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What does successful email marketing look like?

glasses in focus on tableYour email marketing strategy is another ingredient in the cake that is your overall Digital Marketing Strategy. Following on from the GDPR changes earlier this year, it’s no longer acceptable to spam every Tom, Dick and Harry that you have in your address book, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. As with the majority of the other aspects of Digital Marketing, the more targeted your strategy the more successful it is likely to be. But what does success look like when it comes to email marketing?

To kick off we’re going to look at the basics of email marketing and how you can put a strategy in place that at the very least, is solid. So in order to succeed at email marketing even just at a basic level, here’s what you should do:

1. Create a database that you know wants to receive your emails

Building your email list is the first strategic stepping stone on the path to creating a powerful email marketing strategy. How you go about collecting people’s information is up to you and depends on your business and what you offer your clients, you can offer something for free or at a discounted price, or you can simply offer updates on products and services or a newsletter. You’ll need to think about what will best entice your audience here as if there isn’t a good enough incentive early on, it’ll become trickier to win them over down the line. Your email subject line and copy is key here, but we’ll get to that a bit later.

2. Segment your email list to make your strategy more targeted

If you think that you can get away with sending out one blanket email to all of your contact list and get the best response, think again. Have you ever received an email promoting a product that just didn’t appeal to you at all? That’s bad email marketing practice! It’s also a complete waste of the company’s time as they’ve likely just put off a number of people from buying into their brand, and may have picked up a few unsubscribes on the way. Make sure that you understand your audience, create buyer personas that group your contact list into different segments. This will help you tailor your copy so that it’s more relevant and targeted to each group.


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3. Get whitelisted to guarantee email delivery

Although the term “whitelisted” may sound like techy jargon, it’s actually synonymous with “accept friend request” on Facebook or “accept follow request” on Twitter or Instagram. It guarantees that your email will reach the place that you want it to, and won’t go automatically to Spam mailboxes. So how can you do this? Well, it relies on your audience’s ability to follow a few simple instructions and also willingness to sign up to your email marketing! Tell them how to whitelist you in the first few lines of your email by asking them to add your email address to their contact list. A good time to do that would be in your “thank you for signing up” email or in your first follow-up.

4. Follow-up your emails to remind people of any offers/promotions

Setting the ground rules of your email marketing is a crucial stage of building your strategy. It’s key that you don’t overpromise and underdeliver, so make sure that you’re clear with what you’re going to be updating your email list with and how long these emails will take for you to produce and distribute. Once you’ve established the rate at which you’ll be pushing out email marketing updates, you need to set up the initial folllow-up email. Most distribution programmes offer an option for auto-respond, and it’s worth looking into this. Use this opportunity to take the time to explain how email marketing updates with your brand will work, and what your contacts can expect from you so they’re not left feeling short changed.

5. Make sure your email content is on point

Whilst everything that we’ve mentioned so far is really important for your email marketing strategy, this part takes the biscuit. To help make sure that your strategy is prepped, we’ve split this stage into four key areas to focus on:

Personalised copy

Although we know it’s most likely automated, everyone loves to receive an email that has your name at the top of it. Sure we know that ASOS don’t actually know who we are at all, and Amazon don’t really want to know how we are, but still, that little bit of personalisation is way better than being called a “Sir or Madam”. According to Aberdeen, personalised email messages improve click-through rates by an average of 14% and conversions by 10%.

Eye-catching calls to action

Whatever the purpose of your email is, for your audience to sign up for a newsletter, learn more about your service or check out the latest sale you have going on, you need to make it obvious. As well as obvious, it needs to be relevant too so don’t ask people to “sign up for our newsletter to hear about product promotions” if you’re just going to be sending them updates on what the Sales team spent their Thursday night doing…

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Responsive design

According to Litmus, in 2017 53% of people opened their emails on their mobile. Desktop and webmail made up the other 47%, meaning that responsive email design has never been more important. Checking emails is an accompanying activity, so your audience want to be able to read your updates whenever and wherever they want. They won’t enjoy being disappointed by a badly designed email, so make sure to avoid unsubscribes by coding your email to be responsive.

Personal-Promotional balance

Think about the last time you received a blatant sales email. Think about how disappointed you were that they weren’t even trying to disguise their motive – we all like to be sweet-talked no matter how well we know the true purpose. You need to make sure that your content strikes the right balance between being too promotional and salesy, and having a human or personal tone. Being friendly to your audience is more likely to compel them to be interested in what you’ve got to say or offer, after all, this type of marketing is a lot to do with building a relationship with your contact list.


6. Set up autoresponders to distribute content over a long period

We’ve touched on this briefly already, highlighting the autoresponse tool as being useful for encouraging new contacts to sign up for email marketing updates. You can also use it if you know there’s going to be a lull in the amount of new products or content you’ll be pushing out during a certain time period. Setting up a routine email update that delivers periodic updates puts you in a much better position to reach out to your contacts with new products or fresh content when you do eventually have something to offer. Don’t go overboard though, as we said earlier you need to make sure not to overpromise and underdeliver.

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7. Pay attention to analytics, but don’t get distracted

With email marketing making up just one part of your overall digital marketing strategy, you’re probably already familiar with how analytics work and what you can use them for. It’s important not to get overly obsessed with the numbers though, so don’t flick back to your distribution software every 10 minutes to check how your open rates are doing… When it comes to email marketing analytics, we’d say there are three key metrics you need to focus on:

Open Rate

Exactly what it says on the tin, this statistic will tell you how many of your contact list have actually opened your email and how many have just hit “delete” upon receiving it. If your email rate is lower than you’d like, think about what your offering to your audience, if it’s appealing and if it’s meeting their expectations.

Click Through Rate

This stat tells you how many of your contacts clicked on any of your links or calls to action. Again, a low number will tell you that you need to work on improving your strategy. Make sure your calls to action are enticing and targeted to the persona that you’re reaching out to.


Perhaps the most difficult statistic to digest if it’s high, your unsubscribe number tells you ultimately how bad your email marketing strategy is. If a number of your contact list are unsubscribing, it may be worth taking things back to square one and thoroughly thinking through your strategy again.



Now you know what you need to do in order to set yourself up and put together a good email marketing strategy, we thought you might like some inspiration. Below we’ve put together a handful of successful email marketing campaigns.

Virgin Experience Days – Automated Email Response

virgin experience days email

Targeting Londoners with amazing opportunities to take advantage of in their city, Virgin Experience Days send promotional emails using automated responses and a great email marketing strategy that has seen their email marketing success increase by 120% year on year and 20,000 new subscribers each month.

virgin experience days automated email banner disount

Their marketing team claimed that automated responses were key to their success, and helped boost customer loyalty. Each time a customer signed up for an experience, they received an automated response containing a discount for a later purchase – great incentive!

Monica Vinader – Product Promotion

monica vinader product promotion email

This luxury jewellery brand target their customer email list with product promotions. Enticing imagery and obvious pricing gives readers an encouraging reason to click through on to the website. Sealing the deal is a clear call to action, directing their audience onto the main website where they can purchase the displayed products.

Pret – Interactive Content

A great example of how you can use interactivity to engage your audience, Pret partnered with bigdog to create a completely unique email marketing campaign.

pret product promotion interactive email

The campaign allowed readers to pick their flavour and watch the drink change colour in front of their eyes. This is both fun and informative, notifying readers of their current promotion and encouraging them to learn more by clicking through to the main website.

If you’re looking for more email marketing inspiration, head to Campaign Monitor, where you can find some of the best email marketing campaign case studies.

There’s a lot to think about before you’re ready to push out a solid email marketing campaign, but above all, it’s important to be respectful and polite. Ever heard of the phrase “manners cost nothing”? Well in the case of email marketing, this nugget of etiquette definitely applies because (as you can probably understand) you’re not going to get anywhere by being discourteous to your email contact list. At the end of the day, your customers are people so treat them that way and they’re more likely to respond in the way you’d like them to!



Foundry Digital are a London-based Digital Agency specialising in aspects of Digital Marketing including helping our clients create engaging and successful email marketing strategies. We have experience in boosting the online presence of brands and businesses in a wide variety of industries, so get in touch today to see how we can use our expertise to help you make the most of your audience and turn leads into sales.

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