The ultimate guide to email strategy

by | Wed 20 May, 20

Email newsletters are dead

Before I hear screams from every email marketer across the land, let me explain my point.

When I refer to email newsletters, I refer to the company-centric emails that are sent out at a fixed cadence. For example “Oh, it’s the first Wednesday of the month, it’s time to send our company newsletter out — let’s pull together all of our internal company news that nobody cares about and send as usual.”

When I began email marketing over a decade ago, the norm was to gather up your latest news and press releases, paste them into a plain-text-looking email, then hit send – to everyone in your list. No segmentation, no personalisation, not goals or outcomes other than “it’s that time“.

Since those days, email has come a long way. These days it’s far more common for companies to ditch the fixed cadence + company news + entire list approach, and be more driven by content and subscriber. Hooray!

By being content and subscriber driven, you are forced to send only if you have something relevant and valuable to say, whether that be 5 times in a week, or just once in a month.

As companies have seen a real ROI with email, they’ve taken it more seriously and input more resource into the channel. This has attracted some of the brightest minds to move into the email space and major in some of the key disciplines.

Like the following:


Email design has improved greatly. With dedicated boards on Pinterest and showcase websites like Really Good Emails, email-centric design has become an industry in itself.

At MailNinja, we focus on both UX (user experience) and CRO (conversion rate optimisation) for our email design work. In a nutshell, this ultimately means we take a close look at the user (in this case subscriber) and design emails around how this will impact them; how to ensure their interaction with your brand is consistent and relevant, and how to create content that is designed to convert.

Coding (from a designer’s viewpoint)

Email coding is a tricky beast, and there’s been very little HTML development since the 90s. The trick is to work within the parameters of what’s possible and instead focus more on design and aesthetics. To be a great email designer, you need to understand these constraints in order to create email-safe design that works across all major devices and email clients.

At MailNinja we always ensure our designers work closely with our development team to gain a base level knowledge of what’s possible.


As email coding has remained dormant since the 90s, technology has advanced much more. Email platforms which allow you to connect stores and third party apps to enable action-triggered automated emails are now common place.


These days you are able to tap into a wealth of consumer data, then segment and group people by demographics, behaviours and engagement. Email is probably the only marketing channel that allows you to track and analyse this in such a granular way.

So, next time you think about sending an email. Think beyond “it’s that time again“, and instead, here’s what I want you to ask:

  • Why are we sending this email?
  • What’s the goal / outcome?
  • How will we know it’s been successful?
  • Who is this going to, and will they care? = relevance

Email is not a sales tool

Data is big in marketing. We all know that. Today, lots of companies collect data from their customers and then use email marketing services so that they can promote products and services to them. Not long after supplying their email, customers can expect a message of some description from the business to drop into their inbox, trying to persuade them to buy this or that product or service. Not cool. Email is not a direct sales tool.

So, what is it then?

A way to spread the word

You don’t have to use email to sell, necessarily. If you’re launching a new product or you’ve got another big event coming up, email is an effective way of getting the word out and generating interest. The recipient doesn’t even have to open it — sometimes an effective subject line is enough.

A chance to build a relationship

When a person supplies their email voluntarily, they’re willing to hear more about your company, but it’s not an invitation to hammer them with stone-cold sales pitches. No, email is a chance to build a relationship with that person. By sending regular news and views through to that person, you’ll build a trusting relationship. They’ll start to feel more connected to your brand.

An opportunity to keep your finger on the pulse

Email offers a terrific way to communicate with people. Are your customers happy with your product or your service? Is your audience enjoying your content? You can use the power of email to find out by sending a short survey to them. Of course, email provides them with a channel of communication to reach you, too. If they’ve got something on their mind, good or bad, they can (and will) let you know about it!

When a person supplies their email address, they’re not giving you the green light to bombard them with sales messages, although, admittedly, they’re suggesting interest in your business and what you might have to offer. Sliding straight into their inbox and commanding them to buy from you, however, is a one-way ticket to them unsubscribing or asking you to remove your data from their database. Don’t call them, they’ll call you.

What is the most effective email marketing strategy?

Email marketing has stood the test of time as one of the best ways to reach out to consumers. Pretty much everyone has an email address which they look at regularly every single day. This kind of direct access is nectar to any company looking to market their products or services to the general public. As with any type of marketing activity though, you need to think about what the most effective strategy is for email marketing. The truth is that there are a few different strategies you can use in an overall marketing campaign to help it succeed.

But which should you know about?


A big part of any effective email marketing campaign is research. Without investing some time here first, any attempt to market via email will not succeed. In simple terms, the more effort you put into finding the best prospects, the more chance you have of engaging with them. Taking some time to think about who will be most likely to use the product or service you are emailing about and how to communicate with them effectively is therefore wise.

Catchy subject line

This is another key strategy you should focus on when it comes to email marketing. Stats show that around 33% of people decide whether to open an email, based only on the subject line. Make sure yours is short, catchy and does not set off spam filters while conveying what the email is about.

Make it useful

Sometimes it pays to take things back to basics with email marketing strategies. The main point of any email you send is to add value to the recipient and provide them with useful content. Any email you send should hit these targets as this will make people more likely to follow up on them. It is also great for building your brand in the long-term.

Use the right tools

A key strategy in any effective campaign is simply using the correct tools. Packages like Mailchimp are a great option here as they make the whole process of sending out large numbers of emails easy. As they essentially automate this task, it means staff spend less time on manually conducting campaigns and drives up your ROI.

Top tips for running successful email campaigns

Email has been a core element in the marketer’s arsenal for decades, and that’s for one simple reason: it has the capacity to bring about results.

A staggering 281 billion emails are estimated to be sent every single day, many of which are junk, so you need to ensure that your campaigns stand out to the right people and encourage them to take an action of some kind.

So, with that in mind, what do you need to do to execute a successful marketing campaign? What steps do you need to take, and what little tips can bring about the results you are looking for?

1. Target the right people

Absolutely central to every successful email campaign is ensuring that whatever you are sending ends up reaching the right people. It is far better to have a targeted list of 100 people that are actually likely to make a purchase than 10,000 people who don’t know what your business does and, ultimately, don’t care. The best way of doing this is to entice website visitors to give you their email address, either in the form of an enquiry or by subscribing to a newsletter, because these people have already taken the time to learn more about what you do and clearly want to learn more.

2. Have goals and metrics

What do you actually want your email campaign to achieve? Do you want to increase the number of people following your social media accounts? Do you want greater levels of consumer data? Do you want to sell a very specific product or service? Do you want to re-engage people that have signed up for a newsletter but haven’t been active for a while? By knowing this you can tailor your content and reach people in a way they will value and appreciate. Also, by having metrics in place, you will be able to see how effective your email campaign is, and you can then modify it if it is performing below standards.

3. Utilise the power of technology

Utilising technology in your email marketing campaign can involve using an email marketing agency to help you integrate WordPress into your emails, automate your email sending times and harness websites and software to give you detailed analytics and insights around how your campaigns are performing. This could, ultimately, be the difference between a successful campaign and one that simply wasn’t worth your time.

Relevancy is vital

Email marketing is one of the most effective marketing methods for selling to past and prospective customers. According to statistics, it has the highest ROI of any digital sales path. For every £1 spent on an email marketing campaign, you can expect to earn more than £39. However, many businesses don’t make this value and there is one reason for that: they’re missing one essential ingredient.

For email marketing success, you need to add relevance to your campaigns. This can be broken down into three parts. These are:

1. Send only to those who want the information

Segregation is key to relevance when it comes to email marketing. You can’t just send all your sales copy to every subscriber because some of your content won’t be of interest to them. And if it isn’t of interest to them, then they won’t read or click through to your website.

There are several ways you can determine what subjects customers want to read about. The first is to look at purchasing history, if they’ve only bought clothes for boys, then don’t send them content for the latest ladies fashion. The other is to get them to state what they’re interested in when they subscribe.

2. Only send information that is useful and helpful to the reader

There’s lots of content you can send to potential customers but not all of it is useful. Sometimes you’re writing content that is more for your own pride. So, consider what content you’re sending, and ask whether it is going to benefit the end reader. If not, don’t send it.

This might mean that you send less content out to each individual subscriber. But when you do send out content, it will be powerful.

3. Send content at a time that is suitable for the reader

There are two reasons why you want this to happen. Firstly, sending content at the wrong time of day can cause your email to be lost in the recipient’s inbox. If they don’t see it at the right time, the chances are higher that they’ll ignore it or just delete your email.

Secondly, you need to get them in the right frame of mind to buy. For instance, large consumer purchases are often made around payday and often in the evening on Sunday or Monday. So sending content in the middle of the working week, at noon, on the 15th of the month is going to be useless. People generally have less disposable income and aren’t looking to buy much at this time.

You can always test this one with split testing to see when people are reading and clicking through on your content.

If you can get these three aspects right and employ the correct email marketing services, you can be sure that your email marketing campaigns will be relevant and a success.

Essential elements of a successful email campaign

Email campaigns are a great way to reach many different people and show off your latest offers and promotions. It can also be a good time to introduce new company features and showcase new developments in your products. But all of this relies on your campaign being successful and, for that, your receivers need to open the email.

Ensuring your email campaign is successful can be difficult, but there are a few tips and tricks that the experts always employ. At Mail Ninja, we know these hints and want to share them with you!

1. Ensure you have a catchy email subject

People will always judge emails by their subject line, and a boring line will either get ignored or moved to the spam folder. Obviously this means that your email never gets read, so you are losing a potential customer. By making your subject line funny and relevant to the reader, you are far more likely that they will open the email because they are initially intrigued.

2. Personalise the email

While blanket email marketing can make it difficult to personalise emails, it is not impossible. Some software and providers can analyse email addresses and work out the persons name, especially when many emails contain initials or the first or last name of the owner. If you can get software that personalised emails, the receiver is significantly more likely to open it, as they feel it is addressed directly to them. When asking people to sign up with their email address, you can also ask them for their first and last name so your company has this information to hand.

3. Use direct links

When a reader opens your email, they want to be able to see your items and promotions straight away. By providing direct links to the things you are talking about, you will allow the customer to hit your page while they are still in the mood for buying! Ensure that your check out process is easy too, and this will really help your campaign convert readers into paying customers.

How to calculate your email marketing ROI

Like many online enterprises, you probably have an email marketing strategy. It may be something that you have designed yourself, or you may employ a specialist email marketing service provider like Mailchimp.

If you are already onboard with Mailchimp through an email marketing agency, you are probably very satisfied with the performance of your email marketing. But if you are “a go-it aloner,” you may feel your strategy could be doing better. If you have any doubts, the best thing you can do is to figure out what your ROI (Return on Investment) is, and here’s how.

What is ROI?

ROI is a measurement that you use to evaluate how well your investment is performing in terms of efficiency. It measures how much money it is making for you as far as profit is concerned. This calculation is not just appropriate for email marketing campaigns; you can use it to indicate how any investment is performing.

Basically, the formula is the gain, less the money invested to cause that gain, divided by investment and then expressed as a percentage. On the face of it, it may sound simple, but the reality is not quite as straight forward. The reason is that email campaigns are versatile marketing strategies. They target not just one, but several goals. These include things like:

• Increasing awareness of your brand
• Nurturing new leads
• Improving sales performance
• Increasing revenue
• Attracting traffic to your website

Once you have specified the target areas of your email marketing campaigns, you can then set about more accurately figuring out your ROI as you will know which metrics to track.

Maximising your valuable time

Most online business owners do not have the time to spend on evaluating the performance of their marketing strategies. Even though it is quite important. But if you use Mailchimp services through a good email marketing agency, your Mailchimp partner can do the legwork for you.

When is the best time of the day to send out emails?

Email marketing is an effective form of growing your brand, keeping your clients updated with things like your newest products or events that are on the horizon, but is there a best time to send out your emails?

Technically, there is no set time deemed best because a lot of the success rates depend about which product you are selling, and which department they can fall under, so trial and error forms much of the way forward. However, there is some data available on this to crunch.

Morning offers the best open rate

Whenever you send out an email, whether it is a campaign, a newsletter or any piece of information, the one thing you need to happen before anything is it gets opened right? Statistically, if you send your email at 8 am it has a 20.32% opening rate and a respectable enough 7.79 click-through percentage.

Do not be too late in the morning when clicking send on your email though, because it is understood that results drop off dramatically on communications sent at 10 am. The open rate only goes down 0.5 per cent but orders are said to half in number.

Newsletter have more success in the afternoon

1 pm appears to be the best time to fire out your newsletter, possibly as this is the time when most people are on their lunch break, meaning that they have time on their hands to read it immediately, either on their computer or smartphone.

The bare numbers such as open and click rates are not as high as they could be, but general performance, particularly order numbers, are of a high level if you send your newsletter at this time.

Later the better for high order rates

Ultimately, the business world is all about generating orders, and statistically, you are most likely to get the highest level of them if you send your campaign out around 4 pm. Each campaign averages 10.66 orders at this time according to recent statistics, which is a high number.

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