The easiest method of making sure that things render
properly is responsive design; this does require a bit more
tech savvy, but it allows for marketers to invest more time
in the development of concepts and less time on coding.
Responsive mobile design puts media queries to use to
optimize the experience on the device the recipient is
using, adjusting the email width, sizing of design elements,
and more for the purposes of displaying it perfectly on any
As the mobile-first culture progresses, responsive design
will not just be convenient, but utterly necessary. Learning
the tricks of the trade now will ensure that campaigns long
into the future will follow predictable and easy-to-manage
utomation and the rapid-fire advances that
technology has made in the realm of consumer
Ainteractions have made data more vital than ever
across all marketing formats, and email marketing is no
different. We’ve explored the importance of data, but after
considering the other aspects of developing a campaign,
it’s important to look at it in a little more depth.
Increasingly, consumers demand as close as possible to a
one-on-one connection with the brands they engage with.
This is, of course, not practical; campaigns addressed to
just one person on a list of thousands of recipients would
be a waste of money as well as time, even if every single
one converted. But there are ways that innovations in
data analysis, automation, and more can give recipients a
personal touch while not requiring the mind-breaking work
of actually creating individual campaigns for each person
on the list.
THE FACTS ARE IN: SEGMENTATION
Studies from the past year have demonstrated that
advanced segmentation comes with powerful rewards:
Campaign Monitor notes that marketers using more
specific segmentation see on average a 760% increase in
revenue. With constant demands for attention, segmented
campaigns allow marketers to cut through the noise and
offer consumers value-added communication, which leads
to more conversions.
Newer techniques include self-segmentation, which allows
subscribers to pre-select the kinds of emails they’re most
interested in. As an example, Penguin Random House
offers its subscribers the option to select the genres
they’re passionate about, in order to deliver emails to them
that are more relevant. Media sites like Buzzfeed allow
subscribers to opt-in for specific newsletters based on
their content preferences.
Behavioral segmentation is also on the rise and providing
a clear value both for marketers and consumers. Netflix,
Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and more all take advantage
of the developing abilities to track user behavior across
a site. They use the information that provides to offer up
suggestions for new series to watch or movies to check
out. These are capabilities that marketers can easily put
to use, tracking purchase history and consumer browsing
habits to target emails more accurately and get the word
out about particular products or services that those
consumers will be more likely to want and need.
If these new possibilities sound like a lot of work for
marketers, the rise of increased automation puts that
concern to bed easily. Within a few years of launching,
automation capabilities have revolutionized the planning
and deployment of email marketing campaigns; they make
it easy to use a little advance planning to keep in contact
with subscribers throughout the year and at any time of
the day or night.
By combining automation with data that you can collect
easily from your customers, it’s easy to set up campaigns
that run without the need for huge amounts of time-
consuming oversight; and as more data comes in, you can
tweak which recipients get which campaigns for maximum
Behavioral triggered emails are becoming a much more
important aspect of the overall email marketing strategy
for brands of all sizes; what started as a trick to get
customers to complete an abandoned transaction is
becoming much more sophisticated and consumers are
responding. Welcome emails, reminders, and more can
all be set up in advance and through automation go out
to the subscribers they’re relevant to at the moment
they’re most relevant, increasing customer engagement
and maintaining a relationship that leads to more future
WHERE TO START?
The most basic places to start with data strategies are at
the beginning; set up the framework, and the rest falls into
place easily. At first, you should establish a baseline set of
segments for your subscriber list to make choices from.
Allowing subscribers to self-identify can be a major benefit
in this so subscriber forms should have simple options to
categorize themselves. Some segments to consider as a
starting point include:
What’s relevant to someone in upstate New York is not
necessarily going to have the same resonance for someone
living in North Dakota, or someone living in Southern
California. Separating recipients out to geographical
location enables you to market to them based on current
area events, weather, and their local needs and is vitally
important for companies that have brick-and-mortar
A 25-year-old man is necessarily going to have different
interests from a 50-year-old man, and the approach to
take with the two men will vary greatly. Age plays into
generational dynamics as well.
Age also determines the best possible approach in terms
of tone and delivery; what will come across as comfortable
to one age group will seem inappropriate to another or
The things that are going on in a person’s life, in the broad
stokes, play a big role in their receptivity and what will
appeal to them. A single mother has different concerns
from a career woman with no children and this is true
across all life events and personal categories.Perspectives
can vary greatly, and marketing approach should vary just
Knowing the interests of your recipients at least some
of them opens up opportunities to market products or
services to them that they may not otherwise consider.
Interests help to granularize campaigns on a level that
feels more personal than mere demographic information
like age or geography.
Buying power plays a major role in the decision to buy
any given item; what is affordable to someone who makes
$100,000/year can be unattainable for someone making
Income segmentation allows marketers to offer relevant
items that are within a given customer’s price range,
tailoring promotions to what a recipient can afford.Income
can also be a predictor of other factors that are important
to campaign planning like shopping frequency.
Knowing what a given customer has bought in the past
can help tailor suggestions for future purchases.
Comparative purchasing history is also a valuable tool; of
customers who bought product A, some may have also
liked product B and the rest might also like it, if they find
out about it.
Knowing how often a subscriber makes purchases opens
up an opportunity to send timely, triggered emails to
remind them of your products or services at a good time.
Customers frequently reward brands that keep track of
their habits by increased loyalty. Buying frequency also
allows marketers to avoid sending too many emails, to the
extent that the subscriber becomes alienated.
Engagement level plays strongly into brand reputation with
email providers, which is vital to maintaining the ability to
land in the inbox instead of the spam folder.Subscribers
who are less engaged are more inclined to delete or mark
as spam emails they’re not interested in; knowing their
level of engagement allows marketers to tone down the
frequency and increase the relevancy of future messages.
Subscribers who are highly engaged respond positively
to “elite” rewards, increasing their lifetime value to the
brand. Overall, engagement level though a later factor
in segmentation can be a powerful modifier for planning
Education plays as powerful a role as many other
personality categories in buying habits; it should,
accordingly, play a role in campaign strategy. Current
status as a student can inform factors from budget and
time to devote to purchases to willingness to convert.
Educational attainment also affects the approach that
should be taken; more or less formality, and the choice of
language that is most appropriate, can be strongly affected
by the level of education a customer has.
ENGAGEMENT WITH YOUR COMPETITION
While a little trickier to get data on this factor, it can be a
very powerful tool for savvy marketers.Engagement with
competition can inform additional promotional offers, as
well as buying frequency and other metrics.
Newer technology and consumer marketing have made
it easier than before to get the details marketers need to
know what level of engagement a consumer has with a
Once you’ve got the initial segments established, you can
create emails that automated systems send out based
on behavior, time of year, and other factors all while
you sit back and reap the rewards of little research and
analytics. Appealing to the right audience is half the battle
when it comes to a successful email marketing campaign;
designing appropriately and communicating effectively
open the door to a great interaction. With these details
settled, you’re almost ready to pull the trigger and launch
nce the planning, development, design and strategizing is
done, there is one element of the process left to go before
Oyou launch your campaign: you need to do one final check.
Quality assurance and testing are every bit as vital as every other
aspect of planning and developing an email campaign; before you
pull the trigger, you need to be sure everything is how it should be.
Quality assurance and testing can seem tedious, but without it, it’s
inevitable that mistakes will make it to the final product and that will
reflect poorly on your brand. While there is no way to predict every
single factor that can possibly cause issues, there are some main
areas to look at, to be as confident as possible.
TESTING OR QUALITY ASSURANCE?
Testing is a part of QA, but not all of quality assurance is
checking. Testing is a vital component of making sure that
your recipients get the best quality message from you, and
it’s made up of a few key components:
● Ensuring that the email renders properly across
● Making sure all links work
● Checking that the email works both on desktop and
● Verifying that the email renders both on Android and iOS
The most straightforward way to do testing manually
involves creating fake email addresses for multiple email
providers and sending the email to the “test” list to verify
each of the important aspects for the testing. This may
seem like an tedious task, but every email provider on both
mobile and desktop has its own idiosyncrasies, and it’s
important to make sure to account for all of them before
your email goes live.
THERE IS AN EASIER WAY…
If sending emails to a test list every time you want to
check things over seems like too much work, there are
other options available. Several email service providers
have functions within their platforms that allow you
to select different email platforms (on both mobile and
desktop) and render your design and code for those
platforms. Of course, this doesn’t get rid of the need to
test links, and it can cost extra but it solves the problem
of multiple platforms readily. Alternatively, third party
services like Litmus and Return Path provide similar
platform testing functions for a monthly fee, leaving you
with just link tests to do manually.
DON’T FORGET YOUR A/B TESTING
Another type of testing to do before a campaign goes
fully live is A/B testing; of course, many marketers put
A/B testing earlier in the development phase, rather than
at the end, but if there are for example multiple creative
ideas to utilize, it’s an excellent way to narrow down
what works and what doesn’t. Any element of the design
and copy can come into play in A/B testing, from layout
differences to CTA to subject lines. Testing should be done
on as many elements as possible to determine the best
customer response. For this you will need more than just a
handful of email addresses. A/B testing is fairly easy to do,
as long as everything is in order and it can save money on
the campaign itself by eliminating elements of the creative
or content that just don’t perform as well. It’s well worth
doing at various stages before launch.
QA IS MORE THAN JUST TESTING
QA is not just testing but is the last troubleshooting step
to take before you launch the campaign. It’s like a pilot’s
checklist: it’s a final step-by-step look at everything in
the campaign to make sure you’ve got it set up just right
before you take off. In addition to testing that links work,
that the email renders properly, and that it isn’t rejected as
spam and all the design elements look the way you want
them. There is a final checklist of miscellaneous items to
go over before you send:
● Legalities: all marketing emails must contain a valid
unsubscribe link that is readily visible and easy to access,
in order to comply with the CAN-SPAM act as well as
the more recent EU GDPR restrictions. They must also
include the company’s name and address.
● Valid/correct identification: this is becoming more
important than ever with the launch of Google’s new
authentication systems, rolling out this year. Your emails
must have a correct “from” field as well as a reply-to
Google has recently begun the launch of a new system that
verifies and authenticates sender information, in an effort
to fight back against spoofing and other scams; brands
will be able to include their logo in the “sender” field, and
Google will provide assurance that the sender has been
verified. Therefore, it is extremely important to make sure the
information you provide in this field is correct.
● Spelling and grammar check: few things will turn a
recipient off to whatever you have to say faster than
obvious spelling or grammar issues in your content;
they come across as unprofessional and can even set off
consumer’s mental alarms for spam and scams. One last
read-through can prevent a lot of problems
● Email rendering: the email you send could be brilliant,
but if it doesn’t render properly in as many contexts as
possible, it will fail. Testing takes care of a lot of this,
but it’s also a good idea to check the email with images
turned off, to make sure that the content doesn’t turn
into nonsense in the alternate format. This is also an
opportunity to make sure all tags are properly coded and
doing what they should.
● Check your links again: the whole point of an email
campaign is to get recipients to take some form of
action; if broken links prevent them from completing
that action, all the work to develop good content and
design a beautiful creative will have been for nothing.
● Complete the experience: make sure that when
recipients click on links, the landing page they go to
renders properly and quickly. Studies show that if a
landing page doesn’t load in a very short interval of time
(usually between 3 and 7 seconds), people will abandon
it. Once again: don’t put all that work into a gorgeous
campaign with great content, just to lose your customers
right at the point of them taking action.
Once you’ve gone through the checklist, you can be
confident that you’ve tackled the most common issues
that could possibly arise, and your campaign is ready for
launch! Cross your fingers and keep your hopes for the
s mentioned earlier in the book, every email marketing
campaign should have a specific, measurable goal right from
Athe beginning. Once the campaign is launched, the next step
becomes, obviously, seeing how it performs. There are a number of
methods for measuring the success of your campaign, depending
on what your particular goal for that campaign is. It’s important to
look at the categories and general data, to know what to look for
and we’ll also consider scenarios for how these measurements and
metrics can inform just how successful the campaign was at reaching
the goal you’ve set.
One of the major innovations to come to email marketing
as an industry has been the development of behavioral
metrics and the ability to collect information on them.
Initial attempts at email marketing were shots in the dark:
an individual or company would simply send out emails
and hope for the best. Of course, gradually more and more
aspects of response became available, and there are now
multiple ways to analyze how your recipients interact
with your email campaign. There are several very common
metrics to look at:
● Delivery rate: this is a straightforward metric; it is the
rate of emails that actually get delivered to the inboxes
of recipients, compared to the number of emails sent.
This is important in part to help keep track of your
reputation with email providers; lower delivery rates can
indicate that certain providers have your sender address
marked as spam.Another possibility is that you have bad
information in your email list another issue that needs to
be addressed quickly.
● Open rate: The total number of times that an email is
opened/viewed. Not as good as the unique open rate
(see below) as it counts every single time someone
opens the email even if it’s the same person 20 times.
When combined with the unique open rate and
compared, this can provide valuable insights as to
● Unique open rate: more telling than the total open
rate, the unique opens only count the first time each
subscriber opens your email.
● Click rate: The total number of times that any of the
links in your email are clicked. Does not distinguish
between one person clicking every link five times versus
five people clicking only the CTA. Can also be combined
with “unique clicks,” which counts the first time each
link is clicked by each subscriber, to provide some
insights regarding layout and experience.
● Click-to-open rate: By far a more telling metric than
the click rates or even unique clicks; click-to-open (also
known as clicks per open) measures the percentage
of individuals that clicked on a link in the email as
compared to the individual or unique number of opens.
In other words, how many times a single person not only
opened the email but clicked the link.
● Unsubscribe rate: Simply put, the number of people who
responded to your email message to them by opting
out of their subscription. It isn’t a major area of concern
after all, there is a steady ebb and flow of subscribers
for a variety of reasons that have nothing to do with
the campaign itself but larger numbers, or consistent
patterns of people unsubscribing, can indicate an issue
with the campaign or strategies.
● “Hard” bounce rate: A “hard” bounce is an email that is
undeliverable, generally because of a bad email address
(one that doesn’t exist because it’s fake, or because the
subscriber accidentally included a typo). Most email
service providers automatically delete those email
addresses from the list, meaning that it won’t come up
as an issue with that particular email address again.
● “Soft” bounce rate: As opposed to a “hard” bounce, a
soft bounce indicates a temporary type of delivery issue:
a full inbox, a technical issue from the end of the email
provider, or other similar problems. Generally, email
marketing providers will attempt to resend the email to
these recipients after a specified time frame, based on
● Subscribe rate: certain email service providers provide a
metric showing that certain email platforms or internet
service providers (ISPs) have blocked your emails. This
can help in troubleshooting to make sure that any
problems are addressed; after all, the last thing you want
is for your emails to become permanently undeliverable
to a wide swath of your subscribers.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
Once you know what the most common metrics are, the
question remains: why are these factors relevant?
HOW CAN YOU USE THEM TO GAUGE
THE SUCCESS OF YOUR CAMPAIGN?
Of course, some of the metrics provide straightforward
answers: unique opens and open rates tell you who
is opening your emails, which is an obvious factor for
success. But cumulatively, the metrics tell a much larger,
more detailed story that help you understand how close
you’ve come to the specific, measurable goal you set in the
Here are some examples of the stories your metrics can
● Open rates: how engaging your subject line is
● Click-to-open rates: how strong your call to action is
as well as how good the value proposition is from the
● Top links clicked: while not always available, many
providers give this information; this tells you clearly
which part of the creative and content appealed the
most to recipients, as well as whether your call to action
is effective for example, if the most commonly clicked
links are not your CTA, you can fairly surmise that the
CTA isn’t compelling enough.
● Bounce rates: “hard” bounces can indicate faulty data
or “bad” lists, while “soft” bounces can indicate issues
with your coding or creative or servers that are making it
more difficult for the ISPs/email platforms to route your
emails to the inboxes you’re sending to.
In addition to these basic metrics, there are a whole host
of other possibilities available based on newer technology,
including heat maps (a function that follows recipients’
scrolling and navigation through the creative to identify
the areas where they spend the most time), geographic
data showing where on the map people are more likely or
less likely to be opening your emails and other behavioral
Ultimately, the metrics that are most important to you will
depend on what your goal is; but as long as you’ve set a
goal that is specific and measurable, there is a metric that
will help you gauge the success of your campaign.
So having planned, developed, targeted, launched, and
analyzed your campaign, you’re excited for the next
one. You’ve looked at all the reports, and you have
all the data to know which aspects of your campaign stand
out as the biggest drivers of success. There is still one final
step to take before going from your first campaign to your
next campaign. Analyze your data.
The ongoing success of email marketing strategies
relies almost completely on not just having the data to
know whether or not a given campaign was successful,
but why it was successful and what that can mean for
future campaigns. Looking at the numbers, listening
metaphorically to what your subscribers have to say,
will help you to engage with them better and plan
improvements to your future campaigns, which will ensure
more revenue and more growth.
Earlier, we discussed the way that a variety of factors
including time of day, length of subject lines, and more
can impact email performance, and the data you collect
on your campaign’s performance is a key way to learn
important things about your subscribers to help you
market to them more effectively. All the predictive
information in the world doesn’t amount to much
compared to actual response, after all.
Taking a deeper delve into your metrics, you can begin
to distinguish patterns that apply specifically to your
recipients, as opposed to broad strokes assumptions
about their behavior based on surveys and demographic
Here are some examples of things that you can apply
strategy to, given the right data and a little thought:
● Best time of day to reach out
Different demographic groups tend to read emails at
different points in the day, and there are many useful
projections done by studies of open rates as well as
consumer reporting; but your own reports will give you a
more definitive idea of not just what time of day people
are opening your emails and engaging with them, but
also when they just don’t seem to be willing to give their
● Best day of week for recipient responses
We all know that there are some days that we merely
skim subject lines in our inboxes and some days when
with a little more free time we actually delve into the
emails we get.
Reports on open rates based on day of the week, along
with click rates and unique clicks, can paint a portrait of
which days your subscribers are more willing to engage
with your emails, versus those days when they might not
be as attentive.
● Revenue per email
A fairly straightforward metric that you can find through
the number of emails sent, delivered, opened, and the
click rates compared to conversions on the site.
The basic formula is: revenue generated/ (email
quantity sent-number of bounces).Over time, this can
provide valuable insights as to how to grow your list,
how to change your strategies to increase the amount
of spend that people are willing to commit to, and which
promotions drive the most revenue.
● Which types of offers work the best
In the broad strokes, it’s good in general to categorize
your campaigns, just to keep a basic picture of how
different offers perform; but you can also delve a little
deeper to get more intricate insights
By analyzing the types of campaigns you send out
(BOGO, % off, newsletters and so on) compared
to unique open rates and click-to-open rates, you
can discover which types of promotional value your
audience responds to the most, as well as over time
discovering which they might be getting tired of.
● Which devices are your recipients using?
Knowing which devices your audience favors can help
in design efforts, as well as narrowing down the focus
when it comes to responsive design or the need to make
sure your emails are supported on the right platforms.
Of course, this information has to remain up-to-date,
but it can make future campaigns easier to plan and
● What format do your subscribers respond the best to?
There are a wide variety of format options when it
comes to email, and the options are only increasing.
Long-range analysis of metrics from your campaigns can
give you important insights as to what your audience
likes and doesn’t like.
● Where are the “pain points”?
The process of understanding what your recipients want,
don’t want, need, and don’t need is an ongoing one
and of course, you can’t just stop everything to gather
those details and meditate on them before you ever
launch another campaign. Take the initial reports and
act on the most obvious observations and deploy you
next campaign; over time starting week-over-week and
moving on to monthly, quarterly, and annually you can
form a portrait of who your subscribers are and what
they like. This will in turn make it easier and easier to
market to them and provide them with the value they
With the right data, the right design, proper planning,
quality content, and a little work, email marketing can
remain easy even as consumers increasingly change and
adapt to new technologies. Marketers can and should
adapt right alongside their audiences, and armed with
some best practices, it’s possible to do just that.