13 Success Tips of an Email Marketing Ninja

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

E-mail marketing bulls-eyeMost communications professionals agree that email marketing is a major money-earning hammer in their marketing toolbox. The often-quoted ratio says that every dollar invested in email marketing can generate an average return of nearly $40. That’s a decent target, but some reports have an even higher ROI.

Email marketing checklist...

But beware. Triple-digit returns aren’t easy, automatic or magic. Success follows careful, ninja-like preparation and execution. Here’s a rapid-fire checklist of high-value considerations for a more profitable response:

Live or die by the first four words. Concentrate on the email subject line. Without a compelling and motivating subject, the email will never be opened and your message is DOA.

Get to the point instantly. Your reader doesn’t plan to stay long, so don’t keep him or her waiting or guessing about the topic.

If it’s not relevant it’s of no interest. Create content that resonates with the wants, needs and interests of the audience. There must be a reason to care. (See also: personalization.)

Your point will always deliver a strong benefit. No disrespect intended, but people think of themselves first. They need to find the value early. Great value inspires a great response.

Wrap the message in urgency. Provide a deadline, expiration or a reason to act now.

Leave no doubt about what’s next. Be clear and direct about what the reader should do. Have a single call-to-action that’s obvious and easy to use.

Work on your list as much as your message. Digital email lists—even opt-in/permission-based lists—can change overnight. Keep your list current and accurate. Identify recipients by needs, interests and criteria or ability to personalize the message. Clean your list; focus on quality above quantity.

Be personal, friendly and familiar. Email is a means to maintain a relationship and remain top of mind with an audience. Write as if speaking with a friend; use the familiar term “you,” and personalize the greeting and content.

Small screen first. Many if not most email is seen first on a mobile—small screen—device. Consider how to communicate the message via smartphone.

Is there a place for video? Audiences like and respond to video content, and that increases open and click-through rates in email. Video doesn’t fit every situation, but there are many times when it can greatly enhance results.

Streamline the appearance. Heavy-handed graphics, images and design techniques are distracting at best. Present a professional look and feel, without appearing retail or commercial.

Automate and personalize. Consider how software tools can avoid “one-blast-fits-all.” Design a distribution routine that considers individual needs and interests. Personalize and vary the message, use retargeting when appropriate, follow-up and follow-through.

Monitor these two critical metrics. Watch your UNIQUE OPEN RATE number as an indication of subject line effectiveness. And CLICK THROUGH RATE (CTR) records clicks via the call-to-action and other measure points.

Email is 25 years old…

Email has been around for about 25 years and has become a mainstay in business and communications. The millennial audience—folks who were born into the computer age—are prime email and online marketing consumers. Most everyone is familiar and comfortable with email for personal and professional purposes. In a sense, it’s a friendly connecting point…and that, in part, is why email marketing can deliver results.


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