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Improving your email marketing strategy can pay big dividends

legendre-glenda-col-sig-1Email remains a persistent and versatile marketing tool as compared to more costly digital options. With more than an estimated 4 billion users, the tool provides value in both personal and professional capacities.

According to Statista, the number of email users is expected to continue its growth pattern of about 3% annually for the next several years, and by 2023 it is expected that there will be close to 350 billion daily emails sent. Given the volume of competitive messages, your organization need its own, well thought out, email strategy.

A few more facts about email: Most users have two addresses and somehow Gmail wins with its 45% business market share. Email firm says that amounts to about 131 million users. Microsoft Outlook holds second place, giving the two companies a whopping 63% business user market share.

Not surprisingly, the data indicate that 46% of all emails are opened on mobile devices. Yes, there are still significant numbers of so-called spam email messages sent on a daily basis, perhaps half, but controls have reduced the count and recipients can opt out of unwanted messages.

How should email communications plans be handled? Over the past few years, email outreach software has changed the usage of email to be more targeted and thus more efficient. Messages can be personalized, including the customization of introductions, use of merge fields and the ability to offer the look of manual distribution from your own mailbox to increase the likelihood of a response.

The messages can now be automatically scheduled for sending and follow-up monitoring. Even small firms should consider the use of a commercial vendor to set up and/or coordinate this marketing tool service.

Analytical tools enable the sender to see the open rate for each message. A click-to-open rate of about 15% has been reported for some email campaigns.  This rate should be higher for lists of individuals who know your organization well and receive regular branded newsletters and other materials from you.

The subject is subject lines

Getting a good response to your messages takes planning. Successful methods include: sending follow-ups, which can double your response rate; the use of longer subject lines, which can reportedly increase responses by 24%; use of personalized subject lines and personalization within the text; inclusion of social media links into Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram; and use of creative subject lines.

Developing subject line strategies definitely improve opening rates. DigitalMarketer compiles an annual list of the best email subject lines and invites you to borrow from its 2020 ideas. The website blog recently identified eight different components to be drawn upon to create a top-performing subject line. These can be individual or combined approaches, and include some important marketing concepts.

First, self-interest. Your subject line can convey a benefit to the audience. Second, you can create enough curiosity to encourage opening. For the next component, you can create an offer — “Do you like free stuff?”, followed by a method of thanks to subscribers and perhaps an approach to convey a sense of urgency or scarcity: give deadlines.

A sixth method is to inform the reader of new developments, followed by approaches that provide social proof through success stories. Finally, tell a story that highlights a benefit.

Here are several of the winning Best Email Subject Lines of 2020, all with strong open rates across different industries: “How to keep up with digital marketing”, “Why my first business failed”, “Something Big is Coming — April Flash Sale”, “Holy____! 21,601?!?!”, “3 Rules for Marketing During a Crisis”, “Final Chance for Free Access”, and “10 Things every environmentalist should know.”

You can test your subject line with some friendly anticipated recipients or use an alternate subject line with a second message. Regardless of your exact message, a consistent email use strategy can be a marketing boon to building your customer or constituent base and should be consistent with your branding strategy.

Glenda LeGendre is principal of Strategic Marketing & Communications and can be reached at