The best email marketing tips from today’s top marketers
By Sean Tinney November 17, 2022
319+ billion. That’s the estimated total number of business and consumer emails that are sent per day. Talk about steep competition in the inbox.
But there are certain marketers whose messages rise above the rest. They’re the ones with amazing open and click-through rates, ever-growing email lists, and ridiculously high ROI (return on investment).
So how do these masters do it? To find out, we reached out to some of the most successful email marketers in the world — many of which are AWeber customers — to get their greatest email marketing tips.
Tip 1: Stop talking about yourself!
“Before you tell your customers all about the great features your new product or service offers, take some time to think about what they want. What keeps them up at night? How can you provide a solution and give them valuable information relative to what they need right now? Remember, it’s all about them. Provide interesting benefits in an entertaining way that’s unique to you and your business, and you’ll increase response rates and sales.”Melanie Rembrandt
Marketer: Melanie Rembrandt, Rembrandt Communications, LLC
Melanie Rembrandt considers email marketing a vital tool to the success of Rembrandt Communications which helps businesses boost sales, awareness and credibility fast via public relations and content strategy. Whether serving as an introduction to a new contact or a complete drip campaign, email has helped build her client base by getting out the right message at the right time.
Tip 2: Use webinars to grow your list
“We’ve done over 300+ webinars in our business, and it’s the most effective tool I know of to capture leads and build a list of prospects.”John Corcoran
Marketer: John Corcoran, Rise25
John Corcoran, of Rise25, calls email his “number one priority” for communicating with and capturing prospects to his email list.
His business helps conference organizers, coaches, consultants, and software companies increase engagement and add new revenue streams by holding small group events for their high-value attendees.
Tip 3: Email your list often
“Completely lose the fear of how often you email your list. Your goal is to find the red hot center of your email list, the people who want to open every email, who want to click every link — because those are the exact people who will buy everything you sell! When we started emailing our lists every single day, our open rates actually increased and we doubled monthly revenue in 60 days.”Shane Sams
Marketer: Shane and Jocelyn Sams, Flipped Lifestyle
Shane and Jocelyn Sams run FlippedLifestyle.com. The Flip Your Life Blueprint helps families become self-sufficient, and spend less time worrying about money and more time together. Email has been the driving force behind their online business.
Tip 4: Test your email deliverability
“Run all of your emails through a tool like mail-tester or GlockApps to test your email for deliverability. Sometimes innocuous trigger words or incorrect email formatting can adversely affect the number of inboxes you can reach.”Steve Chou
Marketer: Steve Chou, My Wife Quit Her Job LLC
Visitors aren’t always ready to purchase the first time they hit the site, Chou learned, so it’s vital to give them ample opportunities to visit again and again. That means deliverability must be one of your main priorities.
Tip 5: Create an email course to increase engagement
“The best thing I’ve done is turn my downloadable e-book into a “snackable” writing course. Each email features one writing tip that readers can implement straightway. As I send the emails at a high frequency—initially daily; after the first week, every other day—I can build a relationship with new subscribers. The open rates are between 30 to 50 percent, and even higher for the first couple of emails.”Henneke Duistermaat
Marketer: Henneke Duistermaat, Enchanting Marketing
Henneke Duistermaat founded Enchanting Marketing. Her business helps brands and entrepreneurs find their own voice so they can confidently share their ideas and sell their services to their audience.
Henneke has relied on email as the main channel to engage and interact with her audience, promote her blog posts, and sell her writing courses and books. She is constantly providing value to her readers so they keep coming back for more.
Tip 6: Organize your subscribers based off links they click in emails
“We’ve begun utilizing AWeber’s automations, and we’re starting to organize our tags and segments even more by tracking who is clicking which links.”Philip Taylor
Marketer: Philip Taylor “PT,” FinCon
While FinCon — a business dedicated to helping financial influencers and brands produce better content and expand their reach — is active on all the major social media channels, PT believes that email remains the single best way to connect with his community. It allows him to communicate relevant information — like in-person meetups and annual conference updates — at the right time to interested segments of his audience.
Tip 7: Write to one customer — not to your entire list
“For four years, I wrote a daily email to our audience, about 1,000 emails in total. I learned that to quickly write an effective email, you need to write to one person. So, I printed a picture of one of our clients — the one I most wanted to clone.
And every day, I looked at that picture and wrote an email to him. It forced me to think about what I could write that would impact this real person that I knew and cared about. Then, I’d remove his name from the top and send it to our list. When I did that, our emails got a lot more effective.”Steve Gordon
Marketer: Steve Gordon, The Unstoppable CEO
Since 2006, Steve Gordon has been using email to power The Unstoppable CEO, which helps business owners “sell” their brand by building marketing systems that position them as experts and trusted authorities.
Tip 8: Don’t just sell. Email is about relationships, not just transactions
“I tend to apply the 80/20 Pareto rule to my email: only one in every five emails will contain an outright sales pitch. The rest of the time, I am committed to providing value for free. That’s the way to build long-term trust with your audience and ultimately log repeat customers and clients.”Robert C. Brown
Marketer: Robert C. Brown, Robert C. Brown Online / Oakland Piermont Ltd
For over a decade, Robert C. Brown has used email as a way to share great content on a consistent basis with his audience at Robert C. Brown Online, where he helps clients transform and grow their coaching or consulting businesses.
Tip 9: Define your voice and tone in emails
“Speak in your own voice in your emails. Your audience is there because of you — not the person you think you need to pretend to be. Sometimes it can seem that we need to change up the way we ‘speak’ in emails to sound more professional. I find that this takes away from you, and has the potential make you look like a fraud.”Ella Glasgow
Marketer: Ella Glasgow, Your Voice Success
Ella Glasgow founded Your Voice Success as a way to help women in business speak with confidence in front of any audience from any stage.
Ella’s been using email as a direct communication tool to provide a “personal touch” when a phone call just isn’t possible. So she makes sure those emails are authentic. She wants her clients to know there’s an actual human being behind her messages, helping them find solutions, grow, and learn.
Tip 10: Write as if you’re sending an email to a friend
“I know that my best open rates — and the emails that I get feedback on for being the most engaging — are those that come straight from my heart and are written as if to a dear friend.”Maryn Boess
Marketer: Maryn Boess, GrantsMagic U
Back in 1998, Maryn Boess built her first email list to power her nonprofit training business. Then, in 2015, she created GrantsMagic U, an online “school” dedicated to building a virtual community and providing grantwriting training for people in the nonprofit world.
Tip 11: Experiment!
“Experiment with different techniques for different audiences and messages. I find plain text works best for general communications since it mimics most email in the inbox. Graphics are effective with content marketing, but keep it simple.”Brian Basilico
Marketer: Brian Basilico, B2b Interactive Marketing, Inc.
An award-winning author, speaker, and coach with more than 40 years of marketing experience, Brian Basilico has used email to help drive his business, B2B Interactive Marketing.
Tip 12: Send targeted emails that contain information your customer needs
“Take advantage of AWeber’s automation features for campaigns. We’ve been gradually merging our lists and inserting tags so we can target messaging to our subscribers with a greater degree of accuracy. When the content of emails is laser focused, readers take notice and respond. This allows us to instantly move customers, insert additional tags based on their interests, and track what works and what doesn’t.”Karon Thackston
Marketer: Karon Thackston, Marketing Words
Karon Thackston considers email an essential part of the Marketing Words promotional plan, giving them a greater ROI than organic search media or paid ads or posts.
One reason? Email allows the company — which develops digital products to train website owners, Amazon sellers, copywriters, and marketing teams on how to create conversion-driven copy — to reach all their followers on one platform on a consistent basis.
Tip 13: Tell stories
“Share more compelling ‘hero’s journey’ related material [a storytelling structure used in novels and movies that can be applied to your customer case studies]. It helps the reader develop a connection with you. This accomplishes a few things: First, it gives your permission to teach them, and second it allows them to feel like they have been in your shoes.”Jeremy Ryan Slate
Marketer: Jeremy Ryan Slate, Command Your Brand Media
Jeremy Ryan Slate uses email as a relationship-building tool to drive interest to his business, Command Your Brand Media, which helps entrepreneurs get booked on top-rated podcasts. Using email to foster a connection helps build his credibility as a “teacher” and expert, which makes the audience more receptive to engaging further.
Tip 14: Never ‘blast’ an email to your entire list
“Email is a two-way street, not a one-way highway. Never ‘blast’ an email. ‘Blast’ is an ugly word that implies aggression. Love your list—don’t antagonize it by ‘blasting’ it. Have fun and be useful. Invite subscribers to reach out. Seek feedback, and ask them questions. Build a community of like-minded people by seeking their input and then—this is the important part — responding.”Ann Handley
Marketer: Ann Handley, MarketingProfs.com
Author and speaker Ann Handley believes email remains the best vehicle for building a business. That holds true for both her digital marketing company Ann Handley, and at MarketingProfs.com, a marketing training and education company where she is a partner.
Tip 15: Only send great emails, nothing less
“One thing I always ask myself is, ‘Will this email potentially change someone’s life?’ If so, then it’s a great email and worthy to be sent. If not, then rework it until it resounds with the energy, spirit, and soul needed to transform someone’s life.”Todd Durkin
Marketer: Todd Durkin, Fitness Quest 10 and Todd Durkin Enterprises
Email is personal trainer Todd Durkin’s primary way to communicate and connect with his clients at his brick and mortar gym, Fitness Quest 10, when they’re not in session. But it also serves another role as well—to provide engaging health, workout, and wellness-related content to encourage potential clients to begin their own fitness journey.
Tip 16: Build relationships with your subscribers
“When we first started Podcast Websites, we didn’t realize how much of a pivotal role email marketing plays within a SaaS business. We were simply trying to ‘sell’ the product. The second that we switched our focus to building relationships via email, we noticed a sharp increase in everything from return engagement to physical sales.
Email is a very personal medium, and my number one tip is to treat it as such. Build that relationship, be the trusted guide, and build friendships through valuable, engaging content — oh, and ask people to reply to you directly — they so appreciate it!”Mark Asquith
Marketer: Mark Asquith, Podcast Websites
As a SaaS business, Podcast Websites — a software platform that helps podcasters create their own content and brand hub — uses email to make sure its members have the best and most personal experience possible, explains Mark Asquith.
Now that we’ve shared the best email marketing tips from some of the most brilliant marketers, we’d thought we share a few of our tips that we’ve learned over the past 20+ years of helping small businesses succeed using email marketing.
Tip 17: Use Interactive emails to engage subscribers
Interactive emails contain an element(s) that subscribers can engage and interact with. Typically, this means an element changes as a result of clicking or typing something.
There are a couple reasons why interactive emails will play a bigger role in your strategy:
- More email companies are beginning to support the coding standards that allow for interactive elements in email.
- interactive emails, when used well, can increase email engagement and click-through rates.
In the email below, we built an interactive carousel that allowed subscribers to click through the three images in the email:
This carousel allowed us to place three images in one space, rather than stacking those images from top to bottom or relying on a GIF.
While a GIF would have acted similarly on a visual level by showing all three images in the same space, the carousel encouraged clicking and user engagement that a GIF would not.
Tip 18: Create emails that are easy to scan and read
As businesses send more and more emails to subscribers, you’ll end up facing more competition. And that only means one thing: it’ll be even more difficult to get your emails opened and clicked.
To cut through the clutter and immediately catch and maintain your reader’s attention, your emails will need to be easy to read and scannable.
A scannable email allows your busy subscribers to get the important information they need much faster. So instead of opening an email, seeing an overwhelming block of text and sending your email to the trash folder, they’ll read and click.
There are a few tactics you can use to make your emails more scannable:
- Try using descriptive and/or interesting headlines to quickly summarize your point.
- Catch your subscriber’s attention by writing short paragraphs and sentences.
- Use images and whitespace appropriately to separate chunks of text.
For the email below, Hotel Tonight uses three different sized headlines that vary from descriptive to interesting:
While the main header “Pics, Please” is intriguing and fun, the subheadlines below are descriptive. This combination grabs the attention of the reader and then quickly gives them context.
Additionally, by writing short sentences and separating paragraphs with images, they’re able to create an easy-to-read email.
Tip 19: Personalize your emails with dynamic content
Personalized emails get 29 percent more unique open rates and 41 percent higher click-through rates.
While segmentation is one of the best ways to customize your emails to your subscriber, there are other methods you can try.
One method I and other email fanatics love using is dynamic email content.
With a dynamic email, content is personalized to each subscriber based on data you have about that subscriber.
For example, in the email below, Grammarly created a dynamic email that shows a subscriber how they used the service:
The numbers in the email are unique to each subscriber who received it. By using dynamic content like this, the subscriber can get a personalized snapshot of their account information.
Tip 20: Place your call to action at the top of your email
Earlier I explained how scannable and easy-to-read emails will increase email engagement. But the placement of your call-to-action button may be just as impactful.
A few years ago, the team here at AWeber conducted a few email tests to figure out what makes up the perfect email. One test we ran was on call-to-action (CTA) button placement.
We created two identical emails with one slight difference: In one email the CTA button was positioned at the top and in the other, the button was at the bottom.
In the email where we placed the button at the top, we saw more than a 50 percent increase in clicks. We continued to test this top of the email button placement in other emails, and it consistently received more clicks.
Tip 21: Automate your welcome email
Although automated emails aren’t a new tactic, we’ve found that many businesses aren’t using them (despite how effective they are). In fact, in a recent survey we conducted of over 1,500 small businesses, we found that 65 percent of people do not use email automation at all.
When your subscriber signs up for your email list, they’re excited about the content they’ll receive from you. Your welcome email capitalizes on this excitement by giving them content right away.
A great welcome email can prompt subscribers to engage more and unsubscribe less. And it may be one of the best performing emails in your automation arsenal.
For example, we created an automated welcome email for an email campaign that subscribers receive immediately after enrolling:
Because people received the email right away when they were excited about the class, we received an amazing 90 percent open rate and 45 percent click-through rate.
Now it’s your turn to kill it with email
These email marketing tips present some great opportunities to engage your subscribers with interesting, beautiful and well-written emails.
So how will you use these tips to improve your email marketing?
Go forth and email on, my friend. Your business will thank you.
This post was written by Liz Willts with contributions from Sean Tinney.