Human side of email marketingA subscriber is more than an email address. If that has struck a chord, you’re not alone. Email marketing, like many other forms of marketing, can easily be focussed on the wrong thing. Numbers. Percentages. Open statistics, click-through rates, inbox deliverability… the list goes on.

It’s a list that’s important, no doubt, but all of this stuff can get in the way of what matters – people. You’re sending messages to human beings with their own idiosyncrasies, likes, dislikes and time constraints. Think you’ve got limited time to put your latest eshot together? What about your subscribers? Have they got time to read it? Has it been constructed with them in mind?

It’s an easy trap to fall into. Consequently, email marketing can become somewhat robotic. We want to avoid that.

As the weekend draws ever nearer and, typically, we’re all in a reflective mood, we’ll take a look at a few elements of email marketing which will help keep the subscriber at the centre of your universe.


It’s a word used a lot on this blog, and indeed in email marketing across the globe. The reason? It’s probably the most important word in our arsenal. Any form of marketing that doesn’t result in customer engagement is a failure. Simple. This first element also goes against my statement at the start of this blog. Engagement statistics are important. If someone opens your email, they’re likely to open another one. Knowing who opened which email will allow you to segment your lists accordingly. By segmenting subscribers, you can ensure you send targeted content their way. Content which will engage them.

Don’t ramble

According to recent studies, long emails result in 18% lower click-through rates. That’s pretty significant. It’s also another clear indication that short and sweet is a mantra we should all follow when writing the copy for our next email newsletter. That 18% is likely to continuing growing, too, as more people receive and digest email on the move. You’re busy, they’re busy, don’t send emails which take too long to read, because they simply won’t.

Avoid email abundance

Apart from the fact I like using the word ‘abundance’, it’s actually a fantastic way to warn about the perils of packing your emails with too much content. Research suggests that people are more likely to click on links within your email if it contains between one and eight images. In my mind, a single, brilliant image is all you need.

Adding too much content can also make your emails look ‘spammy’, and that’s definitely the last thing you want. The only thing you can be a little bit more abundant with is traditional blue links. People like them, know what they mean, and packing a few into your email pointing to good landing pages on your website isn’t a bad idea at all.

Spell check

Browsers, operating systems and word processors are becoming more and more sophisticated when it comes to spelling and grammar correction. Many will now suggest words as we type and correct text retrospectively. But nothing beats the traditional spell check. It’s likely your email marketing software has one – use it. Also, check your grammar – it is worth the minimal effort, because nothing will disappoint your subscribers more than a poorly written email.

Email shouldn’t be lonely

While email is an entity within itself, it simply can’t stand on it’s own two feet without a little support. Your emails shouldn’t be lonely – they need backing up with great landing pages on your website, e-books, blogs and videos. Email is a brilliant way of keeping the conversation going, but the real interaction with your customers will happen elsewhere. Ensure you spend time on the content which works alongside your email campaigns.

Take a break

You can’t make friends and influence people all the time. In email marketing, you posses the ability to see who is and who isn’t engaged. The latter camp need close attention and, quite often, a bit of a break from you. If you’re continually sending emails to someone who simply isn’t bothered, stop doing so for a period. Even if its a month or two, take some time to let them settle. Then, email them with a ‘win-back’ campaign. Come up with an offer which will be too good for them to resist.

This may or may not work. If it doesn’t, remember the golden rule of list management – give subscribers the ability to easily remove themselves. There’s nothing worse than long goodbyes in email marketing.

Be regular and dependable

So, you know which of your subscribers are engaged, but that doesn’t meant they’re sitting there waiting for your email to arrive in their inbox every Thursday. Regularity in email marketing is important, but, quite often, the old mantra of ‘only say something when you have something worth saying’ is really useful. If you can, only email people when you have something top say which will continue to build your relationship with them. Don’t just send emails because you feel you have to – the content will suffer, as will the subscriber.

Start the conversation

New research has showed that nearly 60% of companies fail to respond to email inquiries in a timely fashion. Quite often, those inquiries come as a result of email marketing messages, the replies to which are often not monitored closely enough. Email marketing is a brilliant way to start the conversation – encourage it. Ask subscribers to get back to you with their thoughts and comments (good and bad), and make sure you respond.

Lastly, never, ever send your messages from a no-reply address. Remember, we’re dealing with human beings…


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Mark is one of mailingmanager's email experts. His contributions to this blog openly share the tricks, tips and best practices he's learned while running multiple e-marketing campaigns.

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