Email marketing is one of the easiest, most affordable ways to keep customers engaged with your brand. It can also be a great way to drive revenue. Almost half of all email recipients made a purchase last year based on a promotional email.

But email marketing isn’t a guaranteed win. Without the right timing, targeting, and permission, even the best emails are often ignored or even marked as spam. And nobody wants to waste time shouting into a digital void.  

The good news is, people still read commercial emails: according to a recent email marketing study, 60 percent of consumers read emails they receive from businesses. It’s just that they’ve been blasted with such a deluge of spam and irrelevant content that they’re more selective about what they read. 

Your business needs a game plan for sending emails that not only make the cut, but also drive conversions and loyalty. Here are 5 tips for doing just that:

1) Send Targeted Content

While email marketing is admittedly less personal than its close cousin lead nurturing, you can still send emails that align with the unique interests and buying stage of your prospects. One of the best ways to do this is through list segmentation. Use your marketing automation software to divide your contacts into smaller lists, grouped by common behavioral attributes or demographics information (for example, a list of adult males who live in the Southeast, or a list of customers that have made multiple purchases). You can also use custom rules to send emails based on time or action triggers (such as an oil change reminder 90 days after their last appointment).

Oh, and don’t forget to address people by name. Personalized emails can produce up to six times more revenue than generic ones. No has ever been moved to action by the phrase, “Dear Valued Customer.”

2) Track Engagement

Email marketing isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it solution. You should be constantly tracking campaign success by looking at specific engagement metrics like click-through rate, unsubscribes, and open rate. More importantly, use your findings to make adjustments to the campaign, as necessary. Most marketers also use A/B testing and engagement analytics as a kind of one-two punch. Try one email configuration, then measure engagement; try another, then compare results.

If you haven’t chosen an email marketing solution, make sure to evaluate analytics and reporting features while you compare solutions and read marketing automation software reviews.

3) Get Permission

Sending permission-based emails is crucial to deliverability, from a technical standpoint and emotional standpoint. If you don’t have permission to contact your prospects (e.g. you purchased a list from a third party), you can expect a lot of emails to be blocked by email servers or routed to the spam folder. The same is true if a prospect “opted in” but doesn’t remember opting in or doesn’t see the relevance of your emails.

The safest approach is to use a double opt-in process. After the contact initially agrees to receive email (by completing a web form or downloading content) send them a welcome email with a request to confirm their subscription. This ensures that everyone getting your emails actually wants them.

4) Make Sure the Timing is Right

Email isn’t an open line of communication. Although smartphones provide anytime access to the inbox (65 percent of emails are opened on a mobile device), most people read emails at certain times of the day. If you can calibrate your send schedule around these peak times, you’re more likely to catch readers’ attention, and see higher open and click-through rates.

Most research points to weekday mornings (before lunch) as the best time for engagement, although some studies suggest late night emails are a strong contender. Run reports on some of your existing campaigns to see when most of your audience is attentive, and adjust accordingly.

5) Send Actionable Emails

If you want to get measurable results from your marketing emails, you need to make prominent use of calls-to-action (CTAs). A CTA asks the reader to take some kind of action in response to the content they’ve received. This could be a purchase oriented action (“Proceed to checkout,” or “You might like these other items”), or an action that cements their relationship with your brand (“Like us on Facebook,” or “Sign up for our rewards program”). Just be sure the CTA is backed up by some kind of value-add on your end. CTAs are always more effective when they come after informative content.


There are a lot of ingredients that go into effective email marketing, but the real proof is in what happens to the emails themselves. Do they land in the inbox? Do people open them? Are they useful and relevant? Do they generate click-throughs to your landing pages? It’s a delicate process, but the methodology is simple: get permission, treat people like people, give them a chance to take action, and constantly reassess your tactics.


Marketing automation isn’t just a trendy new topic — it’s a set of technology and best practices set to revolutionize marketing as we know it.

aleksandr-petersonAbout the Author

Aleksandr Peterson is a technology analyst at TechnologyAdvice. He covers marketing automation, CRMs, project management, and other emerging business technology. Connect with him on LinkedIn.