email marketing
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By Michael Zhou

Email is an important and cost-effective marketing channel for small businesses.  However, many SMBs don’t use the right tactics for the desired engagement.  Here are six ways to get the maximum impact from your email marketing:

1. Personally Target Users to Improve Open and Click Rates

Personalization acts as a great emotional trigger. It leads to big gains in email marketing, where your messages act as the point of first contact. According to the Aberdeen Group, 96% marketers said that personalization helped them improve their email performance. Here are some smart ways to help your messages stand out by utilizing personalization:

  • While gathering the customer data using subscriber forms, ensure that you use the right fields like male, female, new customer, existing customer and ask them about their interests or preferences so that you are able to refine your messages based on the preferences your targeted audience .
  • Integrate your data silos from different sources and create robust user profiles. Even in absence of sign-up forms, data from CRM, cookies and ESPs can be very useful.
  • Differentiate between users according to their tastes and engagement history. Create separate lists and generate unique messages for each.
  • Add user name, edit from field and subject lines, and generate personalized email copies with dynamic content. APIs from ESPs like GetResponse or Campaign Monitor can readily edit each email with a comprehensive workflow builder.

2. Avoid SPAM Filters

SPAM filters determine the fate of your email marketing campaign. Even if you create amazing copy, it is utterly useless if it gets delivered to the SPAM folder. It is extremely important increase deliverability of deliverability of your emails by using legitimate email marketing practices. Here’s a good guide from marketing from the experts at eRelevance on Increasing Email Deliverability:  Getting Past Spam Filters.  Additionally, here are some additional ways to prevent your emails from getting into the SPAM folder:

  • Discuss with your Email Service Provider (ESP) for the SPAM protection compliances and protocols. Some methods like CAN-SPAM, SPF and SKIM minimize bounce rates and remove SPAM profiles from your mailing list as soon as they are detected.
  • Create mailing lists by voluntary opt-ins, eliminate SPAM trigger words, optimize message copy, omit attachments and maintain an optimum image-text ratio.
  • Don’t use purchased, rented or old lists and assume that you have permissions to send them emails. They may report you and your IP address will gradually earn a reputation of certified SPAMmer.
  • Avoid using deceptive subject lines and tell the recipients about your location.
  • Always include a text version in case you are sending an HTML variation.

3. Describe Your Images with ALT Text

Images in emails are by default not shown on most inboxes. This means that your prospects will not be able to see your email with the intended message unless they manually select “display images”. Here is how you can enhance the quality of your message even if your images get blocked:

  • Describe images with interesting ALT text (alternative text). It also addresses your visually impaired subscribers who use screen readers.
  • In mobile devices, Gmail Android application does not block images by default. If, however, your images are irrelevant and overshoot the image-to-text ratio, your email will be moved to the SPAM folder and the impact might get multiplied with subsequent emails. Hence, it is necessary to maintain the image-to-text ratio.
  • Keep the text concise because if it exceeds the image length, most email clients will not show any ALT text at all. If the image is linked, only the link will be shown and not the ALT text.

4. Use Short, Sweet and Compelling Subject Lines

Subject lines are so important for email effectiveness that 35% of recipients decide to open or ignore the message solely on the basis of subject lines. Here are some ways to write catchy subject lines:

  • Long text is a strict no. Limit the number of characters to 50. Avoid useless technical words and specifics like order number.
  • Include personalization tokens like name, location and pronouns like “you.” Don’t make false promises to get your email opened. It can activate SPAM filters.
  • Start the subject with actionable verbs, which act as calls to actions (CTAs), like “Dine with XYZ.” Create a sense of urgency and make people feel unique and special.
  • Ask interesting questions like “Did you Know These Email Marketing Hacks?” Use short numbers and never reveal the content of email in your subject line.
  • Humor is a good way to engage with audience. Use puns and tickle funny bones. Use capitalization judiciously and don’t overuse exclamation marks. .

5. Test your Mails and Automate Them to Remove Errors

Testing and comparing results of different versions of an email is critical for its success. You might think that your email is exceptional and ready to go, but reliable data to back the claim always comes handy.

  • Use standard A/B testing to review your subject lines and the message text. Various other elements which need testing include templates, images, links and ALT texts.
  • Tweak words and revise your message to get the best result from A/B tests. Before the email blast, send a copy to a small in-house group to make sure everything works as intended.
  • Automate your Email campaigns to create personalized communications and respond to leads without your intervention. This saves time in repetitive tasks and minimize human errors.

6. Analyze Relevant Data and Segment Users Continuously

All email service providers provide basic data about bounce rates, opens and CTRs. An exhaustive analysis allows you to understand prospect behavior and segment properly for better results in subsequent emails. The most important factor is to look at the right metrics as provided below:

  • Click Through Rates –A/B tests are done to enhance the most important metric also known as CTR. It is the rate of clicks on your email as compared to the total number of mails sent.
  • Conversion Rate – The ultimate metric to calculate sales. It is the number of leads who completed desired action after opening your email.
  • Bounce Rate – Check for this metric carefully because it will determine your SPAM status. Remove IDs which result in “hard bounces.” Soft bounce issues are settled automatically from the client side server.
  • ROI – There are various methods to determine your overall returns on investment. Assign different values to various leads with an SLA system.

Small businesses often have limited marketing budgets. Email marketing is an effective method to generate leads and engage with prospects on a continuous basis. Minimize your investments and improve returns with above-mentioned tips.


Michael Zhou is a business intelligence developer who has assisted Fortune 1000 companies with expertise in the web as a whole, including ground-zero marketing efforts that benefit both consumer and vendor.