Email marketing continues to dominate as one of the most popular forms of advertising around, yet everyone is continually looking to improve their success rate on this platform. What’s great is that you don’t always have to move heaven and Earth to boost your stats.

Anyone can send an email out with an advert for a product and score the occasional sale. That’s not difficult. To get the real ‘wow’ stats you just need to look a little deeper at what you are doing in your email marketing campaign and how recipients are reacting to your messages. Top tips for improving your email marketing success rate

A survey from Econsultancy in 2012 found that two-thirds of marketers branded their return from email marketing services ‘good’ or ‘excellent’. The following tips are not just for the one-third that have yet to achieve satisfactory results; they are also for the happy two-thirds, as they may be able to elevate their game even further…

Measure the stats

Before you can talk about how to improve the ‘success rate’ of your email marketing, you need to define success. There are a range of metrics that could imply success, from the basic open rate to whether people are clicking through from the email to your website, but also whether anyone is actually converting too.

It’s certainly worth keeping an eye on all three of these stats (along with your list growth rate, unsubscribe rate and any other figures relevant to your wider objectives), while also interpreting them in context. A high click through rate is great, but what does it mean that there are zero conversions at the end of every customer journey?

Further to this, make sure you take into account seasonal trends – it may be that every January the open rate for certain industries is low.

Diagnose the problem, then apply the cure

By looking at the figures – via whichever analytics system you are using – you will see where your campaign is under performing. Like any good doctor, when you begin to see what the symptoms are then you are able to come up with a reasoned explanation as to why it is happening – and begin working on a cure.

So if your open rate is low (or simply lower than you would like) then you have narrowed down the problem area. Now think about all the factors that could be affecting this – the ‘from’ field, subject line, time sent and any deliverability issues. From here, it is a question of tweaking each contributing factor and seeing what the results tell you.

Some simple A/B testing should tell you, for instance, whether a £10-off voucher or a £20-off voucher is required to convince a significant proportion of a certain demographic to open your message. Also, don’t forget to include the sign-up process in your diagnosis, maybe the people on your email list simply are not good leads?


The content of your message is, of course, what is driving its success, so think carefully about what you are including and how this contributes to your goals. Some companies try to include too much in a message and end up with several weak calls-to-action – you want to provide the reader with relevant and engaging content (text, pictures, etc.) with a clear ‘next step’.

Make sure you look at all of the different facets of your email, not just the body text and subject line (although these are admittedly major points). For example, have you thought about playing with the from field? You could have the message coming from an individual within your firm, rather than just the brand name, or perhaps it is more effective to have just the brand name? Keep testing to find out.

A key part of producing the right content is relevance and a prerequisite for relevance is actually understanding your target customer base. Who they are, what motivates them and how they react to certain issues – these can all help you to meet or even surpass their expectations.


Adobe research from 2012 revealed that 79 per cent of smartphone owners use their devices to check their email – and the proportion of people with a smartphone continues to grow rapidly – so if you are not taking into account the mobile factor, then you are heading for trouble.

Not only will this affect the length of your content, as mobiles have smaller screens and will resize messages, but it should also inform other decisions, such as the type of files you send out and the size of the message. Recipients will not be pleased if they decide to download your message on their phone, only to see 100MB of their 500MB per month data plan eaten up by the email!

Also, think about how your call to action can be adapted if a lot of people are opening the message on a phone – including a link to a cluttered web page may not be appropriate. Instead, think about creating a responsive web page; so if they do come through on a mobile, then it will look good on their screens. You could also consider including a phone number very high up in the email – preferably tracking the number to show that the lead came from an email.

All of these things and more can elevate your email marketing success; it’s all about zeroing in on a problem area and making it fit better with your recipients’ expectations or motivations.