47 e-mail marketing tricks you can try out right now

Are you trying to get your marketing e-mails into as many e-mail inboxes as possible? Well, you need to be on the top of your game, and here you have 47 ideas on how to take your e-mail marketing a step forward. You can get this list as a pdf so that you can track the tests. Get it now 😀

Well, we still need to draw up a table of contents (for SEO, of course):

Tests to increase the Deliverability
Tests to increase the Open Rates
Tests to increase the Click Through Rates
A lot of other ideas

Tests to increase the Deliverability

  • Change the domain from seos.si to seossi.si. A new domain can mean a fresh start. Look for a domain that is similar to the domain you already use, so that the users still recognise the e-mail address. Domains are also the subject of the final part of this chapter.
  • SPF and DKIM If you haven’t heard of these two abbreviations, become acquainted with them. These are the settings in your e-mail marketing system that you need to set up. In the case you use Mailchimp, they are usually already taken care of, but check them regardless.
  • Change the IP you’re sending from You can simply send a message to some providers that we send e-mails through and they’ll change your IP address (Mailgun did it for us in 5 minutes). This works when you use different shared IPs. Do not do this with a dedicated IP address (i.e., that is used by you exclusively).
  • Change the service you use to send out e-mails from Mailchimp to SES, to Sendinblue, then to Campaign Monitor. Each offers advantages and disadvantages, while at the same time, switching from one service to another can have its issues. But under certain conditions, it can work.
  • Separate sales and marketing e-mails This might be more of a strategic “hack”, but still. Good e-mailing practice is to keep transactional e-mails (order confirmation, invoice, delivery notification etc.) and customer service e-mails on your own server and domain, and to send marketing e-mails from another domain and a different server. This way, transactional e-mails are always more likely to reach the recipient, no matter the mess that we manage to cook up with our mass marketing e-mails.
  • Add alt attributes to images Alt attributes or tags in images are a criterion that impacts deliverability. At least that’s what the tool states. Regardless, also from the UX point-of-view, it’s appropriate to simply use them.

Tests to increase the Open Rates

  • New sender If we always send out e-mails where the sender is e.g., “Peter from Seos.si”, change it to “Mateja from Seos.si”. Mateja can be fictitious or real – some people will look at an e-mail that they would otherwise have missed because it is a new person, some might be interested in who Mateja is etc. Rule #1. 
  • The sender must be a person This should not be a test, but some people still send e-mails from BRAND NAME. No, it’s people communicating with other people. This is something to always remember.
  • Personalising the subject If you have been smart about collecting e-mail data, each person can be identified with the first and last name. So, you can send an e-mail with the subject line, “Hey %name%, when are you planning on testing these 47 e-mail marketing tricks?”
  • Ask a question in the subject See example above. Try to appeal to people in every way imaginable and they’ll be more willing to open your e-mails.
  • Smilies. Emoticons. Emojis. The subject 👊 should stand out 👅 and be truly appealing. 🍩 Nowadays, most e-mail marketing systems 🕐 and e-mail clients📧 supports emoticons, so ☃ add them to your content. 👙 It’s easiest to find and copy and paste them here.
  • The principal idea of the e-mail is apparent from the subject line Sales e-mails always work best if the subject line says e.g., “-15% on all products.” In medias res, indeed, for the second time. 
  • Numbers in the subject line Numbers in the subject line will attract attention even if no discounts are offered. This is quite similar to clickbait content headlines, where the headline says, “5 steps to an attractive behind”, or “47 e-mail marketing tests.”
  • FOMO in the subject line Later, we will take a look at how FOMO can be utilised directly with a timer in the main e-mail section. Adding a timer to the subject line isn’t possible, but why not write, “Only 24 hours for a 20% discount.” Or, “Last day to order.” People respond well to FOMO, so they’ll also take the steps in case of such a call to action. Did you notice that I included the FOMO right at the beginning of the subject line?
  • FOMO at the end of the subject line In the example above, I am saying to include FOMO at the beginning of the subject line. I.e., “Only 24 hours,” “Last day” etc. Of course, this can also be reversed. Show the discount right away, and the first thing that the user notices is the discount. So, “20% discount on all products for 24 hours only.”
  • Be specific This is the mistake that I have made most often, myself. “Take a look at what we have prepared for you,” won’t convince anyone. Or instead, will persuade only a small percentage of the audience. “Magnolias back in stock,” is a much better subject line because it contains two pieces of information – the product and what is happening to it. In my experience, even, “We have a surprise for you…” will not work, because it’s simply too vague.
  • Lie. What I mean to say is… Creatively tailor the truth to make it more appealing to users. “You have been selected for a 20% discount.” Which is true. The recipient and the rest of the e-mail subscribers have been selected for a discount. We have not lied nor have we been overly creative.
  • Keep it short The subject line, of course. Most users will view your e-mail on a mobile device and only be able to read the first 6 words.
  • Summary of content Every e-mail also has a summary of its content. This is what appears in the second line and elaborates on the subject. Certain newsletter systems offer a box for the summary (Mailchimp), others simply show the beginning of the body. By all means, let’s use all these tricks to also optimise the summary.
  • RE: or FW: These e-mails look a bit spammy, but they are worth a try. We pretend that the user has received a reply to his or her e-mail, or that someone has forwarded an e-mail to them.
  • Tools to test your e-mail subject line If you work in the English-speaking market, you can use tools that check whether your subject line is adequate before you even send out your e-mails. I haven’t tested this myself, but you could certainly carry out a test. Example of such a tool can be found here.
  • You will be unsubscribed A subject line that guarantees outstanding results, but then we also need to have the guts to really see it through. To the users who have not opened the last 3 e-mails, this is what you send. Those who do not open or respond are removed from the list. Why pay Mailchimp for such subscribers, for the people who never open their e-mails (if you still pay for Mailchimp, read the article here).

Tests to increase the Click Through Rates

  • Damn the designer The message to the designer should read, “We respect you and your work, but this time, we’re going to try something different.” We will colour the button that takes users to the website and label it “incorrectly”. That means, with a colour that is not in the CTA, and the button is going to flash. Yes, flash. Indeed. Flash. And it will be super ugly. 
  • The home page is not for everyone Under no circumstance whatsoever, and I really mean it, should we take the user to the home page. Whatever it is that we are selling or trying to convey, the home page is never the landing page. The page that the user is taken to should be as relevant as possible to the user who clicked through, so we always take them to a category or product. NSAMCWADLP, but we’ve already been over this.
  • Less is definitely more I understand that you are an online shop and want to promote a varied assortment of products. But having 7 different offers in a single e-mail won’t help anyone. Regardless, test it out and send out e-mails according to the concept of one e-mail = one message.
  • Again, less is more Even with the text and images, if you only have a single offer, not much content is needed. Maybe you use AIDO or another sales communication writing protocol that requires you to have different levels of messages, and that’s great. But seriously – if you have one idea, there should be a text about it in the e-mail, followed by a single button. Big, clear and unambiguous.
  • Text or images Again, if you’re an online shop and you’re certain you should always display an image of the product, its name and price. Sometimes, you add a CTA (call to action, a button to be clicked), but usually not. Let’s change that and remove all the images. In your e-mail, put down just a paragraph or two of text to tell the user what’s up, and a CTA button.
  • FOMO in the text This is one of my favourites, and it works great. Add a countdown timer until the end of the exclusive offer in the e-mail. What should it look like? Just like the one below. It will be correctly displayed to all users every single time. How, you ask? Here’s a tool that allows you to do just that, http://motionmailapp.com/ (very recently this one was released, if anyone tries it out, please let me know how well it does the job.)
  • P.S. I love you At the end of the e-mail, add a P.S. summarising what is on offer in one single sentence as well as a CTA. This works because people usually skim over the entire message and only stop at the end. 
  • Add a video clip to the e-mail This doesn’t really work. Playing a video in an e-mail with a very specific code will work only in 3 out of 35 e-mail clients. So I don’t feel it’s worth testing out (if you absolutely must, though, go ahead). Alternatively, you can add an image to the e-mail that looks like the first screen of the video accompanied by the original YouTube play button. Users will click and watch the video on your website (don’t take them to YouTube; divert them to your website, instead). If you don’t know why, read this article on where to post content.
  • Add a form to the e-mail This one belongs to the same category as the point about the video above. It only works in certain cases. But maybe, you will find success one way or another. I know that some people insist on seeing a form in the e-mails. Maybe this might help. But still, you can simply do the work and display the form in the e-mail, which, after it’s clicked, takes the user to the landing page. The experience will be different for every user.
  • Relate to World Days I know, it’s very hard to come up with two e-mail topics every single week. That’s why it’s wise to relate to things in real life. Let’s say World Peace Day. What a beautiful day. Or World Tourism Day. Almost every day is World Something Day. You can find them all here.
  • Conversational e-mails Send an e-mail that tells a story just as if you were having a conversation. These are the e-mails where (almost) every sentence occupies its own line, and they flow like a story. They might not be pretty, but they are effective.
  • Full content in an e-mail Most companies that send out blogs by e-mail will include a summary of the blog, a few lines or only the title, then invite users to click through and read the blog on their website. That might be just fine. But, of course, the percentage of people who click will be much lower than the percentage of people who open the e-mail. So it’s probably wise (at least to test) what happens if you add the entire blog to an e-mail.
  • Ask to share You read about this occasionally on a blog, though never try out. But you should. For comparison, just yesterday, I sent out an e-mail to the entire database asking people to help me improve the ranking of my website and to add a link to it. At least three of them said they would. These are three high ranking DA, .edu links. So, the trick is to send an e-mail and ask, “Okay, so can you send this e-mail to one colleague, coworker or business partner that you know will be interested?” And people will indeed comply. Believe me. It’s as simple as that.
  • Layout litmus test If you’re really interested in how your e-mail is displayed on a wide range of devices, you can test it here. This is a tool that simulates different devices and clients. But I advise against using it. Pixel perfect is something that I think is redundant in e-mail marketing (though many will disagree with me). There are so many devices that it is almost impossible to control where each pixel is located on every single device. So let’s not overcomplicate things – send out e-mails instead.
  • Add links to images This one is also complex. On one hand, it is logical for every image to be clickable. Because people are used to being able to click everything. On the other, we want to reduce the number of links in the e-mail since it improves the deliverability of the e-mail to the inbox. You should test both methods.
  • CTAs in images Although I mentioned above that people are used to clicking everywhere and everything, that doesn’t mean you can send e-mails that don’t include a call to action. Seriously. Every e-mail item requires its own CTA. Or, everything we want people to click (image, product image, button) should say “Click here.”
  • Button or text CTA In order to build on the previous assertion, sometimes links in text work great, other times buttons, that is graphic CTAs, are preferred. Give them a try. Both will work, but the results will be different.

A lot of other ideas

  • Mobile users Google no longer talks about, “This is the era of mobile.” Instead, their message is now, “This is the era of IA.” Your messages must also work on mobile devices, because a large percentage of users will only open your e-mails on a mobile device. And if it won’t open, it’s closed curtains.
  • Make a mistake This one is for everyone who wants to play around with their brand. And it works extremely well. Send out an e-mail, “We have made a big mistake, our sincerest apologies.” Because humans are so despicable that we take joy in other’s problems, mistakes or misfortune. All the recipients will open the e-mail with the subject line, “I’m really embarrassed, this mistake will cost me my job.” Of course, you then have to mention something about why you might lose your job in the e-mail. It all depends on how far you dare or can go. You can admit it’s just a trick, or you can keep playing the game… Just let your imagination take control.
  • Follow up We often prepare a follow up e-mail for the recipients who have not opened our e-mails. We change the subject and resend 2 days later. The secret is to send the new mail also to those who have already committed to opening it but did not complete a purchase. Because these are your best (potential) customers. Send them an extra 10% discount and they’ll buy everything. Seriously, I have seen the results of such an e-mail.
  • The message is aligned with other channels All advertising on the day of sending out e-mails as well as the following 3 days should be aligned with the message. So, we use the header photo in the e-mail for the Facebook ad, for the Google ad and for all the other ads, we send out the same message via Facebook Messenger etc.
  • Remarketing to clickers Add all users who clicked a link to a remarketing group and show them the Facebook ads. This item is only relevant if you have a really large number of recipients. Perhaps, you can use a tool to add a FB pixel to your links (e.g., this one), which will increase the percentage of people that Facebook will capture.
  • Prepare a landing page Online shops, in particular, make the mistake of always taking their potential buyers to a category or product exclusively. Take them to the main landing page, instead, which is no different from the one other users see. If you mentioned in your e-mail that there is a 20% discount, add the discount banner to your website. Or better yet, make the entre landing page look like an e-mail, maybe with the greeting, i.e., “Hello,” from the e-mail (there might be a better one, but I am lost for ideas at this point). If the communication messages are uniform, you’ll get the best results.
  • Twitter e-mail No, we won’t embed Twitter posts in the e-mail – but we will compose the e-mail as if we were using Twitter. Can you imagine? 140 characters in an e-mail and nothing else? Seriously, try it.
  • Every e-mail should be an A/B test This advice is more of a strategic nature, but still. Every time you send an e-mail, you have to test something. If nothing else, at least use two different subject lines. We used to set e-mails up in such a way that we had the Subject 1 and Subject 2 in the content template already, so that for each e-mail, two subject lines were prepared.
  • Send a successful e-mail again You have sent out an e-mail and it was very successful. Then, you forgot all about it. But you shouldn’t have. You can resend an e-mail that yielded results a month later, remove those who opened it from the database, include new users who haven’t received it yet and those who have received it but haven’t opened it, and reap the rewards. That’s a great tip, I’ll definitely use it.
  • Each one counts I really wanted to avoid writing, “segment the base.” Because there are (at least) seven sides to this claim. Usually, we either over-segment the database to yield any serious result, or we segment it in such a way that it becomes useless. You need to thoroughly understand segmentation to be successful, so I’m not going to include it, even though it’s in pretty much every “E-mail marketing hacks” article I’ve read.
  • Send an avalanche of e-mails This one is also tricky. The idea is to send three e-mails to people who have opened your message, one after the other, on the same day. If you have a system that tells you who has opened the e-mail and who has committed to a specific purchase, it should be smooth sailing. They’ve opened it, though didn’t buy; send them an e-mail encouraging them to buy your product 2 hours after they’ve received your first e-mail. Yes, there will be cancellations, there will be complaints, but that hasn’t killed anyone yet. Because there will also be sales.

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