Optimize Your Email Marketing: 11 Proven Tips

Email marketing is a cost-effective and efficient way to communicate with your customers and potential clients. However, it is difficult to get it right. With the abundance of emails people receive daily, it's crucial to create engaging content that not only stands out in people’s inboxes, but also prompts them to take action. In addition, factors like deliverability, open rates, and click-through rates affect the success of your email campaigns dramatically.

Email marketing is just one of 19 marketing channels you can use to reach your customers, but it’s a powerful one. Why? Because sending emails directly to leads is still one of the best ways to reach potential customers and build lasting relationships with them. It is also a proven way to keep your retention rate high and to help customers find value in your service.

To get people's email addresses in the first place, you have to provide something valuable in return. The most common way is via a lead magnet. The best lead magnets are free e-books, checklists, or cheat sheets. Keep in mind that people's inboxes are busy and your email is just one of many. Your chances of getting people to look at it and open it are naturally low. The key is value.

In this article, you will learn 11 proven tips to optimize your email marketing, along with the three major challenges and seven essential email marketing metrics to track.
3 Major challenges in email marketing
Email overload
Spam filters

3 major challenges of email marketing

Email marketing can be challenging. Without a clear goal to follow and a sound strategy in place, email marketing will get you nowhere. Here are the 3 major challenges marketers face when it comes to email marketing.
1. Email overload
People's inboxes are often flooded with emails, making it challenging to get their attention. As a result, many people have become overwhelmed and desensitized to emails, making it even harder for marketers to stand out from the crowd.

The solution? Creating targeted and personalized emails. This already starts with addressing the recipients with their first names. In addition, it is crucial for marketers to understand the needs and preferences of their target audience, their Personas. The key is to focus on delivering value in every email, whether it is through helpful information, special offers, or discounts.
2. Spam filters
Spam filters prevent unwanted and harmful emails from reaching users' inboxes. While this is a positive development from a security perspective, it can make it tough for legitimate emails to reach their intended audience. If your email is flagged as spam (which could happen even if you have done nothing wrong), it may not be delivered or sent to the recipient's spam folder.

Marketers need to follow specific email marketing guidelines, for example avoiding the use of spam trigger words, choosing a reputable email service provider, and clearly stating how recipients can unsubscribe from emails. Classic spam-trigger words are “buy, order, meet or earn”. Just don’t use them.
3. Deliverability
Deliverability ensures that emails reach the recipient's inbox instead of being bounced or marked as spam. This is a critical factor regarding the success of email marketing campaigns, as emails that are not delivered are useless.

Industry benchmarks for email bounces are 0,5% - 2%, but it is recommendable to get the bounce rate as low as possible. The bounce rate shows how well your email subscriber list is managed. Since not all bounces have the same reason, it is essential to differ between hard bounces and soft bounces.

Hard bounces:
Hard bounces are severe errors since they represent not a temporary failure but a permanent one. The most common reasons for hard bounces are invalid addresses or if the domain exists no longer. It is important to remove any email addresses from your list that result in hard bounces to keep an organized email list. Otherwise, you might damage your email reputation. A bad email reputation will increase the chances of being flagged as spam or even being blocked.

Soft bounces:
Soft bounces show a temporary delivery failure because of an issue with the receiving server or the subscriber's mailbox being full or inactive. These issues don't require any further action from your side. Most of the time, soft bounces will be delivered after multiple attempts. But also remember to monitor your soft bounces to keep a clean email list.
Difference hard bounces and soft bounces
Marketers must craft high-quality emails that resonate with their audience. They should closely monitor their email deliverability metrics and take appropriate measures if their emails cannot reach their intended recipients. This could entail revising the email content, enhancing their email list quality, or collaborating with a different email service provider to boost their deliverability rates.
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11 Proven tips for getting the most out of email marketing
Segment your list
Use a pre-header
Use videos
Use retargeting
Use emojis
Use a compelling CTA
Create urgency with scarcity
Optimizing the sending times
Use user generated content
Gamify emails
Use A/B testing

11 Proven tips for getting the most out of Email Marketing

Maximizing the ROI is vital for any business to thrive. If you are using email marketing as a channel to reach your audience but you see no results, why even use it, right? However, since email marketing is one of the best marketing channels to reach your audience directly, here are 11 essential tips for improving your ROI for email marketing.
1. Segment your email list
Segmenting your email list allows you to personalize your email campaigns and makes them more relevant to your subscribers' interests and behaviors. By dividing your email list into smaller groups – based on specific criteria such as interests, demographics, and behavior – you can tailor your email campaigns to each group's needs and preferences, resulting in higher open rates and a higher conversion rate.
2. Use a pre-header text
The pre-header text previews the email content and can entice subscribers to open the email. Crafting an attention grabbing pre-header text can improve the likelihood of your email being opened and read, leading to higher engagement rates.
Create an attention-grabbing subject line
3. Use videos in emails
Video content in your emails can increase engagement and provide subscribers with a more engaging and interactive experience. Who wants to read the whole day anyway, right? In addition, videos can help to convey your message more effectively and can showcase your product or service in a more engaging way.
4. Implement email retargeting
Email retargeting can help you send targeted emails based on your subscribers' previous behavior, such as abandoned cart emails or emails showcasing previously viewed products. This way, you can remind your subscribers of their interest in your product or service, making it more likely for them to take action.

Within the SaaS industry, such reminder emails are often sent once users have triggered a certain action, for example, within the SaaS app. Here, the goal is to keep users engaged and keep the retention rate high.
5. Use emojis in subject lines
Although this one may not be a widely recognized practice, adding emojis in the subject line of your emails could increase the likelihood of your messages being opened. Emojis can convey emotion and add personality to your emails, making it more appealing to your subscribers and increasing the chances of them opening and engaging with your email content. Just try it and see for yourself.

However, make sure that emojis fit your brand. Only use emojis sparingly and test how they affect your email open rates.
Test emojis in your subject line
6. Use a clear and compelling CTA
Using a clear and compelling call-to-action (CTA) is probably the most important tip for email marketing. A CTA in your emails encourages subscribers to take the desired action, whether it is purchasing, signing up for a trial, or downloading a resource. By using action-oriented language and making your CTA prominent and easy to find, you can guide your subscribers toward the next step and ultimately increase your conversion rate.

I’m sure you’ve seen CTAs like “Learn more” or “Click here”. However, statistics show that these are less successful. In contrast, a good CTA example could be something like "Start your free trial" or "Get instant access". These action-oriented CTAs provide a clear benefit and show the user what they can expect when they click the button.
7. Create urgency with scarcity
Are you stressed out when you read “Only 2 left in stock”?

Creating urgency with scarcity is a marketing tactic involving limited-time offers or limited product quantities to create a sense of urgency and encourage subscribers to take action. By using this tactic, you can make subscribers feel like they might miss out on a great opportunity if they don't act fast, motivating them to make a purchase or take the desired action.

That said, use this tactic ethically and transparently to avoid creating false urgency or misleading your subscribers. For instance, a project management software company could offer a 20% discount on an annual subscription plan for the first 100 customers who sign up within the next 24 hours. This creates a sense of urgency by setting a clear deadline and limited quantity, encouraging potential customers to take action before the offer expires.
Create a sense of urgency
8. Optimize your email sending time
Analyzing and testing the optimal times to send your emails can help ensure they are delivered at the most suitable times for your subscribers to engage with them. Factors like time zones and the day of the week can highly affect your email success. For example, suppose you're targeting busy professionals who work regular hours. In that case, you may find that sending emails during the early morning or late afternoon, when they check their inbox before or after work, may lead to better engagement rates.

However, optimizing email sending times requires testing. Here is a pro tip: Subscribe for your competitors’ service and see when they send their emails out to their customers. Then send your emails at a different time. This way, your chances of sticking out will increase dramatically.
9. Use user-generated content
Using user-generated content (UGC) in your emails, such as customer reviews and testimonials, can be a powerful way to build trust and social proof with your subscribers. By showcasing real-life examples of how your products or services helped others, you can increase the credibility of your brand and make it more likely for subscribers to convert.
Use user generated content to build trust
10. Gamify emails to drive engagement
Gamifying your emails by adding interactive game elements like spin the wheel or opinion polls can help to drive engagement and increase the likelihood of subscribers taking action. By making your emails more fun and interactive, you can create a more enjoyable experience for your subscribers.

However, make sure that any game elements you add are relevant to your brand and don't distract users from the key message of your email.
Stay true to yourself.
11. Use A/B testing
A/B testing is a marketing technique that involves testing 2 different versions of a marketing asset, such as an email, landing page, or advertisement, to determine which version performs better. You can compare the effectiveness of different versions of your asset and determine which one generates better engagement rates by dividing your audience into two groups and showing each group a different version.

A/B testing allows you to make data-driven decisions and optimize your marketing strategy for better results. When you design your email, you should always start with the best practices and then test elements like email subject lines, CTA buttons, images, copy, or layout, and use your test results to inform future campaigns.
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7 Email marketing metrics to track
Bounce rate
Open rate
Click through rate
Click to open rate
Conversion rate
Number of subscribers
List growth rate

7 email marketing metrics to track

To measure the success of your email campaigns, here are seven email marketing metrics to track. By the way, here is a SaaS metrics cheatsheet (for free), where you can find all important email metrics at one sight.
1. Email bounce rate
Email bounce rate refers to the percentage of emails not delivered to the recipient's inbox but returned to the sender. This metric shows how well your email subscriber list is managed. There are two types of email bounces: hard bounces and soft bounces.

Hard bounces occur when the email is returned because the recipient's email address is invalid, doesn't exist, or has been closed. Soft bounces occur when the email is returned due to temporary issues, such as a full inbox, server downtime, or a large email attachment.

Tracking email bounce rates helps you identify potential issues with your email list, such as invalid or outdated email addresses, and allows you to take corrective action to improve the quality of your list. Additionally, tracking email bounce rates helps you understand the effectiveness of your email campaigns.
Email bounce rate
How to calculate email bounce rate
Calculate your email bounce rate by dividing the amount of bounced emails by the amount of sent emails.

For example, if you sent 200 emails and 20 emails were not delivered, your email bounce rate is 10%

Email bounce rate = 20 / 200 = 10%
How to reduce email bounce rate
• Use a double opt-in
• Be clear about the content you are sending your subscribers
• Engage consistently with your subscribers
• Give subscribers a chance to opt-out
• Use a known email service provider with an excellent sending reputation
• Don't use words that indicate spam
• Verify your email list
• Remove inactive subscribers
2. Open rate
Email open rate refers to the percentage of recipients who opened your email. Tracking email open rates is crucial for measuring the success of an email campaign because it provides valuable insights into how subscribers interact with the emails.

By monitoring open rates, marketers can assess the effectiveness of their subject lines, which can make or break the success of an email campaign. A low open rate may indicate that the subject line didn't capture the recipients' attention or was not relevant to their interests. This information can be used to optimize future campaigns and tailor subject lines to better resonate with subscribers.

Open rates also help gauge the engagement level of subscribers. A high open rate is a good indicator that subscribers are interested in the content being sent to them, while a low open rate may indicate that subscribers are losing interest. This information can be used to create targeted
re-engagement campaigns to bring disengaged subscribers back into the fold.
Email open rate
How to calculate email open rate
Calculate your email open rate by dividing the amount of unique opened emails by the amount of sent emails minus bounces. Bounces are the emails that could not be sent - for instance, since the email address no longer exists.

If you sent 4100 emails, 100 emails bounced, and 400 opened your email, your open rate is 10%

Email open rate = 400 / (4100 – 100) = 10%
How to improve email open rate
1. Make it personal.
The best way to connect via email is to address customers personally. You can do this by asking for the customers' first names in the sign-up form. Yet, be careful not to ask for too much information up front. Every extra form field increases drop-off rates.

2. Communicate benefits, not features.
Communicating benefits instead of features can help you increase your open rate dramatically. Customers buy benefits, not features. A striking example for this is: "More legroom in an airplane" = feature vs. "A more relaxed travel experience" = benefit.

3. Time emails based on customer behavior.
Behavior-based e-mails show your customers that your email is relevant since they directly support them on their journey.

4. Consider the character-count.
Only if customers can immediately see what the email is about will they open it. Since people often open emails on their smartphones, consider the character count before your subject line gets cut. Try to aim for subject lines with less than 40 characters to increase the chances of your subject line not getting cut on mobile devices.
3. Click-through rate of emails (CTR)
Email CTR is the percentage of people who clicked a button, a link, or an image in your email. The click-through rate gives you a good indication if people eventually take action. If people read your emails but do not take action, your emails will not get you anywhere. When looking at click-through rate, it is essential to differentiate between unique clicks and all link clicks.

Unique clicks are tracked once the subscriber clicks on the link. All link clicks shows the total amount of clicks, even if a subscriber clicked a link multiple times.
Email click through rate
How to calculate the click-through rate for emails
To calculate the email click-through rate, divide the total number of clicks by the number of delivered emails.

Email click-through rate = Number of clicks / Total number of delivered emails.

For example, if you send 410 emails, 400 get delivered, and 200 people clicked on your Call To Action, your email click-through rate is 50% (200 / 400 * 100 = 50%).
How to increase the click-through rate for emails
• Use a double opt-in
• Use an engaging Call to Action
• Make it personal
• Communicate benefits, not features
• Time emails based on customer behavior
• Write engaging copy text & use engaging images
• Create relevant content for your subscribers• Make your emails mobile friendly
4. Click to open rate (CTOR)
The metric shows how many subscribers who opened your email took action and indicates how effective your email message, design, and content are. Taking action could mean clicking a link, a button, or an image in your email. This way, you can take immediate action if you feel that many of your subscribers opened the email but did not take action.

Based on your industry, open rates vary between 20-30%. However, keep in mind to orient yourself on your own benchmarks and use A/B testing to improve your click to open rate.
Email click to open rate
How to calculate the click to open rate
Calculate the click to open rate by dividing the number of unique opens by the number of unique clicks.

Email click to open rate = Total number unique clicks / Number of unique opens

For example, if 400 subscribers opened your email and 100 clicked on the button within the email, your CTOR is 25% (100 / 400 * 100 = 25%).
How to improve the click to open rate
• Make your emails mobile friendly
• Use an engaging Call to Action
• Make it personal
• Make emails scannable
• Put the most important content first and remove any unnecessary information
• Communicate benefits, not features
• Write engaging copy text & use engaging images
• Use relevant content for your subscribers
• Make it easy to click
5. Conversion rate
Email conversion rate is a metric that measures the percentage of subscribers who take a desired action after receiving an email. This desired action could be anything from clicking on a link, filling out a form, making a purchase, or any other action the email marketer wants to achieve.

To calculate the email conversion rate, divide the number of subscribers who completed the desired action by the number of emails sent and then multiply by 100 to get a percentage. For example, if you send 1000 emails, and 100 recipients bought your product via the product page, then the email conversion rate would be 10% (100/1000 x 100).

Optimizing your email design and copy is one basic way to improve your email conversion rate. This includes creative subject lines, compelling calls-to-action, and appealing design elements reinforcing your message.
Conversion rate
6. Number of unsubscribes
Monitoring the number of email unsubscribes helps marketers identify issues with their email content. If many subscribers regularly unsubscribe from emails, the content is likely not relevant, engaging, or useful to them. By paying attention to this metric, marketers can make necessary adjustments to their content strategy to improve subscriber retention.
7. Email list growth rate
Email list growth rate refers to the rate at which your email list grows over a specific time. This rate is expressed as a percentage, calculated by dividing the number of new email subscribers you've gained by the total number of email subscribers you had at the beginning of the period and then multiplying by 100.

There’re different ways to improve your list growth rate. Offer a high-quality lead magnet that provides value to your visitors. This can be an eBook, a free trial, a discount, or any other type of content that your audience will find valuable. Ensure the lead magnet is relevant to your target audience and addresses a pain point or problem they may be experiencing. Promote your lead magnet on your website, social media channels, and other marketing channels to increase visibility and drive traffic to your opt-in form.

Also, optimize the placement and design of your opt-in forms to make them more visible and compelling. Use eye-catching graphics, persuasive copy, and a clear CTA to encourage visitors to subscribe.
Email list growth rate

3 FAQs about email marketing

1. How does email reputation affect deliverability?

In a nutshell, the worse your email reputation, the more likely your emails are to be flagged as spam. So your goal should be to have the best email reputation possible. To achieve this, keep the following in mind:

• Don't use spam words.
• Don't send too many emails to your customers (don't send daily emails).
• Don't send emails with code injections.
• Keep your emails clear and concise.
• Send people what they expect.

2. How can marketers improve email deliverability and avoid being marked as spam?

You need to follow certain guidelines. Don't use spam words like 'buy', 'order', 'meet' or 'earn'. Always show your recipients how to unsubscribe and maintain a clean email list by removing hard bounces (invalid addresses).

3. How often should you send to your recipients?

Not too often. Your goal with your emails is to stay top of your customers mind and provide value on a regular basis. But you don't need to send emails every day. Instead, pick your best content, send it once a week and you'll be good to go. Quality over quantity. Remember, they only have to unsubscribe once and you are out.

Final thoughts on email marketing success

Email marketing is a valuable asset for businesses to reach their audience, but can also present particular challenges. From creating engaging content to optimizing metrics like deliverability and open rates, it takes effort to get it right.

But fear not, because this article has got you covered with some of the primary hurdles of email marketing and 11 practical ways to increase your ROI. In summary, keeping track of your metrics and consistently experimenting and fine-tuning your approach for optimal outcomes is essential.
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