12 Ways to Ensure Your Email Marketing Packs a Serious Punch



Email is the workhorse of Internet marketing. It’s the connective tissue of digital marketing. It’s the glue that holds it all together. You get the idea.

And that’s not just my opinion. McKinsey reports that email is about 40 times better at customer acquisition than social media.


So how can you you get your email marketing to work that well?

One of the most important things to remember with email marketing is to add value, not ask for it. Make sure you’re sending content that is valuable to the recipient versus just asking them to buy.

Granted, you’re using email marketing for a business purpose, but to be successful, your emails should be so useful, helpful and/or entertaining that your prospects and customers would notice if you stopped sending them.

Here is a checklist of 12 ways to make sure your email marketing is strong and effective:

  1. Identify a Goal – Why are you sending email? The answer to that one question can dramatically improve your email marketing. For instance are you trying to generate new leads, follow up on an offer download, collect audience feedback, increase awareness of a new product, nurture leads, facilitate the sales process?
  2. Send your email from a person, not a company. People prefer to do business with other people rather than companies approximately 100% of the time. Test after test has shown that email open rates increase when the sender is identified by name. That doesn’t mean you can’t include a company name along with a persons name, of course.
  3. Use personalization. Think of this as a form of digital eye contact. Include the recipients name (and company), make reference to what they’ve downloaded, have the email come from the sales rep with whom they’ve perhaps already spoken. According to Aberdeen Group research, over 75% of email revenue is now generated by alternatives to generic one-size-fits all campaigns. Further, personalized emails see 14% higher click-through rates and 10% more conversions.
  4. Get to the point! Rambling on and boring your recipient does not actually work. Instead, create subject lines and email copy that get to the point. Focus on the benefit to the recipient and pique their interest enough to get them to want to open the email. But keep it short – try to keep your email message under five sentences.
  5. Speak directly to the recipient. Use the word “you” and “your.” Address the recipient as if you’re having a one-on-one conversation.
  6. Use actionable language. Incorporate verbs into your in-text calls-to-action (CTA) and your CTA buttons. It makes the message stronger and helps the recipient understand that they need to complete an action (e.g. “download now”). Another way to include actionable language is to let them know what they can get by clicking CTAs (e.g. “generate more leads”).
  7. Focus on benefits, not features. Black and Decker doesn’t sell drill bits, they sell holes. Scotts doesn’t sell grass seed, they sell green lawns. Let people know what they are going to get by using your product or taking whatever action you want them to take (e.g. don’t tell your prospects what is in your ebook, tell them what they will learn and how they will benefit).
  8. Leave no call-to-action behind! You only get so much real estate in email so use it wisely. Use each component of your email as a CTA. For instance, include alt text in case your images don’t load when the email is opened. Add CTAs to your signature. Use images as CTAs by linking them to landing pages or wherever you want people to go in order to take action. You can even use your preview text as a CTA – get them to open your email by explaining why they should.
  9. Encourage sharing. If you’re using email for lead generation, you want to encourage sharing. Many email tools allow you to enable social sharing buttons in the editor. Also, make sure to use a tracking code so you can tell where your leads are coming from. You can also encourage sharing right in the body of the email.
  10. Edit the plain text version. Not everyone is going to see the beautiful HTML version of your email and will instead receive a plain text version. Make sure to clean it up and simplify it to make it more aesthetically pleasing. For instance, you might need to remove the social sharing options from the plain text version because they can get really messy.
  11. Optimize for mobile. According to Litmus, 48% of emails are now opened on mobile devices. So you need to make sure your emails look right on mobile devices and tablets. You can also use responsive email templates which fit to any screen size. Before sending your email, preview it on a mobile template (or send a test to your mobile device).
  12. Analyze this! Run A/B tests for things like subject line optimization, email templates, offers, length, images, copy, CTAs, etc. Make sure to measure things like delivery rates, open rates, click-through rates, contact churn, and hard/soft bounces. Also, analyze how effectively you’re able to get someone to complete your goal (see #1 above). Analyze behavior like URL click popularity, unsubscribes versus email preference changes, social shares by channel and CTA click rate.


Use these 12 steps as a pre-flight checklist for your next email marketing effort and you’ll start to see your email marketing pack a serious punch and get the results you want. 

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10 tips for packing your email subject lines with punch


PR pros take meticulous care to get press releases just right in hopes of coaxing journalists to cover their news.

Few marketers and clients realize that the most important part of their communications with a journalist is not the press release at all. It’s the subject line.

Many think the press release is more important, because it can communicate all the details of a news announcement, embed a call to action and even improve a brand’s search engine rankings to drive new business leads, but what if I said that without an email subject that packs a punch, your awesome press release stands a near-zero chance of getting media coverage?

Journalists today are simply too inundated with email news pitches to open them all. They would be reading emails and press releases all day long. There wouldn’t be any time left to cover the news.

Journalists I interview as part of my PR over Coffee community in Austin report having to sort through hundreds of emails daily. On Mondays when they come back to the office, that number could easily double. This means you have mere seconds to stop a journalist in his or her tracks in hopes of getting a second, longer look.

The only way to get a journalist to not hit the delete key is by having a carefully worded, high-impact email subject line.

Here are some tips, including examples of email subjects that might lead a journalist to take a closer look at your announcement.

Keep it short. Try not to use more than eight to 12 words.

Example: Mobile health app predicts heart attacks, sends 911 alerts”

Use strong verbs. Rely on hard-hitting action verbs.

Example: “Snow blower maker plows through revenue goals after record snowfall”

Add verbal vigor. Consider using alliteration to make your subject stand out.

Example: “Austin sweets seller to serve chocolate cherry ganache at Presidential party”

Keep it local. If you are trying to get the media in your community to cover you, point out in your subject line that you are a local company or mention the community by name.

Example: Springfield home builder to break ground on development in southwest suburb

Be provocative. Be as edgy as possible, given your topic and audience. I’m not suggesting you say anything inappropriate, but saying something too conservative or tepid won’t arrest a busy journalist’s attention.

Example: “New luxury car rental company promises zero-crappy-car policy at LAX”

Mention deadlines. If there’s a deadline or event date, then note it in hopes of getting the journalist to take action.

Example: “Annual Take Back the Night marathon and candlelight vigil set for March 15”

Drop names. Why not? If there’s a well-recognized name associated with your announcement, then jump on it.

Example: “PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel joins board of e-commerce startup Xzap”

Don’t sell. You are trying to win someone over on a story idea, not get a used car off a lot.

Example: “Enjoy ‘Chocolate Stout Night for Singles’ on Valentine’s Day at Drafthouse”

Stay relevant. Try to capture the essence of why your news should be shared with a journalist’s audience. Pitching a college-related publication like U.S. News & World Report – Education on a new mobile app for college students? Mention something about the app’s ability to help students’ in their studies, find dates, travel abroad, etc.

Example: “One quarter of study-abroad students lack the proper insurance, pay millions out-of-pocket”

Work at it. Don’t be afraid to spend time on getting the subject line just right. Run it by your colleagues, staff and even friends and family. Come up with a subject that will stop the journalist in his or her tracks and you’ll win that coveted second look every time.

Got any great subject lines you want to share?

[RELATED: Discover how to revive your writing chops, grab the attention of a distracted audience and tell great stories across media channels at our Advanced Writing and Editing Workshop.]

Dave Manzerspecializes in highly integrated PR & marketing strategies that help companies in technology, healthcare and professional services reach their goals in brand awareness and revenue growth. A version of this article originally appeared on the PR Over Coffee blog.


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