Are you an email marketing zero, or are you something much, much more…?

I’ve already spoken about the benefits of email marketing, but knowing about its advantages is one thing…understanding some basic email marketing tips and tricks to ace this digital specialism is another thing entirely.

That’s where these 21 email marketing tips and tricks come in

Email marketing is a surprisingly easy thing to get wrong – but it’s just as easy to get it right if you take the time to learn. This post aims to educate, inform and enrich your knowledge with some highly actionable tips for email marketing success.

Let’s get cracking, shall we?

1. Get some email sign-up boxes on your website…

…and make them obvious. I’ve known companies who have effective email lists, but no obvious call to action which tells people to sign up. What’s the point in creating a great email if no-one knows how to get it, or where?

In one instance, I’ve encountered a client who had a great email newsletter, but nowhere to sign up on the website. The only way to sign up (or even to find out it existed) was to physically pick up your phone, call them and ask about it. I’m not kidding. 

2. Pop-up sign-up forms are excellent – use them!

Copoet uses SumoMe sign-up forms like this pop-up, with some key benefits as the focus
Pop-ups are far more effective than you’d think.

Yes, they can be annoying sometimes if overdone, but they do work. Far and above the best practitioners of this are SumoMe and OptinMonster, both of whom have got this down to an art form. SumoMe recently produced a pretty extensive study on pop-ups, and how well they work. Meanwhile, over on WPBeginner OptinMonster’s pop-ups helped increase their email subscribers by 600%. Crazy figures.

Not quite convinced, and think your users will just ‘bounce’ away back to the SERPs? Well WPBeginner tried split-testing it, and found that the bounce rate on a page with an exit-intent pop-up (basically, one that pops up when a user goes to leave the page) was zero. So if you’re worried that having them pop-up straight away might turn off your visitors, just have it appear when they try to leave anyway!

3. Offer value up front, and deliver it

Don’t expect something for nothing – offer people something in return for signing up. This could be as simple as telling visitors

  1. why signing up will be a huge help for them because of your content.
  2. what they can expect to get out of the newsletter.
  3. a free giveaway, such as an ebook, white paper, or useful and tangible immediate ‘reward’ for them signing up.

They may look like numbers for your Analytics reports and email sign-up targets, but it’s so important to remember that every visitor is a person. Nine times out of ten, people will not do something for nothing. Offer your audience something they want, and you’re doing them a favour. As a result, if they like what they see from the freebie, they’re also more likely to trust you in the future. And that, amigo, is the key.

4. Don’t artificially boost your list with questionable tactics

Sure, you can data mine a whole bunch of people, add them to your list, and convince them what you have to offer is worth them opting in for…without them opting in in the first place. But this is illegal, because, yes – it’s called spamming. It’s also a creepy invasion of privacy, really, and people tend to respond much better to personalised ‘cold emails’ rather than being added to an email list without their consent.

Although a canny idea in theory, the majority of email clients won’t let you do this anyway because it will trigger email spam filters. Again, this all leads back to trust – if your ‘subscriber’ didn’t ask to be added to your email list, then how could they trust you more than someone who has chosen to sign up? At the very least, they are far behind the latter in the engagement process.

5. Do go organic

Growing your email list organically is one of the more morally-based email marketing tips
Email marketing tip #5: Grow your list organically for sustainable ROI

Do not buy lists. They may seem really really tempting at the beginning of your journey, but they are not worth it in the long run. Grow your list organically, with organic traffic. Paid media can help to drive web traffic, and therefore increase your visitors too, but basically you only want people signing up who you know want your stuff. Search engines effectively become an early anti-spam filter for your email list by only getting your highly ranking posts to show, and therefore people who are interested in this stuff are the ones you want to sign up. They’ve already shown an interest in your content after all, right?

6. Unsubscribe links should work, unquestionably

Believe it or not, this is one of the best email marketing tips you can abide by. Making sure that your unsubscribe links work, and are clearly signposted, achieves two things:

One, it does not piss off your subscribers, who find themselves unable to leave your list. Two, it means you don’t have to remove people who are no longer interested – they do it themselves. Again, this builds trust, and trust builds relationships with your audience.

7. If people unsubscribe, don’t panic

Maybe it’s them, and not you. If you continue to deliver content that lots of people open and read, then great – a few unsubscribes is just natural, and there’s no need to worry. Only if you see a huge increase in unsubscribes, to the point where they outstrip your sign-up rate, should you start to worry. Every form of growth plateaus at some points, but just hold tight: keep it balanced, with gradual growth, and you’ll be fine. However, it’s obviously important to see how people are engaging with your content, as this may be related. If you’re seeing less click-throughs, for example, maybe your calls to action are not compelling enough, or your content may not be to your subscribers’ taste.

8. Keep regular contact

Make sure your subscribers don’t forget about you or your email marketing by maintaining regular contact. Start a regular newsletter and get into a routine that keeps them informed and interested. They signed up for a reason, so continue to deliver what they want, or others will take your place.

This is something we all can get sloppy on, so it’s well worth remembering!

9. Just don’t overdo it

There’s no need to bombard people with emails. If someone invited you into their house, would it be polite to then come around at every opportunity, unexpectedly? After a couple of un-arranged visits, your hosts might understandably be a bit turned off the idea. There’s no need to alienate people by doing the same with your emailing – just keep it regular, and helpful, without being overbearing.

10. Tag-team your audience with social media and email marketing

You’re going to want to attack this from all angles. As I’ve said before, don’t be afraid to promote your own stuff. Promote your email newsletter on social media by asking followers to sign up for regular updates, and vice versa, point people towards your social media profiles with your email marketing. Encourage people to share things they find useful from your email newsletters, blog posts, and your website. Sharing is caring, after all – and you have to be your own strongest advocate.

Which neatly leads me to one of my favourite email marketing tips…

11. Be human, be memorable…

And above all, have personality.

If you’re anything like me, you get at least 30-50 emails a day jostling for space in your inbox. You go in, see a headline, flick through a bit, and probably get bored. You know why?

Because there’s no personality. Nothing stands out.

Is your email marketing BORRRIIIIINNNGGGG? via GIPHY

“But how the hell do I give my emails personality????” I hear you cry! Well, be as casual as your industry allows – think of email as a conversation, and tailor it appropriately to your audience.

The best advice I have ever received on writing emails – and copy across all mediums – is from Neville Medhora and his Kopywriting. Basically, his philosophy is that at the end of the day, no matter what boring as hell industry you might operate within, your audience are still people, and want to be spoken to engagingly! There’s obviously a limit, but once you find the appropriate voice, you can say things with a genuine personality that human beings will identify with. Couple this with unique, interesting, helpful content, and you’ve struck email marketing gold.

12. Play to people’s emotions

“What’s this got to do with email marketing tips?” you might ask. Well just think about all the advertising and marketing that has convinced you to buy something in the past. How many times have you bought something because it really resonates with you, and makes you feel something?

As much as we might want to believe we are rational decision makers, more often than not emotion has a significant influence on our buying decisions. Be it fear-based concerns of losing out, or responding to an opinionated statement (“16 FACTS ABOUT BREXIT THAT WILL SHOCK YOU TO YOUR CORE”), emotions are a powerful asset in marketing, and your emails will benefit from playing to them.

13. Always include a call to action

Right before you click ‘send’ create an email, ask yourself this one question:

“What do I want people to do once they’ve read my email?”

Answer this question, and you have a focus – a reason for the email to exist. But to achieve that, you need to encourage your audience to take action and do something. Hello, call to action.

This could be a big ol’ button screaming ‘click me!’ like this:

Tips to improve my email marketing? Yes please!

Or a simple call to action statement written into your copy, linking to where you want people to go, such as

Still craving more knowledge on why email marketing is AWESOME? Click here for more of that sweet sweet knowledge.

Ideally you should have as few different call to actions as possible to make sure you’re making it clear where you want the reader to go. Surprise surprise, offer up too much choice, and most of the time people won’t know what to do with themselves.

14. Maximise the impact of your imagery

Email marketing tip #14: Images are for making points - not answering questions.
Don’t use images in your emails to answer questions; utilise them to make points and pique curiosity.

Use images to their maximum potential. Not only do they draw the eye, they also they get huge click-through rates compared to normal linked text, so make sure you remember to link these pieces of eye-candy to where the goods are: on your website.

However, you should never give away all your key messages in your imagery. For some recipients, these images may not display, so ensure to include accurate, descriptive alt text, and include all of your key messages in your text too.

15. Make sure your content is mobile-friendly

There is a ton of research out there that shows more and more people are interacting with the web – and of course their emails – on their phones. As we’ve already covered in my post about the benefits of email marketing, this is prime real estate to get your audience’s attention. So make sure your emails display correctly on phones, or no matter how great your email is, no-one will read it. C’mon, do you really want people to have to zoom in and out of your email because of some stupid side banner? Make it easy to consume, and it will be consumed, people!

16. Subject lines matter

This cannot be emphasised enough. Nowadays, it’s best to keep these short and punchy, offering something that the content will deliver.

For instance, don’t write ‘Everything you could ever want for your ideal home’, and then talk about the weather for 2 paragraphs. Not cool. In the words of Joseph Sugarman:

The sole purpose of the first sentence in an advertisement is to get you to read the second sentence of the copy.


Get the headline to pull your audience in, and open that email. Hook them with an idea, provoke curiosity and then deliver it. Don’t give them a promising headline, and then lead them on a wild goose chase. Yes, you can list off a few items included in say your weekly newsletter, but know when to stop, and leave a bit to the imagination.

17. Be actively anti-spam

No list on email marketing tips would be complete without the spam talk.

According to MailChimp, ‘free’ tends to trigger spam filters, as well as ‘help’, ‘% off’ and ‘reminder’. Sure, you could still use these terms – and by all means, please do if appropriate – but by and large, this will set email service providers (Hotmail, Live, AOL, Gmail etc) on high alert. Which means all your hard work crafting that perfect sales email and landing page may be for nothing if it gets plonked automatically in someone’s ‘Junk’ folder…

One way to get around this is to remind people to add your sending email address as a ‘Safe Sender’ for their account; meaning a much lower chance it will end up in their Spam or Junk folders. Also, no-one likes unsolicited mail A.K.A. spam emails – so only send to those people who have actually signed up for your emails through your email lists. Otherwise you’re just asking to be blacklisted.

18. Use urgency

There’s nothing like a bit of urgency every now and again to get people’s attention. Mentioning how many days something has left to go can make a huge difference to a customer’s decision making. Most people naturally procrastinate, so if you don’t give them a straightforward reason to go do something right that second, they probably won’t. Tell them they have less than 24 hours to close on a deal, however, and they will take action.

19. Test it. Test it all!

And this is the heart of all these email marketing tips: never, ever assume that your way will work without fail. Test it before you send your first email. Test it whenever you decide to make a change. Fine tune it. Test it again. Do not stop testing just because you hit on a winning formula — because the best marketers recognise there can always be changes in the way your market responds, and always room for improvement. Test it, amigos!

20. No silver bullet for timing

There is a TON of research out there about when the best time is for emailing your subscribers. But unfortunately, that doesn’t mean such tips for email marketing will work on your subscriber list, or indeed, for your audience.

Have a target audience of mothers? Then think logically: is an email first-thing in the morning really going to be something they have time to look at?

Whatever the case, you won’t know until you try with your audience. Test this regularly to see how it affects Open Rates and CTR, and soon enough you’ll hit your email marketing sweet spot.

21. Email marketing tips ≠ email marketing success

Ironic as it might be to say, even the best email marketing tips are not foolproof – including this list. As with all marketing, testing it on your own audience is important; so make sure you know your audience, and make judgement calls based on that. After all, your #1 job is to know your customers!

BONUS! Harness the power of the ‘double open’

Easy peasy. For those who are having trouble viewing this ace email marketing tip (courtesy of SumoMe’s Noah Kagan), here’s his ‘Double Open Strategy “Hack”‘, transcribed:

  1. Send an email to your list.
  2. One week later, put together a list of anyone who didn’t open that email.
  3. Resend the email to the list of non-opens and simply change the subject line.
  4. Watch the magic happen

Simple, but oh so effective!

2 thoughts to “21 email marketing tips and tricks to take you from zero to hero!

  • Hidalgo

    Well splice my mainbrace! What an insightful collections of tips.

    • Joe Buzzard

      You flatter me, kind sir! Feeling quite prow-d of myself now.


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