Email Marketing Delivers Higher ROI than Most Other Digital Channels

Email marketing with email newsletters, invitations or alerts used well with a high quality, opt-in list can be very powerful.

Email marketing is one of the most measurable ways of retaining and keeping in touch with your customers. Done well, email marketing can be cost effective and deliver higher returns (ROI) than most other digital marketing channels.

“Even with the explosion of new technology, marketers keep coming back to email. The reason is clear: for ten years in a row, email is the channel generating the highest ROI for marketers. For every $1 spent, email marketing generates $38 in ROI.” (Constant Contact)

Hubspot puts it even more strongly:

“Nowadays, marketers put a lot of emphasis on webinars, video campaigns, and other new opportunities to reach their customers. But your contemporary communication methods shouldn’t distract you from one of the oldest and yet most effective messaging channels — email.

“You might be wondering if email is still a worthwhile marketing strategy. Well, it is. In fact, email generates $42 for every $1 spent, which is an astounding 4,200% ROI, making it one of the most effective options available.”


“81% of B2B marketers say their most used form of content marketing is email newsletters.” (Content Marketing Institute, 2020)

But, as you know, email done badly is spam and can easily annoy your customers. So, you need to follow the rules and best practice.

This blog has been updated to include 2 more tips so it now shares ’12 Essential Email Marketing Tips’. I hope you find it helpful.

1. Build high quality lists

The quality of your list is really important. Build your own email marketing list of customers and prospects. Use a double opt-in process, ideally, or, at least, a single opt in process.
I’m not a fan of bought lists, particularly big, untargeted lists. Using these could result in you being black-listed.

Be fully aware of the laws affecting email marketing, and comply. Recipients must be able to opt out easily from any email. This is a legal requirement.

Review your list to see who hasn’t opened or clicked on a link for the last six months. Provide them with a compelling offer to re-engage.

Divide your list into segments with different needs, then deliver distinct, targeted email newsletters to each of those segments.

This will result in better response and conversion rates.

Clean out bad addresses of those not opening your emails on a regular basis to increase open rates.

Up to 30% of email addresses could change every year, so plan to keep your lists clean.

List quality is much more important than list size. Define your target audience and focus your efforts.

When designing your sign up forms, keep requests for details to a minimum. I often recommend just asking for first names and email addresses. However, you can also give subscribers options on frequency and content.

2. Don’t use boring or long content

It is essential that you create inspiring, creative content with stories, photographs and embedded videos. The content must be relevant and valued by your recipients. Be brief and don’t waffle. Emails are scanned rather than read – they are read less than website pages.

Suggested actions:

  • Reduce words and amount of content in newsletter.
  • Shorten sentences and paragraphs. Paragraphs use a lot of words and are quite long.
  • Use bullet points more.
  • Share content which is valued by your audience. Answer their questions, address their pain points and fix their problems.

Emails don’t need to be long either; many of the most effective emails have 1 to 3 articles. Long emails aren’t read.

It’s often effective to provide a paragraph or two which links to a longer piece on your website. This allows you to use emails to drive traffic to your website.

Don’t send too many emails too often. Quality content sent less often is more likely to achieve good response rates.

Use A/B testing and measure engagement to ensure learning and improving effectiveness.

“Design your emails with a clear content hierarchy so they can be easily scanned. Subscribers don’t read emails; they scan them. So make your content skimmable… In most cases, your email is just a gateway to your website.”

If you don’t have the time or just struggle with sending out quality, effective email newsletters,  speak to us. Real Marketing sent out about 40 email newsletters for three different clients during 2020.

3. Subject lines are really important

Your email has to stand out in a crowded Inbox. Subject lines must be impactful and not use spammy terms (or they’ll end up in Clutter or Spam folders). You only have seconds to make your case. Give careful consideration to your ‘from line’ for fast recognition and immediate trust.

Consider using teaser text and HTML colours and layout rather than an image so readers can get an immediate “preview” of your email even if images are disabled.

Put the important content (the offer, call to action, newsletter contents etc) at the top of the email for immediate viewing.

4. Always test your emails

Send out test emails to ensure links, photos, the unsubscribe process works.  Test for correct rendering by sending tests to the main email account providers. Design the header of your email to provide the desired outcome regardless of email client.

Use an Alt Tag that communicates your header image well.

Test your content against spam filters and see how many of your emails are blocked. Avoiding clutter and spam folders can be challenging but that should be your objective.

I always send out at least 2 test emails.

5. Email Newsletter Deliverability

This is an increasingly important consideration:

  • who should it be from?
  • subject line and sub-heading.
  • personalisation (where possible).

Getting into inboxes is determined by inbox filtering algorithms which now include ‘engagement rate’:

“Over the past decade: The definition of spam has been completely redefined because of inbox providers successfully blocking malicious, unwanted email. Inbox providers began factoring engagement rates into their filtering algorithms, forcing marketers to overhaul their list building and list hygiene practices.” (Email Marketing Rules, Chad White)

In short, if a low percentage of your emails are being opened, the engagement rate is low emails will be blocked.

6. Personalise your emails

Personalise emails to increase open and engagement rates. Personalise the greeting and, potentially, the email header.

To build relationships and improve open rates, send your email from a real person and ensure replies can go to that person.

Personalisation is also about creating content that specifically addresses the recipient’s behaviour and interests such as buying history, hobbies, geographic location, format etc.

7. Integrate your emails with your social media platforms

Integrate your newsletters with Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. You can customise these posts to go out at the same time as you send out emails. It significantly increases your audience, reach and engagement.

You can also share specific articles in the social media platforms with share buttons.

8. Website landing page content is critical for calls-to-action and sales

The website landing pages are very important for achieving a high level of conversions.

If your website design, look and feel clashes with the email newsletter, this will reduce conversion rates.

9. Have clear objectives for your email marketing

Have clear marketing objectives for your email marketing. Use open rates and click-through rates only as a starter. Look at levels of engagement, transactions, sales, demos initiated, pdfs opened and take up of any offers.

10. Use triggered emails

For more sophisticated email marketing, use advanced email automation, ‘programmatic email marketing’, with triggered emails to send specific content to recipients based on their actions.

Consider triggered emails after email newsletter opt-ins. Plan a ‘welcome campaign’.

If you have an ecommerce website, you could also have triggered emails when shopping carts are abandoned during purchase (and offer phone support on the right of booking forms).

You can also send triggered emails to website visitors who view event pages without signing up. However, it’s best to save triggered email incentives for only when you really want to drive action.

“Triggered emails tend to perform the best of any type of email, regularly generating multi-fold more revenue per email than broadcast emails. They are super-effective because they are delivered at a time when subscribers are most receptive to their content.”

11. Good email template design is essential

Your email template design needs to be in keeping with your branding and should share some of your website’s design. First impressions count and good design communicates ‘trust’ which is essential. The design needs to be clean, uncluttered and easy to navigate.

A lot of your audience will open your email newsletters on their smart phone or tablet. Test the design, including any buttons, on mobile phones and tablets.

12. Improve email signups on your website

This requires careful thought and design with compelling, inviting language, based on the value delivered, to get first name and email address. Perhaps also preferences although these can be collected later.

Consider adding social proof to your signup form, noting how many subscribers you have and why they love to receive your emails. Say you won’t ever share their email address with anyone else.

Single opt-in or double opt-in? You’ll lose 20-50% of those who opt-in. Consider single opt-in because why would they opt-in unless they were seriously interested in the first place?

Add email signup box to your event booking form and contact form.

Consider adding a delayed pop-up for signup or on exit. This can increase signups by 50%. Could this be incentivized with, eg 10% off their first purchase, to increase sign ups?

See Real Marketing’s email marketing consultancy services.

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