By Richard Arneson

In the event you believe email marketing campaigns are a thing of the past, you may want to reconsider the topic. In fact, the use of email marketing campaigns is growing, and why wouldn’t it when you consider this: according to research conducted by the Direct Marketing Association, email marketing’s return on investment is astounding. They found that for every $1 spent on it, the return, on average, is $32. Spend 1, get 32 back. Not bad.

If you’d like to get this level of ROI from email marketing, keep in mind the following to help ensure you get the most bang for your email marketing buck.

1. Don’t minimize the importance of the Subject Line. Many people focus so heavily on content that the Subject Line gets short shrift. And don’t tell them too much in the Subject Line—make it compelling, but a little vague. Make them think, “I’ve got to open this to see what the content within is about.”

2. If you email contains images, include alt-text so they can be displayed on any browser the recipient may be using. Alt text is copy that appears in place of an image in the event it doesn’t load. Without alt-text, the reader will be looking at a blank space where an image it supposed to appear.

3. Be concise. Think Less is More. If you open an email and you’re bludgeoned with several hundred words that may take you upwards of 5 minutes to read, that’s way too much. If they see a significant investment in time, you may have lost your audience before they read the first word.

4. If you’re offering something make sure it’s just one thing, whether it’s a coupon, a special offer, or a download of some type. Don’t confuse them or make them think too much.

5. Make Calls to Action (CTAs) easy to see. That’s going to be the most important element of your email. If they don’t read a single word, but respond to your CTA, that’s fine. Make CTAs really stand out, whether it’s filling out a form, making a call, or clicking on a link to your website.

6. Adhere to and support your brand and its messaging. You’re trying to make your email and the CTA as simple as possible. Not keeping your brand in mind may prove confusing to recipients.

7. White space removes clutter, the big enemy of a good email. Just like not wanting to flood them with a lot of words, you don’t want to flood them with visuals. 

8. Try to write what you want to get across in 100 to 150 words. Sure, that’s not a lot of words, but brevity is key. Those first 2 sentences contain only 25 words, so you can get in more messaging than you might think. And break it up into a couple paragraphs or sections. A hundred and fifty words lumped into a single paragraph can appear to be lot more than in actually is.

9. Create personas for each email campaign. Find out what’s important to your audience. If your campaign targets CIOs, don’t get technical. They have personnel to handle that—leave that for a campaign targeting IT managers. CIOs are going to more interested in big picture stuff, like savings related to CAPEX and OPEX.

10. Images are fine to use, but having too many can compete with the overall message. Don’t forget the importance of white space. And if recipients have turned off images, they won’t see them anyway. Also, having them can cause the email to download slowly.

11. If you’re using an ESP (Email Service Provider), all it takes is one person to mark your email as Spam and you’ll probably have to answer for yourself. They want to ensure you’re not sending out to purchased lists that may—and probably will—contain Spam traps. Also, purchased lists can steer you directly into a SPAM trap.

12. If a list provider has hundreds of thousands of email addresses they sell, there’s a very good chance they won’t know if their database contains SPAM traps. Or, they may know it, but not care. They want you to purchase the list; they already have their money.

Here are some words and phrases that can trigger spam filters:, cancel at any time, amazing, guarantee, check or money order, this is not spam, congratulations, free, toll-free, risk-free, increase sales, order now, special promotion, click here, winner, and great offer.

13. Personalize emails as much as possible. And if you can personalize them in the Subject Line, you’ll get a 50% higher open rate.

14. If you don’t conduct A/B testing, start. By sending 2 versions of the email, you can test what works. You can send 2 different versions to a small percentage of your subscriber list. The winning email—better open rates, click rates, etc.—can then be sent out to the remainder of the list. It’s a great way to test Subject Lines, content, images, or CTAs, and a great way to better optimize your campaign(s).

15. Your content needs to be interesting and compelling. You may think you’ve accomplished this, but take the extra time to run it past people. It’s easy to fall in love with your own writing, but drop the ego. It’s not about the writing, per se. It’s about getting subscribers to open the email and click.

16. Include additional touchpoints in your email, like social media, upcoming events, participation at trade shows, etc. It adds credibility and makes them feel more inclused.

17. This is may seem like a remedial tip, but make sure to test the emails in different browsers. You want to ensure they’ll look good regardless of the browser a subscriber uses.

18. Use your actual email address when your emails are sent. If it’s listed as or, it’s far less likely to get opened. And it personalizes the email, which always helps to get higher open rates.

19. Don’t try and trick your subscribers—no click bait. They’ll hate it and soon become unsubscribers. Or, worse, they’ll denote your email as Spam. Be upfront and honest; let them know why they’re receiving the email and what they can expect to get out of reading it.

20. Don’t underestimate the value of promotions. Reward them for filling out a form, whether it’s some type of giveaway, entry in a raffle, or a quality, informative brochure or piece of collateral.

21. Ask a question in the Subject Line, like “Are you’re sure you’re protected against ransomware?” It gets subscribers asking themselves the question and wondering if the measures they’ve implemented are as secure and comprehensive as they believe.

22. Ask subscribers to feel free to forward your email to others who may benefit from it. Don’t be shy about asking. If they see value in doing it, you may have discovered another way to broaden your database.

23. Write your email in a conversational tone, like you’re talking to them over lunch or at a cocktail party. Doing so falls under the Personalization heading. It’s not threatening, pushy, or condescending. It’s factual, but matter-of-fact.

24. Include information that lets them know you understand the issues they and their industry face every day. Insert eye popping statistics related to both their industry and the email’s content.

d2 Digital Designs is the most innovative digital marketing agency in D/FW. We create, execute and manage multi-marketing solutions for customers with a focus on brand engagement. We optimize our customers’ digital experience through traditional media, video production, social media, lead gen and key analytics, e-commerce, and experiential events. Check us out at d2.designs, or email us at And please follow us via social media for more great, informative digital marketing tips, suggestions, and ideas.