
  • Are some contacts missing key information like their first name or company info?

For further information on following best practice with email data management, check out our blog on navigating GDPR regulations.